Is Monroe Fuches a worse guy than Barry Berkman?
It’s tough to say. Barry is at least trying to live a better life, but he’s murdered plenty of innocents in his past life, and he’s willing to murder innocents to maintain his newfound life and freedom.
But Fuches is also the person who made Barry the man he is. Who bailed Barry out of the consequences of his first murder, back in Korengal, and who set him up to make many more. Fuches is the person who keeps trying to steer Barry back into a life of killing.
And Fuches is making no attempt to live a better life; he’s the most nakedly motivated by self-interest of anyone in the show. Barry reminds him of this as he dissolves their partnership: “You wore a wire, man.” It’s the first example of the episode’s title, “The Truth Has a Ring to It.” Fuches has manipulated his way back into Barry’s good graces before, and after he goes through denial, anger, and bargaining, he seems to come back to anger, declaring “fuck you” and heading out to the woods to look for something Barry left behind, whether to ruin Barry’s life or to try to blackmail him (or perhaps both).
The stakes are raised for Barry, as well, as he has a major breakthrough in his acting class. He first pushes Sally to stay committed to telling the truth of her story, then elevates her story and her own performance by raising his own to the next level, going to Gene both to request to beg off his own story to help Sally tell hers, and getting some advice on how to draw from his own performance. Gene cites Korengal in both: First, that he shouldn’t tell that story, because, as he constantly reminds Barry, “You killed somebody and got away with it.” But Gene encourages him to draw from that experience for his performance, with the obvious ironic instructions to draw from “the worst thing he’s ever done.”
And in actuality, Barry does, as his attempts to return to the place he was at Korengal give way to his recollection of murdering Moss; Fuches is right about this: “Korengal was the fog of war. But Moss, that was a choice.” And it’s that choice to be a stone-cold killer that Barry draws on to push himself into the frightening energy of Sam. And it works. Sally’s performance gets raised to another level– so much so that her agent who arrived after she blew off an audition is impressed enough to try to get her meetings for something bigger than parts where the character is named “Wife.” Barry even gets praise from Cousineau, and just that simple acknowledgement means the world to him, completes his journey to a new man with a new father figure and a new vocation.
That’s what Fuches threatens to shatter, as through his incompetence at tracking (he falls down a hill and lands in a drainage creek), he stumbles upon where Barry stashed Moss’ car. We see him at dinner, watching Gene and ordering what he orders. He made Barry, and he thinks he can break him.
The question is, does he realize what he’s made?
STRAY BULLET POINTS
- I didn’t even get to mention NoHo Hank this episode, and we get a very funny scene with him and Barry, with the Chechen’s goodbye dance and Barry standing around stone-faced.
- However, Hank berates the accordion player who interrupts their moment, and he later snitches on Hank’s plan to rob the shipment of heroin from Esther and the Burmese to Cristobal. Things aren’t looking good for Hank; is Barry going to have to rescue him?
- The cold open is great, with Barry returning to the quinceañera shop to steal Loach’s files. Loach’s ex-wife and new-partner (well, ex-partner now, I guess) show up looking for them but to no avail. Also, his partner (Meg?) has hilariously poor condolences for Loach’s ex.
- We get another outstanding police press conference, with the ridiculous juxtaposition of the photos of Loach and Proxin, plus journalists chiming in that, yes, they can see why Loach’s wife left him for Ronny.
- Nice moment with Gene telling Barry how much it means to him that Barry confided in him. Gene can’t quite shut off his oily-showman personality, but Henry Winkler is great at doing so just enough that Gene still comes off as undeniably Gene, yet sincere.
- In the “Inside the Episode” afterward, Bill Hader mentions that Fuches is someone who thinks of himself as a military guy but is kind of a poser, and we see that as his attempts to track where Barry stashed Moss’ car first lead him in a circle, then to a miserable night of camping out, then to the aforementioned falling down a hill into a drainage ditch.
- “When I was six or seven, I was at home, at my mum’s flat in London, and I looked out of the window, and I saw a horse, right outside my block of flats.” “And?” “That’s my story.”
- I leave that hanging question at the end of the main body of the review because I now think that Barry– who has pointedly tried not to pull the trigger this season– will have to kill Fuches before the finale. (God, I hope it’s that and not Gene.)