We open on the prison guards beating Fuches, and the warden demanding to know what he knows about the assassination attempt on Barry. But while he did know Hank planned a hit on Barry, and made a frantic last-minute attempt to warn the guards last week, Fuches didn’t know any of the details of the hit. And now that it went predictably awry (“This is what happens when you hire two guys with a podcast.”), he also doesn’t know where Barry is.
Nobody does. He’s escaped from prison, and since everyone has betrayed or been betrayed by Barry, they’re all on edge, because he could be coming after any one of them.
Cousineau is hiding out at his cabin, begging his son not to leave him alone, or to at least bring takeout. And being alone in the same cabin where Barry killed Janice doesn’t exactly fill him with calm. He settles into a chair facing the door, with his prop gun from Rip Torn clutched in his hand.
Meanwhile, the cops stake out Gene’s house in case Barry shows up, but Jim Moss is already there. “Please don’t kill him,” one of the befuddled cops asks. “I can’t promise that,” he says sternly. The cops also go after Hank and his new gang, raiding Dave & Busters, and beating up a few bros before realizing Hank and Cristobal are elsewhere.
The only one not worried is Sally, who hasn’t heard the news yet. She’s on set with Kristen, her new acting student, talking her through her first day of shooting a Barbarella-type sci-fi gladiator movie that Kristen has the physique for but not the acting chops. Sally meets the director, Sian Heder (playing herself), and gushes over CODA. Heder is less than enthused about selling out for some action movie nonsense, and just wants to get through the day of shooting.
Which she can’t, because Kristen flubs her line. Sally comes to her rescue, coaching her through the line reading, but as soon as she realizes Heder’s watching, she turns to face the director, so eager to impress she blocks Heder’s view of Kristen while she emotes the hell out of her cheesy dialogue. Heder likes her acting, but still wants it coming from the amazonian Kristen’s body. But Sally does get a consolation prize, an on-set gig as an acting coach. It pays well, and it might be a road to getting her career back. Things are finally looking up, until Kristen breaks the news that Barry is at large.
But with Barry still nowhere to be found (and absent until the final moments), the episode belongs to NoHo Hank. He’s as nervous as everyone else, but he quickly snaps back into best-criminal-boss-in-the-world mode, setting up his crew with a party complete with gambling tables and an open bar. And then playtime in their grain silo full of quality construction sand.
The gang members are delighted, taking off their shoes and talking about making sand angels. Hank ducks out for “one more surprise,” asking Cristobal to follow. But he hangs back, long enough for a pit to open up in the sand, sucking everyone in. He spends a long moment under the sand before Hank rescues him. He wiped out the rest of their men at the behest of the Chechens, who had threatened to do the job themselves (and kill Hank and Cristobal) otherwise.
The Chehens are happy. They give Hank control of LA, and are completely accepting of his relationship with Cristobal. Hank loves him, so they love him. He’s family. Except Cristobal can’t get past Hank killing their crew without any remorse. Behind his affable laid-back vibe, Hank’s always been coldly pragmatic, and in this case he’s not wrong. He and Cristobal both would have been killed had they not played ball. But Cristobal’s shocked at how coldblooded he is, and at how easily Hank crushed his dream of wanting a legitimate business. Enough that he leaves. Hank threatens him, only confirming Cristobal’s worst thoughts. It’s one of Anthony Carrigan’s best moments on the series, as he tries to reason with Cristobal, then threatens, then pleads with him, then comes back into the house alone and breaks down.
Like Sally, Hank gets what he thinks he wants, but not what he needs. He’s finally a crime lord with his own territory, but it comes at the cost of losing Cristobal. Sally gets another chance at a career in Hollywood, but it means standing on the sideline while someone else is in the spotlight. Even Fuches finally gets the respect of the other inmates for not giving up Barry, but that’s only because he had no information to give. He’s bloodied, beaten, alone, and without the only leverage that might have gotten him out of jail.
And then, only at the very end, do we find Barry. And almost as soon as we do, we get another one of the visions he’s been seeing all season. Is he imagining the future? Or the show jumping ahead to that future next week? We’ll find out on Sunday.
• Paul McCrane (Dr. Romano from ER) shows up briefly as Sian Heder’s producer, who offers Sally the on-set acting coach gig. Not sure whether casting a familiar face in the role means we’re going to see him again, or it was a cameo like Fred Armisen’s 20-second appearance last week.
• Turns out, Rip Torn’s gun does fire real bullets.