Last week ended with a long-haired, bearded Gene Cousineau demanding to talk to the person who runs Warner Brothers. They’re making a movie about Barry, and as far as Gene’s concerned, it’s his story to tell.
So now Barry’s trying to teach an unwilling Sally gun safety so she can protect the house while Barry goes to LA to kill Gene. She and John aren’t to leave the house, and Barry’s not giving them much of a choice in the matter. “We either do this, or we drop John off at an orphanage and kill ourselves.” So while Barry (and the audience) escape the claustrophobia of their Dysfunctional House on the Prairie, she and their son are, for the time being, trapped.
But we get to check back in with the rest of the cast post-time-jump. Fuches struts out of jail, covered in tattoos, to the tune of Black Sabbath, a convertible waiting to pick him up. The cred we saw him earn with the inmates two episodes ago has clearly increased over eight years in the slammer, and he’s fully embraced his identity as The Raven, to the point where he gives that name for his coffee order.
He strides into Nohoval — a gleaming corporate office with a bronze statue of Cristobal in the lobby and Hank in the C-suite. (And Cristobal’s inspirational quote “every day can be like Dave & Busters” on the wall.) For keeping his mouth shut in prison, Hank’s happy to offer lucrative work to The Raven, and a beautiful house in the hills for Fuches and the gang he apparently now has (and a girlfriend with a daughter he somehow met in prison), but all Fuches cares about is Barry; Hank’s moved on and makes some vague promises about tracking his old frenemy down.
Fuches is impressed with the empire Hank’s built. “The Noho Hourglass” — drowning his previous crew in sand — is legendary in the criminal world. But when Fuches compliments Hank for killing Cristobal and using his sand-importing scheme to build a legitimate business empire, Hank bristles at the accusation. He insists their competitors murdered Cristobal, but Fuches laughs that off. “Everybody knows you had him killed.” Hank’s not having it. Deal’s over. He throws Fuches out, but Fuches isn’t leaving.
And Barry’s on his way. On the plane to LA, he’s listening to a pastor’s podcast, in keeping with the superficial interest we saw him take last week. At first, he turns off the podcast when he asserts that while every sin is equal in God’s eyes, murder’s the worst one. But Barry tunes back in and eventually the pastor tells Barry exactly what he wants to hear — sometimes killing is okay. Then he moves onto another show, by another pastor, who opens with “murder is definitely not a sin!” The pastor in question did ten years in jail for murder, but, “it was done within my faith. I prayed to God about it.”
It’s, frankly, a pretty scathing indictment of religion and people’s relationship to it in a few quick scenes. Barry’s not interested in atoning for his sins or answering complex moral questions. As has been the case since the first episode, he just wants someone to reassure him that what he’s about to do is okay and that he’s not a bad person for doing it, and mass-market Christianity is happy to provide.
But he’s not the only one who’s found religion. Gene has spent the last eight years hiding out on a kibbutz in Israel. He acknowledges that “I was a narcissistic self-involved person,” and claims that he’s learned selflessness. And his actions seem to back that up. He’s not in Hollywood to cash in on his story. He wants to talk them out of making the movie. He doesn’t want Barry to be glorified or Janice’s memory to be exploited. But the studio’s going to make the movie with or without him.
He also makes a good faith effort to reconcile with his son Leo, who he shot eight years earlier, mistaking him for Barry. Leo’s understandably wary of his father, as always, but is willing to hear him out. While Gene tries to make the case that he’s a changed man and genuinely remorseful, Barry’s parked outside. He thinks better of what he’s doing, but then goes for his gun, but then thinks better of it when he sees Leo’s son — only a few years older than his own — walk into the house. At this point, planning on murdering someone and not going through with it might be the most absolution we can expect to see for Barry.
And as for his own son, John’s not having a great time stuck in the house with his terrified alcoholic mom. Barry’s been the full-time parent, and as we saw hints of last week, Sally’s not really equipped. She can’t make toast without setting off the fire alarm. She pours vodka into John’s orange juice to put him to sleep, but gets frustrated when he passes out on the couch.
She falls asleep herself, and wakes up to hear the abusive guy she got fired last week screaming threats. There’s a disconcerting scene of her walking around a quiet house, not noticing a black-clad figure with a mask following her. As the show occasionally does, the moment is deliberately surreal, and it’s not clear whether what we’re seeing is really happening, entirely in Sally’s head, or an exaggerated version of events. Sally’s paranoia and terror escalate until a truck crashes into her bedroom wall, upending the entire house, as John remains passed out through it all. It feels like a nightmare hallucination, except John wakes up to the house in disarray and his tearful mother leaving a voicemail for Barry. Which can’t be reassuring, as John knows his dad as Clark.
Two episodes left, and we’re not reassured about any of these characters. Gene, against all odds, seems to have improved and atoned in eight years. John’s innocent, and we’re rooting for him against all odds to end up with a normal life after being raised by a sociopath. Everyone else? It’s hard to believe it’s going to end well for any of them.
• “Look at what the cat brought in to the house!”
• “The DA wants to talk to you. Take two bites of that salad and come with me.”