DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Barry season premiere episode “forgiving jeff” has spoilers.
Welcome, hit people and actors! Barry‘s back after three torturous years. Folks, if “forgiving jeff” is any indication, we’re in for a wild, full-throttle ride. Bill Hader proves he’s one of the best actors working today, infusing our titular hitman with nuance, depth and complex layers. Despite Barry’s countless egregious mistakes and the increasing body count left in his wake, we can’t help but root for him to succeed.
“Forgiving jeff” delves into the theme of forgiveness as Barry tries to rectify his errors. He learns from NoHo Hank that he must earn forgiveness, and he instantly puts that into practice with Gene in his forked-up way. He needs validation from others because that’s where he derives self-worth — from everyone around him. He incessantly asks people if he’s a “bad person.”
Ready to dig deep into “forgiving jeff”? Let’s get to it.
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We open with Barry (Hader) eating while one man paces frantically, ranting about killing the other man with them. We see someone digging a grave. The aforementioned-pacing man hired Barry to murder the other dude for sleeping with his wife.
However, when Barry approaches the scene while armed with a tool for removing eyelids, his hirer reveals he wants to call off the hit. He claims he’s “forgiving Jeff” after Jeff begged for forgiveness. It’s all good!
Barry nonchalantly and seamlessly shoots both of them in the forehead. Then, he shouts, “There’s no forgiving Jeff!” before departing the crime scene. This moment is killer.
Later, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) prepares for her day. It appears she has a show in the works. We see a binder with “Joplin” emblazoned across the front.
Sally observes Barry from afar while he quietly plays a video game. She asks him to bring her flowers to set but urges him not to stay for lunch.
Meanwhile, Detective Dunn (Sarah Burns) arrives at PLANTS!, NoHo Hank’s new gardening establishment that serves as a cover for his drug business. I dig the name — it’s straightforward and to the point. Anyway, Dunn asks to speak with NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), who’s tickled to pop his interrogation cherry despite his crew freaking out over the authorities stumbling upon their copious heroin stores.
Next, Dunn grills Hank regarding the monastery mass shooting. Hank reveals he wasn’t there, but he heard that nobody survived. Dunn places the pin Hank gave Barry on the table. She informs Hank that they found it on the body of Detective Janice Moss.
Instead of throwing Barry under the bus, Hank points to Monroe Fuches, claiming he’s responsible for the murder of Detective Moss and the monastery slaughtering. His codename? The Raven. I agree with Hank; it’s a badass moniker.
Then, we see Fuches (Stephen Root) in the mountains of Chechnya, in hiding courtesy of Hank. Fuches laments missing Ohio State football games, but his handler/guard reveals he can’t return to LA until the smoke clears. But Fuches changes his tune once he spots the beautiful Chechen woman bringing him groceries. Plus, there are goats!
Later, Detective Dunn tells Gene (Henry Winkler) that the police are making headway in Detective Moss’s murder case. She points to Fuches in the photo, revealing he’s the killer. However, Fuches whispered Barry’s name in Gene’s ear after seeing Janice’s body.
Gene asserts that Barry’s the murderer, even though Dunn claims his alibi checked out that night. But crazy sh*t started happening the moment Barry joined Gene’s acting class!
Meanwhile, Barry searches for hitman jobs on the dark web, settling for one woman hellbent on killing her cheating husband. Barry asks her for flower advice over the phone, much to her annoyance.
Sally, Lindsay (Jessy Hodges) and Natalie (D’Arcy Carden) attend a meeting with an executive of BanShe, a streaming company. The executive (played by Elizabeth Perkins) watches a clip from Sally’s new series, Joplin, wherein she plays the mother of Katie Harris’s character, Chloe (Elsie Fisher). Said exec doesn’t seem impressed and asks peculiar questions after it ends.
Then, Sally not-so-subtly reminds Natalie to know her place — and cut her carrots the way she likes.
Joplin‘s Sally’s baby. She wears many hats. Sally walks through various sets, answering rapid-fire questions regarding everything from wardrobe to fight choreography and dialogue. I love this one-shot take as the camera pans across the different settings, acting as a house that Sally enters and exits. The moment she leaves, the clamorous inner workings of set life cease.
Next, Sally and Katie film a scene for the series while Barry tiptoes on set with flowers. Barry fibs about his schedule not allowing for lunch, much to Sally’s delight. Suddenly, a bullet pierces Sally’s head, and blood drips down her face while she chats cheerfully with him. Of course, this event occurs in Barry’s mind, and it’s part of his PTSD. I love how Barry addresses and explores his trauma.
Later, NoHo Hank returns from his successful first interrogation. No biggie — he framed Fuches for everything. And the cops don’t suspect a thing!
Hank climbs into the shower with Cristobal (Michael Irby), his new boyfriend. I’m all for this ship sailing. They end the night by watching TV in bed; all snuggled up like the adorable lovebirds they are.
However, Barry’s unexpected arrival in the dark of night shatters Hank’s perfect evening. A desperate Barry asks Hank for a job, but Hank chastises our lead for attempting to make him a scapegoat by placing that pin next to Janice Moss’s body.
Barry apologizes, but Hank rejects it, citing that forgiveness is something one earns. Before Barry leaves, he receives a text from Gene, asking him if he can help pack things up the following day at the acting studio.
Gene procures the gun Rip Torn gifted him, and it’s abundantly clear that he plans to kill Barry himself.
Later, Barry meets with Gene at the studio under the guise he’s assisting Gene with moving. Gene’s demeanor changes, and he drops the fake niceties. He inquires about the man with them at the site of Janice’s body. Kenneth Goulet (Fuches’ alter ego)? Barry confirms that’s said man’s name.
But Gene knows Barry killed Janice. He orders Barry to turn himself over to the authorities or die. Gene withdraws his gun; however, it falls apart instantly. Barry apologizes, and the next scene cuts to him standing over Gene outside of the city, brandishing a weapon. It appears to be the same setting from the beginning of the episode.
Gene begs for his life, claiming that he won’t disclose the truth regarding Barry’s grievous transgressions to anyone. They can work this out! Barry feels Gene knows too much, though, so die he must. Gene asserts he forgives Barry, even though Barry learned from NoHo Hank that forgiveness must be earned.
An imaginary bullet strikes Gene in the head, much like Sally. It’s intriguing how Barry’s PTSD kicks into high gear as he envisions the people he loves in grave danger.
An idea strikes Barry like lightning. He believes he has a solution. So, Barry orders Gene to get in the trunk of his car.
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Anthony Carrigan always steals the show as the endlessly charming and affable NoHo Hank. Carrigan’s comedic timing is pitch-perfect. Barry knows how to make audiences love shady characters.
“Forgiving jeff” is hilarious and poignant, as per Barry‘s modus operandi. Bring on the rest of Season 3!
How do you think Barry plans to “make it up” to Gene? Will Sally’s show set sail without a hitch? Will I have to make “NoHo Hank + Cristobal 4eva” t-shirts? I don’t have to, but I will.
In the immortal words of Hank, “See you on the flippy-flops!”
Barry streams Sunday nights at 10 pm on HBO Max.
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