DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Barry episode “limonada” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome, hit-people-turned-actors! Barry‘s second outing lets Bill Hader loose as the multihyphenate churns in a spine-chilling, nuanced and visceral performance. We see Barry adopt the characteristics of an abusive partner to both Sally and Gene.
What’s most upsetting is watching Sally fall under the sway of his abuse, from sweeping his abhorrent behavior under the rug and apologizing to him to making dinner to keep him happy. Of course, Sally’s terrified to stand up for herself because complying is safer than speaking out. I’ve been there.
Even though we see Barry’s pain surging beneath the surface, I’m glad “limonada” doesn’t excuse his actions. Barry’s on my sh*tlist right now, but that’s a testament to Hader’s acting and writing. His scenes with Henry Winkler are also standouts.
Ready to dig deep into “limonada”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Barry (Hader) bringing fast food out to Gene (Winkler), who’s in the trunk of his car. You know, the whole hostage thing. Barry shoves Gene’s food and change in the trunk before driving away. He’s got places to be!
Meanwhile, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) hosts a scriptwriting session while Katie (Elsie Fisher) observes. Sally challenges the dialogue in a climactic argument, citing that most folks don’t argue so eloquently in real life.
Suddenly, Barry storms into the room, much to Sally’s surprise. Barry seems manic, unhinged. He claims he knows how to make Gene “get over” the death of Janice — Sally can cast him on Joplin. Unfortunately, Sally already mentioned Gene to her casting department, which was a no-go.
But Barry refuses to take “no” for an answer. He grows irate, his anger culminating with him screaming in Sally’s face and backing her against the wall. Fuming at her rejection of his idea, Barry leaves as quickly as he came. Everyone in the room appears shaken, especially Sally.
Cristobal (Michael Irby) calls NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), and the duo schedules a time to rendezvous. Cristobal spots two little girls selling lemonade across the street, so he gleefully strides to purchase some. However, a slew of vehicles stop abruptly in front of his house. His father-in-law, Fernando (Miguel Sandoval), emerges, having made the unexpected trek from Bolivia to Los Angeles.
Next, Barry leaves Gene in the trunk while returning to the casting office for the project he auditioned for last season. Unfortunately, they had already cast the role, but they’d like him to return that evening to read for a popular TV series.
Cristobal questions why Fernando’s in LA, as nothing good can come of his presence. Fernando wanted to check in on the Chechen situation, claiming they must strike them first. Of course, this puts Hank in harm’s way.
Katie approaches the few witnesses to Barry’s abusive tirade while on set, asking if they should do something about it. The adults claim they cannot report it since he only “backed her into a corner.” Take it from me: abuse comes in all shapes and sizes. Don’t dismiss it because there’s no physical element to it.
Later, Barry lets Gene out of the trunk, and he hands the latter sides for the audition. Gene thinks it’s preposterous that Barry would expect him to run lines after this gross mistreatment. Gene attempts to appeal to the sliver of goodness embedded in Barry’s soul. He reminds Barry of that inherent goodness and how he helped shape our titular character into a better actor and human.
Barry confesses his love for his acting teacher, and it might be enough to spare Gene’s life. Well, as long as he doesn’t go to the cops.
Next, Fernando’s lackeys shoot up Hank’s plant establishment, assuming the Chechens are there. Thankfully, Cristobal warned Hank, so the latter took his men on a bus tour of Hollywood. Fun fact: the area they’re touring in Hollywood is where I used to work! No, I did not work for “the Jimmy Kimmel” (sorry).
Meanwhile, Natalie (D’Arcy Carden) and Lindsay (Jessy Hodges) call Sally into the office to dump some news. According to them, another show about to premiere is incredibly similar to Joplin, but it boasts more of a comedic slant. Because abuse is funny?
Joplin will now debut that week to not clash with this other series. Oh, and Sally must partake in a press event the following day. However, Sally’s more preoccupied with buying spaghetti for Barry.
Later, Barry has his evening audition, which seems to go well. Barry asks the casting dude if they’ll consider casting Gene in a non-speaking role. Of course, Gene’s made a (not great) name for himself in Hollywood. Still, after Barry discloses the heartwarming, inspirational story of how he bounced back thanks to Gene, the casting department appears more receptive to the idea.
Then, Hank and Cristobal reunite. Cristobal emphasizes Fernando’s ruthlessness and urges Hank to flee LA quickly. Hank recognizes this is a breakup even if Cristobal doesn’t explicitly state it. Cristobal wants our baby NoHo Hank to be safe. Carrigan delivers a gut-wrenching performance without uttering a single word in the minute we watch him while Cristobal departs.
Sally prepares dinner for Barry and calls him, only to learn that he got the part in the popular TV series. Not only that, but Gene also has a role courtesy of Barry’s sob story. Sally apologizes for what happened earlier, a.k.a. says sorry so that Barry will address his eruption. However, he accepts her apology, failing to offer one in return. Sally did nothing wrong!
Suddenly, Barry opens the trunk to deliver the good news to Gene, but the latter’s nowhere in sight. We see Gene running frantically down an empty residential street. He hops the fence into a yard while one woman proceeds to break up with her bewildered girlfriend. The reason? She has too many dogs. Exhibit A: all of those canines chase Gene across the soon-to-be-ex couple’s yard.
Thankfully, Gene escapes the doggie danger, flagging down one woman and asking if she can call an “internet taxi” for him since his phone is in Barry’s car. She points out the arrival of his driver, but we see it’s Barry. Gene screams, taking off down a desolate alley.
Barry pursues him, but an oncoming vehicle crashes into his car.
Gene arrives home to his son Leo (Andrew Leeds) and grandson hosting none other than his kidnapper. Barry sits on the couch with an arm around Gene’s grandson’s shoulders while the kid seems engrossed in a game.
Leo departs to fetch some beverages, so Barry utilizes the opportunity to not-so-subtly threaten Gene’s family should the former acting teacher report him to the police. Barry reveals that he secured parts for both of them on the same series. He makes Gene promise to be happy with this development.
Then, he states his love for Gene, forcing the latter to repeat it back. This is abuser behavior 101 — softening the blow of their actions with “I love you.”
Overall, “limonada” boasts brilliant performances, tight, sharp writing and gripping characters that keep you invested in this compelling story. While Barry is typically hilariously dark, I’d say “limonada” plunges into pure darkness regarding the titular character’s horridly abusive behavior.
Will Fernando learn about Cristobal helping Hank and his men escape? Will Gene keep his word and refrain from going to the authorities? Join me next week while I recap Barry, only on Geek Girl Authority.
Barry streams new episodes every Sunday at 10 pm on HBO Max.