“bestest place on earth”
- Creator: Alec Berg and Bill Hader
- Starring: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan
In the aftermath of Barry’s arrest, everybody has to pick a side: are you with the cold-blooded killer, or are you against him? Bestest place on earth is all about drawing the battle lines and seeing who belongs where. Of course, as is often the case, those lines get awfully blurry, even within the episode.
Barry himself just wants to make amends for everything that’s happened. As shocked as he is to see Sally visit him in prison, he goes into full-on apology mode (as he should) and says and does whatever he can to possibly one day land back in her good graces again. He’s saying and doing the right things to her, but she simply doesn’t want to hear it. Her final line at the prison of “I feel safe around you” carries a lot of weight with it: she’s left the door open for Barry and given him some hope to make it out, but how much does she actually believe that?
It seems that Sally’s primary concern in bestest place on earth is her own culpability; she’s a toxic entity in town now and can’t find any work or representation, dating a serial killer and all. Regardless of how much she knew at the time – which was nothing – it speaks to the churning nature of Hollywood, and our general attitudes towards women survivors of abuse, that those facts fall by the wayside.
One of Barry’s greatest relationships is in Barry and Fuches, and we finally see in this episode Barry’s first ever meeting with the man who would shape his adult life. Nicky Hirsch’s script in the episode twists their current-day relationship in ways that are unpredictable from moment to moment, but make sense for their characters. After yikes, Fuches has a change of heart and no longer wants to cooperate with the FBI. Fuches’ loyalties seem to fluctuate at the drop of a hat, depending on how much Barry does or does not hate him at any given moment. But once Barry learns that Fuches was going to rat on him, Barry sees his own opportunity to do the same and snitch on the Chechen mafia.
Speaking of the Chechen’s, I haven’t written yet about NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) and Cristobal (Michael Irby) and their adventures outside of California. In yikes it wasn’t entirely clear why they were given so much focus, though I’ll never complain about getting more of Carrigan and his misguided sense of leadership – not to mention his fabulously deranged outfits. Their plot to illegally import sand – which culminates here at a Dave & Busters, of course – feels like exactly the kind of scheme these two idiots would try to put together. Why Hank makes getting Barry out of prison such a high priority remains a mystery to me though. Is it out of self preservation, or misguided loyalty, or another boyish crush, or something else entirely? That bestest place on earth ends with Hank learning of Barry’s treachery and calling for his death means we likely won’t ever find out, unfortunately.
Finally we come to Gene who, in true Gene fashion, devises an elaborate scavenger hunt for a Vanity Fair reporter (Patrick Fischler) to get his story out there. Yes, the profile would make things unnecessarily murky for the trial (whether it’s all on or off the record), but it would undoubtedly raise Gene’s star meter, which will always and forever be his primary motivation. That it will also undoubtedly tick off Moss, who wants things clean and easy so Barry suffers the most, likely hasn’t crossed Gene’s mind either.
Hader continues to impress behind the camera this time around. The spinning table shot of Hank and Cristobal at Dave & Buster’s was a smart way to frame the scene, and was punctuated hilariously by Hank’s inability to block himself. And the “dreamscape” moments, as Barry’s younger self slowly adopts Fuches as a father figure, meshed with the surreal wedding scene, was brilliantly put together. Not every episode of Barry needs to shift things dramatically from week to week, and I appreciate the restraint of the show in not shoe-horning something in at the last moment. As long as the show stays true to its characters, as it does in this installment, you won’t hear many complaints from me.
Barry will air new episodes on HBO Sundays at 10pm