Back on the set of “Laws of Humanity,” we see the big scene being filmed for the first time, as Barry (in his role as a pharma executive) apologizes to Gene (as the widower) for his misdeeds. (It is here I will note that the lead character of this show is apparently named Hugh Manity. Or Mannity? A funny detail, yes, but also, this show genuinely sounds godawful.) Barry says his lines as expected. Gene — who very subtly tries to shift his shoulder away when Barry puts his hand on it while doing his part of the scene — does not. He stands up, faces Barry, punches him square in the face, and tells him to back off. An intense moment sold phenomenally well by Winkler, even as we watch Gene leave the soundstage and quickly realize he may have just made things worse for himself.
Barry, in response, might well be making things worse for himself: he dourly agrees to NoHo Hank’s request, choosing to try and bomb the hell out of the Bolivians. NoHo Hank’s compatriot notes that it’s … curious, at least, that the man who killed most of the Chechens at the monastery is the same man they are now using to take out the Bolivians. “Don’t we want the madman?” asks NoHo Hank, who then chalks up the monastery to Barry having a bad day. (Quite the bad day then.) But while Barry is an effective loose cannon to have on your side, it’s clear that Hank’s fellow Chechens are a lot less convinced of his plans.
If one half of this season is about forgiveness, and the struggle to find it, then the other half may well be about vengeance. “Vengeance is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die,” Fuches’ Chechen lady friend says to him in the final scene, after noting he’s going nuts thinking about Barry, in spite of Barry not thinking about him. She then tells him a fable about the destructive power of vengeance, in which a group of farmers killed for their land choose to wreak revenge on their murderer as transformed panthers and are doomed to walk the depths of the ocean for eternity, while a little boy who chose to forgive the man who killed him was given eternal happiness. “How long did it take? The vengeance army panther thing?” Fuches asks with a wild look in his eye. When he’s told that … well, this is a fable and not a real thing, he just says “…But it could be.”
So “ben mendelsohn” ends with one very obvious harbinger of doom. Fuches may still be in Chechnya for now — though Hank had gotten him an airplane ticket home pretty quickly — but he wants to wend his way back into Barry’s life to deliver him some violent faux-justice.
I will mention it one more time: this is an excellent showcase for Henry Winkler’s acting, even if it’s a quieter version of that talent than in past seasons. Gene’s rage towards Barry is perfectly logical already, but Winkler sells it so effectively without it being overly bombastic.
Even over the phone, the toxic connection between Fuches and Barry is something to behold. Where Gene was more of a natural surrogate-father figure to our title character, Fuches is just the worst kind of enabler you can find.
That said, everyone seems to be enabling Barry in one way or another, and it’s hard to see why he would ever deserve that treatment again. Barry is less immediately awful this week compared to last week, but his behavior is hard to forget or forgive.
The Hank/Cristobal connection is a slow burn into tragedy, right? Fernando’s promise to leave is hanging at the end of this episode, and it feels hard to imagine things being that simple (even if Miguel Sandoval didn’t give off an air of nastiness).