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Barry's Betrayal Means No More Mr. Nice Hank

NoHo Hank is one of Barry's most endearing characters, but only to a point.
  • Anthony Carrigan in Barry (Photo: Merrick Morton/HBO)
    Anthony Carrigan in Barry (Photo: Merrick Morton/HBO)

    [Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Barry Season 4, Episode 3, “you’re charming.” ]

    NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) is an enigma. He manages to be the most endearing character on Barry while simultaneously being the most ruthless. Unlike Barry (Bill Hader), who spends the series trying to shake his murderous tendencies and the guilt that comes with them, Hank accepts that he’ll have to kill a person here or there to get to the level he wants as part of the Chechen mob. But that doesn’t mean he can’t make friends along the way — from Hank’s very first moment on screen he’s hospitable, affable, and wants to be friends with Barry because he genuinely likes him. It’s a rarity in a show filled with relationships based on infatuation, narcissism, and opportunity. In Episode 3, “you’re charming,” it’s Barry’s betrayal of their friendship above all else that flips a switch in Hank’s demeanor.

    Part of Hank’s enduring likability is his role as a consistent source of comedic relief. In a series that’s leaned heavier on the “dark” side of “dark comedy” more and more as it’s gone on, Hank can be relied on for light-hearted energy and solid punchlines. In Episode 3’s case, that means arguing about the merits of a gadget review podcast with Toro (Guillermo Del Toro, in a delightful cameo). His self-awareness keeps him from getting too bogged down in the personal emotional battles others face. At this point, Hank is living his life fully, out with his enemy-turned-lover Crístobal (Michael Irby), running an operation where he calls the shots with a crew who is excited to come to work every day because of perks like trips to Dave & Buster’s.

    Those closest to Hank know how to appeal to his sensibilities. Batir (JB Blanc) — a member of the Chechen family who worked closely with the hybrid team assembled by Hank and Crístobal in Season 3 — shows up to tell him about a new faction that’s taking over Los Angeles leads by saying he’s there as a friend. Batir then lays out two options for Hank: get rid of the new team and rejoin the Chechen elders, or stand by his new empire and become the Chechen’s number one target. The choice seems at first like a difficult one to make. Would Hank really leave behind the crew he built with a romantic partner, a group of people he’s just won over? Or is his trust in this “friend” more important than that?

    NoHo Hank feels his feelings deeply — when he learns at the end of Episode 2 that Barry has sold him and Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root) out to the feds, it’s clear that his heart is breaking. And when he receives a call from an imprisoned Barry in Episode 3, he can’t help but share his anger at the betrayal. A more hardened, less emotional criminal may have played it differently. If Hank had kept his cool, Barry may not have picked up on an impending threat. Had Barry entered his meeting with the feds at ease about his relationship with Hank, he may not have noticed the hitman in the room, and everything might have gone according to Hank’s plan. Instead, Hank needs to talk through the friend breakup. When Barry uses their friendship as a bargaining chip for a favor, Hank can’t help but ask how Barry’s ever been a good friend to him. After Hank says his piece and hangs up, he’s visibly changed. He always considered Barry to be one of his best friends, and look where that got him.

    It’s disingenuous to say that Hank has a completely pure heart — he is a cold-blooded killer and career criminal, after all. But throughout the series he’s still managed to be genuine and as kind as someone in his line of work can be. It’s been easy to forget that, without that kindness, he has the power to be one of the most dangerous men in the series.

    Barry airs on HBO Sundays at 10:00 PM ET. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Barry, HBO, Anthony Carrigan, Bill Hader, Guillermo del Toro, Michael Irby