Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan) was the catalyst for everything good and bad in the life of Barry Berkman (Bill Hader). A member of the Chechen Mafia in Los Angeles, he was Goran Pazar’s right-hand man, but he creates so much chaos with his clueless attitude that he eventually takes over the business. Though as narcissistic as everyone else in the story, Hank has a paradoxical sweetness to his lifestyle that has made him one of the most beloved characters in the Barry series. His transformative trajectory goes from an inconsequential to an empathetic and positive criminal, but now to a somber and suffering survivor. It’s just that at the end of the third season, Hank survives Bolivian captivity, listening to friends being eaten alive by a tiger and since leaving there he hasn’t been the same. Was he with P.S.T.D.? Post-traumatic disorder? It seems so.
To understand the change, it’s worth remembering Hank’s role in the middle of it all. With a sensational performance by Carrigan, Noho Hank started out as a bizarre, conceited mobster who came into contact with Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root) when Goran Pazar discovered that his wife had cheated on him and wanted to kill her lover, aspiring actor Ryan Madison. Fuches brings Barry to the contract and he accepts because he was in a deep depression and wanted to take his own life, work can distract him.
Hank and Barry fall out right away. First, the Chechen talks a lot and does little, and wants quick service. By staying close to Barry, he’s the first to spot that the former Marine has lost focus. When he decides to act alone, he brings chaos to everyone. Hank’s men kill Ryan, which would incriminate Barry, so the mercenary eliminates them. However, Hank not only survives, he accidentally leaves his camera with the images of the crime, which is found by the police and identifies Barry. To make matters worse, he hands Barry and Fuches over to the Chechen mafia, forcing them to take another job to make up for the first one. It’s the beginning of many compensatory adventures, never allowing Barry to effectively change careers, as he wants.
And it gets worse when Hank falls in love with Cristobal Sifuentes (Michael Irby), the representative of the Bolivian mafia. He alternates between gratitude and anger at Barry when things get tough, especially inadvertently being used in the complex relationship between Fuches and Barry. This volatile friendship is on the rocks, with Hanks once again failing to eliminate Barry.
Noho Hank’s change in behavior altered the mood of the series as well. He’s still amusingly polite in the worst of situations, but his expression is disillusioned and it’s really the aftermath of the emotional trauma and shocking violence he’s survived. This sadness that is increasingly clear makes me question whether we will have Hank transform into what he initially wanted to be – a cold killer – or if he will maintain the devious positivity that we have come to love so much.
If it depends on Fuches, it won’t be good. The obsession with Barry’s manipulative and abusive ‘surrogate father’ is a roller coaster ride. In five minutes he wants the Marine dead, then saved. He now thinks the two of them are like Rain Man‘s brothers. As usual, the most bizarre circumstances ‘save’ Barry, who escapes from prison after Hank’s plan to kill him fails. Barry’s revenge list is long, we don’t know his priorities: he was betrayed by Gene Cousineau (Harry Winkler), whom he will probably seek out and eliminate. He is also aware that Hank has hired a team to kill him, so Cristobal is in equal danger. Barry’s end can only be tragic and it’s not long before we find out. I just wanted Noho Hank to regain his joy… is there enough time?
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