HBO is the new HBO, you guys.
No matter how much other networks want to tout their wares when it comes to great dramas and half-hour comedies with an adult bent, it's all about HBO.
To wit, we have Barry Season 2 Episode 1 picking up right where the first season ended but with more revelations from Barry and focus on some characters who were previously only supporting.
With the murder of Janice still on everyone's mind, Barry needs more than ever to bury himself in theater.
It doesn't help one bit that the cop who called him out was also Gene's girlfriend who was the very reason that scenario popped up in the first place.
It makes for some of the most complicated and heartbreaking comedy on television.
Barry's need in the premiere to push forward the class' production of The Front Page without another person in agreement perfectly highlights not only his predicament but that of every American these days as we find ourselves more out of sorts with those we love in a highly electric political atmosphere.
That's OK though because even as the characters rip our hearts apart, they also make us laugh with the absurdity of it all.
Thankfully, it's not only Barry's plight we get to explore but all the lost souls who surround him.
Central to that during Barry Season 2 is the newly promoted NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) who steals the show comedically.
As much as Barry wants to escape from his past, he's stuck in the thick of it because of his past actions. It's not a surprise to learn that leaving the life of hitman is nearly impossible.
Hank keeps Barry tethered by covering his past misdeeds. Barry didn't ask Hank to do that, but Hank is the new Chechen boss, and he has people to impress, most notably his family.
Carrigan makes use of every second of his screen time with reactions to unfolding events that can send you into a spate of giggles if you fully stop to realize what's happening.
Writing a letter to his family in which he updates them and the audience with everything that has been happening since his promotion is downright delightful.
Whether he's explaining the connection both professionally and personally to Bolivian drug lord Cristobal or sharing the ins and outs of his work leading the Chechens, the lilt of Hank's voice tells a story all its own.
Cristobal: Tell me. What is the one thing we here have wanted to dip our toes in?
The entirety of the conversation with Cristobal and Esther was beautifully set up for Carrigan to shoot life into Hank and prove why he, too, is in way over his head.
Hank thinks he's in on all the latest including whatever the Burmese could offer, but he had a hard time pulling back his shock when Esther skipped the "game" part of the knife game to prove herself more worthy than he to lead a group of killers.
Ha ha ha ha ha. OK. Everyone is laughing at the hand stabbing now. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.Hank
Hank doesn't want to force Barry's hand, but to impress his family, get rid of Esther, and clear Barry (and in turn himself), Barry has to be on board.
Barry on board with Hank means Barry is still linked to his past, which is the one thing he wants to outrun.
His disappointment is palpable when on the opening night of The Front Page Gene appears to shut it down.
I've got an idea. Why don't you talk about the war, Mr. Human Icebox? Why don't you tell about the first men you killed? [pause] Because that's what it would be like for me to talk about Janice. I didn't think so.Gene
He's clinging to the classes using what he's learned even at the Lululemon to get him through the day, so Gene's declaration that he's shutting down not only the production but the classes, it forces Barry to share a bit of himself.
Henry Winkler doesn't get a lot of time to do what earned him an Emmy Award for the first season, but in his short time on screen, he makes the most of Gene's ability to use Janice's murder to prop himself up and make a play for the spotlight.
Instead, it's Bill Hader who grabs the light for Barry.
Gene isn't fully aware of how badly Barry needs the classes, but he was also holding out hope Barry wouldn't let him down. Gene needs the limelight as much as Barry needs the classes. It's a matter of survival for them both.
Barry recounts his first kill(s) as Gene sends to students to act out what Barry reveals. Hader never lets the stage affect Barry's delivery of the tale, but Barry saves the outcome of the day for himself in a beautiful performance.
The class thinks Barry's reaction to his first deaths was a heartbreaking realization of what a man could do when driven, but the truth of the matter explains why Barry allows himself to get lured back to the profession he's trying to escape.
Somehow, Sally manages to make the moment as much about her as she does Barry.
You see what happens when you're honest about who you really are, Barry? Good things can happen. I think you just saved the class!Sally
Sally is easily Gene's best pupil and a testament to what he can do with the right participant.
Sally can act her ass off, sure, but she's also grabbed Gene's more narcissistic qualities. She may have always been like that, but if we want to credit Gene as a teacher at all, Sally is his greatest success both professionally and in leaving behind a legacy of another nature.
It's easy to imagine her someday pulling out relics of jobs past and dramatically using them to get more attention while she tries to wow those who she's already impressed.
Sally can't read Barry at all even though he's as open as ever after that monologue on stage.
"The Show Must Go On, Probably" sets up the next two episodes very well. With Detective Loach making the leap between Fuches and Barry as the shadowy figure to take out Janice, there will be a lot of action to come.
Everything on Barry happens with some purpose, and the connections that get made are always worth the wait.
When you're dealing with characters as brainy as Fuches, who refused to give a DNA sample but willingly slurped a can of coke and handed it off without a second thought, the consequences will be top notch.
Hit the comments and talk about what you thought of the premiere, and come back every Sunday for the latest review of this stellar comedy.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.