Screenshot: HBO

Last weekend got pretty violent. In movie theaters, an absurd number of superheroes faced off against their ultimate foe in a battle to end all battles while, on the Home Box Office, a band of unlikely compatriots defended their homeland against an army of magical ice zombies. In a word, it was epic. Do you know what was even better, though? The sloppy, bloody, episode-length fight on HBO’s Barry. Nerdwriter agrees, and his latest breaks down what made the fight sequences in last week’s Barry so good while also delving into how a well-executed conflict on a small scale can be more satisfying than anything a studio or network tentpole has to offer.

Much of the success of “ronny/lily”—which, as an episode-long fight sequence with no B-plot, was a risky departure for Barry—can be credited to Bill Hader’s adept hand at directing. With minimal dialogue, almost no score, and a series of long, languid panning shots, Hader is able to give the audience all the information they need to be invested and engaged in this brutal hand-to-hand slap-around.

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While the large scale of the Battle of Winterfell creates a sense of disconnect and makes it feel like the characters are just moving from set piece to set piece towards a forgone conclusion, Barry’s fight with Ronny Proxin and his feral daughter, Lily, remains grounded and unpredictable. The smallest moment (like Barry punching Ronny’s windpipe) can have real, tangible consequences that inform the action of the rest of the episode. Perhaps Game Of Thrones’ showrunners might have rethought their final showdown by, say, gracing the Night King with some fierce jiu-jitsu. It might have made Arya’s sick, culminating stab that much more powerful.

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