The second season of HBO’s excellent comedy-drama is just as good as the first. Bill Hader’s performance continues to be the main draw, with his tremendous range on full display in just about every episode, but this season gives the supporting characters more room to breathe, which moves the show’s focus from Barry towards an ensemble character study. The overall narrative manages to push the first season’s established, dangling plot lines further to their natural conclusion (which, given how many characters are assassins and mafiosos, means bloodshed and gory deaths a-plenty), and there’s a considerable amount of suspense this time around: There are tense moments that go on for unexpectedly long stretches, while the dynamics among the many characters (and in particular their individual relationships with Barry) have a tendency to get tight, giving the season an urgency that’s as unexpected as it is compelling. Among the many standout supporting performances, Sarah Goldberg (as Sally) and the inestimable Anthony Carrigan (as NoHo Hank) do some truly terrific work, while character-actor superstars Henry Winkler and Stephen Root continue to deliver respective career-best work.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)