Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
The story of a hitman taking acting classes to rediscover himself seems a delicate premise. Despite his best attempts, the violence finds him. It beckons him to engage, leaving him no other choice. And the best part is, he keeps getting away with his “shenanigans”. But what happens when he gets caught? This is what we will see in ‘Barry’s season four, due to release next year. For now, this review discusses the good, bad, and ugly of season three, which concluded a few days ago with an action-packed finale.
I have been covering the season from the very first episode when Barry was still coming to terms with the consequences of his actions. And if there is one thing that I have repeatedly said is that Hader and Berg have taken it up a notch. Not just the quality, but taking on a different kind of challenge; penetrating deeper into the characters’ psyche.
Now, they feel comfortable with the palatable comedy-drama tropes they have executed in the first two seasons. They are trying to reach out to the darkness that lingered in the show’s universe. Its presence was always felt but it never showed itself. Season three of ‘Barry’ is where the creators bring it out in its entirety.
The moment the decision is made to take the lid off, ‘Barry’ enters a creative realm few shows have dared touch. Both visually and aesthetically, ‘Barry’s season three is more melancholic. It sits deep in altruistic thought for most parts. Quite magnificently, it manages to walk the tightrope between theater and cinema, using the best of both worlds to create its own.
The setups and lighting felt a stronger connection to the former, while the scope and vision to the latter. Almost like a pandemic, Barry’s “disease” spreads to others around him. Characters find themselves unable to resist the consuming, vile tempest of emotions. They do not completely sink in, thanks in part – ironically – to Barry.
Storywise, Barry’s immediate task is to prevent Gene from ratting him out. We saw how Fuches was able to one-up him in the season two finale and reveal the truth to Gene. Barry’s plan is an inadvertent success – not because of its cleverness or form, but most probably because of his good intentions. Gene’s acting career is revived and the world turns upside down for him.
The turnaround sees him secure his own show (Master Class with Gene), patch up with old friends, provide security for his family, and feel closer to being at peace. In the process, he also discovers the person that was somewhat lost after all the years of struggle and torment.
Sally’s segment isn’t as cheery, though. By the end, you’d hope there would be some redemption for her character, but it does not come. Her incredible fall from the top was difficult to watch. As the season trudges on, she finds herself increasingly incapable of getting things right. Everything she tries to do turns out to be the wrong decision.
Sally’s actions in the finale are the final nails in her coffin. It is hard to see her come back from this to where she wanted to go. NoHo Hank’s fortunes end up somewhat better. Even Anthony Carrigan, who plays Hank, found it a bit strange to see this side of his character. His stormy affair with Crisotabal and dangerous encounters with Bolivia’s prime crime cartel make way for a rollercoaster ride with a happy ending… or at least, that is what we hope for in the next season.
Thankfully for us, ‘Barry’ never lets go of the absurdist humor to keep a smile on our faces. Hader and Berg play the part of task swordsmen perfectly. With “710N”, they write television history. Their understanding of humor just aligns so perfectly with mine that I can’t help but gloat. The comedy actually never drains away, if you’re as dark to find it in the scenes. Both the writers seemed to have upskilled their arsenal to increase the scale of their setting and manage the newer elements so well.
The transition isn’t too seamless. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. You need to feel that jarring sensation of a change to really be positioned in the shoes of the characters.
This season of ‘Barry’ is arguably the most authentic portrayal of a man struggling with issues of redemption, guilt, and vengeance. Through each strand of their story, Hader and Berg create a compelling and provocative bond with the viewer and the theme they want to nail. HBO has once again found its mojo and it could easily be your favorite watch this year.
Verdict - 9/10