This text accommodates spoilers via the finale of Barry, Season 3.
The primary homicide on Sunday evening’s devastating Season 3 finale of Barry, the HBO sequence a few listless hitman, occurs silently. Barry (performed by Invoice Hader) watches in horror from outdoors a makeshift sound stage as Sally (Sarah Goldberg), his former appearing classmate and ex-girlfriend, bludgeons a person who tries to choke her after she will get in the way in which of his try and kill Barry. It’s a riveting scene, one which wordlessly telegraphs the extent to which Barry has failed at defending these round him—not from outdoors threats however from the carnage wrought by Barry himself.
For a darkish comedy, this scene can be notably freed from something resembling jokes. The present’s first two seasons discovered constant humor within the juxtaposition of Barry’s depressing life as a low-rent murderer with the campy appearing lessons he stumbled into whereas on task. Though Barry by no means took homicide calmly, per se, the present mined loads of comedy from the ensemble surrounding its sullen protagonist, as Barry strained to pantomime the sunniness round him. However Season 3 has marked a stark shift towards the present’s darker impulses, in addition to a transfer away from leaning on Barry to be its emotional heart. That shift has made Barry a greater present—and a extra fascinating one than it will’ve been if it had caught to its hitman-with-a-heart conceit.
Hader’s Barry has lengthy embodied the contradictions within the phrase darkish comedy: He’s in turns picket and effortfully chipper, droll and earnest. In Seasons 1 and a pair of, his makes an attempt to slot in amongst plucky Millennial thespians showcased Hader’s spectacular deadpan and elastic face. Equally zany have been his dealings with the Chechen mob and overzealous fellow ex-Marines, one in every of whom cheerfully watches pornography on his living-room TV in full view of tourists. In the meantime, Barry may be frighteningly clean, a chilly executor and manipulator whose full capability for violence we have been solely starting to grasp.
However because the present progressed, that blankness might typically really feel so distinguished that it left little room for different characters’ inside lives. For the primary two seasons, Sally, his appearing classmate turned girlfriend, principally personified the vapid, self-absorbed Hollywood tradition that originally appeared so overseas to Barry. NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) was the present’s most dependable comedian car as a unusual Chechen crime boss. Barry’s erstwhile appearing mentor, Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), started the sequence as an avuncular coach overcompensating for his personal stalled profession.
In Season 3, the present brings the lives of those supporting characters—and the ache they really feel of their relationships with Barry—into sharp focus. By doubling down on its protagonist’s depravity and stripping him of any boyishly charming veneer, the sequence stops trying to find the vulnerability beneath his facade and commits to specializing in Barry’s dangerousness. It’s the strongest season but for Hader’s appearing, which veers between lupine freneticism and existential torpor. But it surely additionally takes an uncommon danger: It makes us cease empathizing with its protagonist nearly fully. By the point the widow of 1 sufferer tries poisoning Barry, it’s laborious to not want that she’ll succeed (if solely as a result of which may make for the primary documented case of loss of life by beignet).
Barry’s steep descent doesn’t simply render him incapable of redemption. It additionally seeps into the lives of all of the folks he’s closest to, and all of the family members of his victims. The present properly deepens the story traces of its supporting characters, all of whom endure the results of Barry’s violence—or allow it.
Sally begins the season on a excessive: Joplin, the sequence she created and stars in, earns rave evaluations (“We received a 98 p.c on Rotten Tomatoes!” she shouts in disbelief on the present’s premiere). However as her profession prospects develop dimmer, her lack of self-awareness turns into one thing extra sinister and complicated. A younger actor in Joplin witnesses Barry verbally assaulting Sally on set and expresses her concern to Sally the evening of the premiere. Standing outdoors the gilded venue, Sally breaks up with Barry. From then on, the sequence reveals the residual affect that Barry’s anger and vengefulness have on Sally’s life. She herself slowly grows extra snug with violence because the season progresses, whether or not it’s in opposition to folks within the trade she thinks have wronged her or extra deserving targets. In the long run, she descends in an nearly Girl Macbeth–like spiral that culminates in her fleeing Los Angeles after brutally murdering the person who tries to choke her to loss of life. It appears like a callback to an abuse scene that Sally had acted out in school with Barry again in Season 1, however her former helplessness has been changed by a menacing new focus and company.
In the meantime, Season 3 finds NoHo Hank within the throes of an intense and compelling love story. In one of many season’s first reminders that violence ripples out far past its meant targets, a bomb practically kills NoHo’s lover, his former Bolivian mob rival, Cristobal Sifuentes (Michael Irby), alongside the targets Hank had truly employed Barry to kill. When NoHo sees the state Cristobal is in, he panics after which instantly attracts him right into a protecting embrace. His relationship with Cristobal is good and humorous—they’re saved as “Luke” and “Lorelai” in one another’s cellphone—however it’s additionally handled with actual gravity.
Then there’s Gene, whose arc drives a lot of Season 3. At one level, a manic Barry threatens Gene and his household. Instantly afterward, Barry professes his like to Gene and insists that Gene do the identical, the still-fresh promise of violence hanging within the air. The close-up on Winkler’s face on this second is gutting; his concern fills the body. By the season’s finish, it’s clear that Gene’s forgiveness is what Barry needs greater than something, and Gene finally refuses to provide it to him. In a pivotal second within the finale, Winkler’s face, once more seen up shut, manages to telegraph not simply his personal concern however Barry’s betrayal, too. Right here, it’s Gene who holds the facility—and emotionally carries the present. It’s a profound reversal for a season centered much less on spotlighting its protagonist than on exploring, with meticulous consideration, the impact his brutality has on these round him.