DISCLAIMER: This recap of Barry Season 4 Episode 3, “you’re charming,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, hit people/actors! Barry‘s third episode is as propulsive and raw as its predecessors. Written by Emma Barrie with Bill Hader at the helm, “you’re charming” sprinkles a pinch of the show’s signature acerbic wit with moments of psychological darkness and immersive narrative beats. Plus, that cameo. Those performances. That ultraviolent, tensely-shot cliffhanger. This show is the gold standard of TV.
Ready to delve into “you’re charming”? Let’s get to it.
We open with a truck full of sand entering the business headquarters of NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) and Cristobal (Michael Irby). Their new partners let out a collective cheer at the sight. It’s time to get to work. Meanwhile, Toro (Guillermo del Toro) pays our fave criminal lovebirds a visit. We learn that Hank reached out to Toro to help with the Barry problem. He’s sending his best assassins to take Barry out once and for all.
The trio goes off on a tangent about the said assassins Toro employed. They’re podcast hosts, and Hank has a myriad of opinions regarding their work. This scene is hilarious, especially with Carrigan and del Toro showcasing their sharp comedic timing. Is there anything Guillermo del Toro can’t do? Next, DA Buckner (Charles Parnell, who you might recognize from The Mandalorian Season 3) informs Gene (Henry Winkler) and Tom (Fred Melamed) about Barry’s next moves. For starters, he’s striking a deal with the FBI as a valuable informant.
Gene worries that if Barry goes free, he might pursue him. Buckner is brutally honest with Gene regarding his past cases. Barry’s military background isn’t doing Gene any favors, either. However, Gene’s chances of getting offed will perhaps diminish if he keeps his trap shut. About that … while driving after the meeting, Gene confesses what he did to Tom. You know, the whole “I told Lon O’Neil what happened to me via a three-hour play” thing. Naturally, Tom crashes his car as a response to his abject distress. I love how this scene is shot, how we only see Tom’s vehicle getting into an accident. Masterful.
Then, Barry (Hader) fills the FBI agents in on who’s who in the LA crime ring. He even tells them about Hank and Cristobal being in love. We learn the one person he wanted to go into witness protection with him is, unsurprisingly, Sally. Barry giddily reveals what she told him in episode two: that she feels safe with him. That’s the trauma talking, buddy. After his conversation with the FBI, Barry chats with Lon O’Neil (Patrick Fischler), who informs Barry about his play date with Gene. Lon wants to offer Barry the opportunity to disclose his side of things. Barry loses it, claiming it’s not Gene’s place to tell his story. He storms off.
Later, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) embarks on her teaching journey. She stands before her students and introduces herself. She’ll instruct them in the Gene Cousineau Method. Sally asks the group if they only know her as “C*nt Girl” — the viral video of her yelling at Natalie. Some of her students claim she was in the right. Everyone has bad days, you know? All is forgiven. Sally proposes they start with each actor performing their chosen scenes for her.
Meanwhile, Lon knocks on Jim Moss’s (Robert Wisdom) door. He reveals he chatted with Gene and Barry. Jim explicitly told him to steer clear of Gene, but our intrepid Vanity Fair reporter didn’t heed his warning. Jim invites Lon to his garage for a friendly conversation. Uh-oh. This won’t end well. Fuches (Stephen Root) calls Hank after a few inmates poke fun at him. Hank reassures Fuches that things will improve soon enough. Toro’s assassins will put Barry to bed. It’s all gravy!
After his chat with Fuches, Hank orders his crew to take a five-minute break. That’s when he runs into Batir (JB Blanc), who returns to impart an important message: Hank must cease his new venture. Why? Because the “old guard” is back. If Hank refuses, the elders will take everyone out, including him. I love a good ultimatum. Barry paces around the grounds and mutters aloud his self-hating internal monologue. Gene and Tom break into Lon’s house to urge the latter to keep quiet and not publish his piece.
They find his wife is home. She asks Gene if he’s seen Lon. He visited Jim Moss but hasn’t returned home. Side note: the camerawork and frames for this scene are also top-notch. I love how most of the shots don’t focus on the action; instead, we hear most of what transpires offscreen.
Next, Sally hears everyone’s monologues. She doesn’t look impressed. One blonde woman (Ellyn Jameson) half-assedly performs her piece. Sally asks why she’s in this particular class. Has she booked something? Did someone tell her she was charming or beautiful, prompting her to pursue acting as a career? Sally launches into a Gene-esque tirade, spewing vitriol in this woman’s direction. I’m writing Sarah Goldberg’s Emmy acceptance speech as I type this. When Sally notices the emotional shift in this woman, she urges the latter to repeat the line. Then, she apologizes and turns to the class.
As the woman cries onstage, Sally’s students chastise her for resorting to verbal/emotional abuse to elicit emotion from her actor. Sally claims she was merely utilizing Gene’s methods to get results. Sally encourages her group to take a five-minute break before regrouping. Meanwhile, Barry calls Hank and informs him about Gene talking to Lon. That might not bode well for Hank, as Gene could have something on him. Hank accuses Barry of being selfish. Hank has given Barry so much of his time, while the latter simply takes. Barry turns on a dime, threatening Hank and belittling him for acting “tough.”
Next, Gene stops by Jim’s house. He asks about Lon’s whereabouts. Jim doesn’t divulge them, but he claims Lon won’t be talking for a long time. We see Lon is in a therapy session with his wife. His wife reveals he hasn’t spoken much since his interaction with Jim. When Lon does open his mouth, we hear a string of German sentences. He’s never spoken German before the incident. That’s terrifying. Trauma, baby!
The woman, Kristen, is the only one remaining in Sally’s class. Everyone else bailed after Sally’s verbal abuse. Kristen asks Sally if she’ll take her on as a full-time student. Kristen booked a role, but she could use some guidance. No other acting teacher has helped her like Sally. While watching Rain Man, Fuches approaches a guard and asks him to protect Barry. Fuches knows about a hit on Barry and wants to ensure he’s safe. Does Fuches despise Barry or love him? It’s an unhealthy combination of both.
Later, Barry sits down in front of more FBI agents, who promise to put Barry under witness protection should his info prove true. Suddenly, Barry spots one man standing behind the agents (Fred Armisen) who appears out of place. He states the man is there to kill him. Suddenly, Armisen’s character whips out a pistol and prepares to shoot Barry, claiming it’s for Hank and Cristobal. However, the sniper in the ceiling fires, taking off part of Armisen’s character’s hand. The sniper shoots all the agents and a prison guard who enters the room. Barry shields himself from the bullets and picks up a gun. He fires at the sniper until the latter falls through the ceiling, looking dead as a doornail. Barry flees as the prison descends into chaos.
Hader deserves separate Emmys for his acting and directorial work. His directing choices are brilliant. For example, the extreme closeups on Sally’s face during her monstrous tirade against Kristen pull us in as viewers. We can feel the heat from her rage radiating off the screen. It’s unflinching, uncompromising and utterly visceral. Side note: Fred Armisen’s cameo is as memorable as you’d expect from him. I hope he finds his missing fingers.
I love the parallels between Barry and Sally, especially in these first three episodes. Sally’s descent into darkness mirrors Barry’s. We’re seconds away from Sally’s official crossing into Barry territory. NoHo Hank puts his foot down regarding his ex-friendship with Barry. We’ve never seen him genuinely stand up to Barry before. It’s refreshing. Anthony Carrigan is so expressive as a performer. You can see everything in his eyes.
Do you think Sally will join Barry in witness protection? Did he escape prison? Will we see Guillermo del Toro’s Toro character again? Will Gene go into hiding now? Only time (and more episodes) will tell.
Barry streams new episodes every Sunday at 10 pm on HBO and HBO Max.
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