DISCLAIMER: This recap of Barry Season 4 Episode 7, “a nice meal,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, hit people-turned-actors! We’ve reached penultimate territory on Barry with “a nice meal.” Folks, this series never stumbles narratively or creatively, and this outing is no exception. As we barrel headfirst toward the end, “a nice meal” fires on all cylinders, providing a little more levity and dark humor than the past few episodes. It’s a return to Barry‘s comedic roots without losing the stakes. NoHo Hank has some hilarious scenes, as does Fuches.
Written by Liz Sarnoff and directed by Bill Hader, “a nice meal” puts Gene, Barry, Sally and John in peril and masterfully sets up the series finale.
Ready to delve into “a nice meal”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Barry (Hader) praying fervently for his and his son’s survival. We hear his voice, but we see Barry’s “happy place” — a serene field as the sun rises. The scenery changes to a beach with the waves crashing against the shore (another one of Barry’s happy places). Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom) tells him that just because he’s found God doesn’t mean he won’t go to Hell. It doesn’t change what he’s done. Barry asks why he can’t feel his arms and legs. Jim replies that he cut them off, as one does. The beach scene transitions to John (Zachary Golinger) standing on what appears to be a stage with a red velvet curtain behind him.
Jim claims he wants Barry to know what it feels like to see his loved ones for the last time. We see Barry bound to a chair in Jim’s garage while donning what looks like a VR headset, his body intact. Meanwhile, Gene (Henry Winkler) and Tom (Fred Melamed) read a blog penned by Gene about not allowing Warner Bros. to exploit Janice’s death with a movie. They read the comments and notice that many agree with Gene. Tom never thought to attack the project from this angle before. Of course, the PR wheels are spinning in his head. Gene wants to destroy the biopic out of respect for his late girlfriend.
NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) gazes at the statue of Cristobal in the Nohobal headquarters. Hank learns the FUBAKs have arrived: the Four Ultimate Badass Killers. He plans to deploy said killers to wipe out Fuches and his crew. Hank meets his FUBAKs. He’s particularly fond of Isaiah. This scene killed me. I will miss Carrigan’s pitch-perfect comedic timing as my baby NoHo Hank. He asks his squad to tell Fuches he’s behind it all before they kill him. (“Tell Fuches. I want him to know it was me.”)
While Jim watches Barry torture himself over potentially never seeing his son again, he learns something new. Barry sees Gene sitting at a dinner table. He apologizes to him while Gene tries to offer him food. Then, Barry inadvertently lets it slip that he gave Gene $250,000. Jim attempts to press Barry for clarification. Of course, this throws Gene’s innocence into question.
Then, Gene receives a phone call from Matt, a UTA agent representing Daniel Day-Lewis. DDL wants to come out of retirement to play Gene in the Barry Berkman feature. Gene is an avid DDL fan, and it appears he’s starting to pivot from his initial no-movie stance. Matt asks to meet Gene to discuss the potentiality of DDL signing onto the pic. After that, Gene chats with Sally (Sarah Goldberg), who just landed in LA with John in tow. She’s relieved he’s still alive. She asks Gene to pick her up from the airport. Unfortunately, he has that meeting, but he suggests they reunite at his house.
At Nohobal, Hank learns his FUBAKs (including the scrumptious Isaiah) didn’t survive the attack on Fuches. Fuches ensured their heads were delivered in separate boxes. Hank decides to take out Fuches himself. He’s well-equipped for it. Fuches (Stephen Root) and his Raven’s Flock sit down with his girlfriend and her daughter to discuss what they just witnessed. Both women look shell-shocked. Hey, it’s healthy to dissect your emotions in a safe space. Fuches’ flock imparts suggestions for how they can protect the women from violence the next time an unexpected assassination attempt transpires.
This spitballing session transforms into a tangent about how loud the Fast & Furious movies are. How fitting, considering Fast X debuted this weekend. Eventually, one of the Raven’s Flock drives the women away from the compound. Meanwhile, Matt (Nate Corddry) meets with Gene in the great outdoors. Gene orders him to act like he’s talking on his phone and not to make eye contact. Gene learns Mark Wahlberg is also interested in boarding the biopic as Barry.
However, he doesn’t want to kill a cop, which is what our titular hitman did. That could compromise the integrity of the storytelling. Gene is now standing next to Matt, having cast aside his desire not to be seen chatting about the film in public. Matt asks Gene to meet Mark at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
Later, we see Hank and his driver launch a rocket meant to strike the compound. Unfortunately, it whizzes past it. Suddenly, Fuches and his flock descend upon Hank and his driver as they speed away, raining down bullets left and right. The car doesn’t get very far because they kill Hank’s driver. Fuches calls Hank, and as they chat, we hear Hank fall down the side of a steep hill through Fuches’ phone. I love how this scene is shot. This show is so damn creative. Also, Hank better be alive.
Meanwhile, Barry wakes in his chair and notices Jim is gone. He finds a knife sitting on the edge of Jim’s workstation. Barry edges himself close enough to the blade to remove his restraints. He uses said knife to unlock the door to the rest of the house. Unfortunately, he sliced his hand pretty badly. He passes out after attempting to stanch the bleeding with a paper towel. Then, one of Hank’s employees knocks on a woman’s door and asks if Hank’s there. My NoHo baby emerges, looking worse for the wear but alive. They contemplate their next steps. He asks his employee to track down Gene to get Barry’s location.
Then, Sally and John wait outside Gene’s house, but obviously, he’s not home. Sally spots a police officer and orders Jon to stay put. She approaches him, intending to turn herself in. I love the moment before she makes this decision. Goldberg’s such a force to be reckoned with on this show. Sally notices something odd after the officer removes his sunglasses. One of his eyes is bleeding. The blood trickles down his face like tears as he talks, utterly oblivious to it. Distracted by it, Sally forgoes a trip to the police station.
After the cop departs, Sally notices a few men putting John in their vehicle. They approach her. Matt and Gene head into a hotel room to meet Mark Wahlberg to discuss the movie. However, Jim, Leo (Andrew Leeds) and DA Buckner (Charles Parnell) await him. As it turns out, they hired Matt, an actor, to lure Gene into this situation. They ask Gene about the money Barry gave him and why he failed to mention it to anyone. Jim and Buckner surmise that Gene had Barry kill Janice since, in Gene’s words, Barry would do anything for Mr. Cousineau. Barry loves his acting teacher that much. The men also believe Gene shot Leo on purpose. Naturally, Gene denies it all vehemently.
Next, we see Sally and John sitting in a room, waiting for Hank to appear. Hank removes Sally’s brunette wig. He knows who she is and what she means to Barry. Barry wakes in Jim’s kitchen after falling unconscious. He hears his phone ring. Hank is on the other end and wants Barry to meet him. If he fails to show up, Sally and John will die. Oh, and now John clearly knows his parents aren’t who they say they are. After ending the call with Hank, we see Barry lower his head slightly, fuming (in typical Barry fashion, we only see the back of his head). This is war.
I’ll never get over Hader’s brilliant directorial choices and the innovative cinematography for this series. Every shot drips with artistry and is a reminder that great TV isn’t just about compelling performances and sharp writing. Visually, it should inspire creativity and make folks fall in love with the art of filmmaking.
Each episode of Barry feels like a 20-some-minute movie in that regard. The creative team never takes the easy way out regarding how each shot is framed and presented. Overall, “a nice meal” is a nice (sorry) blend of humor and drama while catapulting the narrative forward.
Who do you think will survive the series finale? Will Barry save his family? Can Gene avoid jail time and clear his name of these accusations? Only time (and one more episode) will tell.
Barry streams new episodes every Sunday at 10 pm on HBO and HBO Max.
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