May 4, 2022

“Barry” Soars Even Higher in Season 3 (Spoiler-Free Review)

It's been three years since Barry was last on the air. Back then, the world was pandemic-free, HBO Max didn’t exist, and Bill Hader was only a two-time Emmy winner. Obviously, there’s been quite a shift in circumstances since 2019, but at least one thing remains the same: Barry is still one of the best shows on television, and the third season is a perfect reminder of that.

Image courtesy of HBO

Set in a shorter span than real-time, Season Three deals directly with the consequences and fallout of its predecessor, just as any good serialized show should. All of our favorite (and least favorite) characters are taking big steps in their lives, and I was absolutely thrilled to return to this entertaining world of hilariously heightened reality.

For the uninitiated, Barry began with its titular character (SNL’s Bill Hader), an ex-military hitman, who pursues a target in Los Angeles, only to get caught up in acting classes taught by disgruntled actor Gene Cousineau (Happy Days’ Henry Winkler). Barry’s passion, of course, clashes with his profession, and as he begins to get deeper into each world, he has to make difficult choices that affect not just himself, but those around him.

I will keep this review as detail-free as I possibly can. Just like with Moon Knight, it will be a fun exercise in avoidance in order to preserve the viewing experience as much as is possible. If there’s anything I need to say to convince you to watch this series — if you haven’t already — it’s a heartfelt recommendation. Barry manages to be the most heart-wrenching, tension-packed, extremely creative and side-splittingly hilarious show that I’ve ever seen, and that is a trend that certainly continues in Season Three. I have no idea how long the people behind the show can keep it up, but this season shows no signs of slowing down.

I will be fully transparent and admit that I received the first six episodes to screen for this review. I have not seen the final two, but there’s definitely a good reason HBO is keeping them under wraps — based on what I’ve seen, the combination of characters, situations and other factors will make for an extremely memorable finale. That’s what this series (and, honestly, HBO as a whole) does incredibly well, and especially with a series made with so much care and consideration, I am completely confident that they will be able to pull it off. Let’s just exclude the final season of Game of Thrones from this discussion, shall we?

Image courtesy of HBO

I will also refuse to say that, despite treading some familiar ground, Barry Season Three is “more of the same.” Sure, it features most of the primary characters, and many of the themes are carried over and thoughtfully handled, but Barry somehow continues to be fresh and original with every new idea it decides to introduce. Characters like Barry’s mentor Fuches (Office Space’s Stephen Root) and Chechen mobster NoHo Hank (Gotham’s Anthony Carrigan) get rather unexpected storylines, but every direction they go in makes perfect sense for their arcs. If I was able to see inside one writers’ room for any series, it would probably be Barry — the final product is so astounding, I’d be absolutely fascinated to see the roads they traveled to get there.

If you want to laugh until you cry and then, in the span of a few minutes, see a performance that will surely warrant an Emmy nomination, Barry is the series for you. Everything seems to be coming to a head in Season Three, with unexpected connections to previous seasons, done in such a way that indicates an ending could be coming sooner rather than later. Now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in this absurd, ridiculous and downright exciting world of crime, plus the arguably more intense LA acting scene.

Image courtesy of HBO

New episodes of Barry air on HBO and HBO Max on Sundays at 10pm.

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