“You’re Charming” gets this final season of Barry back on track. Not that last week’s double-episode premiere got us far off but in this one, we’re headed in a more clear direction. Barry’s not long for this prison, and Bill Hader’s former Saturday Night Live castmate is here to help.
Hank and Cristobal’s sand arrives. At the same time, special guest star Guillermo del Toro shows up as Toro, Hank’s connection that originally was going to get Barry out of prison but now is putting a hit out on him. Toro knows of two guys who can do it, and Hank recognizes them as the podcast hosts of a podcast about gadgets. The exchange between Toro and Hank, with Cristobal sitting behind Hank watching, is another masterclass in “Barry”‘s wit. Arguing about the merits of a good podcast while discussing putting a hit out on your former friend brings so much levity to what should be a dark deal. Del Toro is fantastic for this small moment he appears for. The hitman being a podcaster is an interesting intersection of the media and true crime. In a world of Tik Tok investigators, of course, hitmen host a podcast.
Now that Barry’s made a deal with the FBI, he seems to have his head on his shoulders more, though he’s still pacing around the prison courtyard muttering to himself and shouting at the people who come to visit him. This time it’s the Vanity Fair journalist, asking Barry to provide his side of the story. Barry’s an idiot and starts answering the journalist’s questions. His shouting begins when he realizes the depth of Gene’s “betrayal” and gets upset that someone else is telling his story. He storms off but not before the journalist noted some things down.
Gene is told by the lead police detective that he either should get a gun or go away for a while since Barry’s status as an informant and former military will probably go in his favor. For some reason, Gene’s agent is with him. On the drive back from that meeting, Gene confesses to his one-man show and is worried it’ll interfere with the trial. This confession leads to one of the best-delayed reaction cars crashes in TV history. Hader’s use of wide shots just keeps hitting the sweet spot in being surprising and visually interesting and at times, really funny.
However, the journalist plotline seemingly wraps up in this episode when Jim figured out that Gene is talking to the press. He invites the Vanity Fair journalist for a chat. If that really is it for that plot line, Barry’s anger at Gene becomes a moot point.
There are a couple of oners in this episode. A short one occurs when Barry is pacing in the courtyard. Once again, Bill Hader’s sharp direction positions Barry as being overpowered by the prison walls. Even when his deal with the feds seems to be going well, he’s still at the mercy of the people he screwed over on the outside.
The next one involves Gene and his agent breaking into the journalist’s house in order to steal his notes for the article. It’s an impressive sequence; much like the one in Season 2’s “Ronny/lily”, the camera meanders throughout the house while Gene and his agent’s break-in is heard and seen in and out of frame.
Sally’s stepping in to Gene’s shoes and trying her hand at teaching acting. However, it turns out that Gene’s methods err on the side of abuse. In a scene where Sally deploys the same degenerating the actor method to a woman whose whole vibe is charming — a nod to this week’s episode title — Sally loses her entire class except the charming lady.
But even though she’s got Krista on her side as her new acting coach, it’s clear Sally is still struggling to find her place after losing Barry and getting nothing from her parents. I think it’s important to remember the Season 3 finale here, especially after Sally’s “I feel safe with you” last week — after Sally killed that biker, Barry calmed her down. They were on the same level finally, literally and metaphorically. Sally found out about Janice disrupting that newfound connection but it’s still there. Sally’s life is slipping away from her, and she’s still haunted by that murder.
After Cristobal called Hank soft last week, Hank begins taking more control of the sand business and setting up the hit on Barry. Barry calls Hank to ask him to put a hit out on Gene (Hader’s speech about a dog catcher totally killed me) for going to the press. When the Barry Season 4 trailer first dropped, the last person I expected Barry to be yelling at on the phone was Hank. Like Cristobal in the previous episode, Barry questions Hank’s toughness, and Hank bites back. He finally breaks ties with Barry and tells him off for being a narcissistic piece of shit. It’s such a satisfying moment and Anthony Carrigan shows Hank’s strength in his voice and his words but the hurt and anger are there in the tears in his eyes. Despite knowing how badly Barry treats the people around him, Hank’s tears over this break are a symbol of all the friendship betrayals.
The final sequence in “You’re Charming” was the first real moment in this season that felt like “Barry” to me. This is where Fred Armisen comes in. The FBI agents are walking Barry through how his witness protection will go down when Barry notices a nervous-looking agent toward the back. It’s Armisen, sweating profusely and eyeing the ceiling. At first, we just see Barry’s reaction to noticing something off, and because of Barry’s current mental state, it’s almost played like Barry’s hallucinating again. But nope — Barry very nonchalantly tells the agents Armisen is there to kill him. Another thing “Barry” does well — quiet scenes that erupt into quick violence. Armisen pulls out a gadget from his pocket — revealing him as one of the podcast hitmen deployed by Guillermo del Toro — screams “This is for Cristobal and Hank!” But then his gadget immediately exploded in his hand, followed by quick shots from the ceiling that kills all the agents in the room. This is how Barry escapes.
There’s forward momentum with this episode ending. Barry’s on the move, Hank and Cristobal’s sand empire already is being threatened by former colleagues, and Sally’s quickly exploring a new career path, but it feels half-hearted at best.
The way Hank sits on things. He’s very good at sitting.
Batir returns. Hank and Cristobal should have stayed in Sante Fe.
A lot of Bill Hader’s line readings — when’s he not yelling — are very reminiscent of last season’s scene when he’s describing to Sally how he’ll torture her coworker. Very nonchalant, almost exasperated with his circumstances.
“They’re actually really in love”
“Did you guys have Julia Roberts on your cover?”
“let’s go have a chat in my garage.”
“Wife in the house!”
Sarah’s line reading of “Why the ~fuck~”
Featured Image Courtesy of Merrick Morton/HBO