Barry: Season 4, “yikes” – TV Review


  • Creator: Alec Berg and Bill Hader
  • Starring: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan

Grade: B+

The third season finale of Barry last year was truly a game-changer, and that’s not a light statement for a show that churns through plot from week to week. Indeed, it raised a fascinating question: where does the show go from here, now that Barry (Bill Hader) has been caught? He’s wormed his way out of more slippery situations before, but once his best friend and mentor betrayed him, he finally realized there was no use in running anymore. Now he finds himself in prison but still clinging to hope that his friends will find it in them to forgive him.

It’s no surprise that Barry’s first call once he’s in prison is to Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), and it’s no surprise that Gene rubs his capture in Barry’s face rather than hint at any chance of an olive branch. We don’t get much of Gene in yikes besides the brief glimpse at his rocketing stardom and a conversation with Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom) about avoiding the press. One of Barry’s strongest running themes is in how stars are made in Hollywood, so I can already envision how Gene will reap the benefits of his own trauma for the benefit of his own profile.

Barry; HBO Max

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Sally (Sarah Goldberg), who’s coincidentally returning home to Joplin when the news breaks. It’s always been a question of how authentic Sally’s retellings of her life in Joplin have been, so to see it play out completely accurately is hilarious in the darkest way possible. Her mother (Romy Rosemont) wants no part in her drama, and that’s before Sally shows her an episode of Joplin. And her father Michael Demspey) is a little too affectionate, though neither one of them show much interest in unpacking the devastating developments she’s experiencing. I’ll always champion Goldberg’s work on the show, and Sally runs the gamut of emotions this week, which she handles effectively as always.

Surprisingly, there isn’t much of Barry in this week’s Barry besides his acclimation into prison – with Fuches (Stephen Root) no less. Much as prison is theoretically a good place for Barry to do some self reflection, Fuches’ presence will surely do nothing but threaten that process. One of the most crucial moments in yikes occurs as Barry finally gets a chance to look himself in the mirror and is recognized by one of the guards. He even goes as far to tell Barry that he’s a good person – the one thing Barry’s wanted to hear since he arrived in LA. But it falls on deaf ears because it doesn’t come from Gene.

Barry; HBO Max

Hader has shown himself to be an exciting director in the past three seasons (though that Emmy award has mysteriously eluded him so far), and season four will be yet another chance to show what he can do. He’s slated to direct every episode this season, and yikes is even more evidence that he’s great both in front of and behind the camera. Consider all the ways he’s able to visualize each character’s fractured headspace throughout the episode. Sally hallucinates on the plane, and Barry flashes back to his childhood – or is it the dreamlike purgatory we got glimpses of last season?

It’s curious that yikes doesn’t provide many clues for what’s in store for the rest of the season, even with the mysterious context-free phone call at the end. Still, the episode shows off exactly what Barry does so well – deep, introspective character work, great situational humor, and intriguing story – and it’s all wrapped up in less than 30 minutes! There are great shows that keep you going because you want to see what happens next but can survive another week, and there are great shows where you can’t wait another minute to see what’s next. Barry is the latter.

Barry will air new episodes on HBO Sundays at 10pm

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