‘Barry’ S3E6 Recap: A Full Portion of Laughter with a Side of Fear

Stephen Root Merrick Morton/HBO

The past few weeks on barry, the laugh didn’t come easily. Bill Hader, Alex Berg and his company have used this season to ponder complicated emotional issues and to willfully forget the fun of their own premise, with great success. barry is a more challenging series than ever, and that’s admirable. That said, this week’s episode comes closest barry has become a pure comedy over time, and frankly thank God† “710N” is a gag-heavy episode that offers a full helping of laughter with a side of fear, rather than the other way around.

The episode opens with a scene of comedic dialogue interrupted by violence, which is really just part of the course about barry† Fuches (Stephen Root) has instigated a biker gang to take revenge on Barry for the murder of one of their own whole stupid, they put a bullet in his chest instead of leaving a loose end. The camera lingers on Fuches’ limp body in the desert, and when the opening title hits, we’re left to imagine the show just killed one of its funniest characters. But after being reduced to some much lighter subplots, writer Duffy Boudreau throws us a lifeline, and we find that Fuches has been rescued and nursed back to health by a friendly family. Fuches awakens in an almost identical scenario to his exile in Chechnya, cared for by a lovely young woman (Natalia Abelleyra) and offered the chance to stay with her family and help herd their goats. The parallelism is not lost on Fuches, who sees it as a sign that it is time to start a new life, until he sees another sign that his vengeance against Barry is rekindling. Stephen Root defeats in this subplot, playing the entire arc of this mood swing to perfection, as does Sal Lopez as the patriarch of the family, a parody of the hack-inspiring drama Fuches believes he has fallen.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Det’s murder continues. Janice Moss has a breakthrough when FBI Special Agent Albert Nguyen (James Hiroyuki Liao) begins to suspect that his old army buddy Barry might be involved after all. He reaches out to Sharon (Karen David), the widow of another soldier they served with, Chris. Chris is another of Barry’s victims, killed in season one for getting too close to his secret. At first, it looks like Sharon is going to create a comical dilemma for Barry, as she follows Albert’s suggestion and invites Barry to dinner. Barry enthusiastically accepts this and sees this as a new beginning. (As an audience, we might assume that this will become another social life raft for him to sabotage.) When he’s attacked by the biker gang on his way to the party, it’s like Barry being chased down the highway through his old life and trying to to get to the new one undamaged. The comedy would come of his arrival either disrupted or ironically unharmed. We get the latter, because he survives the attempt on his life and arrives at Sharon with a smile and a box of fritters. But barry didn’t really escape. Instead, after dodging miles of machine-gun fire, he is immediately poisoned by Sharon, who is also recruited into Fuches’ revenge plan.

Bill Hader Merrick Morton/HBO

The chase itself is an effective piece of TV-scaled action. Skip the middle man, barry casts veteran stunt riders as the dirt bike gang (led by Jolene Van Vugt and David Castillo), and sets them loose on the bumper-to-bumper traffic of Los Angeles. Stunt coordinators and performers have limited time and money to design their jokes on weekly TV, so they have to earn a lot with relatively little. Here it’s Bill Hader’s direction and sound design that makes motorcycles splitting lanes between stationary cars seem extremely dangerous and exciting, even if it’s something common and even legal in California. The production restrictions are also exploited in the comedy’s favor. We don’t see the penultimate motorcyclist get hit by Barry’s car, we just see them fly into the passenger seat through his windshield, and it’s both funnier and more brutal that way. Finally, we close the episode by learning that this whole chase was a long preparation for the tasty punch line of Barry’s just desserts.

As Barry heads for his (certainly transient) demise, Sally decides where she wants her career to go after her critically acclaimed drama. Joplin was summarily canceled by a streaming algorithm. Surprisingly, BanShe offers her a spot on the writing staff of The New Medusas, a more approachable and very silly comedy. This is one of the few scenes in this episode that feels like a really good sketch building that fits the show perfectly. Guest star Vanessa Bayer is right into her rhythm here as a BanShe executive who only describes shows with guttural sounds, which feels like a character from her work in a SNL digital short or I think you should leave† In a show that drags on comically, Bayer puts on a solid inning of relief pitching. But she’s not alone – Fred Melamed is back as Gene’s agent Tom, delivering even the most mundane dialogue as if it were the most important piece of information in a serious drama. While he may have seemed a little out of place in previous episodes, he’s a much better fit for the show as it exists this week.

But the episode’s comedic MVP is undoubtedly Mitch (actor Tom Allen), the squeamish baker whose shop is Hollywood’s flavor of the month, not only for its fritters, but also for his improbably wise advice. Sally, Barry and Noho Hank each receive words of wisdom from the half-conscious pastry chef, and it’s a scream every time. While there is an option to turn him into a recurring character (he wants to do business with Hank), I’m not sure it would be a good idea to return to this particular source. More bits in this general spirit would certainly be welcome, though.

Aside from Barry’s poisoning, there’s only one particularly serious omen in this episode, and that’s the arrival of Janice Moss’ father, Jim (Robert Ray Wisdom). Since her disappearance, we’ve had the luxury of viewing Janice’s death almost exclusively through the eyes of Gene, a character still attached to the show’s comedy. As barry broadening her scope, we will now be acquainted with the pain her murder has inflicted on people who have been a part of her life for much longer. Of all the players dragged into the story by Fuches’ plot, Jim carries the most emotional weight in our story. Gene’s life is slowly restored and he moves on in a way that her close relatives may not. So as much as this episode has been a breath of fresh air, there’s definitely a deep dive ahead.

'Barry' S3E6 Recap: A Full Portion of Laughter with a Side of Fear

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