Barry Season 4 Episode 4 review: Apocalypse Now

NoHo Hank in Barry Season 4 Episode 4HBO

Barry Season 4 Episode 4 shook me to my core; these people – these cruel, selfish, doomed idiots – will never jive with peace and harmony.

Barry began its final season boxed into a corner – almost literally, with its titular hitman-cum-actor finally imprisoned for his wanton, murderous actions, left to twiddle his thumbs and roam the tumbleweed limbo of his own head, all while wondering how anyone could betray such a monster.

Those bars should have provided salvation, or at least some respite for those maimed by his corrosive orbit. Alas, they can’t catch a break because they keep throwing it away: Gene flaps towards the limelight like a moth, Sally’s emotional makeup has hardened beyond saving, and Fuches is caught somewhere between vengeance and love, seeing himself as the elder Babbitt to his nephew’s Rain Man.

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As for NoHo Hank, his plan to wipe Barry off the face of the Earth before he could even walk it again failed catastrophically in Episode 4, allowing him to flee in a haze of bloody, stumpy hands and bullets. Yet, once again, HBO’s best show defied any expectations of what would happen next.

Spoilers for Barry to follow…

Where is Barry Berkman?

The whirring of a sheriff’s helicopter numbs the inmates’ ears as it takes off. The search for Barry Berkman has begun, and Fuches is quickly targeted by the prison’s governor. “How did you smuggle the assassins in… where is Berkman going?” he asks as guards ruthlessly beat him with their batons, barely able to speak between the bludgeoning.

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Even with blunt-force force violence, Hader’s direction comes with a thin layer of comedy, especially as the governor throws in a few puny kicks.

Meanwhile, as ordered by Jim Moss and the others around him, Gene is isolated in the same cabin he lost Janice; no reception, no company, and no risk of blabbing. “I’m just disappointed,” his son tells him, coldly, and like the pathetic LA puppy he is, he asks: “Can I order Coral Tree Cafe up here?” Later that night, a silhouette appears outside his door. Gene fires his gun recklessly, without realizing he shot his son, who was delivering some food.

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The police head straight to Jim’s house, presuming Barry will be blinded by his need for revenge – but they’re wrong. He’s nowhere to be seen, as Jim tells the officer himself. “If you find Berkman before we do, please don’t kill him,” the cop asks. “I can’t promise that,” he replies.

The one person who should be terrified more so than anyone else is NoHo Hank, and as the helicopter’s whirring soars above his sandy compound, he’s struck by back-trickling fear: Barry’s coming, sooner or later. Cristobal tries to assure him everything will be okay, but even as they unveil their makeshift casino and karaoke bar for their hard-working staff (it’s these offbeat touches that make the show’s world feel so uniquely lived-in), there’s nothing but terror behind his eyes; Barry’s molar-gnawing anger over the phone is no longer something he can brush off.

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Sally and the Mega Girls

In the last episode, Sally began her new venture as an acting coach, deploying the Cousineau method – aka abusing them to the point of tears so they can capitalize on a moment of pure vulnerability without consent or learning their name – only to find herself abandoned on the stage, leaving all but one: Kristen, who’s bagged a part in Mega Girls and needs help to nail her line.

Sally on the set of Mega Girls in Barry Season 4 Episode 4HBO

Sally comes to the set to offer support and guidance, but she can’t restrain her “Jesus Christ” at Kristen in Amazonian armor, nor can she help fan-girling over the film’s director: Sian Heder, the filmmaker behind CODA. As Sally fawns over her, she says she’s really “switching gears” from “committed actors in a deeply personal story” to models fighting over “blue, glowy Infinity Orbs” – somewhere, the MCU is lying dead in a ditch.

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As Sally endures Kristen struggling through her one line, she meets her agent: Mark, a charming, slimy individual who watches on absent-mindedly. When Kristen runs off-stage in tears, she jumps into action – but doesn’t hesitate to take her chance to impress Heder, basically performing the scene for her instead (she even steps in front of Kristen, completely taking her out of sight, in another hilarious bit of blocking from Hader). Her efforts to usurp her student are “commendable”, the agent says, but it doesn’t work. “That was unreal,” the director tells her. “If I could just get that to come out of that… money.”

Barry unleashes one of its most terrifying moments

While Hank and Cristobal’s men kick back, guzzle booze, and belt it out on the karaoke, a SWAT team raids the same Dave & Busters they were in earlier in the season. The officers operate dispassionately and without mercy, grabbing a “bunch of Dodgers fans”, beating them, and arresting them, in the episode’s second example of excessive force; both amusingly flippant and abhorrent.

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While the police run around like bulls in a china shop, Hank and Cristobal take their workers to the silo, filled with premium, glimmering sand. They stick their tootsies in, run around, and do “sand angels.” Hank asks Cristobal to come with him for one more surprise, but he’s too late in following him: the floor sinks beneath their feet, submerging all of them in sand. Cristobal’s head is left poking out the top, desperately crying for Hank to help him, but he slowly falls under, and we hear his panicked wails muffled by the sand filling his mouth more and more with every screen. Buried did it first, but it’s one of the most horrific scenes in the show to date; it’s a nightmarish dose of vicarious anxiety, directed with a harsh stillness that’s becoming Hader’s trademark.

NoHo Hank and Cristobal in Barry Season 4 Episode 4HBO

Everyone else dies, but Cristobal is rescued by Hank, but maybe he would have preferred death over the betrayal: Hank wanted him out so he could kill the workers, as he had to prove himself to the Chechens in order to run LA’s criminal empire. The new boss takes his “taste”, while Hank and Cristobal enjoy the riches. “As long as you’re part of Hank’s family, you’re part of ours,” he’s told.

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Cristobal can’t even look at them, and it’s a bitter awakening for him: Hank never wanted to pursue a “legitimate” business – that word alone reeks of naivety to him – and thinks they were both “blinded by the idea of a perfect world” after their escape from Bolivia. It’s not the criminal lifestyle that bothers Cristobal, though – it’s the fact Hank murdered all of those men without a blink of an eye. “They trusted us,” he says, but Hank sees them as nothing but collateral damage. He may be a goofball, but he has the tact of a kingpin.

It’s too much for Cristobal. As he tries to storm out, Hank catches himself in the middle of a threat. “You can’t leave… because you know too much,” he says, with his imposing tone buckling under the reality of what that actually means. Cristobal walks out to his car, and Hank hysterically begs him to stay, to no avail. As he sits down in the house, he starts crying – not because Cristobal left, but because he was killed for trying to go. “I’m sorry Hank. Our hope was that wouldn’t happen,” he’s told as he mourns the love of his life. Barry’s had its fair share of cold-blooded moments, but this ranks among its most shocking.

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Barry and Sally reunite

After helping Kristen, her agent offers Sally a job: $70,000 per movie, and he’ll help her get her career back on track. She says she’ll think about it, but she doesn’t have any time to give it some thought. She discovers that Barry has escaped just as the helicopter flies above her. Just like the PTSD choppers at the beginning of Apocalypse Now, the roar of the rotors takes everyone back to that scary place; for Sally, it’ll be the moment she took someone’s life.

Kristen offers to let her stay with her that night, but Sally turns her down. She suddenly seems more timid; not relaxed, but she’s not bothered by the news. As she returns home, Jim Moss is sitting outside her apartment. Sally walks in and calls out Barry’s name, and he emerges from the shadows. Before he can really get into pleading for her forgiveness, she cuts him off. “Let’s go,” she says, to which he reacts: “Really?”

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We cut to that endless field in the Midwest again. Two boys, John and Travis, are fighting over the fact one of them doesn’t know what Call of Duty is. An unknown man breaks up the skirmish and one of the boys heads back to his house, a lonely home short of a white picket fence. Inside, he grabs a can of beer to numb the pain of his head, and then comes the knock-back reveal: he’s the child of Sally and Barry, who are now much older. “I’ll go talk to him,” he says.

Barry Season 4 Episode 4 review score: 4/5

Barry takes a backseat role in his show while his victims (and targets) struggle in the wake of his escape. Hader’s presence as a character is missed, but this is a particularly traumatic, evocative chapter in this increasingly grim story.

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Barry Season 4 Episodes 1-3 are streaming on HBO now. Check out the rest of our coverage below:

Barry Season 4 cast | Episodes 1 & 2 review | Episode 3 reviewWhat time is Barry out on HBO? | Will there be a Barry Season 5? | How many episodes are there in Barry Season 4?

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