Barry Season 4 Episode 6 review: Nerve-jangling TV

Cameron Frew
Gene Cousineau in Barry Season 4 Episode 6

Barry Season 4 Episode 6 features the scariest moment in television you’ll see this year, the kind of image that haunts you deep into the night as you try to scratch away the memory

Episode 5 was Barry in full marmite mode. Many presumed the brief flash-forward to Barry and Sally’s middle-of-nowhere, white-picket-fence existence to be a fantasy, but it was far from a dream – it was a real-life nightmare, full of mundanity, restlessness, and paranoia.

Thousands of miles beyond their endless horizon, movie execs are cooking up trouble: never mind the Mega Girls franchise, because a Barry Berkman biopic is in the works. After eight years, Gene has re-emerged from hiding abroad to seemingly consult on the project, and his former student reacted to the news the only way he knows how: “I have to kill Cousineau.”

Episode 6 strikes a more palatable tone and pace; laughs are still flavored with Bill Hader’s wicked humor, but there’s a sense of momentum that made last week’s episode so tough (or compelling, for those with taste in the room).

Barry leaves limbo for LA

The episode opens on Barry instructing Sally how to assemble. She couldn’t be less bothered; whether it’s out of disinterest, anxiety, or stubbornness, she refuses to do it, asking why she can’t just put the safety on. Barry thinks John could figure that out, because “boys instinctively know how guns and cars work.”

When Barry said he had to kill Gene, you, like I, probably nodded in disappointment and dread – but Sally has the nerve to question it. She’s right: they can’t “outrun a movie”, and surely murdering him will only draw more attention to them in the long run. Think about it: a biopic about a hitman-turned-actor is announced, and his teacher is killed straight after – what a delicious thickening of the plot for the inevitable documentarian, probably at Netflix, a few years down the line.

Barry, Sally, and John in Barry Season 4 Episode 6

“This whole movie is gonna be from his point of view, and that’s not the truth… and I don’t want our son to see it,” he waffles to Sally, who looks back with tired derision. Hader’s performance is a portrait of tells: he’s not worried about his son, he just doesn’t want the perfect image of himself to be defaced. Sally even tries to peddle their newfound religious principles as a reason not to do it – killing is the biggest sin, duh – but he puts it down bluntly. “This isn’t a discussion. We either do this or we drop John off an at orphanage and we kill ourselves,” he tells her, in perhaps the most harrowing line of the season so far.

Barry tells John that he’s going away for a few days for work stuff, specifically an interview. When Sally tells him she’s taken some time off work to stay at home with him, he looks back at his dad like an abandoned puppy. She wanders off to the window and looks aimlessly out the window – there’s not one crumb of happiness behind those eyes, and she’s swinging between being drunk and a hangover all the time.

Fuches becomes the Raven

The last time we saw Fuches, he’d been taking a merciless pounding in prison after Barry escaped. He refused to give them anything, so they beat him some more, leaving him looking like a paint-by-numbers. As he groaned his way into the canteen, the whole room fell into a state of quiet respect – eight years later, he’s actually revered, if not feared, as the Raven.

He’s a man reborn, covered in tattoos and nail polish after finding pleasure in the “gauntlet of pain.” He also has mad rizz, apparently, picking up a random woman from a coffee shop with nothing but a stare and a wink. He doesn’t say much, standing in a wide arms-arched-and-back post (I guess, somewhat like a Raven and its wings).

They soon arrive at the towering, clinically-clean headquarters of NohoBal. Hank allowed the love of his life to be killed so he could become a kingpin, but eight years later, he’s sitting at the top of a seemingly legitimate empire – which is all Cristobal ever wanted. Hank is back to being super peppy, but Fuches’ presence clearly puts him on edge – especially when he asks him to find Barry. Hank may be more refined and relaxed than ever, but the smile stitched on his face is desperate to give into a frown. “Barry’s in the wind, probably dead,” he says, but Fuches’ wishes are non-negotiable.

Gene finds his spine

The Hollywood Reporter may have jumped the gun. Gene hasn’t agreed to consult on the Barry Berkman biopic, but he is willing to hear Warner Bros’ pitch. While he was away, his agent Tom moved into his home, alongside “the world’s foremost collection” of creepy Howdy Doody memorabilia. “They mean the world to me,” he says in quiet admiration, while Gene looks befuddled by it.

They meet the same executive from Episode 5, and she’s beaming about the article. She then delivers the elevator pitch for the movie: a cat-and-mouse thriller in which Barry is the main character, but he’s the villain of the piece. Gene would be the hero, and the studio believes they can attract A-list talent for the role.

Gene and Tom in Barry Season 4 Episode 6

Tom sees game, but Gene swots down any enthusiasm for the picture. “You can’t make this movie,” he says. Now, this is the man who endangered himself and everyone around him, as well as betraying the father of his dead partner, by talking to the press because he couldn’t resist the glow of the limelight. However, he’s been living in a kibbutz in Israel, where he learned selflessness and true happiness, and he no longer considers himself to be the same self-obsessed, narcissistic person. “This is a mindless entertainment,” he says, believing the film will “glorify a psychopath” and “exploit the memory” of Janice.

The exec is unmoved by his concerns and tells him the movie will be made regardless of whether he agrees with it or not. “Well, you’ll have a fight on your hands,” he says, before he’s interrupted by a police officer who says he’s been summoned by the District Attorney (still played by Charles Parnell). “So, you found a spine in Israel,” he tells Gene, who explains that he returned because he didn’t want Barry to be “immortalized” in a motion picture.

Barry turns to Pastor Pat

Hader spends his whole journey to LA cycling through religious podcasts, hoping to justify Gene’s murder to himself in the eyes of the lord. First up is Pastor Pat, who says sins aren’t comparable… except murder, because “that’s the worst one.” As Barry stands in line waiting to buy a handgun, he listens to another pastor who seems to excuse the killing of another person when it’s necessary – he also chuckles at the images of graphic injury as a result of gunfire – before stopping dead in his tracks when the pastor says: “That’s murder and you will go to hell.”

As he drives to Gene’s son’s home, he finds comfort from Pastor Nick St. Angelo, who says “murder is definitely not a sin” and claims God ordered his followers to wipe out thousands of people. He also admits to killing someone and having a “lack of guilt” about it, because it was “done in my faith”, and he received a “sign from god saying you got my blessing.” That was all Barry needed to hear: he wasn’t registering anything any of the pastors were saying, he just wanted his actions to be excused.

Barry waits outside while Gene visits his son for the first time in eight years. Their reunion isn’t sweet, as much as Gene wants it to be. He apologizes for shooting him and says he’ll be living with the shame of running away for the rest of his life. He also explains that he came home to “kill the movie”, something his son very much doubts. Barry seizes the moment: the neighborhood is quiet, nobody is around, so he gets out of his car and starts walking towards the house – but he stops when he sees Gene’s grandson. Has he gone soft? Barry of old murdered a fellow marine with a family just so he wouldn’t be caught, and he mowed down a whole den of gangsters with barely a blink. Perhaps it’s having a child of his own that’s changed things.

Sally’s day turns into a horror movie

Sally is a walking tragedy: off the back of an abusive relationship, she pursued acting with a toxic, egotistical attitude that saw her blacklisted by the industry. She’s talented, but she has one person in her corner: Barry, a maniac masquerading as an everyday dad. It’s no surprise she feels the need to guzzle her way to the bottom of every bottle, but she’s a terrible mother.

John is moping around without Barry, and she has no idea what to do. He doesn’t want to color, he doesn’t want lunch, and when she tries to give him a piece-of-sh*t grilled cheese that’s been charred in the pan, he pushes the plate away. “I worked really f*cking hard on that,” she mutters to herself angrily, hilariously, as if making a crap toastie was the be-all-end-all of motherly affection. In desperation, she resorts to her trusty vodka and pours some into John’s cup. “Okay sweetie, drink your juice,” she says.

Later that day, John is knocked out on the sofa, near-comatose after drinking hard liquor. Sally is the worst kind of drunk: she’s slumped down, her words are slurring, and her temper has a short fuse. She tries to get John to go through to his bed, but he’s a dead weight, so she stumbles through to her room and passes out on the bed.

Barry and Sally in Barry Season 4 Episode 6

Who knows how long she was asleep; 10 minutes, an hour maybe. Suddenly, she’s awoken by a gruff voice: “Hey bitch, I’m coming for you.” She walks through to the living area and finds all the windows open, with an ominous breeze whistling through the house. She closes them and looks around – nobody, nowhere. She’s surrounded by nothing but dust and wind.

The camera cuts to a wide shot, and a man in a black skintight suit is standing behind her. I screamed out loud. He’s completely silent; he may as well be gliding across the room. He follows her as she walks back to her room, before shutting the door behind her. We don’t see anything that happens on the other side, but we hear a lot of commotion; the intruder complains about something getting in his eye, and when he tries to wake John up, he says he isn’t breathing.

Sally panics. She batters the door with her fists, screams for help, and fumbles her way through assembling a gun. In a heart-thudding moment, a car rams the house, causing the whole place to tip on its side. Sally can’t do anything but cry and wait for it to stop, which it eventually does. It seems likely that it’s Bevel and his pals after their terrifying, not-so-sexual encounter in the bathroom last week.

Let it be said: Hader has the chops to pull off an all-time horror movie, and we can’t wait to see it.

NoHo Hank and Fuches face off

Hank gives Fuches and his men everything: the best, ooh-worthy house in LA, evoking audible awe much like the Toy Story aliens, and steady, handsome employment with NohoBal. But it’s not enough for the Raven: he wants his “lanky friend”, a prospect that unnerves Hank and brings back bad memories.

Later that night, Hank takes Fuches, his new wife – yes, the woman from the coffee shop, who’s happy for him to be her daughter’s new stepfather – and his crew out for dinner. They have amusing chit-chat about her daughter’s school – “Very good volleyball,” according to Hank – and how Hank put his competitors through the sand silo, known in legend as the “NoHo Hour Glass.”

He’s lapping up all the adoration, until Fuches mentions Cristobal. “I didn’t kill Cristobal,” he stresses, and Fuches struggles to comprehend what he’s saying. “That’s a funny motherf*cking thing you just said,” he replies, admitting to being drunk, but arguing that it doesn’t change the truth. Hank flies off the handle, firing Fuches and his men and ordering them to pack their things and leave by 7am the next morning.

As the episode draws to a close, Barry makes his move. It’s nighttime, Gene is home alone, and he leaves a door ajar. The suspense in this scene is almost too much to bear, with pulse-racing music evoking the sound of 1917’s ‘Sixteen Hundred Men’, albeit with a much different context. As he pushes the door open, a bag is thrown over his head. He wakes up in front of Jim Moss in his garage, and the episode cuts to black.

Barry Season 4 Episode 6 review score: 5/5

This is the strongest episode of Barry’s final season to date; pacy, revelatory, and absolutely terrifying.

Barry Season 4 Episodes 1-6 are streaming on HBO now. Check out the rest of our coverage below:

Barry Season 4 cast | Episodes 1 & 2 review | Episode 3 review | Episode 4 review | What 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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