Barry Season 4 Episode 7 review: Embarrassingly good

Cameron Frew
Gene in Barry Season 4 Episode 7

I have one question after Barry Season 4 Episode 7: why do other TV shows even bother? With the penultimate chapter of Bill Hader’s harrowing series, he has outclassed everything and everyone.

Barry’s wacky, amusing premise may have been its initial selling point, from its very early days, its greatest power has been making quiet moments feel emphatic and heart-rattling: Barry nonchalantly saying, “Don’t pull that gun on me, man”; the airport shootout cliffhanger and subsequent killing of Chris; Barry’s efficient, no-frills execution of Goran and co.

Hader, the co-creator of the series alongside Alec Berg, has been vocal about his interest in directing a horror movie. As the series has progressed, a truly wicked sensibility has crept into the gallows humor, and his direction across Seasons 3 and 4 has utilized stillness and dispassionate framing in a way that ups the thrill factor while making it more horrifying than anything on our screens right now.

With Episode 7, the second-last episode before the Season 4 finale, the show manages to provide some genuine, lighter laughs while quietly setting up what may be a devastating endgame. Spoilers to follow…

Barry prays to God – or whoever’s listening

“Lord, please watch over me and fill me with your courage and grace… please watch over my son and fill him with his daddy’s love,” Barry says, panicked and whimpering, as the camera hangs on the sunset over his endless, dusty in-hiding home.

“So, you’re a man of god now,” Jim Moss says, with the bass of his voice feeling more like an omnipotent, inevitable force than just a man. “You think because you’ve repented you get to choose where you’ll go when you die… you know where you’re going, and you’re afraid,” he adds, as the shot fades into the same beach Barry dreamt of in Season 3, complete with the War of the Worlds-esque claxon of purgatory.

“Why can’t I feel my arms and legs?” Barry asks. “I cut them off… I wanna watch you experience seeing the people you love for the last time,” Jim says, but all isn’t as it seems: Barry is actually hooked up to all sorts of dripping drugs and wearing blackout googles. He couldn’t escape his hallucinations even if he wanted to.

Barry sees Gene in his head and weeps his way through an apology, but his brief mention of money catches Jim’s ears – he wasn’t aware that Barry gave Gene so much cash, and that revelation seems to trouble him.

Gene gives into temptation

Gene is a different man. Somehow, he’s scrubbed away that layer of self-serving narcissism that’s always kept him just on the wrong side of any situation: he knew Barry was a killer, but he accepted $250,000 and a part in a TV show to keep him sweet; and once Barry was behind bars, he believed his own hero hype to the point he was willing to endanger his life just for another glimpse of the limelight.

Now, after living on a kibbutz in Israel, he’s back in LA and campaigning to #stopthebarryberkmanmovie – and it’s working. His agent Tom was sceptical, but as he sees positive comments roll in online, he realizes the potential: exposing Warner Bros. for the “whores they are” and showing Gene on the honorable path can only be good for his career.

Later, he receives a call from Matt, a United Talent Agency who has a client dying to play him in the movie: Daniel Day-Lewis. “From My Left Foot,” Gene reacts, and the agent calls it a “deep cut”, as it if didn’t win him his first Oscar. The legendary actor is willing to come out of retirement to play Gene, so the agent asks to meet with him. Winkler’s performance in this moment is superb: the cogs are turning with every breath, and we know he’s going to buckle.

He agrees to the meeting, and immediately after hanging up, Sally calls him: she’s at LAX, having flown into the city with John, and she really needs his help. “You’re still alive?” she asks, and he even calls her “sweetheart.” What’s her angle? Does she want to save him from Barry, does she want to kill them both, or maybe she’s just given in to desperation after her drunken, terrifying home invasion experience in Episode 6. Of course, he can’t help her that much – he needs to go meet Day-Lewis’ agent, so he leaves them stranded at the airport and asks her to find her way to his house so she can see him later.

NoHo Hank tries to deliver himself from evil

In the last episode, NoHo Hank entered a cagey alliance with Fuches, now known and revered by criminals as The Raven. His constant demands for Hank to deliver Barry put him on edge, and when Fuches praised him for being ruthless enough to put his competition through the “NoHo hour glass” and kill Cristobal, he couldn’t handle it.

We catch up with Hank at NohoBal headquarters, and he’s hatched a plan with the FUBAKs (four ultimate badass killers), one of which has been responsible for “a sh*t-load of coups” and the other has over 500 confirmed kills. He wants them to wipe Fuches off the face of the Earth. “Before you kill him, tell him NoHo Hank did this,” he says.

Fuches in Barry Season 4

Later that day, Hank receives four boxes to his office, each of which has a soggy, bloody bottom: it’s each of the FUBAKs’ heads. It’d be incredibly grim if it wasn’t so funny, especially as Hank checks the box of the man he particularly liked. “Even in death, an absolute fox,” he says. We’ve been deprived of NoHo goodness in Season 4, which tracks given the traumatic journey he’s been on since the end of Season 3 – but the time jump has afforded him the time to get back to his old, peppier attitude, and it’s a much-needed light in the darkness.

Meanwhile, in Fuches’ sun-kissed, mountain villa, he’s trying to comfort and explain to his partner and stepdaughter why they had to watch four men get beheaded by the pool. He cites the inherent brutality of his clan’s nature. “The Raven’s flock of blood artists are modern-day barbarians… our clay is the beating hearts of our enemies,” he says in such grandiose terms, surrounded by all of his gruff, buff men.

But the conversation falls into laugh-out-loud farce as they all try to come up with a suitable compromise. One suggests taking them out for a nice meal if they want to kill someone at the house, another suggests noise-canceling earphones, and one says they should put on a loud Fast and Furious movie, which descends into a debate about the chronology of the endless runway and Dom driving out the front of an airplane (it’s Fast and Furious 6, by the way). “It does not matter… they are all loud.”

Gene sets himself up

Gene meets Matt in a hidden walkway off the beaten track, away from suspicious eyes and paparazzi. Apparently, “Daniel hasn’t been this excited about a role in ages,” but he may not have the juice to get the project green-lit on his own. Gene is rightly appalled by that, but with just Day-Lewis as the headliner, it’s “not a theater movie, maybe a phone movie” – a line that would probably burst David Lynch’s blood vessels.

However, another A-lister wants to play Barry: Mark Wahlberg. Upon hearing his name, Gene excitedly drops the Deep Throat facade. He can’t believe someone like Wahlberg is interested, but the star has a few reservations – mainly that he doesn’t want to play a “cop killer”, as Barry seems like a bit of a villain. Gene starts shamelessly blabbing, calling Barry a “complicated guy” but a “sympathetic soul” who was “desperate for a father figure”, a far cry from his earlier warnings of glorifying a psychopath. His need for attention is pathological, and he can’t escape his own fate – he even says it’s “not a good guy/bad guy story.”

He makes his way to a hotel in Beverly Hills to meet Wahlberg, but it was all an elaborate ruse: he’s confronted by Jim, his son, and the district attorney. The agent was just an actor who appeared in one of his mid-naughties plays. They want to know why he didn’t tell anyone about the $250,000 he received from Barry, and he can’t come up with a good reason. “Nobody was listening to me, and I already spent some of it,” he says, but even his son isn’t on his side, recalling how he could never give him a straight answer when it came to the money.

Gene has unwittingly placed himself at the center of a compelling theory: after Janice killed a Chechen gangster at his acting school in Season 1, police found money stashed in a bathroom. Soon after, she was murdered at his cabin by Barry, “a guy he claimed would do whatever he’d say.” When they found her body stashed in the trunk of a car, he was at the scene with the “Chechen criminal assassin known as The Raven.” Gene says the allegations are “disgusting” and “insane”, but the verdict of the room is clear: he’s a “very good actor” who’s played everyone this whole time.

NoHo Hank escapes The Raven’s firing squad

NoHo Hank and an associate position themselves on a hill near Fuches’ home and fire a rocket… but they miss. As we hear the distant confusion of all the men as the missile’s smoke trail travels further into the distance, Hank asks for the launcher to be reloaded – but they only brought one with them, as they were “thinking budget.”

Before they know it, they’re sitting ducks for everyone with a machine gun in the area. They duck and run back to their car and try to drive away, and the camera slowly tracks them as they careen down the winding road before coming to a stop in a hail of gunfire. Fuches watches on from above as NoHo Hank somehow evades all of the bullets and dives down a hill. This scene is somewhere between Four Lions and Looney Tunes; their missile gaffe is hysterical, but the cool composure of Hader’s direction makes it just scary enough as to not lose any of the tension.

Barry wakes up in another nightmare

Back in Jim’s garage, Barry awakes in a drugged-up stupor and manages to free himself from the chair with a knife, before cutting his hand open while trying to unpick a lock. He stumbles through the house, following the noise of the TV – but nobody’s at home. As he walks into the kitchen, he takes a look at his bloody hand before slumping down to the ground and passing out again.

Sally in Barry Season 4 Episode 7

Meanwhile, Sally arrives at Gene’s house and manically batters his door. John doesn’t understand what’s happening, and his questions clearly aggravate Sally. “Once they talk, we’ll all be together again as a family,” she says, and he asks: “Then what are we going to do?” Sally replies: “We’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing,” but the sound suddenly falls away. She stands on the pavement, engulfed in silent reflection – can she really go on like this? The single tear that drips from her cheek says no, and she walks over to a nearby police officer to ask for help. She struggles to speak, but something is off about the cop – as he takes off his glasses, blood starts trickling out of his eye, before she realizes who she’s staring at: the motocross gang member she killed in Season 3.

Sally isn’t innocent. She ran away with a known fugitive and is directly responsible for the death of another person. That guilt has festered in her in ways she doesn’t even know, but her inability to overcome it and do the right thing gets her into serious trouble: Hank’s men arrive and kidnap her and John, hoping to serve them up as bait for Barry.

We get to see Sally and Hank interact for the first time on-screen. As he pulls off her wig, he coldly observes: “Sally Reed… great.” He then calls Barry and makes Sally and John beg for his help over the phone. “Come quick if you want to see your family again,” he tells Barry, and he can’t even muster a verbal response. As Hank hangs up, Barry grips his phone and the mantlepiece. The frame sits on the back of his head, and we see the rage quickly consume him; his whole body quivers with anger, and as the score ratchets up tension, the episode cuts to black.

Barry Season 4 Episode 7 review score: 5/5

Barry’s penultimate episode is a tremendous, edge-of-your-seat balancing act that evokes the gloomy inevitability of The Sopranos’ final stretch – oh yes, there will be blood.

Barry Season 4 Episodes 1-7 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 | Episode 5 review | Episode 6 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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