By the second episode of its fourth and final season, Barry arrives at the epicenter of the universe: a crowded Dave & Buster’s in the middle of nowhere.
Here, among the blinking neon lights and tarnished gold tokens, is where we meet NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) and Cristobal (Michael Irby) in the middle of their big business pitch. When you’re stringing together a group of mobsters who notoriously don’t get along, there’s no better place to take them than a warehouse full of basketball hoop games, oversized pints of beer, and greasy hot wings. Just the thought of Dave & Buster’s is making me reconsider my plans for next weekend—anyone up for a stop at the arcade before watching the next episode of Barry?
Bored out of their minds while sequestering in the desert, Cristobal and Hank opt to channel their energy into a new project: sand. There’s a sand shortage in Southern California (a real issue, not just a made-up plot in Barry), which isn’t just bad news for the beaches—builders also need sand to erect houses and other structures. Upon learning about this dilemma, the couple call up some of their allies in the dark mobster underworld to assist.
Unfortunately, the folks Hank and Cristobal have selected are in rival mobs, making them poor business partners. But these two won’t throw in the towel just yet; using their cunning business tactics, they convince the two mobs to set aside their differences. They’ll need one side to deliver the sand and the other to sell it—one team without the other, like Hank and Cristobal, is worthless.
Bill Hader, who directed every episode of Barry this season, uses this business pitch as an opportunity to flaunt his directing prowess. As if pairing Dave & Buster’s with Hank, Cristobal, and a slew of mobsters wasn’t inspired enough, the camera circles a large round table as Hank and Cristobal pace around it, overlapping here and there, running around to cover each portion of the supersized counter. Not only does this give off a dizzying effect, but it also makes Hank and Cristobal look like they’ve practiced each step in this routine, sporting full businessmen outfits (earpieces and all) while reading off a script word for word to convince a set of inconvincible mobsters.
Which makes the whole sequence even more jilting when Hank goes off-script, suggesting that in the process of delivering sand to Southern California, the team will need to free Barry (Hader) from prison. That certainly wasn’t in the script, and Cristobal admonishes his lover for making him look like an unknowing fool. Plus, he’s not on board with the whole Barry sitch—Hank’s dedication to the jailed hitman makes him look “soft,” Cristobal says, as he demands that Hank simply let his old pal go.
Hank should heed Cristobal’s advice—never go against your lover!—but he still cares deeply for Barry. That quickly changes, however, when Hank receives a call from Fuches (Stephen Root) alerting him to Barry’s betrayal. In order to be freed from prison and given a second chance at life via the Witness Protection Program, Barry gives the Feds all the info they need on the Chechen Mob and other killers he was associated with while he was a hitman. Now, Hank’s mindset has done a 180: Barry needs to be executed.
Barry has this sudden change of heart after a visit from his beloved Sally (Sarah Goldberg), whose motivations for going to see her ex in prison are unclear—is she there to get closure? Besides yelling at him and watching him squirm, there’s no real rhyme or reason for her visit, and it’s clear she’s feeling lost and directionless in her own life. But she knows one thing: “I feel safe with you,” Sally whispers to Barry before darting out of the prison. That’s enough to inspire Barry to get out and save his woman.
But Barry’s confessions might not even be necessary as Cousineau (Henry Winkler) makes a huge misstep across town. Last episode, we saw Barry’s former acting coach flirting with the idea of revealing his story to an avid Vanity Fair reporter (Patrick Fischler), and now, we see him putting on a sweaty one-man show for the journalist. There was never a chance that Cousineau ignored another shot at fame—and because of his deal with the devil (a journalist!), his attempt to imprison Barry for life is now in danger.
While several plot strings unravel surrounding Barry’s jail time—and they’ll surely spiral out of control in the episodes to come—it’s always remarkable to note the distinct attention to detail Barry pays to its supporting stars. It’s not just a sand business proposition; it’s a sand business proposition in Dave & Buster’s. Cousineau isn’t just revealing his story to a journalist; he’s leading the journalist to a theater with a scavenger hunt and putting on a one-man show. Fuches isn’t just killing time in prison; he’s also binge-watching Yellowstone.
These hilarious eccentricities make Barry an absolute ball to watch, even when hitmen are turning against each other, acting dreams are getting crushed, and Cousineau is dripping buckets of gross sweat onto a stage in front of an audience of one—the largest he’ll ever get.