Sian Heder Is a Marvel Sellout newsusface

Barry has majorly upped its cameo game for this fourth and final season. As if casting one iconic auteur wasn’t enough—Guillermo del Toro, come back!—Bill Hader has now brought in another Oscar-winning director.

This time, it’s Sian Heder who joins the Barryverse, making an appearance as herself in Sunday’s episode, “it takes a psycho.” But this version of Heder finds her taking a hard left turn from artsier fare like Orange Is the New Black, Little America, and her Best Picture winner, Coda, and instead confronting the equivalent of jury duty for directors: a superhero movie.

The fictional blockbuster in question—which could be viewed through either a Marvel or DC lens, though it certainly has Wonder Woman vibes—stars Sally’s (Sarah Goldberg) acting student Kristen in a bit part. Kristen has been hired to perform just one monologue in Mega Girls, a film about superhero goddesses that Heder doesn’t seem thrilled to be directing—but it’s all about the big bucks, right?

“I’m clearly switching gears on this one,” Sian tells Sally, who happens to be a huge fan of Coda. “On Coda I worked with committed actors to tell a deeply personal story, and now I’m working with models in Halloween costumes fighting over a blue glowy thing.”

Then, the kicker: “I think when people see Mega Girls, they’re going to think, ‘Whoever made that, made Coda.’”

If this sounds a little too familiar, it’s probably because we’ve seen the “acclaimed director to Marvel sellout” pipeline before: Think Chloé Zhao, who won Best Picture for Nomadland in 2021 and went on to direct one of Marvel’s least critically acclaimed films, Eternals. It’s also happened with Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), and Nia DaCosta (The Marvels). But hey, good for them! Get your money!

The rest of the episode is less lighthearted than Sally and Sian’s sequence. Barry (Hader) is on the run after escaping from prison, thanks to a botched murder scheme by Hank (Anthony Carrigan) and his lackeys. But we don’t see much of Barry’s actual mad dash from prison—we’re left in the dark about his whereabouts as we see the rest of the characters carry out their day-to-day activities, like murdering a bunch of sand smugglers or performing a pseudo-audition on the set of Mega Girls.

This episode, then, plays like an ominous game of Clue as we try to guess: In what scene will Barry appear, with which character, and what will he be doing to them? Will he go after Hank for trying to kill him in prison? Or does he want to make good on his broken relationship with Cousineau (Henry Winkler), his former acting coach who has been saying nasty things about him all over town? Then there’s Sally, which could lead to a more amorous reunion. We don’t know when Barry will show up or in what mood, but it feels like he could make an appearance at any time.

Cousineau appears to be the only safe one of the bunch, as he tucks himself into a secluded cabin in the SoCal mountains to avoid leaking any new info to press. This could be good or bad: With no cell service and no way for outsiders to track him, if Barry were to locate Cousineau, it would be game over. Cousineau, however, is less pressed about being attacked—he doesn’t find out Barry has escaped until after he shuts himself inside—and more worried about not being able to get delivery from his go-to dinner spot, Coral Tree Cafe.

Cousineau has had some rough spots with his son Leo (Andrew Leeds), who is one of the main people forcing him to seclude himself from society. Leo is harsh with his father: No contact with the outside world, no leaving, and no Coral Tree Cafe. But he later softens on his dad, dropping by the cabin to deliver a fresh to-go bag from the dinner joint—a heartwarming moment that soon turns tragic when Cousineau shoots his own son through a closed door, fearing Barry may have discovered his hideout.

Anthony Carrigan and Michael Irby.

Merrick Morton/HBO

Meanwhile, Hank is entrenched in far too much drama to have a murderous Barry appear out of nowhere. The Chechens have returned, demanding he drop Cristobal (Michael Irby) and rejoin forces with their mob. He initially refuses, but, stuck between a rock and a hard place, Hank ultimately chooses his own safety. He drowns the entire sand team in their own hard work, creating a pit of quicksand that envelopes the entire team—including his lover—in a vat of death.

Cristobal screams for help—he wasn’t supposed to fall in, as Hank attempted to beckon him out before racing away from the sand pit—and ultimately gets out. But Cristobal now knows of Hank’s big betrayal and attempts to storm out on Hank. It’s a messy breakup; Hank sobs and sobs, and Cristobal has no remorse. Hank insists Cristobal can’t leave because he “knows too much,” suggesting that nothing good awaits him on the other side of the door. He’s right—Cristobal is killed by the Chechen mob, a fate that always seemed to be lurking in the couples’ peripheral vision.

In the final moments of the episode, Barry finally makes his grand entrance—he’s chosen to visit Sally, and at just the right time. Defeated from a long day on Mega Girls and having lost her faith in a respectable career, Sally has hit the lowest of lows. She’s vulnerable. She’s so lost. And Barry is the only person in the world who gives her the time of day, so it makes complete sense that she’d choose to run away with him—even if he is a deranged hitman who’s just escaped prison.

Then, Barry reinvents itself yet again. We’re sent into some sort of dream world—be it a time jump, Barry’s imagination, or just some alternate reality—where Barry and Sally are living happily ever after with a child. This episode has been wild enough as is, and now, we’ve gone in a completely new and different direction. Is there anything that Barry can’t do?

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