Barry S3E8: “starting now” (Season 3 Finale)

Barry stands in front of a tree
Photograph by Merrick Morton/ HBO

The following contains spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Barry, S3E8, “starting now” (written by Alec Berg & Bill Hader and directed by Bill Hader)

The Season 3 finale of Barry opens with ominous noises, before we return to a shot of Barry on the beach. One of those noises sounds like a growling monster, which I can’t help but put into juxtaposition with the protracted Noho Hank scene in S3E8—a scene that sees the show veering into the domain of horror far more than anything that has come before it.

I’m not sure about any kind of precise connection between these scenes, beyond the similarity in soundscape, but it would seem that Barry believes that these visions are of the afterlife that awaits him, given what he tells Sally later in the episode. I guess hell is other people…who you’ve murdered.

Barry stands on a beach, in front of a numerous others
Photograph by Merrick Morton/ HBO

But what truly terrifies Barry is when he suddenly sees Sally and Gene there with him on the beach, something which I think he explains pretty directly in his dialogue with Sally. It’s not so much the bad things that Barry has done that frighten him at this point; it’s the idea that he’s had a corrupting influence on those he loves.

Because he does love Sally and he does love Gene. We’ve seen him express this verbally in Season 3, and with genuine pathos. Of course, the context of each utterance has been more than a little creepy, as with Gene it was in the midst of coercing him into remaining silent (coming right on the heels of a threat to kill his family), and with Sally here in the season finale it’s right after he’s disposed of a body for her. Regardless, he loves them.

Sally looks on, forlorn
Photograph by Merrick Morton/ HBO

Sally killing someone in the season finale is not something I can say I saw coming, but it flows fairly naturally from the moment that Shane is strangling her on the floor (you’ll remember Shane as the leader of the biker gang that came after Barry previously, and the guy who shot Fuches).

What’s more surprising, actually, is the reason that Sally is waiting for Barry when he gets home in the first place. She wants to take him up on his offer to mess with Denise, but aim it at Natalie instead. That’s a level of viciousness that I didn’t quite think Sally had in her, despite her clear descent into darkness last week. Natalie in no way deserves such treatment. She didn’t even deserve to be reamed out in the elevator, as she’s done nothing but be supportive of Sally throughout the season (and the idea that she stole Sally’s show is on pretty shaky ground).

It’s true that leaking the video of Sally yelling at her could be viewed as a betrayal, but it’s hard to say Sally didn’t deserve it. I wonder if the events of “starting now” are leading Sally to a moment of clarity about herself. At least, that’s how I read the fact that she’s boarding a flight to Joplin—she’s done with LA and with Barry, and going home to find her center.

I hope she’ll be in Season 4.

Jim Moss and Gene talk
Photograph by Merrick Morton/ HBO

As for what will happen in Season 4, if I’m honest I can’t say I’m thrilled with the setup S3E8 leaves us with. Barry has finally fallen into the snares of the (generally incompetent) police, and the idea of Barry becoming something like a courtroom drama doesn’t exactly excite me. I can only trust that there’s a vision here I can’t yet see myself, and it is worth noting that Fuches is also in police custody at the moment, so perhaps I shouldn’t be too pessimistic. And there’s also the fact that Fuches tells a guard that he is the Raven, which has me intrigued about what his plan is at this point.

Will Gene’s decision to help trap Barry have a negative effect on his career? It seems sort of likely given how much was predicated on that profile piece about him helping a veteran (Barry), but at the same time maybe things are far enough along now that the powers that be will be more inclined to sweep this wrinkle under the rug.

It is clear that Gene was worried about this, though, and we might think about that in broader terms. To what extent is Gene’s reluctance understandable? It at least feels plausible that he would need to be badgered by Jim Moss into doing the right thing, even if that’s rather sad.

Noho Hank sits, cuffed to a radiator
Photograph by Merrick Morton/ HBO

Noho Hank and Cristobal are reunited at last, but that’s not exactly a joyful moment, either. Elena has been torturing the latter with a shock treatment while a hot guy dances around, and it’s pretty disturbing. At the same time, I do think this scene may be the funniest that occurs in S3E8, despite its darkness, in particular with the way the shot is framed as Hank shoots the pair dead before running to Cristobal. Unfortunately, we’re left wondering whether Cristobal is OK after all of this.

And what about that horror scene? Barry denies us a shot of whatever beast we hear crunching on the bones of Hank’s comrades in the adjacent cell, leaving it to the imagination, and it’s rather terrifying. With the closing episodes of Season 3, Barry has started to do some really interesting things with its form, which does have me excited to see where it will go next season (as the word is Bill Hader will be directing the entirety of Season 4).

“starting now”

Albert delivers the line that gives S3E8 its title after he confronts Barry in the desert, as the latter is disposing of Shane’s body. He tells Barry he knows he isn’t evil, but he has to stop with all of this killing business. It’ll be interesting to see how Agent Nguyen features in Season 4, as he makes note of the fact that Barry saved his life during their encounter in this episode.

Maybe Albert will help Barry get (another) second chance. But I’m not sure any of us should think he deserves one at this point.

Where this all is going is anyone’s guess, but given the reports that Seasons 3 and 4 were written at the same time, I have to presume there’s a plan here. And given how great Season 3 has been, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Unfortunately, we have to. But hopefully not for three years this time! See you then.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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