Barry Defies Death Once More In The Thrilling Third-Season Finale

Anyway. To Barry and Sally, the latter of whom has helpfully made a map of Natalie’s house — creepy! — and is showing Barry the video that Natalie filmed of her yelling in the elevator. Barry, for his part, seems shocked at Sally’s outburst and is surprisingly very against the idea of even mildly freaking Natalie out. He, for his many extreme faults, is a bit more self-aware now. “I know where I’m going after all this. After I die. I don’t want you to go to the same place,” Barry says, in what I choose to believe is a not-very-veiled reference to Carden’s great work on “The Good Place.” But y’know what, let’s hold off on the argument. Why? Well, it turns out that one of the motorbike gang from “710N” is very much alive, has returned to Barry’s apartment, and is ready to do some fatal damage. After knocking Barry out, he begins strangling Sally in an extremely vicious and lengthy fight sequence that appears about to culminate with Sally’s death…until she shocks her attacker (and come on, you too) by stabbing him in the side of the head with a knife she had on her. 

Hader and Berg’s script is appropriately black-comic here, as the motorbiker isn’t fully dead yet, though Sally proceeds to beat the crap out of him with a metal baseball bat, until Barry wakes up, aghast at her behavior, and pulls her back. She’s understandably still shocked and traumatized, but Barry is ready and willing to take the hit: “I did this, OK? I did this. Who did this? I did this.” It’s a small point in his favor, but yes, better than you take the fall than Sally. Sarah Goldberg, too, is acting like crazy in this sequence, in a fight that’s one-side until it’s not and at least ends with a couple of encouraging things. First, Sally’s not dead! I like Sally as a character (not just because Goldberg’s excellent in the role), and that leads to the second thing I’m glad appears to have happened here — Sally’s bloodlust for revenge is quelled. Even if it wasn’t, scaring Natalie is no longer a big concern of hers. I would not have wanted this to go any further, and clearly being in this battle to death is more than enough for a character who’s gotten darker as the season progressed.

Speaking of characters whose fates have gotten darker as the season progressed, let’s talk about NoHo Hank, who is still stuck in a makeshift prison cell in Bolivia after trying to find his lover Cristobal (Michael Irby). NoHo Hank is still in a room by himself, handcuffed to a radiator and trying to figure a way out of his predicament. His fellow Chechens in the other room have made actual progress, with one of them breaking out of their handcuffs. But before they can give Hank a tip, we hear some guards enter the next room, and instead of just beating the Chechens up for daring to break out, they…well, technically we don’t see what the guards do, but thanks to some A+ sound effects, we hear a very loud, a very angry, and a very fierce animal enter the room and maul them to death. It’s terrifying enough for Hank to hear, but one of the guards throws up, his vomit seeping into Hank’s room (gross). The animal’s feast continues and is so vicious that it begins attacking the wall adjacent to Hank, implying that it’s going to break the wall down. So Hank takes action, finally, trying to yank the handcuffs off the radiator with all his might. And amazingly, after much exertion, the gambit works: the handcuffs are severed from the radiator! But one of the guards immediately enters, leading to a brief bit of combat in which Hank knocks the guard out, takes his machine gun, and fires wildly into the other room…and somehow, by divine or warped providence, he appears to kill the offscreen animal. 

But then (because it’s never just one thing on “Barry”), Hank notices the lights above him flickering on and off. He heads upstairs, only to realize he was in the basement of the Bolivian mansion of Cristobal’s wife Elena. He walks slowly down a long hallway, approaching a shirtless man writhing in profile in front of him (but somehow not noticing Hank). We eventually realize that the man is in league with Elena, dancing to some pulsating music while Cristobal — tied up to some kind of electrical apparatus — is getting some pulsating electricity jolting through him. (I will note here that Elena’s dialogue was unsubtitled on HBO Max as I watched live.) Eventually, Elena realizes Cristobal’s all but close to unconsciousness, pulling him out of his torture gear and trying to tantalize him sexually with her body. But it’s too late for Elena: Hank shoots her and the shirtless man dead. Hank approaches the still-dazed, barely alive Cristobal, and lovingly pulls him into an embrace, before Cristobal lets out a deep sigh, closing his eyes. Now, in fairness’ sake, I will note: the scene fades out at this point, and we will not be visiting Hank again this season. Yet his wide-eyed look at the end of the shot implies … Cristobal’s dead, yes? It would be heartbreaking if so, but if they live happily ever after (even for now), that would honestly surprise me more. Technically an ambiguous ending, but I think only so ambiguous.

Moving on. We’re back where we started in season three, in the middle of a vast and desolate forest, where Barry is digging up yet another grave, this time for the motorbike rider. After kicking the wrapped-up body of the man into the makeshift grave, Barry hears someone shouting his last name. It’s Albert, who Barry is reasonably shocked to see, here of all places. “What are you doin’, Berkman?” Albert asks him pointedly. “How much you get for that a**hole over there?” And then he sticks the knife in deeper: “How much you get for Chris?” Barry, laid low by so much from this season, stumbles to his knees and is unable to answer any of Albert’s questions. We, of course, know the answer to things like “Why Chris?” We know Barry wasn’t paid to kill Chris, a younger man who looked up to Barry. Albert doesn’t, though, and he’s as angry as anyone ought to be. When Albert finally loses his patience with Barry’s hyperventilating, but silent response, he draws his gun only for Barry to crumble into a mix of heartrending sobs and screams. 

This seems to rouse Albert out of his fury, as he reveals a key point of information: “I got a daughter, her name is Elsie. She’s 8 years old. She wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t saved my life.” Albert deems Barry “not evil”, which … I think the jury’s out on that one, man. Albert demands that “this has to stop…starting now.” Now, there’s a lot going on with this scene. First, the obvious, is that Bill Hader has earned so much trust as a performer, through shows like this and “Saturday Night Live” that he can play a scene like this without saying a word. James Hiroyuki Liao is excellent, too, as he ranges from fury to sadness quickly. There’s also the more notable inversion of the season’s opening scene, in which Barry yelled that there was no forgiving a man he was ordered to kill. Yet here Albert is, admittedly without knowing a lot of the pertinent facts, and coming very close to forgiving Barry. As long as … y’know, as long as he stops doing what he’s done in the past.

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