Everything You Need To Remember Before You Watch Barry Season 3

There's no other show quite like HBO's "Barry." The dramedy series started off with a simple, absurd premise — an assassin suddenly decides he wants to become an actor — and turned this simple idea into both one of the funniest and the most emotionally gripping shows on television. Bill Hader's serious performance as Barry is just as surprising and impressive as Bryan Cranston's run as Walter White a decade earlier. 

It's been nearly three years since the last season of "Barry" ended, though, and a lot has happened since then. As intense and funny and memorable as the show may be, the spring of 2019 feels like a lifetime ago, and you'd be forgiven if you needed a little bit of a refresher going into the season 3 premiere on Sunday, April 24, 2022. Where did season 2 leave off Barry, Sally, NoHo Hank, Cousineau, and Fuches? What can we expect as we head into this new chapter of their lives?


Monroe Fuches (Stephen Roots) starts off the show as a handler, arranging the business side of Barry's killings. His relationship with Barry is strained from the moment Barry decides he wants to pursue acting, and throughout season 1 Fuches serves as the devil on Barry's shoulder, trying his best to drag Barry back into his unfulfilling job as a professional hitman. As Barry starts to get the hang of acting, as well as develop meaningful relationships with fellow aspiring actor Sally (Sarah Goldberg) and acting coach Cousineau (Henry Winkler), Fuches is frustrated by his increasing inability to control him. The one attempt we see of Fuches to make a living as a handler for another assassin goes horribly. 

It's in the latter half of season 2 that Fuches' resentment towards Barry's abandonment of him comes to a head. When Barry inadvertently makes it clear how much Cousineau means to him, Fuches decides to frame Cousineau for the murder of his late girlfriend Janice Moss (Paula Newsome). Although that plan falls apart, Fuches did manage to pull off one devastating blow against his former protege: he told Cousineau that Barry was the one who murdered the love of his life. 

The season 2 finale ends with Fuches receiving a much-needed reminder that this extremely talented assassin whose life he's been trying to ruin is, ya know, an extremely talented assassin. An enraged Barry starts hunting down Fuches and, upon finding him with the Chechen mafia, goes on a murderous rampage that Fuches just barely manages to escape. Although anything's possible regarding his relationship with Barry, it's hard to imagine how Fuches will unburn this bridge.

On the bright side, after bailing on his initial plan to shoot Cousineau in the head, Fuches realizes he doesn't have it in him to kill a person himself. Maybe this means he'll finally realize the full extent of what he's been having Barry do for him all these years, and make a genuine attempt to be a better person? Probably not, but we can hope.

NoHo Hank

Originally supposed to die in the pilot, NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) was such a unique and funny character that the writers decided to keep him around. Hank has since made it all the way to the season 2 finale without getting killed, even as everyone around him keeps dying. At one point he makes a shoddy attempt to assassinate Barry, but is so incompetent at it that Barry doesn't even get that mad at him; he's just kind of annoyed at Hank for the inconvenience.

In a show where all the other characters seem to be traveling down increasingly dark paths, Hank's a much-needed source of light. He's the one who makes this show a dark comedy series instead of a regular drama. Although his kind-hearted nature originally made him seem unsuited for the life of a mafia leader — leading to his men losing their respect for him after he confesses he's not cut out for this life in the season's penultimate episode — it's also what saves him in the end. During Barry's rampage in the finale, the other Chechens try to fight him off only to swiftly get killed, whereas Hank simply hides and turns out okay. 

It doesn't seem like he and Barry are going to be on good terms going into season 3, as Barry has unwittingly framed the Chechen mob for Janice Moss's murder by dropping the Chechen pin in the trunk of her car. This doesn't seem like a major friendship-ruiner, however, so it's certainly possible Barry and Hank can work out their issues this season. 

Gene Cousineau

Starting off the show as an apathetic, washed-up actor, Gene Cousineau manages to find the love of his life with homicide detective Janice Moss. Unfortunately for him, Moss is investigating a homicide that Barry committed, and when she finally figures it out in the season 1 finale, Barry murders her. Season 2 finds Cousineau devastated over her sudden disappearance, and as a result, ends up reconnecting with his son and forming closer relationships with both Barry and Sally. 

It's with Cousineau that Barry confesses his shameful war story of the time he killed a civilian and got away with it. Cousineau keeps this moment a secret, and tells Barry he believes he can change. By the end of season 2, Barry and Cousineau have a close, genuinely touching friendship with each other, which makes the season 2 cliffhanger all the more devastating. The finale ends with a shell-shocked Cousineau remembering what Fuches whispered in his ear as he was looking at his Moss's corpse at the end of the previous episode: "Barry Berkman did this." 

This is the big question fans have been grappling with in anticipation of the season 3 premiere, the thing that's made this three-year wait so agonizing. We don't know how Cousineau will react to this revelation, but we know the relationship between them that's grown so much over the past two seasons will never be the same. Cousineau may have told Barry earlier that people could change, but it's hard to picture him keeping that mindset towards the man he now knows killed the woman he was in love with. 

There's also the question of how Barry will react. We know he's willing to kill to keep his secrets safe, but would he go so far as to kill the mentor he respects so much? Whatever he chooses to do, it's hard to imagine this storyline ending on a happy note.


The closest thing the show has to a co-lead, Sally is an aspiring actress who starts dating Barry early on in the show. Although she's the most talented member of her acting class, her race to make it as a professional actress can make her obliviously hurtful to the people around her. Her destructive tunnel vision about her career is a blessing for Barry, though, as it prevents her from picking up on the many, many clues that her boyfriend's an assassin. 

At the end of season 1, Sally mentions that she was once in an abusive marriage, and season 2 explores this part of her to a much greater extent. Her main season 2 storyline involves her writing and performing an autobiographical scene where her ex-husband Sam chokes her during an argument. Her original version of the scene has her tell her husband off with a bold, impassioned speech, but when the real Sam shows up to talk to her again, it's impossible for her to keep the scene that way without feeling dishonest. Instead, she writes the scene as it actually played out, with her forgiving her abusive husband instead of standing up for herself. 

In a decision that clearly seems to be playing with fire, Sally has Barry play the role of her abusive husband. It produces some of the best acting we've seen from the two characters so far, but as they're preparing to perform in front of a massive audience filled with talent agents, the stress brings out the worst in them. Right before they're set to perform, Sally slaps Barry and tells him to hold onto his anger for the scene. Unbeknownst to her, Barry is in the midst of an absurdly stressful period of his life, and her slapping him made him genuinely furious in a way we've never seen him be with her before. 

Sally and Barry

As Bill Hader put it in an interview with Collider, "We tried to get that he was going to kill Sally, and he is no different than Sam was, kind of the idea that we were playing with in that moment." From the look Barry gives Sally after she slaps him in that scene, we knew something was going to go horribly wrong with this upcoming performance. Barry would have to play a violent man in front of everyone, and with the genuine rage he was feeling, it was definitely possible he'd take things too far. Instead, Sally panics and ends up reverting back to her original, inaccurate version of what happened, and Barry walks off the stage. 

Later, Sally blames this decision on stage fright, but some fans speculate that she realized while reacting to Barry's performance, if maybe only on a subconscious level, that she was in genuine danger. Although the show will likely never clarify what exactly would've happened if she hadn't changed the script, it still feels like a relief when she decides to do so, even as she's betraying her artistic integrity. Sally feels guilty afterward, but she still gets the attention and praise of the talent agents she's been trying to impress. 

It looks like Sally's career is on the upswing now, but her relationship with Barry promises to be a major problem going forward. Basic rules of storytelling tell us that Sally's probably going to find out about Barry's real profession eventually, and there's no telling how she's going to react and how Barry's going to react in response. Sally's already been in an abusive relationship, but beyond that one scene in the finale, she doesn't seem to have any idea of just how dangerous this new relationship is for her.

Barry Block

The big tension for Barry throughout this show is the question of whether or not he can truly let go of his past. In season 1 he chooses his stage name, Barry Block, in part as a way to mark a shift in his identity from a lonely, apathetic assassin to motivated, aspiring actor. For a brief moment in the season 1 finale, it seems like he's succeeded: he's in a loving, easygoing relationship with Sally, he's improving as an actor, and he hasn't had to kill anyone in a while. But then Detective Moss figures him out, and he murders her to keep his secret safe. 

"If we cancel the show, then what was the point?" Barry mutters to himself in the premiere — the point of which being his murder of Moss. He killed her so he could keep acting, so anything that stops him from acting makes him feel she died in vain. It's a weird kind of sunk cost fallacy mindset than can easily be used to justify every subsequent murder he does, the kind that led the main character of one of the darkest "Black Mirror" episodes to her ruin. While he likely didn't mean the line in its exact literal sense, it shows a hint of the cold, narcissistic mindset that's going to make his path to being a good person all the more unlikely. 

Season 2 sees Barry trying his best to be a good person, except not really, because a good person would've just turned himself in by this point. Barry does show some genuine improvement though, such as when he chooses not to kill Hank even when it probably would avoid him some headaches, or how he supports Sally when she's dealing with her abusive ex-husband popping back up in her life. Even when he's forced by a crooked detective to assassinate someone, he makes a genuine attempt to avoid murdering the guy.

Barry Berkman

Unfortunately, Barry's attempts to be a better person fall apart by the end. With Fuches trying to ruin his life and Sally slapping him, Barry ends the season with a murderous rampage. He kills dozens of people, including Mayrbek (Nikita Bogolyubov), a minor character Barry saw parts of himself in. If season 2 is about Barry trying to prove that he's not an evil person, the finale seems to be all about him embracing the idea that he is in fact evil. 

As Bill Hader put it in a behind-the-scenes featurette for the finale, "The thing I like about this episode is that if you remember 2x01, the first time we see Barry he comes out of darkness, and this episode ends with him going back into darkness." Much like how the first half of season 6 of "The Sopranos" played around with the idea that Tony had a chance to redeem himself, season 2 spends eight episodes exploring that idea before answering in what feels like concrete terms: Barry's never going to become a good person. 

With the finale episode being titled "Berkman > Block," it seems like a clearer sign than ever that the dark side of Barry is winning out. What does that tell us about his relationships with Sally, Cousineau, Hank, and Fuches will change from this point on? We can certainly hope for the best, but things don't look good.

"Barry" season 3 hits HBO and HBO Max on April 24, 2022.