This week’s BARRY was a masterclass in creating a sense of dread and having it permeate every single scene from beginning to end. This episode also belonged to one of our most underrated character actors of all time, Stephen Root.
Root is probably best known as Milton from 1999’s OFFICE SPACE, where he plays a disgruntled employee who is often overly concerned about his red Swingline stapler. In the 24 years (!) since that film’s release, he’s had a very eclectic career across both live-action and animated titles. When he showed up in BARRY’s 2018 series premiere as an assassin, I knew he could play anything, but I was equally curious how it would play out. Fuches had a lot more screentime in the show’s early days, but THE WIZARD weaves Monroe Fuches back into the game, and he’s a changed man. Every week on BARRY, I look at these actors and think, “Well there’s an award-worthy performance,” and this week, it’s absolutely from Stephen Root. He got an Emmy nomination for S1, and I think he could very well do it again this year.
Back to that sense of dread. As these last few episodes of BARRY play out, it could really go any way. No one feels safe on this show. The entire way through THE WIZARD, it felt like a gunshot kill to the head was around the corner for just about anyone. Even in what should be the most benign scenes – having dinner among friends and colleagues, walking into an office building, greeting a family member. I kept saying to myself over & over, “This is it, this character is about to get it.” If you were a fan of BREAKING BAD, you might recall a similar sense of trepidation during that show’s final season too.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sally and Sarah Goldberg’s masterful performance. I know a large part of the audience dislikes Sally, and that’s the point. Barry is literally a serial killer, a cold-hearted assassin. And yet Sally often bears the brunt of the audience’s scorn for being a self-serving narcissist. She’s not a killer, but would you be friends with her? Probably not. Barry is both her best, and her worst soul mate all at once. He’s absolutely evil for what he’s done, but if you didn’t know that about him, you may think he’s just a goofy wannabe actor who you could grab a beer with. Sally wears her self-absorption on her sleeve, while Barry has had to keep who he really is a secret for so long.
There are only two more episodes of BARRY left. It airs on HBO Sunday nights at 9 pm ET and streams on HBOMax at the same time.