Barry season 3, episode 3 takes a step back to set-up possible story threads we had already suspected would unfold as the new season develops.
Episode 3, “ben mendelsohn,” picks up with Barry (Bill Hader) and Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) getting ready on their trailer to film scenes in the TV show they got jobs for. A makeup artist asks Cousineau about his personal life in which he explains he is currently living with his son Leo (Andrew Leeds) and his grandson due to their financial situation. They are interrupted by the producer and showrunner of the series and proceed to demonstrate their admiration towards Gene for helping out a veteran [Barry] with his struggles. Through Winkler’s almost emotionless facial expressions, we can tell just how tired he is of having to listen to other people praising the man that killed the love of his life. Cousineau is then told that, because of his act of kindness with Barry, he will receive speaking lines in the show, which he didn’t have beforehand. Barry forces Gene to show his gratitude to the producer, almost as a way to remind him that he owes him his life and to show him who is in charge of their relationship.
We move on to check with NoHo Hank after the attack they suffered in last week’s episode from the Bolivians commanded by Cristobal’s (Michael Irby) father-in-law. Here, Hank tries to downplay the situation in order to avoid a situation where Chechens are forced to retaliate against Cristobal’s men. You can tell from this interaction that Hank is still trying to protect Cristobal, even after breaking apart from each other. Hank suggests they make a call and activate “the patsy,” aka Fuches (Stephen Root) for help. We finally get a better idea of Fuches’ life in a rural farm far away from Barry’s grasp. Turns out, he is actually enjoying his life of isolation and wants nothing to do with Hank, Barry, or anything back in LA. That is until Hank informs him that Barry is not mad at Fuches anymore, which sparks a genuine sense of curiosity in Fuches attitude before hanging up on Hank.
Meanwhile, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) is preparing to conduct a series of interviews leading up to the release of her show “Joplin” seeking to empower women. This gives us a moment to sympathize with her as being asked questions about your job is a daunting challenge. Rather quickly does Sally, and we as the audience, realize that these interviews won’t go as planned as the media journalists seem to be more interested in dumb question regarding pop culture instead of her passion project. This is portrayed best when an interviewer asks her who she thinks should be the next Spider-Man, to which she replies with Ben Mendelshon, hence the title of the episode. We see this kind of interview all the time in real life, leaving us scratching our heads why these kinds of questions even are a thing. This bit ends up being a great, not so subtle criticism towards modern film and TV journalism that isn’t just funny, but relevant too.
Back with Barry, he is practicing his lines of dialogue with Cousineau. Whether fated or pure coincidence, the dialogue their characters are supposed to have within the show they are working in seem oddly cruel towards Gene as his character is meant to accept an apology from the character Barry is playing in the series. A nice parallel to their situation in which Barry is basically holding Cousineau hostage by forcing him to work alongside him.
Gene confronts Barry about Janice’s (Paula Newsome) demise and if she suffered in her death. Barry reluctantly tries to sway the conversation in a way that allows him to be honest with Gene. It is here where Barry explains Fuches was a family friend and that’s how he got him into the line of work of a hitman. When he hears this, Mr. Cousineau pieces together that the speech Barry had given him back in the pilot episode about being a killer was true, and that Gene mentioning this “speech” during their diner in the season 1 finale helped Janice realize Barry was the assassin she was looking for all season. This makes Cousineau feel responsible for her death, and in an odd way Barry tries to comfort him by telling him she would have found out eventually since she was exceptional at her job as a detective.
Fernando (Miguel Sandoval), Cristobal’s father-in-law, is seen getting his men ready to go to war against the Chechen after their failed attempt to kill them the night before. Cristobal, by some weird miracle, is able to convince Fernando to leave the fight behind them and go back home to Bolivia. This exchange ends in a hilarious issue presented to Fernando regarding how to tell his men they aren’t going to war anymore, as he is afraid it’ll break their hearts. In a nice contrast, Hank is trying to get a hold of Barry in a moment of desperation where he and his superior Batir (JB Blanc) are seeking to murder Fernando instead of Cristobal by blowing up his house with a bomb Batir bought in the dark web. Barry declines and as he is doing so he gets a call from Fuches asking for forgiveness after risking Barry’s relationship with Gene. Reluctantly Barry accepts, but not before getting in an argument where Fuches seems jealous of Barry attempting to salvage his relationship with Cousineau, almost pissed off that his plan last season did not work. Granted, Fuches was successful, Barry is just being overly optimistic about his plans to reconcile with Gene.
After a disastrous series of interviews, Sally asks Katie (Elsie Fisher) if she would like to go to the premiere of their show with her and Barry. Katie gratefully says no, as she is still suspicious of him after going off on Sally in front of her colleagues. Natalie (D’Arcy Carden) then advises Katie to never decline an invitation from her boss, in this case Sally. Here, Katie opens up about how uncomfortable she feels being around Barry after the incident in the writers room, which her feelings are only reinforced after learning from Natalie that he does that from time to time when he has a bad day as she saw it during their time in acting class. Katie mentions she is afraid he will harm Sally, only for Natalie to blindly shut her doubts down.
The episode comes to an end with a series of scenes in which Barry and Mr. Cousineau are finally seen filming their scenes together for their show. Gene goes off-script, though, and punches Barry in the face in front of the production crew, but not without warning him to stay away from his family before storming out of the set. Katie, on the other hand, is now being interviewed when she is asked about Sally’s current “healthy” relationship with Barry since the show they are working on tackles toxic relationships. She tries to brush it off, but you can tell she doesn’t know how to answer without making it obvious she doesn’t like him to begin with. Barry then gives Hank a call to accept his earlier job offer where Hank gets in trouble after Batir questions where his true loyalty lies. Finally, Fuches is given an old folklore story about not seeking revenge in order to convince him not to go after Barry, but he mistakens the moral of the story and has second thoughts about whether or not he should go back to LA and deal with Barry for good and kill him this time around.
The past two episodes of Barry ‘s season 3 were quite fast-paced and gave us surprises we weren’t expecting this early in the season, but episode 3 is an interesting one because it takes a step back to establish what could be the endgame of the season. I know I’ve said similar things in the last two weeks, but this episode really takes its time in heavily foreshadowing Barry’s possible demise. Katie, maybe more so than anybody else, feels like the centerpiece of bringing him down by the time season 3 comes to a close. Every time she is on screen and expresses her concerns about Barry it feels like the show is building a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. If Fuches does indeed get involved and re-enters the picture, it will only be more complicated for Barry to regain his life back to what it was, or what he thought he had going for himself. As for Gene Cousineau, I am done guessing where his storyline is going. First we thought he would be the spark that would cause Barry to go on the run, but then it shifted to him being held hostage by Barry and now we are back to square one. This ain’t a bad thing, though, if anything it makes their back and forth more fascinating. I just hope Gene’s decision to run away from Barry’s grasps does not end up backfiring against his loved ones.
Season 3 Episode 3 of Barry is now available to watch on HBO Max.