Barry season 3, episode 8 recap – the finale and ending explained

By Marc Miller
Published: June 13, 2022 (Last updated: May 27, 2023)
View all
HBO Barry season 3, episode 8 - Starting Now - the finale and ending explained


No other show makes bolder, anti-cliche story choices like Barry. The season finale is a game-changer.

This recap of HBO’s Barry season 3, episode 8, “Starting Now” — the finale and ending explained — contains spoilers.

Access the archive of news, recaps, and reviews for Barry.

So, do you remember when Barry was a comedy? I’ve heard media pundits claim how dark Barry has become this season. Well, you have seen nothing yet. This third season finale of television’s best show was dark, surprising, even moving, and powerful. This is a culmination of a story arc. Barry, aching to be good but can’t help his scorpion-like nature, all comes to a head. Let’s talk about what happened and where Barry goes from here…. starting now.

Barry season 3, episode 8 recap – the finale and ending explained

Let’s take care of a couple of house cleaning items. Fuches is officially arrested when he is told they found fingerprints on the Chechen pin. As he enters the prison, he tells the guard he is The Raven, most likely to take on a persona, which will act as a shield. Or, most likely, to cut a deal. Gene is being asked to produce a show of Our Town, but Mr. Moss asks him to get to his house in 17 minutes. When he gets there, Moss interrogates and mentally breaks him down on how he could love his daughter if he protects Barry. Hank is still handcuffed to a radiator. Finally, Barry wakes up at the hospital and sneaks out. Sally surprises Barry at his apartment, asking him to terrorize Natalie.

But let’s get to Barry, Sally, and Hank. As Barry tries to talk Sally out of gaslighting her former assistant, the last remaining member of that Taylor’s clan appears behind him in the doorway. Sally warns him, but the guy knocks him out with one swift punch. He then attacks Sally and begins to choke her. Just as we think Sally may be done for, she stabs him with a knife Barry dropped on the floor (which we didn’t see until then). As the guy is baffled at how and why she chose to stab him in the neck, he wanders into the soundproof podcast booth with the weapon still lodged. Sally then takes a baseball bat and beats him to death. Barry wakes up and tells her to repeat that it was him. The camera focuses on her face, covered in the man’s blood.

We then go from one horrific scene to another. Hank is forced to listen to the Bolivians go into his comrade’s cell next door. He hears them being beaten, tortured, and fed to a wild animal that I can only imagine being some unruly poor lion or tiger (oh my). We then see, most likely the animal, throw up something green and bits of flesh underneath Hank’s cell door (Poor Akmhal!). Hank manages to break free from the radiator, fight off an armed guard who enters, and steal his gun. He finds Cristobal being given electric shock treatment by his wife while a well-built man dances in front of him seductively. Hank shoots Cristobal’s wife, the man, and frees the love of his wife. As they embrace, Hank’s expression goes from tears to anger. Hank has finally been broken.

Then we get back to Barry. And in perhaps the series’ most powerful scene, Albert confronts Barry near that tree we saw in the pilot, attempting to bury the man Sally killed. As Albert asks him how much he was paid for that one or Chris, Barry drops to his knees, crying. He begs Albert not to shoot him. Albert lowers the gun and tells him he has to stop, “Starting now!” He walks away from Barry, giving him the forgiveness and second chance our favorite hitman has been craving for most of his life. Ending the day Barry snapped, the day he saved Albert, and now he has saved Barry.

As Barry is driving, he calls Sally, and he tells her he is going to pick her up and to pick a place they are going to run to. Before he hangs up the phone, Barry tells her he loves her. Sally repeats those words back. (Interestingly, if you have the closed captioning, they have the line, “Oh, you do?” instead). When Sally gets off the phone, she is seen boarding a plane to Joplin, Missouri.

That’s when Barry gets a call from Mr. Moss. He wants him to come over. Barry refuses, then calls Gene, who is telling Barry he doesn’t know how to get out of this situation. Does he mean to shoot himself or kill Janice’s father? He breaks the speed limit, runs red lights and stop signs, and meets Gene at the Moss home. There is a big plot flaw here. How did Barry know he was at Mr. Moss’s house? Yes, he asked Gene where he was, but he could not be sure. And while we can assume he made an educated guess, what happens next should have had more clarity.

The ending

Barry finds Gene with a gun in from of the Moss home. He begs Barry not to go into the house. Barry grabs the gun, tells Gene to go home, and enters. He finds Moss making himself a drink in his den. Barry approaches him, takes out the Moss gun, and as he takes a few steps, he hears dozens of police officers screaming for him to drop his weapon. With a shocked look, Barry watches a SWAT team approach from the dark backyard through the window. More enter through the doorways. He is shocked because Barry has been set up by Gene, who performed his life. The gun had no bullets.

The final scene shows Mr. Moss looking down at the lawn in front of his house.

Where does Barry go from here? As I have said numerous times, I marvel at how Berg and Hader box themselves into corners, making bold storytelling choices, and how they get themselves out of it. The third season of Barry redeemed itself in the final episode, showing how there was nowhere else to go this season but for Barry to get a fresh start. And that was for him to pay for his crimes finally.

The fourth season was confirmed. Will next season be a trial? Does Hank break Barry out and hire him to avenge all the remaining Bolivians? Hank looks like a new man with cement for a heart. Maybe Barry can be his number two? The season finale was made to feel definite, as a story arc feels completed and satisfying yet leaves us with more questions than answers. The upcoming fourth season feels like its last.

I can’t wait to see how the show continues.

What did you think of HBO’s Barry season 3, episode 8 (finale), and the ending? Let us know in the comments below!

More Stories

Endings Explained, HBO, Premium Channels, TV - Ending Explained, Weekly TV
View all