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Stephen Root’s Surprising ‘Barry’ Evolution Led to Its ‘Funniest Scene’

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters

Barry is working toward a pitch-black—and potentially fatal—series finale. But in its penultimate episode, the show still finds room for the comedy that’s helped temper the darkness since Season 1. In fact, Episode 7 of the final season is particularly funny, in large part due to the murderous goofballs that exist in the world surrounding Barry (Bill Hader) himself.

Chief among those curiously comedic serial killers is Monroe Fuches, played by long-time character actor Stephen Root. After the show’s eight-year time jump at the end of Episode 4, we were left wondering about Fuches’ fate, which was finally revealed in last week’s sixth episode. The former hitman survived his hellish eight-year prison stint, which Barry managed to break out of, leaving his fellow hitman and longtime mentor in the dust. And by the time he exits jail, we learn that Fuches is no longer Fuches. Now, he’s the Raven.

While we last saw him as his fellow prisoners’ punching bag, Fuches returns to the show fully reborn, sociopathically calm, and heavily tattooed. The Raven has a loyal crew of lackeys who listen to and would never abandon him, unlike his protégé. The Raven’s even got a new, perpetually silent girlfriend, whose daughter is her mouthpiece.

It’s a seemingly hilarious move, for put-upon loser Fuches to become a mob boss of his own making. But Root tells The Daily Beast’s Obsessed that this transformation completely fits the character at this moment: a father figure scorned by his so-called son, Barry, and looking to fill the void.

<div class="inline-image__credit">HBO</div>
HBO

“You realize this season that he’s known Barry for a lot longer than the audience knew,” Root says, referencing a short flashback we see in Episode 4 to the pair’s initial meeting. “He’s known him since he was a seven-year-old kid, playing soldiers in the sand. “That love and familial closeness is what drives him always with Barry. [But] he’s got a flaw, in that he has a revenge button that can’t push the stop on—but his initial love for Barry is always the underlying current of [his actions].”

Hence Fuches’ immediate desire to create a new family for himself once he’s out of prison. It’s not just that he steps back into the free world surrounded by loyal followers; it’s that he also recruits a girlfriend to accompany him that speaks to this soft side.

“When Fuches goes through his transformation into the Raven, the first thing he does is he gets himself a family,” says Root. “He grabs that woman, [who’s a barista at a coffee shop], and that woman has a daughter, and boom, he’s got a family. He’s got something he’s never had.”

Who Is Going to Be Murdered in the ‘Barry’ Finale?

That soft side further comes out in Episode 7, which aired Sunday, in an utterly hilarious way. With Barry out of the picture, Fuches has found new boys to parent—and take out anyone who pisses him off. In this case, that’s NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), so Fuches has his honorary sons decapitate members of Hank’s Chechen mob cabal, then ship the spoils off to Hank’s office as a scare tactic. (“They’re heads,” Hank says with a resolute sigh, upon opening the blood-stained boxes on his desk,)

Yes, this is sadism at its finest (insofar as there is a “finest.”) But it’s also followed by what Root calls “one of the funniest scenes in the show.”

After Hank unpacks his boxes of heads, we cut to the Raven, a.k.a. Fuches, sitting on a couch, surrounded by his gang; across the coffee table are his new girlfriend and her daughter. Turns out that the crew tortured and killed Hank’s guys outside of Fuches’ lavish new pad, to the discomfort of Fuches’ new “family.”

“Initially, we had [Fuches’ girlfriend] talking to me” about what just happened outside of the house, Root reveals; instead, she stays completely silent. “Her not saying anything was way funnier. So her daughter speaks, and says, ‘Yeah, we’re uncomfortable when you cut off their heads.”

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HBO

Fuches wants to be a good boyfriend and dad—he doesn’t want to make anyone stress over his occasional murder sessions. This leads to Fuches and his boys, who carried out the act, to deliberate upon how they could have made the situation more amenable to the women. Perhaps they could have taken them out for a “nice meal,” so that they wouldn’t be home when the Raven and his crew brutally murder people? Or they could procure some noise-canceling headphones?

The best suggestion, Root says, came as a surprise to everyone: “[Watching] Fast and Furious—that was completely an improv that was developed through those guys behind me.” On-set Root maintained a straight face as one of the guys suggested they should have the women watch one of the especially loud Fast and Furious movies, volume dialed all the way up, to distract them from their enemies’ screaming. Even funnier is that no one can agree on which entry in the long-running series is the best one to put on.

“They riff on the fact that, ‘No, it wasn’t in Fast and Furious 2, it was in 3, and this and that—that’s all them,” Root says. “That’s the joy of this show, is that you can come up with something like that, which is not on the page, but it’s well within the realm of the show.”

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HBO

Fuches’ girlfriend and her daughter don’t seem particularly on board with the Fast and Furious marathon idea. But perhaps they won’t get a chance to test it out anyway—there’s only one more episode of Barry, and this kiss-off toward Hank surely won’t end well for Fuches. Hopefully, the women will be able to cash in on that nice meal offer, no matter what happens.

Barry’s series finale airs next Sunday, May 27, at 10 p.m. ET.

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