WarningMight contain spoilers.

Back after nearly three years, and somehow even darker. The performances are still uniformly excellent, anchored by Bill Hader’s unflinching embodiment of the titular character and Robert Wisdom’s intriguing, enigmatic performance as Jim Moss. (Fuches’s reaction to the story about him driving his interrogator to suicide made me giggle.) It’s still as acerbic and bitingly funny as ever (witness the network executives giving Sally feedback), but the balance between the humour and the grim subject matter moves inexorably towards the latter right from the start.

The writing and direction are as jaw-droppingly inventive as ever, whether it’s the funeral where everyone sits down only to leave Barry standing alone, Sally going from seeing Joplin on the homepage of BanShe to ranting about The Algorithm canceling it, Batir unwittingly livestreaming the Bolivians raiding their operations with the police right behind them, the mother and son struggling with their plans before turning to the cheerful gun shop owner to say they’ll take the Glock, or Fuches stubbornly ignoring the point of a well-told story about revenge… nothing else can capture this blend of black humour, slapstick, and unconventional style.

That said, I must admit ‘limonada’ takes it too far for me. Despite how funny some of it is—Natalie’s but with an exclamation mark, so more like… Pam! had me in splits, and Gene, the dogs, and the two women breaking up because of the dogs made me laugh—the whole episode plays bleak and oppressive in a way the show hasn’t done before, complete with Barry being exposed as a full-fledged abuser.

I like the parallels between Natalie telling Katie that Barry was probably just having a bad day when he came and yelled at Sally and Noho Hank telling his lieutenant the same thing about the massacre at the monastery. I feel sorry for Katie, who’s caught between her show, Sally, Barry, and everyone around her. I’m glad Sally herself finally sees Barry for what he is… and even though it looks like she’ll continue the cycle of abuse (complete with the unsubtle image of her backing into the darkness much like Barry at the end of the last season), at least she realizes in the end that she needs to escape it.

The unquestionable zenith of the season is ‘710N’: the absolutely unbelievable chase sequence with the final motocross rider driving up the roof of the used car showroom and being shot by the salesman (on par with the fight in the previous season’s ‘ronny/lily’), Beignets by Mitch’s deadpan life advice, and Fuches finding himself in a familiar situation with another beautiful woman who temporarily diverts him from thoughts of vengeance. Then there’s Karen David—whom I was happy to see for the first time since 2015’s Galavant—getting in a great twist right at the end. And let’s not forget the brief exchange with Vanessa Bayer’s network executive contrasting hmm and yes.

I wasn’t very taken with the finale, ‘starting now’. The long-overdue unfolding of the consequences of Barry’s actions lacks its trademark flair and engrossing storytelling. Noho Hank listening to his gang apparently being eaten by an animal is well executed but disgusting. Albert and Barry’s showdown is curiously lackluster considering how compelling Albert himself is as a character. I do, however, have to commend Bill Hader’s performance; specifically, the way his entire demeanour changes when he thinks Gene is going to kill Jim Moss.

I wonder what the fourth season will bring, now that Barry has burnt all his bridges. Only a few days left before I find out.