HomeTelevisionBarry Season 4 Review: A Spectacular Curtain Call for Television’s Most Unique...

Barry Season 4 Review: A Spectacular Curtain Call for Television’s Most Unique Show

Bill Hader in the final season of Barry.
Photo Courtesy of HBO

Written by Joel Pesantez

Towards the beginning of Barry’s run, it would have been easy to write this show off as another self-indulgent, overly-violent venture into the anti-hero genre that’s been explored to death at this point. Yet, the show has always managed to separate itself by striking a perfect balance between dark comedy and existential drama, completely flipping the genre on its head. In its final season, Bill Hader and the rest of the show’s staff completely lean into the dramatic elements of the show, not only justifying its existence, but showcasing it to be truly one of a kind.

After another one of the show’s legendary cliffhangers, the titular character (Bill Hader, It Chapter Two) finds himself locked away in prison, finally facing the consequences of the murder he committed all the way back in season one. Barry eventually escapes from prison, though, and just when the audience is beginning to get a grasp on the new dynamics of the show, it presents another twist halfway through the season, jumping ahead in time eight years. The time jump offers the opportunity to see how the character changes over time, devolving from an unstable, violent delusionist, to a quiet, patient delusionist, both being terrifying in their own way.

As interesting as Barry’s character is, where the show has always shined is in its supporting cast, something that is no different with this final season. The chaotic ensemble is all held together by the season’s theme: accountability (or lack thereof). Barry’s former crime associate, NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan, Gotham), climbs his way up to becoming the leader of an empire, but not before betraying his lover and friends, something he remains in denial of until his demise. Barry’s acting teacher, Gene (Henry Winkler, Arrested Development) uses the death of his girlfriend as his ticket to fame, which proves to be his downfall. Even Barry refuses to take accountability for his actions, eventually resulting in his own murder.

While there are no true happy endings for any of the characters, the ones that atone for their mistakes get out cleaner than others. After reconciling with Barry and having a child, Sally (Sarah Goldberg, The Night House) realizes the extent that Barry’s actions have had on others, particularly their son. She implores him to turn himself in, before leaving him so she can provide a fulfilling life for their son. Barry’s handler Fuches (Stephen Root, King of the Hill) had spent his whole life running after making enemies and taking advantage of others, but is finally given freedom after he spares Barry’s son and protects him against a gang.

The series manages to squeeze all of these ideas and plotlines within the tight eight episode season, but may have been better suited for a slightly longer season or an hour-long finale, as opposed to the approximately 35-minute long one. A couple of the storylines end abruptly and certain character dynamics are neglected, leading to some noticeable missed opportunities. In this way, the finale fits in the same vein as other HBO shows, particularly The Sopranos, delivering an ending that is frustratingly open-ended, but still powerful nonetheless.

In its final scene, where Barry’s son watches a cheesy biopic of his late father’s life that terribly misinterprets him as the hero of the story, the show arguably takes its boldest turn; imploring Hollywood to take accountability for itself. With Barry, there is a clear purpose in deconstructing the anti-hero genre, questioning how heroic characters like Barry truly are, and in its final episodes the show takes a strong stance against gun violence. The show leaves audiences with a poignant message, asking them to consider how detrimental the consumption and production of mindless violence in the media can be.

By the time the credits roll, some fans may be unsatisfied with the conclusion to Barry. There aren’t any major laughs and certain characters are neglected so that the show can focus its attention towards making a larger statement. To those that are willing to accept the surreal, unconventional ending and the breath-taking visuals of the show’s final act, Barry ends its impressive run on a high note and delivers a thesis that only this show was capable of.

Barry Season 4 and the entire series is currently streaming on MAX.


Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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