‘Barry’ Goes Out With a Bang
After four seasons, Barry—Bill Hader’s dark comedy about a hitman trying to turn his life around through acting—has come to an end. True to form, the series finale is full of strange plot twists and surreal moments, so let’s get into it.
Is NoHo Hank reunited with Cristobal? I like to think so
Hank and Fuches finish off their long-running feud with a shootout in the lobby of Hank’s company, Nohobal. After Hank brings out Sally and John to use as bait for Barry, Fuches shoots Hank, and all hell breaks loose. In the aftermath of the slaughter, Hank looks up at the statue he’s erected of Cristobal. A look of fear passes through his eyes, and he grabs the statue’s hand before he dies.
What is Hank thinking in those last moments? It’s possible that he’s overcome with guilt for getting Cristobal killed eight years earlier. But Hank is also clearly still clinging to Cristobal’s memory. Does Cristobal come to him in those last moments to forgive him? Maybe. I, personally, choose to believe that the two of them are manufacturing sand together in that big Santa Fe in the sky.
Gene blows it, big time
By the time we get to the Barry series finale, Gene’s ego and recklessness have managed to get him accused of Janice’s murder. Even Gene’s son Leo turns on him, convinced that Gene shot him because Leo found out his house was bought with drug money. While Gene is contemplating suicide, though, Barry bursts into his home, looking for Sally and John. A fraction of a second after Barry finally says he’ll turn himself in (more on that in a sec), Gene shoots him twice, killing him.
Sally builds some kind of a life
After the shootout, Sally finds out that Gene is a murder suspect, and she tells Barry to turn himself in. Barry refuses, though, and the next day, Sally and John have disappeared (prompting Barry to go to Gene’s house looking for them). The next time we see Sally, she’s directing a high school drama production of Our Town. Someone gives her flowers, and she drives home, basking in the glow of having her work rewarded. (There’s also a strong hint that she’s thinking of Barry when she gazes at the flowers in the passenger’s seat.)
Frustratingly, Sally seems just as self-absorbed as she was when she was filming Joplin. She runs in front of the actors during their curtain call so that she can soak up the glory. John, now a high school student, tells her he loves her, but she doesn’t seem to hear him. She may not have the fame and riches of a Hollywood actor, but she definitely still has the ego.
However, the silver lining to Sally’s story is that she doesn’t seem to believe that she’s wanted for murder anymore. Sally has done some rotten things in her life, but I maintain that murder isn’t one of them. The guy she killed in season 3 was strangling her. She clearly acted in self-defense! Any jury would be able to see that!
It’s a sobering—and fitting—end to Sally’s story. Is she at all good at teaching? Does she still use the abusive teaching methods she learned from Gene? Does she get any real satisfaction from it? Is she content to be alone? Is she a better mom than she used to be? It’s hard to say.
The Raven grows a heart
What would it take to get Fuches to finally show Barry some mercy? Turns out, it’s Barry’s son.
It’s significant that Fuches protects John from the gunfire when the shootout begins at Nohobal. Fuches has always seen himself as a father figure to Barry, but now that he’s faced with Barry’s kid, he finally acts like one. He gets John to safety, delivers him to Barry, and after giving Barry a small nod of recognition, leaves. It’s the most compassionate thing we’ve ever seen him do for Barry, and a poignant end to their relationship.
Barry finally redeems himself … but not in the way we expect
Oh, Barry. We all knew you were going to die tonight. The only question, with so many people out for your blood, was how it would happen.
When Gene shoots Barry, Barry has just enough time to register what’s happening. His old acting teacher taking him out? “Oh, wow!” Barry says, just before everything goes dark. What’s especially tragic, though, is that just before he dies, Barry agrees to turn himself in—and finally, finally shows the maturity and responsibility he’s been skirting for the entire series. He killed Janice and Chris specifically to avoid prison, and even after Sally and Gene’s agent Tom beg him to save Gene from going to prison in his place, he can’t bring himself to do it. Interestingly, he gives a heartfelt prayer for redemption just before he goes into Nohobal, but even that prayer revolves around redeeming himself by killing yet more people.
The moment when Barry agrees to turn himself in, though, is what the entire series has been leading up to. Covering up his crimes doesn’t make him a good person. Becoming an actor doesn’t make him a good person. But turning himself in to save his mentor? That would have done it, if Gene hadn’t gotten out that gun.
Of course, once Barry is dead and unable to make things right, Gene goes to prison anyway. Here’s where Barry gets another, stranger sort of redemption.
After Sally goes home from the play, John goes to a friend’s house, where he watches the movie that was made about Barry’s life. In the movie, Gene is a cold-blooded villain, while Barry is a hero who gets sucked into Gene’s criminal enterprise before Gene murders him. At the end of the movie, we find out that Gene is serving a life sentence, while Barry has been laid to rest with full honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
Does John believe it? Maybe. Or maybe part of him knows that the truth about his dad is much darker. Whatever John thinks, though, the movie shows us the end of Barry’s story. Barry got what he wanted: redemption without responsibility. He didn’t really deserve it, but as long as the movie pulls in a good box office gross, who cares?
(featured image: Max)
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