The reckoning of ‘Barry’


Invision/AP/Richard Shotwell

(From left) Stephen Root, Robert Wisdom, Bill Hader, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Goldberg and Henry Winkler at the season four premiere of “Barry” on April 16 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. “Barry” is now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.

By Eli Tecktiel, Senior Lifestyle Writer

Editor’s Note: The following piece contains spoilers for the fourth season of “Barry,” which is currently streaming on HBO.

Some shows devastate you with their persistently tragic storylines while others make you laugh out loud every 30 seconds. HBO’s “Barry” manages to do both, and the results will leave you dumbfounded and in awe.

The show, created by Bill Hader and “Seinfeld” alum Alec Berg, began its fourth and final season last Sunday with a two episode premiere. 

After the whirlwind of deception and revenge that viewers experienced during the first three seasons, the latest installment of “Barry” shows a man who thought he was untouchable finally facing grave consequences.

The first episode of the show’s first season introduced us to Barry Berkman (Hader), a career hitman and war veteran, who is hired to assassinate a member of an acting class in Los Angeles. However, after experiencing the acting class taught by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), he quickly falls in love with acting. The first two seasons focus on Barry grappling with his unique double life.

As season four opens, Barry is now in prison for the murder of Cousineau’s girlfriend, Detective Janice Moss, who was beginning to unravel his Jekyll and Hyde-like life as a professional assassin. In the final episode of season three, Barry was set up by Cousineau and Janice’s father and was arrested, leaving the finale on a cliffhanger.

In its first two seasons, “Barry” leaned heavily into the dark comedy category, expertly mixing funny dialogue with its undeniably grisly premise. With season three, though, the show veered into a harrowing meditation on grief and forgiveness as Barry and Cousineau come to terms with everything that has transpired.

This disconcerting, dreadful atmosphere carries over into the new season as Barry finally gets a taste of justice. Barry is naturally difficult to sympathize with, but Hader’s performance has carved a soft spot in the heart of the show’s dedicated viewers. Beneath his murderous and psychopathic exterior, a curious childlike innocence lies within Barry. 

He apologizes for his actions constantly and profusely but never really seems to understand why what he did was wrong or take accountability. He operates with the feeling that if he could only make people understand what he did and how he became the person he did, everything would be okay and his name would be cleared. But at this point, nobody wants to understand anymore. The people who knew and loved him are haunted by his memory and, though they may never wholeheartedly hate him, want to forget he ever existed.

In episode two, Barry’s ex-girlfriend, Sally (Sarah Goldberg), who had been completely oblivious to his double life, visits him in prison. Goldberg gives a standout performance in one of the most rawly emotional scenes of the series, exhibiting many layers of confliction towards the man she thought she knew. She unexpectedly tells Barry that she feels safe with him and he breaks down, begging her to stay and continue talking to him, but she leaves. This moment brings their complex relationship dynamic to a head, leaving their future together uncertain.

Another complex relationship further explored in the new season is that of Monroe Fuchs (Stephen Root) and Barry, his protege. Fuchs, who roped Barry into this life in the first place, is incarcerated in the same prison as him and the two are forced to reconcile their fractured relationship. Forgiveness is a constantly recurring theme in the show and this moment of peace between Barry and Fuchs, albeit brief, highlights the human desire to rectify the past.

“Barry” airs every Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO, as well as HBO Max.