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Does Barry Survive the ‘Barry’ Finale?



The epic series finale of Barry is aptly titled “wow.” Wow. Just wow—all lowercase. This echoes our thoughts while watching the final moments of Barry (Bill Hader) and the group of people he’s screwed up for life, though it’s also a harrowing quote from the episode as well. There is no other word in the English language, in fact, that more perfectly encapsulates the finale of Barry better than this three letter palindrome. Wow.

I bring up the idea of a palindrome because, although we’ve seen the linear story of Barry from the first season to this final fourth installment, the HBO series turns itself backwards in this final episode. Barry has always been the murderer carrying out kills in this darkly comedic tale of a man trying to turn his life around with a new creative passion. In this past season, Barry has used every opportunity to run away from the law and his violent past—from living in an isolated desert home to resorting to Christianity as his backbone in life. But in the Barry finale, he can finally stop running. The “wow” has been reversed to throw another character under the bus.

Now, Barry’s ex-acting teacher Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) has been accused of killing Janice Moss (Paula Newsome) and Barry’s old acting peer Ryan Madison (Tyler Jacob Moore). With new evidence showing some sort of pay-off between Barry and Cousineau (there’s no evidence, and the money was not for killing), the feds now believe Cousineau used his student to help him kill Janice as blackmail. Cousineau is hiding from the authorities. Barry is freed.

Well, not quite. Barry hasn’t even seen this news yet. He’s more focused on saving Sally (Sarah Goldberg) and their son John (Zachary Golinger), who have been captured by a vengeful Hank (Anthony Carrigan), who is looking to kill Barry. Before he can get a bullet in Barry’s head, though, Hank calls up Fuches (Stephen Root) to offer a trade: Hank’s safety for Barry’s dead body. Fuches rolls up to Nohobal headquarters before Barry’s done purchasing a dozen guns from a shop that looks as easy to buy from as a K-Mart. Harrowing.

Hank has been waiting years to kill Barry, and though the Chechen mobster has spent all four seasons of Barry proving how much of a tough guy he is, in these final moments, his actions prove otherwise. He can’t bring Barry’s little son, John, out to the killing floor, keeping him locked up in a closet in the back. Only Sally is brought out with a gun to her head. Fuches demands to see John. As Hank shakes in fear of killing a child, Fuches throws another offer on the table.


In a series of close-ups between Hank, who can’t stop a series of tears from rolling down his face, and Fuches, who is as stoic as the golden statue of Cristobal (Michael Irby) in the background, Fuches whittles Hank’s remaining flesh down to the bone: “New deal. I walk away right now, you’ll never hear from me again. All you have to do is admit that you killed Cristobal. Admit that you fucked up. Admit that you were scared. That you hate yourself. That there are some days you don’t think you deserve to live. And the only thing that’ll make you forget is by being someone else.”

Noho Hank has always been Barry’s jester, but in these final moments, he shows his cards. He weeps. He admits to being a bit of a coward. Root and Carrigan stare each other down with such conviction—it’s not a big comedic scene, but you really can’t help but hope they get some love at the Emmys, where Barry competes as a comedy. Especially for the final sequence in their war, in which Hank calls off the new deal only to be shot through the heart. He dies, slumped over the Cristobal’s statue’s legs, beneath the lover who has been gone for nearly a decade now.

Fuches, on the other hand, survives the shoot-out and protects John from the bloodbath. He leads John out of the room of corpses to Barry, who arrives with several guns strapped to his body. Fuches bids his farewell to Barry. A cold, heartless killer reckons with the youthful spirit of two young boys: Barry, the man he used to know as a little one, and John, who has been liberated from a life of crime.

Sally, John, and Barry snuggle into one hotel room after this, shockingly unscathed and unshaked from the events at Nohobal. (Perhaps Sally is jaded by this whole murderous shtick at this point.) Sally demands that Barry turn himself in for Janice’s murder, unwilling to see Cousineau go to prison for his crimes. Barry retorts with what could be the best line of the season: “I don’t think God wants me too,” he says, cowardly. God was supposed to kill him at the showdown tonight, but instead, spared him. Sure, Barry.

John and Sally sneak out the next morning, but not to turn Barry in—he’s got to do that on his own. Believing his partner and child are at Cousineau’s, Barry treks across LA to face down his acting teacher. Gene is at his wit’s end. He fetches his gun from its smooth wooden case. Considering the last time Gene used it, he nearly murdered his son, Leo (Andrew Leeds), nothing good can come from the weapon.

There’s not much time to wonder what’s going to happen between Cousineau and Barry because, as soon as the two have their reunion, Cousineau shoots Barry. First, in the heart. “Wow,” Barry says, finally meeting his maker. Then Cousineau pierces a bullet through Barry’s skull. Though this is the finale and, realistically, Barry was always going to die, Hader still subverts expectations with such a quick, shocking kill scene.

We next see an audience clapping while Barry bleeds out from a bullet in his forehead. Is this the Warner Bros. Pictures movie about Barry and Cousineau? No, we cut to Sally, who accepts flowers on stage for a high school performance of “Our Town.” John (Jaeden Martell), now grown up, applauds with a smile on his face. He looks—dare I say it—normal. The pair meet out in the parking lot, where John begs to go to a sleepover and Sally obliges before heading home on a snowy night. (Here, we see the least realistic scene of Barry ever: Sally pulls out of the driveway while there is still snow on her windshield. Scrape it off! It’s telling that this is the only area of Barry I take issue with.)


John is breaking the rules with his friend by watching the newly released movie about his father’s life: The Mask Collector. Cousineau (Michael Cumpsty) is now a demonic acting teacher who accepts recently discharged marine Barry (Jim Cummings), a stand-up guy who looks like the first photo you’d see on Wikipedia after searching “veteran.” After walking in on a few unfortunate scenes—Cousineau paying off Ryan Madison, killing Janice—Barry is forced into LA’s crime underbelly. He resists. He’s framed for killing Janice. “Sorry brother, I know you’re just doing your job,” he tells a police officer he attacks to escape from prison, which had me howling.

Barry confronts Cousineau, who kills him with around 36 slow-motion shots to the chest. Shocker! He dies a hero.

“Gene Cousineau is currently serving life in prison for the murders of Janice Moss and Barry Berkman,” an epilogue reads. “PFC Barry Berkman was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.”

John sniffles, then the real credits of Barry roll. Does he know the truth about his father? Crying as the character version of him dies seems to allude that he doesn’t, and this false story is all he understands. But Sally did confess, in the beginning of the episode, to the two of them being fugitives. John should know. Perhaps he does know, though, and prefers the movie version of his life. He comes from a long line of actors who tell themselves stories to stay alive. The cycle continues.

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Source: The Daily Beast


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