The final season of the show, included time leaps, which enabled the showrunners to tie up the narratives of all the major characters
Story: Jailed for the murder of detective Janice Moss (Paula Newsome), following a sting orchestrated by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) and Janice’s father Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom), Barry (Bill Hader) tries to get the FBI to give Sally a fresh start, in exchange for information on the cartel’s he’s worked for. This, of course, does not work for NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), who orders a hit on Barry. The hit goes south, allowing Barry to break out of jail, and instead of going on a rage-fuelled gunfire spree to take out those who came after him, he decides to go away with Sally.
Cut to a few years later – Barry, Sally and their son John live in the middle of nowhere. He’s become ‘god-fearing’ and she, a shadow of her former self. But when a film about the Janice murder case is planned by a major studio, Barry has to return to LA and stop Cousineau from backing it, setting off a chain of related events.
Review: A show about a former marine-turned-mercenary for hire, who thinks his true calling may be in acting – that’s what Bill Hader’s Barry started out as. It was billed a dark comedy, but by the third season and more so in the fourth, Barry was anything but that, with detective Janice Moss’ death from season 1, at the core of the narrative until the very end. Eventually, Barry was more about whether redemption was ever on the horizon and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Truth be told, I was not a fan of this shift of tone and the darker the narrative got, the more distant I felt about the show. Nothing good came of Barry trying to be a better person, or at least his idea of it. Everyone around him went down a dark path, whether it was Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root) or Cousineau. Barry’s acting classmate and eventual girlfriend Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg) is, perhaps, the only one whose ultimate goal remained the same – look out for herself. Right up to the penultimate episode, I was on the fence about the show – as I watched Hader, as Barry, walk out of a store kitted with guns to the hilt and no one around him seemingly bothered, I let out a chuckle, as visions of the shoot-out at the monastery from season 2 came flashing by. But what a surprise Hader had in store in the final episode – in all honesty, I did not see that ending coming. It had me rooting for the show again, as the actor-director finally gives Barry a rather twisted form of redemption.
So, what was it about this show that had me watch it in the first place? The basic plotline sounded interesting and, for the most part, series with standup comedians as showrunners tend to make for intriguing watches. Yes, I did lose interest mid-way, but I was determined to find out how Hader would tie up the narrative. Am glad I stuck on.
I was never quite sold on Hader being the title hero. He does not have the physical traits one would expect in a former marine, yet he never feels out of place as a gun-toting mercenary, or the troubled soldier trying to make sense of his true self. But if you were to line up the entire primary cast of Barry, including Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg and Anthony Carrigan, Halder, despite playing the title character remains the weaker link.
The stand-out performance of the season and the show, though, was, undoubtedly, that of Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank. Carrigan’s most notable earlier work that I’d seen had him as a scary supervillain on the TV show Gotham. So, imagine my surprise when he was still one of the bad guys, but more of the goofball variety. A Chechen gangster with the style and attitude of a diva who is a softie at heart. Carrigan got some of the funniest lines and moments on the show, unleashing an endearing side to the actor that made him a fan favourite. Sarah Goldberg's Sally Reed comes a close second. She was stellar every time she was onscreen; it's a pity that her character did not evoke much sympathy given that she made everything about her.
Verdict: In its four-season run, Barry was quite the rollercoaster ride and bows out on a high. No doubt, it will be a front-runner in several categories at the next Emmys. And now that it is over, I am loathe to say, “Goodbye, Barry”.