Just before he confronts the gangster who kidnapped his family, Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) takes a moment In the parking lot. “Lord, I am dying tonight. Please grant me the strength to sacrifice myself so that my son may live a long and godly life,” he prayed. “By doing this all my sins will be washed away and I will be redeemed in your sight and I will be able to sit next to you forever in my rightful place in the kingdom of heaven. Amen.”
As it turns out, the encounter never actually happened. As soon as Barry gets out of the car, Fuchs (Stephen Root) leads Barry’s uninjured son John (Zachary Goringer) directly to him before disappearing into the night without a word. Hader’s expression is more disappointment than relief. Dying for John will be hard, but it will be easy. At least it will show Barry that he is the martyr he wants to be.
Barry has no interest in letting anyone off the hook easily. This episode finally brings Barry the forgiveness he’s been craving. But the way it does so highlights the gap between true redemption and its cheap TV counterpart, and deliberately undermines any sense of satisfaction in Barry’s possible redemption arc.
From the beginning, Barry There is a story about Barry trying to tell himself, about himself. Never mind that he’s a contract killer whose death toll has only spiked over four seasons – Barry always has the illusion that it’s just another “beginning… Now )” might recast him as a savior, a protector, a good guy whose bloody past has been wiped. That’s why he’s been agonizing over Cousineau (Henry Winkler) telling his story all season, why he’s giving his son a super clean about He’s in Afghanistan, why is he so obsessed with Hollywood in the first place. And what better place for a man trying to rewrite his life than with an industry built around selling cute little novels?
But even that critically acclaimed comedy genre whose characters may have had (mostly metaphorically) was killed to be thrown in, Barry is more interested in puncturing these fictions than maintaining them. Over the course of the show’s run, we see Barry go from simply trying to move beyond his past to seeking forgiveness — not by acknowledging what he’s done, but by, for example, giving Gene plenty of money and career opportunities.
The Barry we find in the finale isn’t any better at atonement. The morning after he didn’t die, he decided to turn himself in for Janice’s murder. Apparently, he had no interest in doing so when Sally had urged him to do so hours earlier, telling him that Cushino might be punished for Barry’s crimes. Until Barry fought back, Sally and John left without a trace, and Tom (Fred Melamed Fred Melamed) begged that only Barry could save Cusino, and he finally gave in.
But Barry robbed him of his last chance to play hero and let Cousineau kill He can confess. Walking out amidst Chechnya gunfire or hordes of police, Barry badly needs the White Knight to believe he is. Instead, Barry‘s moral calculations spit out a rude ending to suit his true undeserving ones. “Oh wow,” he commented after Cousineau shot him in the shoulder for the first time. He didn’t have time to add anything else before Cousineau’s second and final hit to the head.
Barry isn’t the only one being denied. Season 4 in particular puts Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan) in a bind, as the once-lovable gangster keeps himself safe at the unimaginable cost of his boyfriend’s life. But at gunpoint from Fuches, Hank has to admit that he killed Cristobal (Michael Irby), and he’s since reinvented himself as a shrewd businessman, but still can’t bring himself to face what he’s done. In the end, his grip on the hand of the statue he erected in memory of someone he loved so dearly was not enough to prevent his murder.
Yet amidst all this bleakness, Barry still found a glimmer of hope, the truth May set a man free. Ironically, it’s Fuches’ acceptance of himself—not as a tough soldier or benevolent mentor, but as a “man without heart”—that enables him to spare Barry and set John free; Having truly understood what he had done to Barry, he chose to escape the cycle of revenge and manipulation that had held them together for so long. Only after Sally (Sarah Goldberg) confessed to John who she really was and what she had really done did she feel empowered to live forever. Leaving Barry. In the closest Barry to a happy ending, the time jump shows that she has become a beloved high school drama Teacher, enjoys a warm relationship with her son – thus breaking the cycle of personal abuse and professional rejection that previously defined her life.
But the same future also reveals Barry’s last joke, which could also be Darkest joke ever. In the final minutes of the series, now teenage John (Jaeden Martell) watches The Mask Collector , a real A crime thriller that portrays Gene as the villain convicted of murdering Barry and Janice while Barry rests in Arlington National Cemetery as the noble hero. We know this is lazy nonsense that has nothing to do with the flawed characters we’ve spent four seasons following and their complicated, painful, often futile gestures of absolution. But it’s the kind of story Hollywood likes to tell, and Barry wanted to tell his own. Based on John’s smile for the movie, we know which version is likely to stick.
In some ways, it’s an annoying ending. Barry’s death was anticlimactic. Hank is heartbreaking without catharsis. After all the craziness she’s been through, Sally ends up living a completely ordinary life. Gene faced incarceration disproportionate to any wrongs he actually committed, while Janice never got real justice. John is no longer a character, but a vague stand-in for the next generation. Tonally, Barry‘s fourth season has also moved further and further away from the grotesque irony of its earlier episodes. Those who once loved the show for its funny jokes might have been turned off by the finale’s existential search if they hadn’t already given up a season or two ago.
Yet these frustrations feel oddly fitting for a show that has evolved into a serious attempt to grapple with the impossibility of redemption, and from a machine more used to producing easily digestible Sharp self-reflection Mask Collectors . Barry knows exactly what kind of stories we tell to console ourselves. For the final half hour, it refuses to be one of itself.