Hader aims for greatness in final season of ‘Barry’

Bill Hader plays a hitman that seeks to convince everyone, including himself, that he is a good person. (HBO via AP).

“Barry” is one of the best shows that I have seen in some time. While the show’s initial pitch sounds like a joke that will inevitably end badly, “Barry’ turns into a thoughtful and striking exploration into trauma; the corrupt, two faced nature of Hollywood; and the lies that we often tell ourselves. Season 4 sees our lovable psychotic hitman Barry (Bill Hader) in prison as he’s forced to finally confront his past sins and make a choice: keep deluding himself into thinking that he’s somehow still a misunderstood good guy, or finally face the truth and truly begin to make amends for his past.

What makes this season interesting is not only does Hader play the titular character, but he is also the director of all 8 episodes of this season. He proves just as adept of a director as he is an actor, and if there’s one thing I can say about this season: it never goes in the direction that you think it will. Constantly, I was thinking that this new season would go in a particular direction, only to go into a completely different place that you never would have anticipated. It’s also the darkest season of the show as Barry is finally forced to confront who he is and if he wants to truly change, as he so claims, then he must make the hard choice and accept all of his bad decisions and how much destruction he has wrought. Hader continues to be incredible this season as our titular protagonist, as even as he continues to make the wrong choices and dig himself even further into the hole he’s helped to create, we still feel sorry for him and we want him to finally make the right choice and find the peace that he’s so craved. 

Not to be forgotten are the performances of Sarah Goldberg and especially Henry Winkler. Goldberg really showcases the depth of her acting abilities this season. Her character Sally is drawn through the emotional wringer as she learns who Barry truly is and what he’s done. We also see more of her backstory and family life, so we gain a better understanding of why she is who she is. 

I enjoy how “Barry” creates human, empathetic characters who are not always likable and can be awful some of the time. This season is no different. Henry Winkler also comes out of the park and delivers yet another powerhouse performance as Gene Cousineau, the egotistical yet good-natured acting coach who unwittingly found himself in the whirlwind of Barry’s life. Winkler makes him a prissy moron who we can laugh at, but also someone who’s probably the most tragic character in the story aside from Barry himself. He just wants to rebuild what’s left of his shattered life and live it in peace, but circumstances and his own flaws keep pulling him back into the mix. We see some range from Stephen Root and Anthony Carrigan, who plays one of my favorite characters, NoHo Hank. Despite his goofy status, the show works to give him depth, making him a much more tragic character along with the main cast. 

As I said before, the direction of this season is also outstanding. Hader recently announced that he will be making a horror movie, and after seeing this season, I am excited to see it. Hader creates tension and suspense throughout this season, and he increasingly allows the atmosphere of “Barry” to become more surreal and nightmare-inducing as the season rolls along. 

But what about the ending? Is it as satisfying as Breaking Bad? Or did it peter out like so many shows of its kind have? I have to say that I was pleased with the ending, and despite how shocking it was, it also felt fitting to the story. I was mostly pleased with the ending of “Barry,” even if it was one that left me somewhat heartbroken. I will warn you that the characters don’t get a happy ending, but it’s the ending that’s fitting for all of them. 

Share This