Type keyword(s) to search

Quick Hits

Barry Gets the Hollywood Ending He Always Wanted

The series finale reminds us this show has always been about fame.
  • Sarah Goldberg, Zachary Golinger, and Bill Hader in Barry (Photo: Courtesy of HBO)
    Sarah Goldberg, Zachary Golinger, and Bill Hader in Barry (Photo: Courtesy of HBO)

    [Editor’s Note: This post includes major spoilers for the Barry series finale, “wow.”]

    Each character in Barry, at one point or another, has had the same endgame in mind: fame. Whether in the most literal Hollywood sense or more personal acknowledgment, it was a possibility that was far away but always just close enough to inspire immoral acts to achieve it. In the series finale "wow," some of those acts pay off, and just about everyone receives their own moment in the spotlight.

    Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg) finds it on a smaller stage, receiving praise as the director of a high school production of Our Town. Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root), and NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) find it in various levels of infamy. And their lives are now forever cemented on the big screen as supporting players in Barry Berkman’s (Bill Hader) heroic life in the major motion picture The Mask Collector. Barry always envisioned himself as the main character in a story — his own fantasies of his future played out as cinematic scenes throughout the series. All it took to ultimately get there was his murder.

    The series’s final episode, “wow,” is, somewhat predictably, a bloodbath. But the biggest deaths, those of NoHo Hank and Barry, are dealt with quickly and with little suspense or fanfare in the first two-thirds of the episode. Yes, Hank gets his final moment with Crístobal (or his statue at least), and Barry's exit is made all the more shocking by how suddenly it happens, but the show is much more concerned with devoting its final act to a big Hollywood movie instead of mourning these characters.

    Whether or not the real Barry received the forgiveness he prayed for and landed a spot in heaven, not on the shores of a hellish, beach-side purgatory as he once imagined, is still unclear. But thanks to a cinematic retelling of his story, Barry will live on as a hero, one who was buried in Arlington National Ceremony with full honors.

    It’s not exactly accurate to say that Barry was redeemed — there are still people out there who know exactly who he is and what he did. But still, Hollywood gives Barry exactly what he wanted, and fulfills the story he was telling his son, John (Zachary Golinger as a child and Jaeden Martell as a teen), all along. It’s not impossible to imagine that even Gene is reveling in being a character in this film from behind bars. Even though it’s not exactly the story he was hoping would be told, it still turns him into a household name, and that’s truly all he ever wanted.

    Did Sally keep her son from seeing The Mask Collector because she wanted him to see Barry as he really was, the man who caused them to be on the run during his childhood, the man who was a killer? It’s possible that Sally is the only person left who knows the truth about Barry and might also have a shot at being believed. Or did she not want John to see some of the more unsavory details about herself that could potentially be featured in the film? It’s possible that she’s been spending just as much time trying to reinvent herself as a loving mother, one who hasn’t killed anyone.

    Everyone in the Barry finale is in some way trying to rewrite history to make themselves the hero of their own story. NoHo Hank sees himself as the man scorned in a tragic love story; Fuches searches for redemption by saving Barry’s son; Gene avenges the love of his life by murdering her killer; and Sally finally escapes a toxic relationship. And why not — as The Mask Collector proves, these are the kinds of stories that Hollywood is always the most willing to tell.

    Barry Seasons 1 through 4 are streaming on Max. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Barry, HBO, Anthony Carrigan, Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root