Will Barry Berkman, a.k.a. Barry Block, the contract killer at the center of the HBO series “Barry,” finally come to terms with who he is? On Sunday, as the fourth and final season premieres with back-to-back episodes, viewers should begin to find out.
Indications so far have been mixed. Over the course of his dark, tragicomic story, Barry (played by Bill Hader) often hoped that there was “more to me,” as he put it, than the many murders he had committed. He insisted (to one of his victims) that he was “a good person” because he only dispatched those who deserved it. But as the bodies piled up, it became clear that Barry mostly killed people in order to pursue the better life he fantasized about. That’s not something good people do.
His equally deluded companions and colleagues also lied to themselves about themselves — albeit with less blood on their hands. Might any of them find relief or redemption? Here’s where we left things at the end of Season 3.
When we last saw him, Barry had finally been arrested on charges of murder and attempted murder. Just about everyone he cared about had betrayed him or abandoned him. Barry says he loves Gene (Henry Winkler), but he also killed Gene’s girlfriend, kidnapped him and threatened the lives of his family members. Barry also says he loves Sally (Sarah Goldberg), but he verbally abuses her. (Although he did offer to take the blame for a death she caused.)
Barry’s relationships are always complicated, especially the one he has with himself. Compared to Season 1, when he seemed to be only impersonating a human being, he is now able to access his feelings, including his love of others and his self-loathing. But what good will that do now that he is facing consequences for some of his actions? And was he ever be capable of real change anyway?
Fuches, father figure
Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root) shared only one scene with Barry in Season 3 — a simple phone call. But since they’re both destined for the same California state prison, it seems likely they will soon cross paths again.
Fuches tried to have his revenge on Barry, recruiting an army of people still grieving the loved ones Barry had murdered. In an odd way, the hit man and his handler are each other’s loved ones, too, although their relationship has been volatile.
But in the end, they do understand each other. And so while they might not be eager to be locked up together, maybe they can find some sort of comfort in having each other’s backs — if they can avoid plunging knives into them.
Justice for Janice
Fuches once told Barry that there could be no second chance with Gene, his onetime acting teacher: “You destroyed that guy’s life!” Then, at the end of Season 3, Gene’s trickery destroyed Barry’s life in return. Barry failed to grasp the impact of his murder of Detective Janice Moss (Paula Newsome) on her loved ones, like her boyfriend, Gene, and her father, Jim (Robert Wisdom). He also couldn’t understand why nothing he did could earn their forgiveness.
As Barry grapples with the fallout from his arrest, Gene can decide what part he truly played in all that transpired. Did he finally land a leading role of sorts? If so, was he a hero? And should he bask in that? Is he the steward of Janice’s memory? And should he profit from that? Gene might not be the one facing charges, but he could be brought down by his own narcissism.
What’s the best course of action to take after killing someone? For Sally, whose stabbing of an intruder in the Season 3 finale was clearly self-defense (not so, the fatal beating she subsequently administered), it was a simple retreat. She headed to her hometown, Joplin, Mo., where she might have to explain why she rewrote so much of her personal history in her semi-autobiographical TV show, “Joplin.” It will also be hard to explain that her ex-boyfriend is an assassin when news of his arrest breaks.
Speaking of Sally’s parents, her relationship with them could illuminate her own history of abuse, which she has internalized and now inflicts on others (see her assistant turned rival, Natalie Greer, played by D’Arcy Carden, the target of Sally’s explosive elevator meltdown). Was Sally’s dark side — the ruthlessness, the thirst for revenge — there all along? Sally wanted to play Barry’s Lady Macbeth, but if she keeps recreating her cycle-of-abuse dynamics, what kind of a monster might she become?
Hank’s happy ending?
Can the show’s cutest couple catch a break? NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) and Cristobal (Michael Irby) finally reunited at the end of Season 3 after Hank, the Chechen crime lord, rescued himself from a cartel dungeon and saved Cristobal, the Bolivian crime lord, from electroshock conversion therapy. It was a traumatic sequence of events: Hank had to listen to his fellow Chechens be eaten by a panther; Cristobal had to be rescued from his own wife and then see her killed by his lover.
They deserve some chill downtime together.
But safety and happiness might not be enough. Even if most of their men are dead and all their old infrastructure is gone, they could soon feel the itch to get back in the game, broaden their alliances and begin new enterprises. One problem with portraying these two as a modern-day “Romeo & Juliet”: We know how those two ended up.