Bill Hader stars and directs the stunning final season of his HBO comedy-drama series
Plot: Cousineau is hailed as a hero as Barry’s arrest has shocking consequences. It’s all been leading up to this – the explosive and hilarious final chapter of Barry.
Review: I knew barry was a great television from the first season. I also had no idea how Bill Hader could sustain the story for over one season. At the end of the third season, the series could have ended with a satisfying finale before it was revealed that it would return for one more run. Now, as the fourth and final season is set to debut, the whole story told over thirty-two episodes comes into focus and cement that barry is one of the best television series of all time. Featuring the expected great performances from Bill Hader and Henry Winkler, the final season of barry also elevates Sarah Goldberg and Anthony Carrigan to some of the best work they have done. With some unexpected shifts along the eight-episode season, barry‘s final season is a surprising conclusion that will catch fans off guard in the best way possible.
With seven of the eight-episode final season made available for this review, I can say with certainty that fans of barry are not prepared for what is coming their way. After the third season, Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) partnered with Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom) to take Barry into custody, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) watched her career implode, Fuches (Stephen Root) goes to jail, and Hank (Anthony Carrigan) rescued Cristobal from his wife. It was a satisfying conclusion that wrapped up many storylines for the main characters and left the story on a somewhat ambiguous note. Bringing barry back for another season would be a challenge to resolve the storyline more satisfactorily. Still, Bill Hader manages to upend expectations with some creative risks that will likely divide audiences. Without revealing any specific details, this season delivers a cameo from Guillermo Del Toro that does not even come close to being the most surprising thing that happens on screen.
Season four opens with Barry and Fuches in prison, Sally struggling to find a way to restore her career, NoHo Hank and Cristobal living in bliss while trying to carve a new career direction, and Gene trying to balance his newfound celebrity while preserving his safety from Barry’s revenge. The season begins with Barry’s now-expected emotional clinginess, Sally’s shock at learning more about the man she thought she knew, and Fuches wavering between love and hate for his former protege and friend. The episodes that start the season are literate with dreamlike imagery that comes into focus as the season progresses but will keep viewers wondering what is happening. I watched the first half of the season as the various characters put plans into action, similar to what they did each season. The main ensemble all interact in various ways that feel like they will collide spectacularly as the countdown to the series finale begins, but that is when barry makes a creative decision that will be widely discussed when it premieres.
The biggest shift this season is that the acting element of the story is completely removed from Barry’s own story arc. Gene and Sally still have plots tied to acting and teaching acting, but Barry is entirely focused on his actions over the first three seasons as a killer and how he must contend with his own survival. barry is still full of bursts of violence that can be both shocking and hilarious. Still, there is a deeply emotional element to this season that echoes the best dramatic work that Bill Hader has brought to this series. Henry Winkler, who has won acclaim for portraying Gene Cousineau, does some of his best work, as does the perpetually under-appreciated Sarah Goldberg. Again, Anthony Carrigan is the highlight as NoHo Hank with Stephen Root getting the biggest transformation of the entire cast. I mentioned Guillermo Del Toro’s cameo, which is the most prevalent appearance but not the only one this season. Keep your ears open, and you will recognize other big names this season.
While Bill Hader has directed episodes each season, this is the first time he has helmed an entire season himself. It is also notable that while Hader scripted three episodes along with five returning writers from prior seasons, series co-creator Alec Berg has no writing credit this season. For reasons I cannot divulge in this review, the final season of Barry feels much more like a personal project for Bill Hader, who gets to plumb some depths into his character that we have never seen before. There are some very dark places that this cast heads over the final eight episodes, which are accented in the two halves of the season. What I can tell you is that plot elements and characters who have appeared since the first season all factor into the conclusion of barrywhich brings the plot full circle to how everything began.
The final season of barry is not what I was expecting, nor was it what I was prepared for. There has always been a dark sense of comedy that pervaded barry since the first episode. This final season does not sacrifice the laughs while still evoking solid drama and emotion from the entire ensemble. I said it when the first season premiered and I will say it again: Bill Hader is a creative force who has found an outlet that delivers his multi-faceted skills in every way. By directing the full season, Hader has created the most consistent season of barry despite some jarring creative shifts that will make sense once you finish watching the series. I have not seen the series finale, but having seen the first seven episodes, I am confident there is no way the final chapter will disappoint. Barry’s final season is fantastic television and locks barry in as one of the best series of all time.
barry premieres its final season on April 16th on HBO.