Barry Season 4 Review – A fitting end to HBO’s epic saga

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4



Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 5/5


“An assassin turned into a human being and back” is too simplistic a characterization for Barry, arguably one of HBO’s best shows. But in essence, that is the bottom line. What started four years ago as an offbeat, quirky, and surprisingly deep story of an assassin looking to rediscover his humanity, has ended as a mature and completely realized saga of drama.

Season 4 of Barry has brought an end to the show this Sunday gone (at the time of writing) and also coincided with another brilliant HBO offering, Succession, breathing its last on the network. Bill Hader took full directorial control of the season and surprised viewers with worthy depth, jarring plot twists, and an impressive understanding of what Barry really meant to him.

It might be crass to call Barry a creative experiment but by Hader’s own admission, the show switched lanes from being a thoroughbred comedy to a more holistic dramatical effort after the “ron/lily” episode in season 2. That was the turning point from where we saw different narrative elements on offer. Season 4 picked up the plot from the aftermath of Barry’s arrest. He was tricked by Gene and Jim when he came to kill the former. His arrest changed the fortunes of the other characters in the show, as Gene got reverence and attention from the industry who forgot him for decades, and Jim rested his pursuit of catching Janice’s killer.

Sally changed for the worse and felt an aching need for comfort and security in her life. She had lost everything; her career, her romantic life, and her ambition to make something of herself. A visit to Joplin, her hometown, further diminished whatever was left of her self-confidence. Fuches saw Barry coming into the same prison as him as a sign of redemption and starting a new chapter as “The Raven,” a powerful mob boss. But all of that was almost forgotten after the immaculate time jump right in the middle of the season. What we saw beyond that from Barry is the magnificence of the highest class.

It had to be known that the potential of this decision could be divisive and polarize a very consolidated fanbase the show has garnered over the past few years. But they went ahead and did it anyway. Barry was no longer tied to any preconceived idea of storytelling. Hader and the writers pretty much turned the screws on the show to reorganize its elements in a way seldom seen on television before.

The exquisite jump is bold and it is the sort of thing that can destroy years of hard work, tarnish legacies, and break hearts. But what it does in episode 5 is expose Barry and Sally’s brokenness. Their emptiness speaks to you through the screen, although the dynamics remain the same.

What also happened post that moment was a true revelation for viewers that was already in the back of our heads. The brokenness that was long hidden under the guise of narrative and comedy has finally surfaced. Bill Hader stripped moviemaking essentials to the bare minimum to reflect the emptiness in our protagonists’ chests. The creators weren’t afraid of making Barry jarring and uniquely detached from confrontation when so often the magic recipe has been to tackle us head-on.

The absence of the show’s usual creative flair highlighted the cold-pressed drama drenched in realism. The scales were quite balanced and even though it seemed Barry was more humane and compassionate with John, his son, there are undercurrents of facetiousness in his love. But isn’t facetiousness a part of all our love? What is unconditional, absolute love with no strings attached? There are remnants of self that remain settled somewhere in a deep, bottomless corner of our hearts that preclude us from ever veering past it.

Our characters’ human flaws got the better of them, as they do for so many of us. Probably none of them ended the show better than they were when they started this journey. Such was the quality on display in season 4 that almost every episode seemed like the peak. There was a sense that this is the best Barry could offer and the following episodes couldn’t eclipse the one we just saw.

Barry’s season 4 excels in transcending traditional genre boundaries, resulting in an arsenal of themes that don’t conform to a single mold. It isn’t limited to being solely a comedy, a drama, or a crime story. Instead, it seamlessly weaves together elements from various genres, creating a fluid narrative that allows for the exploration and expression of a wide range of themes. This formlessness gives the show a distinct and unpredictable quality, challenging viewers to question their expectations and assumptions.

It dives deep into the complexities of its cinematic universe than its surface-level premise. The show explores profound themes such as the search for purpose, the human capacity for change and redemption, the consequences of violence, and the blurred lines between good and evil. It tackles existential questions, highlighting the complexities of human nature and the internal struggles individuals face when confronted with their past actions.

Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, and Henry Winkler, all deserve praise in equal parts. Each of the actors had the opportunity to upend the other with compelling material for this season. But such was their transformation into these versions of their characters that they ended up indecipherably close. They all got to play a complete portrayal over the course of the four seasons. It is not often you get such complete roles but then again, every show is not HBO’s brilliant Barry.

This season of Barry constantly subverted audience expectations and defied genre conventions. This constant subversion kept the audience on their toes and prevented the narrative from falling into predictable patterns. But more so than that, Barry has established a legacy that will not be easily forgotten. Such will be its towering shadow in the annals of television that future creators will revere it in its entirety, and at the same time, be frightful of ever chancing their hand on eclipsing it. It is like that Michael Scott line; Barry made us “Fear how much we love it.” Goodbye, Barry.

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  • Verdict - 9.5/10

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