The Finale of HBO's Barry Was A Disappointing End To A Lousy Season

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(This blog has spoilers about the finale of Barry. Seems obvious but you've been warned.)

I guess you can have too much of a good thing. The way the third season ended was perfect. Gene and Jim trap Barry and he's off to jail to pay for his crimes. I didn't love season three as much as the first two (which I thought made it the best show on television for those seasons) but it ended beautifully. 

I had some reservations of how Barry could exist with both Barry and Fuches in prison leading into season four. There was enough confidence in director/writer/star Bill Hader that the show would figure it out and we'd get another excellent season. I was wrong. This whole season has been a depressing slog but even worse, it left plot holes so big you could drive Barry's moped from season three through them.

Last week, we saw Jim leave Barry to go tell the police about Gene. You're telling me that Jim Moss would leave the guy who killed his daughter while he was tied up in his garage (with sharp objects around)? It's just one example of horseshit storytelling that surrounded this season. This was the same episode that saw Gene, despite living in Israel for eight years, change his mind when someone he had never spoken to said they wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to play him in a movie. Finally, don't forget we saw alcoholic Sally leave her home when a mysterious figure trashed their house and the whole thing may or may not have been a dream. By the time she got to L.A., the house and alcoholism was no longer brought up.

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Which brings us to the finale last night. Fuches forced Hank to try to come to terms with what he did to Cristobal but all of that fell flat to me. Fuches is this changed man but because of the time jump, we never saw this philosophical shift. It might as well have been Stephen Root playing a different character. This version of Fuches doesn't like Hank's answer and shoots him which sets off a gunfight between two gangs that is brilliantly directed by Hader. As much as I didn't love this season's storytelling, Hader does a great job with visuals and creative ways to show violence.

I also did appreciate the scene in the hotel with Sally asking Barry to turn himself in. It felt real and honest to those characters. Barry wasn't going to budge and Sally had already gone past the point of no return. It seemed fair that Sally left with their son and Barry would show up at Gene's house.

The concept of Gene becoming suspect number one over Barry seemed rushed and silly. What happened with the cop Albert from last season? Or the other people who were coming after Barry for his many crimes that Fuches had told them about? Would Gene shoot Barry there even though Barry is the person who could set the story straight? Maybe. But then wouldn't Sally stick up for Gene too? Why would Gene end up in jail? The big thing about Barry getting shot was the screen going to black and reminding me of how great The Soprano's ending was. It's probably unfair to compare any show to the greatest work of art ever created but Hader knew what he was doing when he cut to black like that.

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The episode ended with another time jump where we find Sally teaching theater to high schoolers and her now teenage son sneaking away to go watch the movie version of what we watched. Except this paints Gene as the mastermind and Barry as a pawn. I guess it's a cynical look at how Hollywood doesn't tell the truth but that's unfair as it's really the justice system that is in the wrong here. They arrested Gene. The government buried Barry at Arlington. That's not Hollywood's fault. For a show so focused on accepting blame, it should look inwards. The creative team made this goofy movie parody but it really just highlighted the lousy plot developments all season.

I hope Hader turns to films after this. He struggled sticking the landing but the majority of the show was very good. He has real ability to show tension and some of his action sequences were the best I've ever seen on television. It's a shame the last season was so weak but I think back to other shows I've loved that didn't end strongly. The clearest example is Lost. The final season was so horrible but I'm still happy I watched the show. The great elements of Lost were worth dealing with the shitty parts. I'd still suggest someone watch Lost because the overall ride is worth it. Not Penny's boat is worth the journey. For Barry, so is ronny/lily.

Barry is a little different where you have a great clear ending after season three. I'd obviously recommend the entirety of the show. The first two seasons were excellent and the third season was good. That's still a good batting average. But that same strength would make it impossible for anyone to stop watching after the third season. I'm still glad I went along for the ride. Hopefully the next project Hader does, he can stick the landing. Either way, I'll be buying a ticket.