There are no parlor tricks or unearned moments.
The Barry finale is here, coming full circle and forcing Barry (Bill Hader) to do the right thing. Well, more or less. The episode serves as a fantastic finish, wrapping up loose ends, eliminating conflicts, and setting Barry on a new path for the future. The episode also ends with a surprise jump forward in time that allows the final moments to feel like an epilogue or bridge to something more. It’s not certain if this show will get another season, but based on this episode it really doesn’t need one.
Alec Berg and Bill Hader write this episode (with Berg directing), and they do a great job integrating each character and making them shine. NoHo (Anthony Carrigan) has been one of my favorite characters, blending the dramatic life of a mobster with a hilarious personality so very well. He gets an ending of sorts that suits him and actually makes a lot of sense given how nice the Bolivian mob boss was in a previous episode. Sally (Sarah Goldberg) continues to be a complex character who gets even stronger with this episode. At the start you rooted for her and then she eventually became somewhat hated, but this episode mixes the two in an organic way making her very realistic.
A clever plot element introduced midway through the episode has Barry say to himself his killing days are over, “right now.” It comes back late in the episode and gives the viewer the impression killing for Barry may be easier than ever and this cycle probably won’t end soon. It’s this thematic choice that brings the show ever closer to the quality and moral ambiguity of Breaking Bad. Barry commits an awful act near the end of the episode which seriously pushes how far the viewer can go in accepting what Barry has done. And yet, you still push for him and hope for him to get that life he always wanted.
The show continues to be funny at opportune times, not necessarily making comedy the main element, but rather slipping in the humor. Take for instance Goran (Glenn Fleshler)’s goon who is ordered to kill Fuches. We’re lead to believe Fuches is being chopped up, only to find out the goon is an artist of sorts and wants to kill him in a creative way. NoHo continues to be hilarious, of course, and Cousineau (Henry Winkler) gets to be his goofy self in the epilogue finish.
The Barry series finale will leave you pondering the show and its characters for some time. It’s the type of show that reveals its characters in genuine ways, making you feel for them even when they do morally questionable things. It also ends nearly perfectly, which may put a sour taste in your mouth simply because you won’t be sure another season is even necessary. That’s something to be proud of though, as Berg and Hader have created a show not only worth talking about but self-contained enough to be enjoyed in itself.