Looking at the Barry Season 2 Finale

Bill Hader in HBO's Barry Season 2 finale
Courtesy of HBO

On a night where the entire television world was fixated on the final episode of Game of Thrones, Barry‘s second season ended with 30 minutes of television that not only should be viewed and discussed by the masses but also capped off one of the best seasons of any show in recent memory. Barry has broke new ground for television, taking a 30-minute format that’s traditionally reserved for sitcoms and creating a masterpiece that’s part dark comedy, part action adventure series, combined with surrealist and absurdist traits that allow for the entire spectrum of emotions to be felt in any given episode. The Barry Season 2 Finale delivered on all of the season’s themes and promises all while leaving us longing for more. What more can we ask for from any show’s season finale?

Barry’s relationships took center stage here, with Fuches, Gene, Sally and Noho Hank each playing large roles in the episode. Fuches has framed Gene for Moss’ murder, sending Barry into an emotional whirlwind. All season long, we’ve seen who Barry wants to be and who he’s trying to put to rest represented by his two mentors, Gene and Fuches. He gravitates towards these men during his most troubled times, and Fuches using Gene as a pawn here in his plot for vengeance against Barry gave us an excellent view into the war inside Barry. All episode long, he tried to behave like Gene by cooperating with the police and trying to avoid getting caught up in Hank’s ongoing drama in favor of acting with Sally. That rage that we got to see earlier this season from Barry’s past was simmering in the background, ready to boil over by episode’s end.

“Can people change” and “the importance of truth” were two ongoing themes this season that both had unexpectedly dark turns in this episode. It was Sally’s big night, her moment to shine in the large theatre her agent had booked for her and the class to perform in. The class was in rare form, with almost every single bad actor stereotype on full display in their various scenes prior to Sally and Barry taking the stage.

Sally this season has been the character pursuing her own truth the hardest. We’ve seen her make breakthroughs both as an actress and as a woman facing her painful past head on. When the moment came in front of her agent and her agent’s bosses and a packed crowd, Sally took her truth back and changed her scene with Barry on the fly, presenting herself as being strong instead of broken. The reaction to Sally rewriting her past was overwhelmingly positive. Sally had her moment with everyone gushing over her performance but at what cost? The show had been asking all season long what the truth could do for us but the end result was that the lie wins.

Sally and Barry have both been the show’s proxy this season for another major question, which is if people can change or not. We saw both Sally and Barry face obstacles over the course of the year that could’ve served as their turning points towards becoming the people they want to be. With Sally, we saw that when the pressure was on, she reverted back to the person we knew prior to her personal journey. With Barry, we would see something similar at the end of the episode. Was the show trying to tell us that people can’t change or that true change doesn’t come without some bumps in the road first?

Noho Hank from HBO's Barry Season 2 finale
Noho Hank has stolen many scenes in Season 2. (Courtesy of HBO)

Noho Hank’s arc this season saw him start as being the crime lord he always wanted to be, with his fall from grace being a long and hard one. The finale saw his army still not listening to him but he had regained some of his footing. His large shipment of heroin was on the way but his former friend and partner, Cristobal, and his new partner, Esther, arrived looking for blood. This confrontation became a nexus point of sorts, with Fuches arriving and buddying up to Hank in an effort to have protection and be back in the game, so to speak. Fuches managed to defuse the tension between Hank and Cristobal and even got them back on the same page, including a hug between the two that looked like borderline dry humping. A large number of the show’s characters were all under one roof now, complete with heroin and a massive quantity of guns. The stage was set for the season’s eventual conclusion.

Throughout the episode, Barry was calling the police to check on Gene. When he finally learned that Gene had been released from jail (courtesy of Barry planting a pin in the crime scene that now has the police looking at Hank and his army for Moss’ murder) we saw the rage inside Barry calm for the briefest of moments. One text from Hank letting him know that Fuches was with him brought the rage back, the same rage we saw in Barry in his military flashbacks. The same rage he had with Sally’s ex. The same rage he worked so hard to release and be free of. It was back and it was blinding.

Barry drove to the safe house and in an effort to kill Fuches, single-handedly killed not only Hank’s army but also Cristobal and Esther’s. Barry was in a trance-like state, killing everyone in sight with one simple goal in mind: To kill Monroe Fuches. There was a scene where Barry almost seemed to shake the trance at the end, looking around at the carnage he left behind before walking off into the literal (and proverbial?) darkness. Is Barry not capable of changing or will true change require a lot more time and effort?

The season ended with Gene in bed, remembering how much he loved Moss. Henry Winkler as Gene has been nothing short of amazing and we just felt every bit of pain Gene was experiencing. In a scene that had some serious Twin Peaks vibes to it, Gene awoke from his daydream, remembering something that his brain was only now revealing to him. Fuches had whispered into Gene’s ear right before he ran off and the police took away Gene that Barry was in fact the one who had killed Moss. Gene sat up, armed with this knowledge and the credits rolled with us wondering what will in fact happen to Barry when the show returns for Season 3. What will Gene do with this knowledge and how will Barry react when he finds out?

As discussed before, this season was in part about Barry’s two mentors, Gene and Fuches. To have the season end with all out war declared against one mentor and the other mentor now knowing who Barry really is, leaves Barry in a position of true isolation, which he of course won’t understand right away. Sitting with this ending really gave me a chance to appreciate not only the danger Barry will be in when Season 3 begins but also how tragic it is that he simply can’t escape his past life. Barry walking into the darkness doesn’t bode well for him but can people change? Will opportunity ever meet desire for Barry? The road ahead is dark and just as much as it made us laugh, Barry has broken our hearts again, proving that this show can deliver in ways that few others can.

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

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