Barry S4E5 Breakdown: Who’s Barry?

“Tricky Legacies”

Barry as Clark, wearing glasses and looking up from a chair
Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO

Last week’s episode of Barry was a tipping point for the season and series. I wrote of the darkness that surrounded all of our characters and questioned if there could be better times ahead. We saw what appeared to be a flash forward and questioned if it was real or not, and exactly how far in the future it might be. Well Barry S4E5, titled “Tricky Legacies,” answered some of our questions in daring manner. If you haven’t seen the episode, you’ve been warned. We’re entering heavy spoiler territory now.

Clark & Emily… plus John

Barry S4E5 takes us into the future. Yes, the flash forwards appear to be real. There will be people who don’t enjoy this episode, the same way some people didn’t enjoy LOST’s infamous “Across the Sea,” which notoriously detoured from the main journey with just two episodes left in the series. “Tricky Legacies” isn’t a “normal” Barry episode, some might argue. It’s an artistic leap that Bill Hader and company took and hopefully will be applauded for.

So what did we get from this journey into the future? The flash forwards are set eight years into the future, meaning that Barry and Sally had their child quickly after going on the run. They’ve adopted new names, Clark and Emily. They appear to live in the middle of the United States, possibly in Kansas? Barry is trying really hard to be a different man but Sally is struggling to feel anything.

Barry has turned to religion, quoting the Bible and watching religious services online. Hader brilliantly displays Barry’s effort to not be the man he was. You can see it in his actions. He’s convincing when he speaks. He wants to be Clark. But he’s a survivalist still, who believes that anything other than a bunkered down existence will lead to trouble for his family.

Barry as Clark with his son John in a desolate field
Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO

Barry doesn’t want his son John to play baseball, going as far as to show him videos on YouTube of young baseball players dying from the game. It shouldn’t have been as laugh out loud funny as it was, but I have to admit pausing the episode from laughter.

Barry is educating their son John at home, teaching him basic math as well as about Abe Lincoln. This thread of the story here in Barry S4E5 was perhaps the most important: Barry went from spotlighting all of the admirable things Lincoln did to discussing the flaws in his life and personality. Lincoln was a complex character, even if he isn’t always remembered that way. The gears were turning in Barry’s head.

The story of this series has always been a man trying to balance the good and bad parts of himself. To just be OK with himself. Watching Barry change course with Lincoln was an analogy for his feelings on himself and his current situation. Does he have to be full Clark? Can he still be Barry, just not kill people?

The Ballad of Emily

Sally’s journey in Barry S4E5 was harder to watch, for me at least. Her unhappiness is on full display. She can’t hide it. She’s hurting. She wants to feel something…anything and it doesn’t matter what it might be that makes her feel. She wears a wig to the diner she works at, which she steals from and drinks at. And she also appears to be giving Xanax to her co-worker.

Sally as Emily leans against a bathroom counter in Barry S4E5
Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO

Sally, in full “Emily mode,” learns that a man that works there is attracted to her and is telling people how he thinks of her when he masterbates. So Sally leads him on, into a bathroom, after he admits to having killed people before and other criminal activity. The man undoes his pants and Sally lures him in, only to start choking him. He rips her wig off and begs her to stop. She wasn’t trying to kill him, but she was letting him know that she’s more dangerous than he is. That she is someone to be feared. For her, it was about power. No, she didn’t like being sexualized but she also needed to feel that rush of putting a man like that in his place. She needed to feel…something. As an exclamation point, she told the owner of the restaurant that he was stealing from the register and got him fired.

Sally as Emily works a till as a man behind her ogles her
Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO

At home, we could see how emotionally detached Sally was. She couldn’t comfort her son when he woke up scared in the middle of the night. She couldn’t invest in these new lives the way Barry could. She still held on to her acting dream and watched Natalie’s sitcom, which was a smash hit. Sally knew the life she wanted and this wasn’t even close to it.

Plot Twist

In an unexpected turn of events, we would see Gene show up at Warner Bros, asking to speak to the man in charge of the studio. He had long hair and a beard and we would learn that he’s been hiding outside the country for the last eight years from Barry.

Gene sits in a chair with long white hair and a beard
Photograph by Merrick Morton/HBO

“Tricky Legacies” ends with Sally learning that Gene has resurfaced to be a consultant on a film telling the story of Barry Berkman. Barry tells her that he has to kill Gene, so we know where the story is moving from here. It is hysterical to think that Gene has been hiding overseas for 8 years from Barry, only to return to help tell Barry’s story on the big screen, but that is classic Gene I suppose. His ego won’t allow him to not be a part of this.

The End is Near

Barry S4E5 answered some questions but left us with many others. What has happened to Hank over the last eight years? Did Gene’s son die as a result of the gunshot? Has Fuches become a prison lord? I’m confident we’ll get some resolution there still.

“Tricky Legacies” will inevitably be mixed in terms of reaction. The series has never shied away from artistic chances and risks. Advancing the story eight years and totally disorienting the audience with just three episodes to follow was a risk but one that should pay off. The show was essentially telling us that the last eight years could be summed up with what we saw here. What’s to come next is more important.

But what is to come? Barry says he’s going to kill Gene but what does that ultimately change? Nothing really. Sally obviously can’t stay in this environment. Barry seems to be questioning his Clark persona but now they have a child to think of. Are they going to hit the road as a family to kill Gene? Can they go back to any form of their old life? Will Sally ultimately leave Barry and perhaps even this son, to try and return to her acting dream? Until next time my friends.

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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