The Barry Series Finale Sticks the Landing


Barry prepares to turn himself in
Image courtesy of HBO

The Barry series finale has aired and will inevitably draw some mixed reviews. Bill Hader, Alec Berg and company went out their way, with their vision, and stayed true to the kind of show they wanted to make from Day 1. It was violent, awkward, hilarious and full of lots of commentary. But that’s always been this show. If you haven’t seen the Barry series finale, entitled “Wow,” proceed with caution. We’re about to get into heavy spoiler territory.


The Barry series finale opened with Hank calling Fuches and inviting him to his building. Barry was en route and Fuches could finally get his hands on him. The showdown between Fuches and Hank was tense. Fuches spoke of finding out who he really was. He attempted to get Hank to own up to being responsible for Cristobal’s death, and the acting was superb between the two. But the talking would end and violence would ring out.

Hank sits dying next to the statue of Cristobal
Image courtesy of HBO

Hank was hit. We would see Hank slump down next to the statue of his slain lover, the love of his life, and eventually take his big golden hand as he passed. It was both sweet and ridiculous, in trademark Barry fashion. Hank was perhaps the most well loved character on this series and more often than not, the funniest. In his final scenes, he got to profess his love to Cristobal one more time and stand up to Fuches, all while attempting to protect Barry’s son. It was a good ending for a beloved character.

Many of the soldiers on both sides were wounded or died. Fuches dove on top of John, shielding Barry’s son from harm. When the shots ceased, Fuches told John to come with him so he could take him to his dad. While it seemed like a trap, it was genuine. Perhaps all those years of guilt caught up to him? Perhaps feeling like a failed father figure to Barry made him more sensitive to the fact that Barry had a son? Either way, Fuches handed Barry over to his son and that would be the last we would see of The Raven.

Barry hugs his son after a shootout
Image courtesy of HBO

It was an interesting narrative choice to have Barry not present for the big action sequence. In many ways, it was another reminder that Barry isn’t a cool antihero, like so many we’ve seen on TV over the last 20 years. By not writing Barry into a scene where he can save the day, we’re more likely to remember the harm he’s caused and keep the focus on that.

Barry’s journey to get to the shootout provided the series another hysterical opportunity to poke fun of the lack of gun control in this country. He walked in, yelled “Guns!” at the women at the register and minutes later, he looks like Rambo with all of the weapons strapped to his body. Over the top and funny, yes, but also shining a bright light on a very real problem we’re seeing in this country today.

Confessions of a Killer

One thing that stuck out to me during the shoutout was Barry not mentioning Sally once. Not when he was praying before he got out of his car, when he prayed for himself and John. Nor did he ask about Sally (at least on camera) when he got his son back. But in the scene to follow, she was in the hotel room with Barry and John.

Sally and Barry lay in bed with their sleeping son in between them
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

We had already at this point seen Sally tell John who his parents really are. She got vulnerable. She got honest. She dropped the walls she had built up with her son and actually hugged him. Seeing them cry together before the shootout was a real, cathartic experience where mother and son truly bonded. They weren’t two people connected by Barry—they were mother and son and it was the biggest step forward we’ve seen from Sally, perhaps ever.

At the hotel room, Sally asks Barry to confess to killing Janice so Gene won’t go to jail. Barry’s response about how God spared him that night and it wasn’t God’s will for him to go to jail was most assuredly a reference to our current climate where people in power are doing some really cruel things and hiding behind organized religion. Bill Hader and company pulled no punches with their feelings here.

When Barry woke up, Sally and John were nowhere to be found. Sally had made up her mind and both her survivor and motherly instincts had kicked in. They ran. The action finally led Barry to Gene’s house, after several episodes of this being promised. Barry went there in a rage, convinced his family was there. Insert plot twist here.

Tom, who has largely been a comedic relief character, was the one to get to Barry. He talked to him in a way where Barry understood. It was over. Barry was ready to confess for the crimes and free Gene, but it was too late. Gene heard Barry’s voice and came out shooting. The first shot struck Barry’s chest and he fell back in a chair saying, “Oh wow,” before Gene shot Barry in the head and ended his life.

Gene sits down after shooting Barry
Image courtesy of HBO


We would jump forward again, to the point when John was a teenager. Sally was a high school drama teacher and she was happy. She was good at it. She had escaped the pain that Barry had brought to her life. She had escaped the pain and trauma her early life had brought her. She smiled confidently and we could tell that she was in a good place. No, she wasn’t living her dream, but she seemed to be living a life she was happy with.

Sally prepares to get into her car on a snowy night
Image courtesy of HBO

There will be some who might question the final few minutes of the Barry series finale focusing on John, a character who was only introduced a few episodes ago. But John was representative of the audience and the younger generations who see all of the bad things older people do and have to live with the version of history we push upon them.

John goes to a friend’s house and watches The Mask Collector, a film about his father’s life. A film that is the type of over the top Hollywood affair that the series has always poked fun at, getting back to the original mantra of the show. The film also rewrites history, casting Barry as a war hero who stumbles upon a series of crimes between Gene and the Chechen drug cartel and refuses to “be a good soldier” and help the evil Gene cover his tracks, until Gene ultimately shoots and kills Barry for refusing to help their elaborate crime plans.

Barry and Sally’s film versions sitting next to each other
Image courtesy of HBO

In an era of banning books and rewriting history where bad people aren’t so bad, this ending tracks and it’s not hard to assume that Bill Hader and team took a hilarious approach to tackling real world events. Bad people being rewritten as good people to sell a sexy story happens every day. We end the Barry series finale with a cheesy, over the top film finishing the story for us, letting us know that prolific killer Barry is buried at Arlington like the war hero Hollywood wanted him to be. Meanwhile Gene sits in prison for the rest of his life for crimes he didn’t commit.

It’s not easy to say if John believes this version of his father’s story told onscreen or if he just likes it. He smiles at the end of the film, but his mother did tell him some of the truth when he was 8. Have they embraced the fictional version over the years to avoid further pain? Sally didn’t want John to watch this film but that could be for a multitude of reasons. But John does watch it. And he smiles as it ends. His father, the hero, buried with other war heroes at Arlington. Maybe not the truth but for this kid and others, it’s an ending that sells.

John sits with his friend watching a movie
Image courtesy of HBO

Barry’s legacy will be of a dark comedy that pushed genre boundaries and really took aim at Hollywood and the world at large. Life is absurd. This show was no more absurd than the things we see every day. Sure it could be over the top at times. Things like Jim Moss leaving Barry alone last week and falling for this ridiculous plot about Gene don’t make sense. But a lot of things in life don’t make sense. Smart people get fixated on the wrong idea all the time and convince themselves it makes sense. Barry, if anything, should make us look at how absurd the world truly is. And we got to laugh a lot while doing so.

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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  1. We thought Barry would become more Gene. But Gene became more Barry.

    Gene is in prison for murder of two people. No, he didn’t kill his girlfriend, but he did kill Barry.

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