Barry: wow
May 29, 2023 4:22 AM - Season 4, Episode 8 - Subscribe

That’s it.

Sally confesses to John that she and Barry are fugitives. When Hank shows Fuches that he has Sally and John hostage, Fuches and his men go to Hank's headquarters, where Fuches offers a new deal: he will disappear if Hank admits to killing Cristobal. Hank refuses and a shootout erupts; only Fuches, John, and Sally survive. As a heavily armed Barry arrives, Fuches allows him to leave unharmed with his family. Meanwhile, Jim and the district attorney hold a press conference to announce the re-opening of Janice's case, and publicly condemn Gene as the prime suspect. When Sally sees this, she urges Barry to turn himself in, but he claims that the three of them surviving means he has been "redeemed." Sally leaves with John overnight, and Barry searches for them at Gene's house, where Gene's talent agent Tom convinces him to come clean. Barry tells Tom to call the police just as Gene enters and fatally shoots Barry in the head. Years later, Sally has become a high school theater teacher, while Gene has been sentenced to life in prison and Barry has been laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. A teenage John watches the biopic made about Barry, which depicts Gene as a villain and Barry as a tragic hero.
posted by onya (48 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's ... something.
posted by chavenet at 4:29 AM on May 29

Yeah.. I don't think I like this finale ? I don't really hate it but something feels off...
posted by Pendragon at 5:30 AM on May 29

The finale wasn't what I was expecting, but that has been the draw for this whole show. There is no way Barry could have a "happily ever after," despite being the protagonist, yet he still won, as all he wanted was to be a hero in his son's eyes. Hank's death scene was amazing of course and fitting. I hope Sally is finished with rotten men and goes on to lead a happy, quiet life. And Gene…destroyed by his own ego, and that damn gun. As Ebert said, the tragedy of a gun is that its existence in a sense necessitates its use. The one tiny dangling thread that bothers me for some reason is Gene's agent's "doll" collection, which seemed like a setup with no payoff. Barry is the only show I can remember where I've gone back to watch each episode (especially in the last season) several times, gleaning more from the little details and ambiguities each time.
posted by jabah at 6:13 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

Barry walking out of the Walmart with an arsenal strapped to his back, and the shoppers and employees being so inured to this that the worker at the door literally doesn't look at him on the way out, was so goddamn good.

Each individual scene in this episode was terrific. I'm not at all sure how it made me feel overall, but I feel like it's going to hold up.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 6:23 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]

The most moral character Gene is being punished for another's crimes. The most likeable character Hank refuses to confront his most heinous personal crime. The person searching hardest for the truth ended up finding the exact opposite lie in trying to avenge his daughter. Our main character is finally stomped hard by karma when finally 'given a sign from God' to truly repent. "Starting now..." and he's dead. Only Sally is the person who's got anything close to a just ending, and judging from the scene of John watching the movie seems similarly weirdly futile?

The one that admittedly doesn't fit the nihilistic absurdity is Fuches, which I initially pegged as the most despicable character to have likely survived as a Karma Houdini, but his conversation with Hank seemed to hint at true reckoning with his past history and possibly future (or lack thereof?), where he might not be able to reach atonement, but is at least on his way there.
posted by Pachylad at 6:47 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]

Also I feel like the movie within a show should've either been more absurd or more absurd-masquerading-as-serious. Something dryly humorous (Succession) or deliriously madcap (I Think You Should Leave), not something like... a second-tier SNL skit?
posted by Pachylad at 6:54 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

I do think Barry dying was the only possible end to the series since we’ve watched him escape prison previously. I liked the ending for John and Sally.

Barry Series-Finale Recap: Sound and Fury [Vulture / Archive]
‘How Far Can We Push This Character?’ Sarah Goldberg bids farewell to Barry and Sally Reed after four “elastic” seasons. [Vulture / Archive]
Everyone Is Obsessed With NoHo Hank [Inverse]
posted by ellieBOA at 7:34 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]

I like how Barry's death was relatively non-dramatic, much like the matter-of-face ways he despatched with his victims. "Oh wow!" at the shoulder shot, and then the head shot. It was a stark comparison to the fittingly flamboyant way Noho Hank went out.

Sally has been so damaged by her relationship with Barry that a nice guy giving her flowers can't be seen as a potential partner. Whether John is able to see his father as a hero was, I think, left somewhat ambiguous.
posted by essexjan at 7:51 AM on May 29 [6 favorites]

As my wife would say, Barry and Dexter occupy "the same cubby" in my mind's shelving system. Both shows featured murderous protagonists that you absolutely shouldn't root for... and yet. You often do. Or you're finally repulsed by them but compelled to find out what happens.

Barry, of course, was better on just about every level than Dexter, and its ending (I'm not counting the quasi-reboot of Dexter here) was a logical conclusion of everything that had happened in the series.

Of course Barry couldn't live. That wouldn't be right. But part of the point of Barry is that Hollywood doesn't get things right. Society doesn't get things right.

So Barry dies at the hand of Gene, but Gene is punished for Barry's sins and Barry is washed clean by Hollywood.

Barry never accepted responsibility for his actions, until it was far too late. Gene's own character flaws, his inability to honor Janice's memory in the face of a flattering portrayal, despite all the opportunity do better, did him in. He got Barry but he winds up infamous and rejected by his son. After so many second chances.

Hank refuses to confront his most heinous personal crime

I didn't read it that way, but I see how you could. Hank isn't stupid. I think after processing what Fuches said, he opted for suicide by opposing gang. He faced his crime and decided he couldn't live with it anymore. At least that's how I read it. Getting a pass from Fuches to live another day would've been too much to bear. Pity, because I totally would've watched a NoHo Hank spin-off.

Fuches surviving the finale surprises me a bit. He did, however, do eight years in prison and get the shit kicked out of him repeatedly, so perhaps we're meant to be content with that as punishment for his personal crimes. Or we just accept that there's no real justice. (And Fuches seems to be completely missing from the movie adaptation?)

Sally... are we supposed to feel like she's become a decent mom? Satisfied with her life, overall? I'm kind of unclear on that one. Almost expected her final shot to be a car accident.

I've said before here that it would've been really easy for Bill Hader to take the easy way out with Barry, with a more palatable narrative path and stick to the funny. He didn't, and the show was better for it. I'm going to be chewing on the ending and the series overall for a while. It wasn't "satisfying" in the sense that everybody got the fate the viewer wanted them to get or whatever, but I feel like it was true to the story that Hader was trying to tell.

And kudos to Hader for giving Henry Winkler this late-career monster role, and putting Anthony Carrigan front and center. I hope Carrigan gets equally good roles in the future, he's just so damn good and entertaining. Stephen Root, of course, was fantastic as he is in everything... and I mean that in two senses. Root is fantastic in everything he does and he's seemingly in everything. Dude has popped up in so damn many series as a bit character or sidekick and just disappears into parts.

Really curious to see what Hader does next. Barry is going to be hard to equal, much less top.
posted by jzb at 8:23 AM on May 29 [5 favorites]

I was sort of disappointed that they didn’t get A-list actors for The Mask Collector. It felt like the implication was that it ended up as a straight-to-video throwaway project, but that could have been a satisfying piece of stunt casting.
posted by staggernation at 8:39 AM on May 29 [8 favorites]

Sally... are we supposed to feel like she's become a decent mom? Satisfied with her life, overall?

She replied to John’s ‘I love you’ by asking if her show was good, so she still has a need for creative approval over maternal feelings.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:37 AM on May 29 [12 favorites]

I was sort of disappointed that they didn’t get A-list actors for The Mask Collector. It felt like the implication was that it ended up as a straight-to-video throwaway project, but that could have been a satisfying piece of stunt casting.

I was kind of thinking that, but as it stands it just compounds tragedy upon tragedy for Gene - his ego got ahead of Barry's decision to cop to what he'd done, and then Gene's grand vision for what the movie would be is flipped completely on its head, both in terms of story and it being decidedly not a prestigious drama, a made-for-TV movie in the most pejorative sense.

But I hear you. The stunt casting would have been fun.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:01 AM on May 29 [8 favorites]

for me the central theme of the show has been abuse and how we as a society deal with abusers - especially the toxic mix of attraction and best shown through Sally Reed but I think also demonstrated by other characters with power in the show. And, particularly how show business can be abusive and the power relationships thereof.
posted by web5.0 at 12:04 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]

I was rattled by what seemed to me to be the only moment of sloppy editing in this whole series, which was when Noho Hank was sobbing and John was brought in, you could clearly see Noho Hank just standing there rigid in the background, lightly blurred, while the sound was of him emotionally breaking down, and the cuts there were just ... not good. I thought so much of this show, technically, that I even though there might be a reason for it, that the scene was fake or in the editing room or in someone's dream or whatever, but no, it was just sloppy.

I too thought something dramatic would happen to Sally in her final scene, in the car, like a Slenderman in the back seat or even Barry or I guess Fuches was the only survivor (they kind of elided that bit, hand-waving over the final moments of the gunfight, Fuches bringing John to Barry and then ... disappearing? How did Sally get back to John?

A-and did anyone else think Barry's gruesome headflap after the killshot was a nod to the assassination of JFK? No? Y'all aren't obsessed with that like I am? No? Well, OK then.
posted by chavenet at 12:29 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]

The gun fight in the lobby was so good. No scrambling for cover, no quick deaths, no stormtrooper-ish missed shots at point blank range, no infinite ammo hacks. Just a few seconds of automatic fire, a lobbed grenade, broken glass, and then everyone either bleeding out while moaning or dragging themselves with wounded limbs. Completely quick and undramatic and brutal in equal measure.

I thought the ending was nihilistic and great, and highlights the strengths of the series. The story turns into utter bullshit through the traditional Hollywood lens (which probably did have the drawn out 10-minute choreographed gun fight that the series avoided). The series avoided all the cliches, and the movie dove in headfirst. It even avoids the anti-cliche cliche twist you’re dreading like the new history teacher at Sally’s school being a hitman out for revenge.
posted by supercres at 2:04 PM on May 29 [8 favorites]

There’s so much TV made by numbers these days that I am becoming jaded by the entire medium. I just feel like I’ve seen it all before. After a glorious decade or so of television, it’s become stale again.
Barry is one of the glorious exceptions. It is just out there on its own, quietly doing its own thing.
I guess I should edit those last two sentences and put it in the past tense, but on the other hand, I think people will continue to discover this show for a long while yet, as word of mouth continues to spread.
posted by chill at 2:28 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]

did anyone else think Barry's gruesome headflap after the killshot was a nod to the assassination of JFK

I watched the episode in bed, on an iPad mini. I couldn't decide if that was a headflap or part of the chair. JFK wouldn't have been my first thought, but it could be? I'll have to re-watch it on a larger screen.
posted by jzb at 2:50 PM on May 29

I watched the episode in bed, on an iPad mini. I couldn't decide if that was a headflap or part of the chair.

I watched on a normal sized iPad and I’m pretty sure that was the chair?
posted by ellieBOA at 3:17 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Just watched it. Here’s where my head is now. Barry gets what he wanted: Redemption without responsibility. And it feels really empty.
posted by bunderful at 3:50 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]

I loved loved loved the ending. It was like "You know this whole story and what's happened for the past four seasons? Well fuck you you get the Hollywood version that is poorly written and completely inaccurate and that's the version going out to the public". This show is punk rock. It exists to piss you off. And I am so there for it. Hahahaha. It was better than I ever hoped for.
posted by downtohisturtles at 4:43 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]

From Etrigan’s link: There’s a scene before Gene kills Barry, where he grabs a gun in his room and it looks like he might turn it on himself. How close was Gene to making that decision?

Henry Winkler: It never entered my mind. I never thought about really taking my own life. I’m too valuable. Gene and his own mind were just too valuable to kill himself. There’s always another student to Barnum and Bailey.

Really glad to read this as I was sure this was the route they would take when I was watching it, especially when his agent was about to leave with a suitcase before Barry showed up.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:52 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]

Barry gets what he wanted: Redemption without responsibility. And it feels really empty.

This is right-on. The thing that I loved about this show, throughout its run, was how I could be watching some dark shit and then laugh and say "remember kids, this is a comedy!"

And it IS a comedy: it has a half-hour runtime, it stars a bevy of actors who are all known for their comic chops, and it is genuinely funny, as it delves into the darkest, ugliest parts of people.

And like any good comedy in the classical sense, it gets a "happy" ending. The hero gets what he wants. There's no marriage at the end, but Gene gets his fame, and Barry gets to be thought of as a good person, and Sally gets to keep being told that her artistic endeavors are True, and Fuches gets to literally disappear into the darkness as the legendary Raven. Everybody gets what they want. And it's horrible. I loved it.
posted by nushustu at 8:22 AM on May 30 [13 favorites]

really didn't like this final season very much, so much stuff after the time jump felt extremely sophomoric and rushed. stuff like barry's newfound religion, hank's murder of cristobal, gene taking the fall - all of this felt like them tackling more than they could chew on in the time they had left and these plotlines all suffered for it. and personally the entire sally motherhood arc came across like something from a student film, just an unnuanced, unthoughtful, and frankly lazy portrayal of abusive parenting. sarah goldberg deserved better writing.

i want to call this season an ambitious but flawed failure but i'm really shocked that the same creative team who produced the first three seasons liked ANY of this. it really felt like bill hader got on reddit, saw people were still identifying with Barry after season 3, and wrote all of this to spite those specific people.
posted by JimBennett at 8:56 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]

I just want to say that Hader dropping the Barry series finale 1 day before Memorial Day is absolutely fucking epic, and here's why: Barry is a Bad Guy. He's made a life out of killing people for money, and in the end, he's lionized as a misunderstood military hero in an overwrought bio-pic with Gene ultimately taking the fall for his actions. And that 30-second shot of him walking into WalMart, blurting out GUNS and then walking right back out again, strapped to his eyeballs and nobody even blinks twice? That is America to a tee, absolute perfection, no notes.

What a thoughtful takedown of America's gun culture. Our national identity built on "rugged individualism" is just a nicer way of saying we're a country full of narcissists, and Barry really explored that idea to its natural conclusion. Barry's final words, "Oh wow," and his unspectacular death are just *chef's kiss.* People dying from gunshot wounds almost never look like what we see in TV and film, and for once, I'm glad to see it portrayed without a rousing rock-god soundtrack behind it and a slow-motion focus on each individual bullet hitting its mark.

This is the finale we deserve, and I can't wait to see what Hader does next. He directed every episode in season 4 of Barry, so I'm very interested in the horror movie he wrote and hopes to also direct and star in.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:24 AM on May 30 [11 favorites]

This finale was nothing like I was expecting, but also, I enjoyed quite a bit. A lot of folks have already talked about things, so I'll try and focus elsewhere or different thoughts.

Someone brought up that Fuches had gone to jail, he had been punished, and that punishment was next to hell itself, "beaten nearly to death every day..." I still don't know if Fuches wanted revenge (for what?) with his obsession with seeing Barry, or perhaps, and I think this is more applicable given what happened in the episode, he wanted to apologize for screwing up Barry's life. When he found out that Barry had a son, as Barry was "like" a son to him, it became clear after the fire fight that fuches had thrown himself onto John to keep him safe. Then, instead of potentially trying a do over with John as a father, he took him to Barry. The quiet moment between them seemed like Fuches indicating he had tried his best and no longer needed Barry to be part of his life. A farewell, perhaps, believing that Barry was finally on a better path (that part, who knows).

Barry went to Gene because he became interested in Gene transforming who he was via acting, Hollywood, making him into someone he wasn't, someone he didn't' want to be. He told a lie to Gene, describing the person who he wanted to be, to get Gene to take him in (well, sorta). Then, through Gene, or more aptly, Gene's pistol, Barry did ultimately become that someone else. This was a close second, probably to the happiest ending for Barry via his cinematic legacy.

I 100% was ready for Barry to get into some dramatic gunfight with Fuche's men, as Hank playing the two off of each other. I'm still not really sure why Hank didn't do that, but this ending underlined the theme about guns. A John Wick style gunfight to conclude the film after Barry loaded up at the department store is the problem that Hader is pointing out. People buy these weapons thinking that this is who they are, who the guns entitle them to be, but in the end, the reality is a scared or angry person just pops you by surprise, regardless of how many guns you buy, and you die rather boringly in a sofa chair shocked at the ending. I love that discourse and so glad I was wrong about this finale.

Sally's ending was difficult to parse. She had given up her hollywood aspirations, but was able to find this happy medium of being a teacher of actors without putting herself in an environment where her past, Barry's past, might drag everything up that was causing her trauma. Another poster correctly pinpointed her needed for validation over a child's love, I do think Sally's pause and what appeared to be actual decision making indicated she was a better mother now. John appears to be doing okay. I think her "punishment" is really a happy ending, so far as you appreciate she let go of those big dreams she once had. She had every way of getting back into Hollywood via that movie, but she moved on.

Gene's ending was a form of devil's promise. Throughout his life, he has craved attention and filmatic glory, and he was on his way to achieving that again when he turned on Barry. Despite his 8 years on a kibbutz, he had not pushed himself far enough away from that original element of his being, either. He ends up getting a film about him, but not the one he thought. I like to think that he's giving acting lessons in prison, still centering a world around himself. But it's hard to say. The idea that his son would so quickly buy into the drug money scheme was a bit plot-necessary. The detective looking for revenge, vengeance, also represented someone driven to harming others by their pursuit of a singular goal.

Hank. I agree with Hank going through with suicide by Fuches. He seemed almost relieved as he died, somewhat in Cristobal's arms. He had never forgiven himself and I think, all his success came with a burden that he owed something to his former love. In the end, he rejected all the success to share the same violent fate.
posted by Atreides at 11:21 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]

After half a season of Barry trying to find theological proof that he'd redeemed himself while clearly demonstrating that he didn't believe in God and just wanted a lie to make himself feel better—and after previous seasons where he just begged various people, especially Cousineau, to tell him what a good person he was—Barry is offered a PR redemption that in no way reflects the state of his immortal soul. It's the only redemption that Barry, while living, would have wanted.

That, in and of itself, is extremely funny.

That Barry, for a brief moment, seemed to display genuine acknowledgment that there was no way he could do anything "good" but turn himself in, and showed what might have been his only instant of genuine remorse? That that Barry, glimpsed briefly in the instant before he died, would have been the only Barry who could have envisioned anything other than a bullshit hagiography?

That is fucking hilarious.

(And so is the supreme ineptitude of Barry, himself a supremely inept thoughts-and-feelings-haver, trying to process the profound irony of Gene murdering him and coming up with "Oh wow.")
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 11:30 AM on May 30 [7 favorites]

Did the Chechens get turned into North Koreans in the biopic? The subtitles were on the screen for only a brief moment.
posted by mmascolino at 1:58 PM on May 30

"oh wow" is the hardest laugh a show has gotten out of me in years, seconded only by the missile fire in the previous episode

I really feel like this show is a complete triumph. at its core it was always about selfishness and delusion, and the ways we perform to ourselves and within society at large. also it was simultaneously one of the most bleak and devastating shows on TV and also consistently the funniest

it is also a ridiculous exemplar of how much better a television series can be when it's tightly written and plotted, how much more daring and weird it can get when everyone involved knows exactly what they're doing
posted by Kybard at 4:11 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]

his conversation with Hank seemed to hint at true reckoning with his past history and possibly future (or lack thereof?), where he might not be able to reach atonement, but is at least on his way there.

My spouse was certain that Fuches wanted Barry's John as a new generation of trained killers, and then he didn't. So at least that shows change.

Also I feel like the movie within a show should've either been more absurd or more absurd-masquerading-as-serious.

Are you kidding? The acting was incredibly overwrought and corny, and there was extraneous shakycam. The final scene reminded me of the funeral from Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.

a nice guy giving her flowers can't be seen as a potential partner

That AP history teacher was way too forward.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:04 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

Did the Chechens get turned into North Koreans in the biopic? The subtitles were on the screen for only a brief moment.

That was a Chinese translation of the English subtitle of what the Chechen said. I think the joke was that all the Chechens could speak English very well throughout the show, which of course they got wrong in the "movie." The Chinese version was an added joke.
posted by jabah at 7:41 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]

> it is also a ridiculous exemplar of how much better a television series can be when it's tightly written and plotted, how much more daring and weird it can get when everyone involved knows exactly what they're doing

In half hour episodes too. Zero bloat.
posted by kandinski at 8:28 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]

I’m a sucker for any scene where a character the audience is primed to expect to get a John Wick moment winds up getting a Fortinbras moment instead.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:33 PM on May 30 [9 favorites]

Regarding the (absolutely hilariously miscast) movie within the show at the end: the other boy saying "File name MC" plus the Chinese subtitles, I think, indicates that it was a bootleg they had downloaded. At least, that's how I read it in the moment.
posted by heyho at 12:51 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]

Ahh...I took it as potentially being the North Koreans as a jab at hollywood that NK is the only acceptable villians.
posted by mmascolino at 5:39 PM on May 31

Well! Didn't see this all coming back together and playing out in that way. I liked this episode, but... yeah I have questions.

How I read it, it had parallels to part of Hamlet, except it's, like, Tom is the only one left to tell the story, like a doofus version of Horatio. And I would totally chalk up that (other Hamlet callout) 'Mask Collector' show-within-a-show's poor quality as a sign of Tom's lack of talent and limited knowledge of the landscape he'd tried to paint. He got paiiiiiid.

But as for any of the characters having any sense of morality at the end of the show, there's just John. What happened to Fuches after those few years had passed? Sheesh I hope he keeled over of something unexpected, because you know saving John for Sally and Barry wasn't redemption enough for all the chaos and murder Fuches had already caused, and he probably knew it too, and he has no heart anyway, but he can hide out for a long time thinking about singl— ERK MY ARM

(Melamud was brilliant as Maria Bamford's agent in one of the shows Maria had. And any time he was on Christopher Guest's set. And I am so glad that such a mensch like the Fonz has been recognized as a serious actor with great dark humor chops. He was awesome on Children's Hospital and Arrested Development, but this part was waiting for him to bring to life. AYYYYYYYYYYY!)
posted by not_on_display at 9:10 PM on May 31 [4 favorites]

Melamud was brilliant as Maria Bamford's agent in one of the shows Maria had.

YES! Melamud is so, so, so good in this type of role.
posted by mmascolino at 5:09 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]

The season was too short for all the things in it. Two time jumps, and underdeveloped character changes, especially for Barry and NoHo Hank. Barry's religious conversion was pretty thin other than the (hilarious) switching from podcast to podcast.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:13 AM on June 1 [4 favorites]

Melamud was brilliant as Maria Bamford's agent...

Melamed. Such a thing, such a thing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:24 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

I thought it was okay! It could have made me happier but it was relatively satisfying. My biggest concern going in was whether John was going to make it because his death would so grim and I felt like he got out okay.

I felt like Sally telling John about her and Barry was a watershed moment. The wall of stoicism she’d built up to protect herself from the horror of her situation - on the run with a murderer and their child - came down and she (I think) recognized that she was a bad mom and John deserved better. I’m not sure if she became the mom he deserved - probably not - but she got him away from Barry safely and into a place where they could actually live their lives. And hopefully she found some career satisfaction too.

Someone on Reddit pointed out that when Hank called Fuches, he wasn’t interested until Hank mentioned John. I felt like this season I was trying to figure out if Fuches was a piece of shit and I feel like no, he wasn’t. He wasn’t a good guy but he kept John safe. He went from Barry’s dad’s friend to however you’d describe his relationship with Barry to helping John. That’s a helluva journey. Plus he got to give a good monologue.

Part of me feels like Cousineau got more punishment than he deserved. But he killed Barry. He should do a lot of time for murder. Similarly, I feel like Barry got off too easy. But he’s dead. That’s pretty bad. He has a movie about how he’s a hero. But it looks like a shitty movie.

Not totally satisfying but it worked.
posted by kat518 at 12:03 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Not totally satisfying but it worked.

After a rewatch this is my feeling.
posted by Pendragon at 12:13 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

(I still don't understand where John came from, and I feel like maybe I missed...something. The story jumps eight years, but John is clearly older than eight. Was he adopted? Kidnapped? That bugged me over these latter few episodes and I was hoping at some point it would be explained, but no.)
posted by mittens at 12:26 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

"But he killed Barry. He should do a lot of time for murder."

I don't really count shooting Barry as one of Gene's sins. Barry has quite the body count on him. He killed the love of Gene's life instead of allowing himself to be arrested. And he kept killing. I can't recall whether Gene ever directly witnessed Barry killing someone, but I'd catalog shooting Barry as justifiable homicide and not murder.

At least that's my take. Gene's fate is sealed because of his fatal flaw, his need for fame, not because he pulled the trigger on Barry. If he could've stayed true to honoring Janice's memory rather than letting his ego take over, he could've come out OK.
posted by jzb at 2:32 PM on June 2

Melamud was brilliant as Maria Bamford's agent in one of the shows Maria had.

Lady Dynamite! Such a great, sadly mostly forgotten show.

posted by bondcliff at 12:16 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

The Writer's Guild has updated their guidance on allowing creators to comment in public about their created work which means Bill Hader returns to the Prestige Podcast to talk about episodes 6 and 7.
posted by mmascolino at 9:00 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]

Barry's religious conversion was pretty thin

i think it is supposed to be, since it's just barry using religion as a convenient and functional contrivance to imagine himself as a Good Person without actually doing any work to atone or change

will admit some of this discussion's framing of this episode, and the series, around moral judgments is weird to me? mostly because the show doesn't seem interested in it, beyond the more central themes of self-delusion and denial.
  • fuches doesn't get "redeemed" or become a Good Guy. he grows to see himself honestly, which allows him to recognize what a shithead he is and wants to be but also to recognize dishonesty in others, and to notice places where he regrets or does not want to cause unwarranted harm.
  • barry meanwhile wants very badly to be told, and to be allowed to believe, that he is not a shithead and does not deserve consequences.
  • gene also craves a validation and adulation, wants to beieve he is more important than he is, and he allows this to override his personal moral compass at the worst possible time(s).
etc etc. but the punishments or triumphs that the characters experience as a result of that is beside the point? or rather it's part of a larger point that larger culture tends to do a bad job of clearly correlating behavior with reward/punishment because it only has access to the surface narratives and actions a person presents, not their honest self. barry gets the hagiography for the same reason the NFL wants you to forget who pat tillman actually was -- because he's more useful culturally as an archetype.
posted by Kybard at 11:08 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]

Yeah, Barry's religious "conversion" cracked me up. This show has been shockingly vicious in its depiction of a certain strain of American culture, with Barry as this guy with a deep glaring void where his soul ought to be who's simultaneously too dumb to even begin reckoning with it. And a part of that is that he turns to religion, not for answers, but for excuses—as if God is just some grade-school teacher who will tell Barry that what he did is okay.

On some dim deep-down level, Barry feels discomfort with who he is, what he's done, how he lives his life. But he's so fundamentally incapable of owning up to his actions that he turns to father figures instead: Fuches, Gene, and now God. It's as if a single authority telling Barry that he's a good person is all the proof that Barry needs. In fact, Barry's so childish that he turns to his own son as this figure of forgiveness—but he teaches his son a series of lies and a spurious Christianity to rig his son's judgment of him, which to Barry's extremely dim mind is also totally okay.

Which is why it's soooo damn funny that Barry goes out the way he does. Because he gets that one glimmer of genuinely reckoning with his soul, he offers to turn himself in, and then, the moment he sees Cousineau, all of that (relative) emotional depth flies out the window. He goes full SNL Bill Hader with that "oh wow," his brain completely smoothes out, and

posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 5:29 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]

"I don't think that's what God wants for me [...] I've been redeemed." HILARIOUS. I'd been putting off watching this because I assumed it would be a very depressing ending, but I think Gene is the only one who gets a particularly raw deal. I don't think I mind this because, Henry Winkler's charming depiction aside, I don't think Gene is a good person! But similarly, I think Barry is laughing at the idea that we in any sense get "what we deserve."

Some other things: how did Papa Moss get everything so wrong? My head-canon is that his interrogation of Barry convinced him that Barry is a person with great aptitude but little motivation for violence. The military, and then Fuches, provided him with direction and outlet for his skills. If Moss's dad didn't know about Fuches, but needed to make sense of Gene's presence in the story, he might've assumed Gene would fit in the Fuches role.

Gene is considered such a bad guy that he got adapted with a British accent, goddamn, that is evil. And the made-for-TV Barry movie gave Barry the same kind of overwrought PTSD that his drama class made up for him!
posted by grandiloquiet at 1:29 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

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