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‘Barry’ Season 4 Episodes 1 & 2: Theme, Explained: A Labyrinth Of Double Crosses And Betrayals

The latest and final season of HBO’s critically acclaimed comedy series “Barry” has now premiered. The first two episodes aired with too much anticipation as to what would happen to Barry and the rest of the characters. The previous season ended after Gene Cousineau helped Tom, Janet’s father, in finally capturing the consummate hitman-turned-ardent actor, Barry. The two new episodes show the beginning of the end for Barry as he ends up in prison with his mentor Fuches.

The series began as a comedy, with the humor springing from the idiosyncratic characters after they are placed in unusual circumstances. Later, the show brought some grim issues into the mix, tilting the balance more toward tragedy. In the newest season, the comedy is there but is implicit within the narrative of the show. Bill Hader, the creator, and director of the show, has simply done away with overtly funny plotlines and is maintaining fidelity to take “Barry” to its objectively sound end. So how exactly does “Barry” manage to extract the humor after so many bleak events? Let’s take a look.

Spoilers Ahead


First Double Cross

The show begins, and we see Barry being escorted by the police to his prison cell after having been arrested for murdering Janet, Cousineau’s girlfriend. Barry makes his first phone call from the prison to Cousineau, still unsure whether Cousineau set him up by sending him to James Moss’s (Janet’s father’s) house. His heart breaks as Cousineau calmly dismantles all his doubts as he exclaims, “Barry, I got you!”. Barry is distraught by this betrayal. He thought he and Cousineau had exchanged vows of a father and son if ever any such vows existed and that Cousineau had forgiven him.

Barry feels the pain and recedes further back into his psyche and hallucinates about his old life when he was a simple, sinless child. The subtle humor is that Barry took Cousineau’s acting classes but couldn’t figure out the subtext behind Cousineau’s words of comfort in the previous season.


Second Double Cross

Barry sees Fuches during one of his hallucinatory episodes. This time, he meets him for the first time as a kid and develops a bond with him that he doesn’t share, even with his own father. Fuches, on the other hand, schemes to double-cross Barry in order to save himself by throwing him under the bus. He meets the FBI officers and plans to make a deal with them in exchange for a witness protection program. They ask him to wear a wire and get incriminating evidence against Barry, to which he immediately agrees. He makes contact with Barry but fails in his endeavor.

So Barry’s father figure and mentor, Fuches, plans to double cross him at the drop of a hat while poor Barry keeps thinking about the good old days he spent with Fuches playing with army action figures.


The Career-Ending Betrayals

Sally finds herself in the news again, this time as the ‘girlfriend of a psychopath killer.’ She figures out that at the time Barry killed Janet, she was in a relationship with him. She gets extremely anxious and isn’t able to come to terms with this reality. This infamy meant the end of her career as she knew it. She obviously feels betrayed by Barry, but surprisingly, she feels Cousineau even more responsible for her state after she learns that Cousineau knew about Barry’s hidden alternate life as a hitman, yet he didn’t warn Sally about anything.

The funny part is that Cousineau blames it all on Sally for being in a relationship with Barry in the first place and never being able to see even a single sign of his monstrosity. He casually absolves himself of all responsibility by conveniently calling them both the victims of the situation.


Third Double Cross

Sally comes to meet Barry in prison. He genuinely wants to let her know that even though he is a murderer, Sally was and always will be safe with him. He can give anything to be with Sally, which is why Barry tries to make a deal with the FBI officers. He plans to give away all of the information on L.A. gangs in exchange for the witness protection program. In such a serious decision, Barry’s mind should be unwavering, yet his last question is, “Can I take someone with me?” Barry’s hopeful eyes as he asks this question are what bring out the humor. It’s as if he already knows that Sally will tag along with him even after knowing his truth as a hitman.

After Barry makes the deal, Noho Hank, the gay Chechen gangster, comes into the picture. Hank, who, up until receiving the news of Barry ratting the gangs out to the FBI, was hell-bent on getting Barry out of prison, now suddenly decides to kill him after learning about his double cross. His extreme capriciousness is hilarious and wonderfully acted.

“Barry” is a complex show, with Bill Hader and the team taking it to new heights every passing season. By balancing both comedy and drama, the show has become a new beast altogether and has exceeded everyone’s expectations. The first two episodes have made it clear that whatever Barry’s end will be, it won’t be an oversimplified one, and each and every character will have to meet their fate. The first two episodes of “Barry”, season 4 are streaming now on HBO Max.


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