- Creator: Alec Berg and Bill Hader
- Starring: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan
Warning: Reviews of Barry season 4 will include spoilers
We finally have some answers to the cliffhanger at the end of last week’s episode and, in true Barry fashion, they’re depressing. The look ahead at Barry and Sally’s life on the lam was not a dream sequence or a hallucination, but in fact very real. It’s a bold move for any show to pull off a time jump, and even more bold for Barry to do so halfway through its final season. The implications are monumental of course, and the rest of the season will no doubt deal with each character’s legacy. How have they changed in the past 8 years, or how much have they stayed the same?
Understandably, this week’s episode focuses almost exclusively on Barry and Sally. Or rather Clark and Emily, who now reside in the middle of nowhere and have an 8-year old son named John (Zachary Golinger). In theory, it’s a perfect way for Sally’s Hollywood journey to end: the ultimate Method acting performance, where she has to be a completely different person (southern accent and all) whenever she’s in public.
In reality, it seems that Sally’s never been more miserable. She’s a waitress at a hole in the wall diner and is sexually harassed by the line cook. Their son John certainly complicates things even further, though Sally isn’t exactly bursting with motherly affection towards him. And to add insult to injury, Natalie’s (D’Arcy Carden) sitcom “Just Desserts” – which has defined a generation and was quoted by the President during the State of the Union, no less – is coming to an end. She sees everything that could have and should have been hers, and she resents Barry for it all. I know I’ve been a broken record about it, but it never ceases to amaze me how good Sarah Goldberg is on this show. Her seduction/confrontation with the dopey line cook was a season highlight.
Barry takes to their new situation like a fish in water, though he’s used to starting over in life. He’s perfectly content to home-school John and learn everything he can about Abe Lincoln. He’s more than thorough about keeping his family hidden from the world, including virtual church service, Amazon deliveries galore, and more. When John expresses even a passing interest in baseball, he immediately discourages the idea, with one of the show’s best and darkest bits of humor. But, as Barry knows all too well, the past never stays hidden for long, and when Gene emerges from his own 8 year hiatus, it awakens his seemingly forgotten rage.
I’m honestly amazed that it would take Hollywood 8 years to make a film about Barry Berkman, but I’m not surprised at all that Gene would take it as an opportunity for himself. Every moment away from Barry and Sally in tricky legacies was hysterical, from the fake billboards (they’re now on Megagirls 4, and there’s a sitcom starring someone simply named @Taylor) to Gene asking to speak to “whoever is in charge of Warner Bros.” I don’t think it’s likely, but I’d love nothing more than to get a similar episode devoted just to whatever Gene’s been up to in the past 8 years.
For all its darkness, tricky legacies is a sharply observed half hour centered on its two most important characters. For as much as Barry is a show about hidden identities and running from the past, it’s also a show about the people that shape us into the people we’ve become. Barry’s had two surrogate fathers in his life, one who embraced his darker tendencies and one who saw his greater potential. Now that Barry’s a parent himself, and his (most recent) old life has resurfaced, how will he be able to balance the two? If it’s anything like the life he just ran away from, it won’t come easily.
Barry will air new episodes on HBO Sundays at 10pm