It’s fair to say Barry has never been an orthodox TV series. Even in its earlier days of being a straight-up comedy series, we’ve seen meta moments, fourth-wall breaking, and truly wild plot twists.
With its fourth and final season, the Barry cast and crew have taken the show to even darker, weirder places. Throughout the episodes in Barry season 4, there have been brief flashes of what appears to be an alternate future littered within the chaos of the present day. In Barry season 4 episode 4, those glances into the future became more prominent, and this week, we are firmly rooted there.
The legitimacy of this Barry season 4 time jump has been unclear up to this point, but the evidence is mounting that this may actually be the life Barry and Sally have carved out for themselves. And surprising no one, it’s just as messy as their past life.
Barry and Sally now go by the name of Clarke and Emily, presumably as part of a witness protection deal. They live a sheltered life in the barren desert of the Midwest of America with their son, John. Barry (or Clarke, as we shall now refer to him) is homeschooling John, with a penchant for anger management lessons, US presidents, and religious fanaticism.
Sally (Emily from here on out) has a job at a grimy local diner. She wears a wig, speaks in a Southern drawl, and has a pretty serious drinking problem, too. At the height of her powers, she had the world at her feet, but that is all a distant memory now, and it’s clear that the fall from grace has been a painful one.
Much has been said about Bill Hader’s impressive writing, directing, and acting on this drama series through the years, and deservedly so. However, Sarah Goldberg is absolutely stealing the show in season 4. Her portrayal of a reluctant mother and a woman stuck in a loveless relationship is an uncomfortable watch, but it’s a car crash you cannot take your eyes off.
She shines in a particularly absorbing scene which sees Emily begrudgingly spending time with her co-workers, including Bevill, a cook who admits he pleasures himself to the thought of her. As the conversation turns to crime and death, Emily’s interest is piqued, and she leads the greasy young man into the bathroom.
Bevill assumes his luck is in, but Emily has other ideas. She strangles him with intense aggression and doesn’t look like she wants to stop. Eventually, she lets him go, but then gets him fired from the diner for stealing from the cash register – something she is actually guilty of. It’s transformative stuff from Goldberg. Sally is dead, and Emily is dead on the inside.
The comedy is sucked out of this episode entirely, but it’s all by design. Life isn’t funny, especially when you’ve been through what these people have been through, and we are instead confronted with a very harsh, depressing reality.
Hader does manage to produce one or two lighter moments, though, most notably when he learns that Abe Lincoln was a bit racist. His manipulation of young John, albeit with good intentions, has a twisted humour to it, too. His son harbours ambitions of taking up baseball, but Clarke soon sees to that idea by showing him YouTube videos of horrific sporting injuries.
When you dig a little deeper into this pattern of controlling behaviour, we see just how far Barry has slipped into his fantastical new life. He seemingly got the chance to wipe his slate clean after escaping prison, and although he thinks he is protecting Sally and John, his commitment to distorting the truth and shaping their future is clearly harmful.
He may tell John that he was simply a brave medic during his time with the Marines, but we know the truth. Those killer instincts have not gone away, either, and never will. He takes a gun with him to answer the door. No one is there, but his paranoia leads him to stand outside his house all night waiting for the pranksters to show themselves.
He may be wearing the mask of a man named Clarke, but Barry is still in there, waiting to be let out. And he will seemingly get the chance to do what he does best once more, as Gene Cousineau comes out of hiding and plans to help Warner Bros make a movie about Barry Berkman’s exploits. Barry can’t let that happen, of course, but he has a solution – “I’m gonna have to kill Gene Cousineau.” We can’t wait to see how that plan works out for him.
Here’s when and how to watch Barry season 4 episode 6 so you can prepare for the next thrilling chapter of this story. While you’re here, take a look at our list of all the Succession episodes ranked for more from HBO, or check out all the new movies coming this year, and our list of the best movies of all time.
Barry season 4 episode 5 recap
The show takes a huge swing this week, and the bold risk may well pay off if the final episodes of Barry stick the landing.