Barry Berkman In ‘Barry,’ Explained: How Did He Become A Hero At The End Of Season 4?

Over the course of the past five years, the critically acclaimed series Barry displayed the journey of Barry Berkman, a former marine seeking a fresh start in life. However, his path took an unexpected turn when he was manipulated and recruited by his father’s friend, Fuches, to become a contract killer. Initially, Barry found himself conflicted with his newfound profession. He discovered that his targets were not always the “bad guys,” as he had been led to believe. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to carry out his assignments. In an attempt to break free from the cycle of violence, Barry turned to acting and found solace in the company of Sally, an aspiring actress with whom he fell in love. Barry saw acting as a means to bring about a significant change in his life. However, circumstances constantly pulled him back into the world of killing. Throughout the four seasons, viewers witnessed Barry’s relentless struggle for redemption. Yet, by the end of season 4, it became apparent that Barry’s journey toward redemption was almost impossible.

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Spoilers Ahead


Barry Berkman: A Portrait Of An Unredeemable Sociopath

Played by Bill Hader, Barry’s character was defined by his delusions and his belief that he could bring about change in himself through his creative pursuits. As a former marine, he was a skilled combatant who never missed his targets. He took pride in his abilities, but the guilt of taking lives began to weigh heavily on him. Barry hoped that immersing himself in the creative world, particularly through acting in Gene Cousineau’s class, would provide an outlet for his emotions and lead to personal transformation. Unfortunately, circumstances did not align in his favor, and Barry found himself constantly grappling with internal conflicts. Despite his intentions, Barry was unable to break free from the cycle of violence that came with his life as a hitman. He would often try to convince himself that each kill might be his last, only to find himself compelled to commit more murders. This contradiction created a vicious cycle that further isolated Barry from his true self, causing him to lose touch with reality. Even with Sally by his side, he found it difficult to focus on their relationship or his creative pursuits.

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Barry’s vulnerable nature played a significant role in shaping his character into a sociopath. His time as a marine in Afghanistan exposed him to the brutal realities of life and death, and the death of a close friend left a deep emotional scar. In an attempt to avenge his friend’s death, Barry ends up killing an innocent person. This realization of his capacity to take a life made him feel intensely vulnerable. From that point on, driven by his conscience and the urge to eliminate perceived threats, Barry found himself trapped in a continuous loop of committing murders. Barry’s impulsiveness and inability to overcome these violent tendencies contributed to his transformation into a monster. Despite his sociopathic behavior, Barry remained delusional and believed that he could redeem himself. Even at his lowest points, such as when he resorted to kidnapping and blackmail to avoid capture, he held onto the hope that change was possible. This fragile grasp on sanity was indicative of his deep desire for redemption. However, this desire only fueled his continued killings. Barry attempted to cover up his crimes by silencing witnesses, resulting in an escalating body count that offered no real path to redemption. But finally, with the assistance of Jim Moss and Gene Cousineau, Barry was finally able to break free from this cycle by being arrested and imprisoned. Behind bars, he coexisted with delusions, continuing to prove his sociopathic nature whenever possible. The punishment he had always sought to escape from became a traumatic experience for him. Barry never envisioned his life taking this dark turn, and adapting to the prison environment proved to be exhausting.

However, a significant shift occurred in season 4, indicating that Barry was capable of change. After breaking out of prison, he and Sally fled from Los Angeles and assumed new identities, living in a secret location for a solid eight years without killing anyone. During this time, Barry was finally living the life he had always yearned for. Throughout the series, he’d desperately sought love and solace, hoping for guidance and affection from Fuches, Gene, and Sally. However, none of them were capable of providing the love he craved, except for his son, John, who unconditionally loved his father. Having John and Sally by his side eliminated Barry’s need to kill. Unfortunately, this positive change in his life was short-lived.

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After the news broke that Gene would collaborate with Warner Bros. to make a film about Barry’s life, Barry’s sensation of being threatened resurfaced. In an instant, his dreams of a happy family life with his son and wife were shattered, leaving him consumed by thoughts of killing Gene Cousineau. Barry was a fugitive, deserving a life sentence for his numerous killings, but he wasn’t ready to accept the consequences. Barry desperately clung to the hope of redemption, neglecting the fact that taking responsibility for his actions was necessary for true redemption. Instead, he headed to Los Angeles with the intention of ending Gene’s life. Although things didn’t go according to plan, an unexpected twist in the story resulted in Barry being nearly forgiven by everyone, with the blame shifting entirely onto Gene Cousineau. Barry experienced a sense of relief, oblivious to the fact that an innocent man was shouldering the consequences of his actions. Witnessing Barry’s relief while Gene was unjustly pursued by the police sickened Sally. She pleaded with Barry to surrender himself, but he was unwilling to relinquish his newfound freedom. However, fate had no forgiveness in store for him, as the series concluded with Barry meeting his demise at the hands of Gene Cousineau. The years of turmoil, conflicts, and delusions came to an end when Gene shot Barry to death, closing his chapter once and for all.


Why Was Barry Seen As A Hero At The End Of The Show?

The ending of Barry takes a surprising turn, portraying Barry as an honorable figure to his son. Throughout the series, Barry is depicted as an anti-hero, sharing his story in an attempt to make viewers empathize with him. As the flawed protagonist, the question of Barry’s redeemability remained ambiguous, but it was clear that he was grappling with the decision of whether to turn himself in for the sake of Gene Cousineau. Initially, Barry refused Sally’s suggestion, which was a natural response for someone in his position. However, he was gradually coming to terms with the fact that he should face the consequences of his actions and surrender. Unfortunately, before he could take any steps towards potential forgiveness, Barry was killed by Gene. Gene, who could have chosen a different path, fell into the trap and unintentionally became the story’s villain. Barry’s death was anticlimactic, but it fulfilled his dream of his son not knowing him as a murderer but as a victim. This was something Barry had always desired. The series ended by emphasizing Barry’s desires and positioning him as the protagonist of the story. The ending conveyed that truth always has different versions, and in this particular version, Barry was not a villain but a hero.

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.


 

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