‘Barry’ in the big house: HBO series gets final act in prison

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Dana Simpson / TV Media
Bill Hader in “Barry”

Bill Hader in “Barry”

There is no mistaking it: crime sells. This has been especially true for HBO, which has made an empire from its well-made documentaries and gripping dramas since its inception.

One of the network’s most recent crime masterpieces is “Barry,” the story of a hitman who moves from the American Midwest to Los Angeles and soon becomes enmeshed in the city’s theater scene. Co-created by Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”) and leading man Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”), “Barry” has seen three successful seasons on HBO to date. And while many viewers assumed Season 3 may have been the series’ last installment, “Barry” returns to live another day (or rather, season) on the air.

The fourth and final season of HBO’s dark crime comedy “Barry” premieres Sunday, April 16, on HBO and its streamer, HBO Max.

Season 3 of “Barry” was a welcome release for fans of the show who had been disappointed by its three-year, pandemic-related hiatus between May 2019 and April 2022. After having spent 16 episodes with Barry Berkman (Hader) over two years, audiences had come to appreciate his uncommon brand of awkward, anxious humor and terrifying outbursts. First presented to viewers as a quiet-but-brutal hitman, Barry soon opened up when he was presented with an alternate path in life. 

Sent to Los Angeles on a hit assignment from NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan, “Gotham”), Barry was accidentally welcomed into the city’s theatrical community with open arms. Leading the troupe was acting mentor Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler, “Happy Days”), who has remained a guiding force in Barry’s life (for better or for worse) and returns again in Season 4.

One key reason fans had not anticipated another year of their favorite murderous thespian is due to the overly final feeling of the Season 3 finale (spoilers ahead).

When the show left off, Barry was being held to task for the murder of Det. Janice Moss (Paula Newsome, “CSI: Vegas”). In fact, it was Barry’s former Marines mate, Albert Nguyen (James Hiroyuki Liao, “The Dropout”), who used his newly acquired skills as an investigator to solve the case, dragging Barry out to the desert at gunpoint only to leave him relatively unscathed after he swore to lead a more moral life. 

Alas, Barry’s promise to Albert is short-lived as he is soon caught breaking into Janice’s father’s home — tricked into the situation by none other than Gene.

While Barry’s experience in the desert or his later arrest by the LAPD could have ended the show quite succinctly, the Season 4 trailer shows another set of intense twists and turns that will definitely lead Hader and Berg to the end they envisioned for their likable antihero. 

“What happens in Season 4 is structurally radical in some ways,” Hader told Variety in an interview, “but it made sense for what I think the characters needed to go through, and what I think the whole show is always kind of headed towards.” 

Henry Winkler in “Barry”

Henry Winkler in “Barry”

As for what, specifically, will happen in “Barry’s” final season, no one knows but those with the script. That said, it seems pretty clear from the way things ended last year that Gene and Barry (who is now in prison!) aren’t friends anymore. Furthermore, it appears that Sally (Sarah Goldberg, “The Night House,” 2020) and NoHo Hank have some new secrets of their own as they face the same affliction as Barry. 

Per Hader in an interview with The Wrap during Season 3: “Sally and NoHo Hank specifically end up … [with] Barry’s disease — like, they murder people. That was something that, as we were looking at Season 4, it was kind of going like, ‘Oh, that could be interesting to just have their characters be different.’”

That said, even despite this new twist in the story, Hader and Berg are certain this season will be the series’ last. And while series regular Winkler told Deadline that he’d be delighted if the show continued beyond four seasons, he understands the creators’ decision not “to push it” too far.

In an interview with Variety in March, Hader told reporter Kate Aurthur a little more about the decision to extend the series beyond the already-very-final Season 3 finale.

“A lot of people after last season were like, ‘Why are you doing another season? It should have just ended.’ But to me, there are still so many questions with the other characters, and with Barry — and there’s so many things unsaid.”

Hader continued, “You realize, well, we could pad a lot of stuff and just make [a] story. But if we’re going forward, it ends in Season 4,” adding that seasons “3 and 4 to us felt like one big season [as] those 16 episodes were all kind of conceived together.”

And while the finer details of Season 4 remain a mystery to all those off-set, some cast members are confirmed to be returning. In addition to Hader, Winkler, Goldberg and Carrigan, Stephen Root (“Office Space,” 1999) is back as Monroe Fuches, D’Arcy Carden (“The Good Place”) as Natalie Greer, Michael Irby (“Mayans M.C.”) as Cristobal Sifuentes, Patrick Fischler (“Happy!”) as Lon Oneil and Hiroyuki Liao is back once again as Albert.

Don’t miss the beginning of the end when the fourth and final season of “Barry” begins from the big house, Sunday, April 16, on HBO and HBO Max.