Usually I’d just put this stuff on Twitter, but I don’t want to inadvertently ruin someone’s Barry experience, so it goes here instead.
Again, a warning: there are major spoilers ahead. I fully recommend watching the show from the start, even with my reservations about how it might end.
Now, onto the analysis.
Let’s start with S4E4, “it takes a psycho,” which lingered with me for days. It was yet another high point in the series, one of Barry‘s finest episodes.
This episode showed every single character at his or her absolute lowest point. Hank’s twist was wonderfully unexpected after so many called him “soft.” Think of how ugly Fuches and Barry look in the makeup after they’ve been beaten. Gene kills his son (right? He’s on top of a mountain and no one is coming to help). Even Jim Moss, the guy for whom justice is the number one priority, says he might kill Barry if he finds him before the cops.
A side note here: I had first assumed Gene had shot Jim, who had come to his cabin because he thought Barry most-urgently wanted revenge on Gene. But Jim, more than anyone apparently, knows Barry would not escape prison for revenge. He wants the life he’s always believed he could have. He still thinks he can change. Thus, he stakes out Sally’s place.
Here’s where my concerns begin. Jim Moss is waiting outside Sally’s apartment. Sally returns, walks into her apartment, and finds Barry waiting for her. This is, of course, what she wanted and why she declined the invite to stay at someone else’s house. Her life is a wreck. Why not escape everything alongside someone she “feels safe” with?
At this point we get what we now know is a flash-forward, eight years into the future. At the time, I didn’t think it was a time jump. I thought it was another of Barry’s possible future fantasies. We’ve had a few of those through the series. Also, if reality, why and how is there only beer, wine, and a donut in the fridge? It seemed a tip-off for sharp viewers.
And, for this future to be possible, Barry and Sally would both have to escape from Jim Moss, who knows where Sally is, at least, and suspects Barry will be alongside her, too. Then Barry, wanted for the murder of untold numbers of people and, most recently, five or six high-ranking police officers and FBI agents, for escaping from jail, and, now, for kidnapping Sally (officials would make this assumption, would they not?) would have to escape and hide from authorities and the general public for around a decade.
Let’s also not glide over the fact that Barry getting the life he wants would go against one of the central messages of the show, which is that there must be a price paid before you are granted forgiveness. You have to work for it. And, of course, that Barry can’t change who he really is.
Now, the one way this might make sense is some sort of witness protection program. I found that extremely unlikely at the time and we know from S4E5 that it’s not what happened.
Speaking of S4E5, “tricky legacies,” let’s get to it. I don’t really want to talk much about what actually happened in the episode, because that’s not my focus. And there are three episodes left for Hader and Alec Berg to bring it all home. Who knows? They might even address all my concerns in this post! They’re really good at their jobs!
My immediate reaction to “tricky legacies” was that clearly we are in a time jump, but we can’t be through with the past quite yet. There were too many open questions at the end of “it takes a psycho.” For example, could they really just put Jim Moss in front of Sally’s apartment and not explain how they escaped?
Well, enter this new Hollywood Reporter interview with Bill Hader, which asks that exact question.
The show didn’t address how Barry and Sally got past Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom). There also wasn’t a Robert Forster-type character to set them up with new identities and a new place to live. Did you still come up with those explanations for yourselves at least?
No, I didn’t care. (Laughs.) For me, once I get into that, it turns into this kind of a genre thing, and as the show progressed, I became more, like, “Well, where are they at?” So, I’m just not interested in that, and maybe that’s not good. With the Moss thing, I remember [the writers] went, “Well, how’d they get past Moss?” And I was like, “They waited a couple of days before they left.” (Laughs.) And Moss, if you watch that scene, he’s leaving. Sally gets out alone, and he goes, “Damn.” And then he goes to start his car and leaves. So, it was more about them being there. It’s been eight years, and this is where they’re at. That was just more interesting to me. They also had a kid that they were lying to, and this poor kid has no idea. He just knows there’s something up. There’s something off, but he can’t say anything.
That’s the exact answer I did not want to hear. The show has been so carefully crafted — and I fully understand suspension of disbelief is required at times — that it is totally unexpected that they would ignore these gigantic things.
It’s just a weird answer. Hader doesn’t think it’s interesting to find out how Barry evades Jim Moss this time, Moss being the only guy to have tracked him down previously? He doesn’t think it’s at all interesting (or requires an explanation) to find out how THE MOST WANTED MAN IN AMERICA and the “entitled c-word” girl (both with insanely well-known faces) have managed to keep out of the public and set up new lives? Two people who are still so well-known that, eight years after the fact, a potential movie based on Barry’s story merits a top headline at The Hollywood Reporter? Random people see Sally at the restaurant all the time. No one recognizes her face? We see Barry interacting with the neighbor. Maybe he’s a recluse, but he didn’t seem all that reticent about someone else potentially figuring out who he is.
Now, maybe you can’t do all of that explaining in four episodes, but, goodness, there’s a lot to look past if we want to accept Sally and Barry’s current situation.
And, again, Jim Moss told the cops he might kill Barrry if he found him before they did. For a guy who always has wanted justice above all else (the only person on the show driven by virtue), that was a huge shift. Did he change his mind?
Hader says, “Moss, if you watch that scene, he’s leaving.” I checked the videotape. We, in fact, do not see Jim Moss drive away. When he sees Sally walk into the apartment complex, he sighs, mutters “Damn,” and then either goes to grab his keys out of the ignition (to leave the vehicle) or to start the car. We don’t even hear the car start. His next step is nebulous.
The generous interpretation of Hader’s comment is that Moss expected Barry to be in the car *with* Sally. When he was not, he gave up and drove away. This does not correlate with the character we know. If Jim Moss did not think Barry was in that apartment, we would expect him to have interrogated Sally for any potential clues about where he might be hiding out.
There are three episodes left in the series. Despite everything written above, I’m still excited to see how they bring it all home. I’m rooting for a home-run ending because the series absolutely deserves it. It doesn’t sound like any of my concerns will be addressed, but I’m simply one viewer, one fan overanalyzing on a personal blog. Hader and Berg have steered this show in the right direction from the start with surprises and unexpected twists around every corner. I’m optimistic there are a few more that will work splendidly over these next few weeks.
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