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Barry's "the wizard" Reminds Us of Repeated Mistakes

The characters of Barry have always tried to escape their actions. Whether through ignoring his past, good-spirited kidnapping, or catholicism, Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) can’t avoid the murderer that lies in his core. The same goes for Sally (Sarah Goldberg), who cannot shake her failed career and season three killing. NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) cannot shake his criminal past as the owner of LA real estate firm Nohobal, Fuches (Steven Root) destroys his skittish reputation through nail polish and tattoos, and while Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) tries to reinvent himself through an eight-year stint in Israel, he still takes a meeting with Warner Brothers. In the eighth episode of season four, we see these characters continue making the escapist mistakes we’ve seen before.

This is most apparent through the titular character, Barry. For the entire time audiences have known him, Barry has been desperately trying to convince himself that he’s a good person through different means. His current access to unearned forgiveness is through religion. But despite trying to live a peaceful life in hiding with Sally and their child, the announcement that Barry’s story will be turned into a movie brings violence back to the surface. Barry must kill Gene, but he doesn’t want to do it without the OK from God.

Barry’s target has also had a spiritual awakening since he spent his eight years in hiding at a kibbutz in Israel. No longer prioritizing attention for himself (or so he says), Gene (above) only met with the WB executive to try to stop production on the film. In a very meta line, Gene explains that this movie will glorify a killer instead of prioritizing Janice’s life. While this moment feels like a rare moment of selflessness, Gene waited until his return was noted in Variety to share that he disapproved of the adaptation, endangering himself and his family. Shockingly, Gene’s son Leo (Andrew Leeds) survived after being shot by his father in the fifth episode. It seems that forgiveness and reconciliation might be possible if Gene lives to mend their relationship.

“Tricky” family dynamics don’t stop with the Cousineaus in this episode, as Sally (above) continues to demonstrate her dissatisfaction with her child and surreal vacant life. While the episode sets up several bad-parenting tragedies to take place, from improper gun handling to quieting her child with vodka in his juice, director Bill Hader and writer Duffy Boudreau terrorize Sally with a hazy home invasion. While the aftermath proves that something destroyed the interior of the home, Sally’s dreamlike sedation in this environment is translated through the surreal experience of the invasion. Credits show that one of the invaders is Bevel, the man Sally got fired in the last episode, which gives a logical reason for the destruction to take place. However, the other intruder is voiced by Shane, the biker Sally killed in the season three finale. Hader has shared that this death will haunt Sally through the season, and Shane’s disconnected presence in the scene further adds to the unease of the unreliable event.

Perspective continues to be a theme of this episode through NoHo Hank, who has gone legitimate in the 8-year time gap per Cristobal’s wishes while quieting any notion that he was responsible for Cristobal’s death. Audiences see a return of the cheery, amicable Hank they were introduced to in the first season, but the deaths Hank caused loom over the swanky offices and mansions.

Fuches is unafraid to drunkenly call out Hank for Cristobal’s murder though, as he has a new and toughened personality after getting out of prison. As shocking as the reveal of the time jump was in “it takes a psycho,” Fuches’ new tatted appearance is arguably more jaw-dropping.

After earning the respect of his fellow inmates after not ratting out any info about Barry (not that he actually knew anything), Monroe Fuches appears to have had a good time in prison. He has a newfound confidence and one goal, revenge against Barry.

But as we’ve learned over the past seasons, revenge and violence cannot exist without consequences. After Bill Burr cameos as a Christian podcaster who approves of murder, Barry finally feels he’s worked up the courage and moral clarity to kill Gene. While he clearly still feels conflicted, Barry sees that Gene has left the front door to his home wide open, and takes it as a sign from God.

As I watched this scene unfold, I found myself in the rare position of questioning the show. Why would Gene leave the door open knowing he had endangered himself by returning to LA? It felt like a lazily convenient device for a show I usually trust so much. But when Barry breaks in, he discovers that the open door was a trap set by Jim Moss. Mirroring nearly identical circumstances of the season three finale in which Jim gets Barry caught by the police, somehow neither the character nor I as the viewer saw it coming.

How do these characters continue to make the same mistakes while expecting new outcomes? The ending of “the wizard” demonstrates how even audience members struggle to learn from the mistakes of the past. And with two episodes remaining, it’s anyone’s guess how these characters will find vengeance and/or forgiveness.

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