But in the final run of “Barry,” the idea of what it takes to earn redemption returns ingeniously. And the endgame is set off, naturally, by a movie.
A midseason time jump finds Barry and Sarah living incognito with a young son in a dusty Nowheresville, where they learn that a film project based on Barry’s story is in development. This lures Gene out of his own exile; first he resists having a movie studio sensationalize the case, but ultimately he’s unable to resist the limelight. It also brings Barry back to L.A., to kill off his old acting teacher; he doesn’t succeed, but he ends up getting Gene falsely implicated in the murder.
A few abductions and one more mass-casualty shootout later, Barry again seems to have escaped consequences — until Sally, finally shaken out of her resignation, tells him that he can only redeem himself by taking responsibility for his actions. But when at long last he decides to do so, his teacher gets the drop on him and shoots him dead.
Did Barry truly change for the better, and for good? We don’t know; he’s tried before, then gone shopping for rationalizations to back out. Gene has done him a perverse favor, killing him the second he offers to turn himself in — and in the process, eliminating the one person who might have cleared Gene’s name.
Instead, after one more time jump, we find Barry’s son sneaking to a friend’s house to watch the movie, which portrays Barry as a naïve victim, manipulated by Gene, a sneering criminal mastermind. Gene may have won the final showdown, but he has lost his eternal reputation.
As for Barry, if he was never redeemed in reality, he has been by fiction, in a made-for-Hollywood lie. It’s the perfect crime.