In the final season of Barry, Sally Reed's character takes a new turn, leaving us with a quiet smile instead of her usual screams. With Barry (Bill Hader) shot dead by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) and a decade into the future, Sally has rebuilt her life, living in a small town as a high-school theater teacher with her son, John. While she may not be returning to the screen or pursuing acting professionally, she finds fulfillment in doing what she loves for a supportive community. Sarah Goldberg, who portrays Sally, finds this ending satisfying, even though she initially worried that Sally might not survive the show.
Goldberg explains, “The story wraps up where it needs to. It's challenging when you have a crime story because you don't want it to become ridiculous or get stuck in a corner. I felt like we ended in a really solid place.” For Sally, that place is rediscovering her true identity and passion after years of living as a fugitive with her family. Despite the lingering trauma she and John experienced, her journey finds closure both in the air and in a potential Hollywood biopic.
Throughout the series, Barry has taken departures from its initial concept, and Goldberg reflects on this evolution. She shares, “It's been thrilling because many long-running series end up repeating themselves. Bill Hader and Alec Berg were determined not to do that. I was excited about how far they were willing to push things, and the series takes many big swings. The tone remains elastic throughout the entire show. We knew we signed up for a comedy, but within that comedic tone, there were moments of devastating drama. Even in the first season when Barry kills Chris, for example, none of that was played for laughs. It was devastating. From season one, I knew this show could handle a lot, and as we progressed, they pushed the boundaries even further. We were all up for the challenge.”
Goldberg had a vision for Sally's character and desired to explore her to the fullest. She explains, “From season one, I knew I wanted to go full A Woman Under the Influence. How far can we push this character? I always saw Sally as a broken, damaged soul with immense drive, ambition, and chutzpah. But her past cracks were always present. I was waiting for the intersection of the person she was trying to be and the person she was or is. That culmination happens this season. As actors, we were grateful for the variation in Barry. It was never boring.”
When asked about any limits on pushing Sally's character, Goldberg states, “We went as far as we could go, but there was no limit. We wanted to explore the bleak and dark aspects. It's quite risky to do that in a show known for its comedic tone.”
Although Sally's journey lacked many laughs, Goldberg recalls one amusing moment on set during episode four at the Mega Girl studio. She explains, “After Sally tries to help Kristen fix her speech, there's a moment when she realizes she's capturing the audience's attention. When she turns around to deliver the audition of her career, Bill realized that if I took a step to the right, I completely eclipsed Kristen, even though the actress, Ellyn Jameson, is a foot taller than me. It was a perfect final narcissistic moment for the old Sally, which we see less of in the second half of the season. Everyone on set burst into laughter, and I couldn't understand why.”
Overall, Sally's journey in Barry's final season