Honey, you got a big storm coming…
By Destin Piagentini
Staff Quentin Tarantulino
The final season of Bojack Horseman, which is releasing in two separate parts (with this review looking at the first half), is admittedly bittersweet. On the one hand, this show has meant so much to so many (including me) and it’s genuinely sad to see one of the best shows still running get archived. On the other hand, the legacy of Bojack Horseman is a great one that is—like any other great show—always one season away from leaving a black stain on what has been an otherwise near-perfect show. Thankfully, if the first half of Season 6 is any indication for the final half, the show is going to stick the landing.
The world of Bojack is one of change in the eight-episode first half. The end of Season 5 saw each character beginning new journeys and tackling new problems. Most main characters of the series get at least one episode that addresses their current situation. Of course, with such a large cast, these characters often interact within their daily lives, so episodes typically see everybody at least momentarily. As the season progresses we see our cast sort out their lives in genuinely heartwarming ways. Diane, after her recent divorce from Mr. Peanutbutter, finds a stable and supportive relationship with her cameraman, while Princess Carolyn discovers what it means to be a mother, and doubting herself as she questions whether she’s forming a genuine connection with her child. Meanwhile, Mr. Peanutbutter finally works up the courage to sort things out with his girlfriend after cheating on her with Diane last season, and Bojack stumbles but ultimately succeeds in rehab after taking his situation into his own hands with Diane’s help.
Towards the end of the first half of the season, the focus is on Bojack. In the penultimate episode of this first half, Bojack spends his time travelling around and reconnecting with people he’s hurt in the past. These include Diane and Hollyhock, Bojack’s half-sister. The episode is a signal: Bojack is finally ready to put his past behind him and start anew as a good friend, a good brother, and an overall good person. It’s a truly heartfelt episode, but in true Bojack fashion, the sentiment doesn’t last. The last episode of the season is truly bizarre, and introduces strange new characters we’ve never seen before, resurfaces old one’s that have seemingly no bearing on the present story, and ultimately is a confusing mess. The closing seconds of this episode, however, bear an important warning for Bojack’s fate heading into the final stretch of the series. Hollyhock mingles with a new friend she met at a party who recalls the story of his prom night in high school when a stranger crashed his friend group and bought drinks for the teenagers which ultimately resulted in a night at the hospital for one of his friends. His name was Bojack Horseman.
The more I think about this finale the more heartbreaking I interpret it. Looking at the final episode of this part, it’s clear that the show is setting up a cast of characters that are going to resurface and rail against Bojack for the harm he’s caused them in the past, with some of these injustices being highly illegal and certainly actions that could land Bojack in jail for the rest of his life. The show is in a position to make an important message about “cancel culture” and the MeToo movement. Bojack is clearly a changed person, and has actively sought in this season to mend hearts and establish himself as a force for good in the future, but now his past actions are about to catch up with him. Now that push comes to shove, do we just throw Bojack away? Do we say his redemption arch never really made a difference in the grand scheme of things? For Bojack, the only thing that carried him through the ages was the hope that there was still time to overcome his troubled past, die a good person, and be someone others could look up to and love. Dying in jail would take any hope Bojack has fought to reclaim, and confirm his lifelong suspicions that he was broken from the onset, and that happiness is simply out of reach for some people. Not only would it be a sad message for Bojack, but it is a sad message for us, the audience, and our personal lives as we overcome our own impediments and, for some, mental struggles.
So how do we deal with Bojack Horseman? It’s a tight line for the show to walk. If he walks away untouched does it send the message that predators can get away with it? On the other hand, if Bojack’s incarcerated for the remainder of his life, does that send the message that we are forever defined by our past actions, and that there’s no reason in reforming ourselves? I’m not sure which direction the writers will go in the final eight episodes, but I sure am excited (and scared) to find out.
Image Source: NME.com.