written by Jonathan Watts
Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Main Actors: Will Arnett (Bojack), Alison Brie (Diane), Paul F. Thompkins (Mr. Peanut Butter), Amy Sedaris (Princess Carolyn), Aaron Paul (Todd)
Bojack’s final season was split into two parts, so, with the final 8 episodes released, the entirety of Bojack Horseman is finished- and it’s a pretty much perfect finale.
In my part 1 review I stated that, despite the positive outlook for Bojack, it seemed to be setting up that even if he were able to redeem himself, he would have a rough time of it and be tested by the consequences of his past. This turned out to have been partly true and is pulled off in a way that seems almost perfect in its recreation of controversies involving Hollywood actors.
Bojack spends the first half of this series healing and becoming a better person. During this, two reporters trace his actions and relationship with Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal), who overdosed on heroin Bojack provided, and died as a result, in Season 3. This scandal causes the majority of the conflict Bojack faces in this finale, which is fitting given the weight their relationship holds both before and after her death. The pain Bojack caused her represents almost every type of pain he causes everyone else, so this confrontation is the most meaningful of the entire series.
Bojack has a good hold on the situation, but he once again becomes his own downfall, asking for a second interview with the tv host who softballs him. In this interview, the host is much more vicious and judgemental of his actions, resulting in him being hated across all of America. This causes a downward spiral that climatically leads to his relapse, and almost death, as he mixes drugs and alcohol. This leads to a 14-month stint in jail, the series finale being a day of freedom Bojack is permitted to have in the middle of his sentence due to the wedding of a friend.
Bojack’s friends coincidentally all have very final endings. Mr Peanutbutter recognises his co-dependence in relationships and starts working on himself, Diane finds stability in her life with her now-husband and moves to Houston, Princess Caroline marries and finally finds a good work-life balance, and Todd starts to find himself and fix his relationship with his mother- Hollyhock is the only close friend of Bojack who doesn’t appear in this finale. The implication in earlier episodes through a note Bojack reads is that she has had enough of his toxic behaviour and cuts him from her life, and while we route for Bojack as our protagonist, it’s hard to find flaws in Hollyhock’s decision. Bojack’s behaviour towards most people he knows throughout the show has been toxic, abusive, and morally/legally wrong plenty of times, yet Hollyhock is the only main cast character to cut ties completely. There is a theory that abuse in families has effects for three generations, and Hollyhock is the generation of the Horseman family that breaks free from the abuse experienced since Bojack’s grandparents.
Bojack does not get the finality of the other characters. He is only about a year into his sentence, meaning he has a few months left, and we aren’t told how he is going to find work or provide for himself with a criminal charge hanging over his head. During the final episode, he talks with Todd about his fears of relapsing again- returning to old habits and becoming the horrible person he’s trying to move away from. Todd quite simply responds with “then you’ll get sober again”. Todd’s faith in Bojack’s recovery is nice to see, and despite some poor decisions in this series, it does seem like Bojack is on the hard road to redemption. The hopeful but uncertain outlook on Bojack’s future is far more powerful than any concrete answer the show could give.
We also are not given finality on anyone Bojack may have hurt outside of the main cast. Penny Carson is still haunted by how Bojack treated her and her friends, being described in one episode as only recently getting over panic attacks the trauma of the past gave her. We know nothing of Kelsey Jannings, whose career was ruined by Bojack’s influence. Gina is still haunted by Bojack’s drug-fuelled attack from season 5. The way the media of Bojack’s world tries to damn him for his corruption of a famous pop star, Sarah Lynn, but failed to confront him on the ‘nobodies’ he affected is a chillingly accurate portrayal of how Hollywood controversies are dealt with in the real world.
The show manages to keep its balance of emotional character development and jokes. A short moment where Bojack finally tries honeydew and likes it despite hating it through all 6 seasons is both a fun end to a running gag and a wonderfully subtle way of showing viewers the little ways Bojack is changing. The ways they use the anthropomorphic characters to create visual puns and other gags has kept well through all seasons, and there are plenty of background Easter eggs such as returning characters and little visual jokes for the eagle-eyed viewer.
The shot composition is as brilliant as ever. The scene in which Bojack gives the awards out to his theatre students while Diane and Princess Carolyn wait in the office is easily one of the best scenes to date- both in impact and portrayal of the show’s current atmosphere. The writing raises the bar for tv series, and the emotional climax of the penultimate episode is harrowingly dark.
Overall, closure is not something the finale brings to Bojack, but it does bring clarity. Bojack now has a much clearer path to improvement, and many other characters have found their way in a world they originally seemed lost in. Bojack simultaneously will face the consequences for his mistakes but also be given a chance to improve, and that’s something not too many TV series do. The ability to condemn an action but also allow the character to learn and improve is what made Bojack Horseman’s cast of characters so special to many, and it’s a shame we won’t be seeing more of them.