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BoJack Horseman Recap: Til the Curtains Fall

BoJack Horseman

The Showstopper
Season 5 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****

BoJack Horseman

The Showstopper
Season 5 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Netflix

Given what BoJack was after at the end of last episode, we start in the state of “okay.” Maybe a little better than okay. The show’s a hit. They’re filming season two of Philbert. Gina’s getting fame, but as BoJack tells us, “I’m not bitter and jealous. I like seeing her happy,” which is big for him. And yet, he’s still BoJack at the core, which means he doesn’t even really know how to be happy. He may have learned to embrace her, but he has not learned to trust any of this. In a life where everything has been wrong, you can only expect more wrong. Especially when you’re taking pills and you know it’s wrong. And so BoJack knows “something isn’t right, something lurking on the horizon.”

What we’re really showcasing here is the paranoia that stems from both trauma and addiction. Not helping matters is the way everything overlaps with the stories being told in Philbert and the way that constantly triggers BoJack. And definitely not helping matters even further: it seems like someone is genuinely out to get BoJack and expose his darkest secrets because they slipped a letter under his door with those murdery cut-out magazine letters. So BoJack becomes obsessive and confrontational. The paranoia and anxiety is making him act out rashly, even for him. Even calling Charlotte’s phone at one point. He just has to make more “okay.” So he oscillates back and forth in a haze of realities, more pills, more pills, and more pills. He’s just feeding his addiction and the addiction feeds back.

Lost to himself, BoJack makes an on-set PA make notes and she reads back, “Everyone’s evil, it’s a conspiracy to destroy me, protect Gina.” Ah yes, “protecting” Gina, when really it’s all about not losing the one good thing he has in his life. That’s not protecting her, that’s protecting yourself. And it all keeps alternating back and forth. Truthfully, there’s not a whole lot of “plot” to cover for most of this middle sequence of the addictive spiral. That is until the dance number …

The spotlight comes on and suddenly we get a Bob Fosse–esque sequence in the vein of All That Jazz, complete with visions of life and death (the mix of this show and one of my all-time favorite moments feels like an impossible dream). But every detail of this dance sequence could add up to its own essay, from the Hollywoo “D,” to BoJack’s mom in the casket. It’s all the traumas and moments of hope in his life stacked up. But most of all, Gina’s song and her beautiful voice ring out in the way they were always meant to, hammering a message to BoJack that life is a never-ending show and, “Don’t stop dancing till the curtains fall / grief consumes you but just keep grinning / nothing’s certain but the curtain.” And of course this is part of BoJack’s ultimate fantasy. Change is harder than skating through life, bargaining with it all, until he dies. Which could be any time now with the way he’s popping those pills … He awakes from his dream with a start.

Then, finally, the overlaps of reality and Philbert reach a critical point. Gina finds his drug stashes. They fight, but it all blends together for BoJack with a scene in the show. Turns out he doesn’t remember that the mysterious note was from the show, nor that his character was the one who made it. In the show, he realizes there is not even a Fritz, it’s a creation of his mind. A displacement of guilt. He realizes that truly, he is the devil of his own making. Gina leaves his apartment. Lucid, he lets her. Then in the horrifying last moments of filming, high out of his mind, he strangles Gina too long after they yell cut. They literally have to pull him off … it’s all on film. And that’s when BoJack walks up the stairs of his own mind … and looks up … to see what always lurks on the horizon is always your shadow self. Your worst self.

And it’s always there, staring back at you.

Best Jokes & Other Notes

• Todd’s ad sales pitch was hilarious, but tonally weird even for this show? Usually the transitions have a layer of reality to them and I’m not sure why this one went like that? But the second scene obviously works much better. I love the idea that Todd somehow is taking this job, seriously, too. Also Henry is still his inappropriate boss.

• We also get a little bit of a snippet of how Mr. Peanutbutter is dealing with his guilt by the way he talks to Pickles. “I love being monogamous!” But that’s just the space around the lie growing. He swears to BoJack it was just a one time thing, but we’ll see how this is resolved soon.

• Everything about BoJack’s experience taps into the rampant opioid crisis in this country and how people get hooked on incredibly strong pain medication. I can’t explain how many people I know who were lost to this. I hate it with a fiery passion. And yet I understand it with compassion. There is so much damage we have to undo. So much.

• Oh my God the fake “bad drama credits song” that opens Philbert.

• Detective note: “Check Dark Web”

• “That’s awful! I know how much you didn’t want him to be murdered!”

• “This time, it’s personnel”.

• “What do they know? Do they know things? Let’s find out.” NICE CALLBACK

• “Chipotle (DO CALL)”

• “I feel like I’m kind of defaulting to 8s here.”

• Best Bit Part Animal: STINGRAY LIOTTA. Along with Sandra Bull-Ox, Rose Byrde

• This Week’s Actual Mean-Joke Targets: I still feel like Flip is the character on this show with the fewest redeeming qualities. I guess the big problem is he’s not funny. I’m not sure what that says, but it really sets him apart from the other characters.

• Moment That Made Me the Happiest: The heartbreaking things here are the little touches of intimacy in BoJack and Gina’s relationship before it all goes wrong. Like Gina in his big Horsin’ Around sleep shirt. Ugh. Heartbreaking.

BoJack Horseman Recap: Til the Curtains Fall