overnights

BoJack Horseman Recap: Crashing

BoJack Horseman

Ancient History
Season 5 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****

BoJack Horseman

Ancient History
Season 5 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Netflix

What’s real? BoJack asks himself this as the lines between his real life and his life as Philbert begin to blur. But through the haze, the last day of shooting suddenly arrives not with a bang, but with an whimper. The sudden stop leaves BoJack feeling empty, but all should be well because Hollyhocks has returned! Sadly, we are left to wish her brief stay was a bit more fun. Instead, her visit becomes all about the way her trauma intersects with BoJack’s trauma or, that is to say, the way he cannot admit his trauma exists.

One of the most telling emotional moments comes early when Hollyhocks arrives from the airport and BoJack doesn’t hug her. There’s so much fear there still. It’s the fear of being too close, for BoJack can’t even believe that she just wanted to come visit him for a night on her way home. But he’s still trying in other new ways. He made her a sign. He even actually remembers the people she talks about from school, and it is as if, for the first time ever, he’s trying to be invested in someone, not just what that other someone thinks of him.

But then Hollyhocks walks into BoJack’s house and immediately has an aftershock because she’s entering the same location as where her trauma occurred. And that’s what it is: trauma. Overdosing because your grandmother figure is secretly drugging you is not some lighthearted occurrence that’s worthy of a joke. And in seeing the place where she fainted, her eyes go woozy, words sounds different, her nervousness and fears escalate. BoJack tries to help (poorly) and things keep mounting when she discovers his measured vodka system (which is now up to a bottle a day). But then when she discovers the pills in his pocket, she understandably freaks out and throws them down the sink … but those were his prescription pills for his herniated disc … Oops. But it’s okay, BoJack is obviously pathologically bothered that this happened, but after trying to ignore it, he says they’ll just casually find a way to get some more …

Meanwhile, Mr. Peanutbutter is looking for a new project and after looking at some books (which are way too long!) he wants Princess Carolyn to adapt a greeting card he found for “Birthday Dad!” That’s it, just Birthday Dad. So Princess Carolyn does her “good producer”  duty and calls the one person she knows in the greeting card game: her ex Ralph. Of course, there’s a bit more on her mind, like whether or not he’s dating anyone, but they get caught up talking about the sad nature of the sudden break-up. It’s clear how much they really care for each other, but then Princess Carolyn gets the news: there’s a baby available at the hospital right now.

Pinrcess Carolyn freaks out, but Ralph wants to be there for her so he comes with her. You can feel them drawing closer to together. But when faced a moment of confusion from the new mom, who assumes they’re adopting together, Ralph jumps into say he wants to adopt with her. That he doesn’t want to mess up like last time. That the loves her. But Princess Carolyn fights him on it because he’s not in her plans anymore, and she worked so hard for this moment and the dignity of being a single mom. It’s deeply true, but the unintended consequence? Her powerful speech about single motherhood inspires the young woman who was about to give her child up for adoption to not do so. In standing up for herself, Carolyn has lost yet again. Afterward, Ralph consoles her, but while they are always close, they are also unsure where they stand.

Meanwhile, BoJack’s attempts to procure new pills get more and more dicey, from taking them from his ex’s apartment to visiting formerly crooked doctors and a seedy river reservoir. Needless to say, Hollyhocks doesn’t like it one bit that they spent her whole night looking for drugs (though she’s happy to discover that this is where they filmed the race in Grease and snaps a picture). But BoJack keeps “politely” reminding her that this wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t thrown out the pills and he needs them for his back, which constantly punishes her guilt. But then the drug deal gets busted by cops and they gotta make a run for it. It’s only after this that Hollyhocks confronts BoJack over his use of the pills, because it sure seems that his back was fine during the chase …

And that’s when she realizes BoJack doesn’t need them for his back anymore. That he’s healed okay. He tries to explain it all to Hollyhocks and does so with a certain kind of vulnerability we don’t often see from him, “my whole life I’ve been in … pain.” But it’s emotional pain. What he’s getting at is his own trauma. For someone like BoJack, it isn’t a singular event, it is the sum total of his horrible childhood. Every horrible thing said to him by his parents are micro-traumas that pile up, again and again to the point that they embody life itself. They become constant, unrelenting pain. And the pills help quiet that pain, if only a little.

But, like we talked about last week, that’s just treating the symptom not the disease. He’s not getting at the real issues deep down inside him. And this leads nowhere good. The system will always crash. So Hollyhocks asks him to promise not to take the pills for his emotional pain. And he promises he will only take pills if he gets hurt. They say their good-byes, but the core issues stay there. He can’t say “I love you” back or hug her. He’s never been taught how. And after she leaves, he sits at a stoplight and her words ring in his ears … He stares at the traffic, antsy for the drugs more than ever, he looks at the cars rushing by in front of him … and hits the gas. Crashing on purpose, hurting himself to get more pills, and so that his use of them becomes “okay.” But you do these kinds of things because there’s the one thing cannot say: that you’re addicted.

Best Jokes & Other Notes

• “Would you say we’re co-stars? I mean, I’m Philbert. It’s more like we’re both in the cast.”

• Wow, Philbert’s season finale has really gone off the rails, huh?

• “You better! I basically had to go through a whole pen on that thing.” And the best part being that the sign shows that as it fades off.

• “Hey man, you don’t say no to free baby.”

• Todd killing it with lines like “Um, sneak in a bag of mashed potatoes like the rest of us!” / “Oh no! My wacky scheme backfired like always!”

• Is it me, or did Todd’s head seem freakishly large and off model in the one scene nine minutes in? Or am I just noticing this differential now?

• Doctor Hu: “It’s like I completely regenerated as a brand-new doctor!”

• Best Bit-Part Animal: Officer Meow Meow Fuzzyface returns! UNDERCOVER!

• This Week’s Actual Mean-Joke Targets: None! The show feels like it’s getting nicer about its cut-to-the-bone celeb stingers?

• Moment That Made Me the Happiest: That McGruff the Crime Dog apparently exists as an actual person in this universe.

BoJack Horseman Recap: Crashing