A couple of episodes ago, BoJack was comparing his stint in rehab to summer camp — a place that, in his appraisal, is both “temporary” and “easy.” That second part is debatable, as Carmen-who-sold-her-baby-to-leeches-for-crack might tell you. But the first part is nonnegotiable. There will always be resources, and there will always be therapy, but Pastiches’ six-week program is set at that length by design. Eventually, you have to rejoin the rest of the world.
Of course, BoJack has every reason in the world to reject that requirement. His professional life, his romantic life, and his personal life are all in shambles; just one episode ago, his closest confidante confided that she was moving 2,000 miles across the country. Despite Dr. Champ’s increasingly urgent pushes, BoJack simply refuses to leave Pastiches behind.
After four consecutive episodes that largely centered on individual character arcs, “A Little Uneven, Is All” is the closest this season has come to classic BoJack Horseman: an ensemble piece that ping-pongs between several semi-interconnected story lines. While BoJack manufactures reasons to stay ensconced in the warm hug of the rehab clinic, his friends are dealing with dramatic problems on the outside. Following the livestreamed revelation that he cheated on Pickles, Mr. Peanutbutter discovers that he is despised by both the women on the set of Birthday Dad and the women who once made up a sizable chunk of his fan base.
Mr. Peanutbutter has glided through life so easily that he assumes his current problem will pass like everything else: that the public, which instinctively loves him, will forgive him like they always have. But Princess Carolyn needs Birthday Dad to be a hit, so she jump-starts the process with the quickest fix we have in the 21st century: a viral meme. “Sad Dog” — a very “Sad Keanu”–esque picture of Mr. Peanutbutter looking bummed on a park bench — is the kind of generic junk that can mean basically anything with the right Impact text slapped on top of it.
And “Sad Dog” might be a fairly trenchant critique of the nonsense that equates to instant celebrity in 2019 — but in the end, BoJack Horseman wisely goes darker. When Gen-Z star Joey Pogo drives onto the set of Birthday Dad, Princess Carolyn pretends that Mr. Peanutbutter threw himself in front of the car in a suicide attempt, which earns him instant forgiveness from the world at large. “We didn’t realize you have a mental illness! You are truly a hero for de-stigmatizing this all-too-common affliction,” swoons a nearby paparazzo.
Like it did with both Flip and BoJack last season, BoJack Horseman seems earnestly interested in using these final episodes to interrogate why the bar is so low for men, who only need to reveal some kind of vulnerability before the rest of the world will trip all over itself in understanding and forgiveness. By his own account, Mr. Peanutbutter is a happy dog. But it doesn’t matter; the entirely unconvincing revelation that he’s suffering from depression is more than enough to earn him total absolution for his actions.
Back in rehab, BoJack is at least attempting to find the root of the entitlement that has led him down this particularly grim path. When Todd sends his assistant Casey to assist BoJack, BoJack bristles at her obsequiousness toward anyone in a position of greater power: “People like you indulge us and you soothe our egos, and you let us abuse you.”
As usual, BoJack doesn’t quite foresee the long-term impact of his actions, which prompt Casey to organize an assistants’ strike that seems poised to paralyze all of Hollywoo. But even as he (correctly) interrogates his own sense of privilege, he indulges in it, fixated on preserving his ownership of the “fancy room” at Pastiches when another patient needs it more.
And it’s here where “A Little Uneven, Is All” loses me a little bit because it essentially absolves BoJack of the role he plays in the episode’s darkest twist. Ever since he led Jamison back to rehab in the premiere, BoJack has hung onto the bottle of vodka she left behind as a kind of totem. In this episode, the bottle gets knocked into a package of water bottles. Dr. Champ chugs it and relapses on his own alcoholism, leaving BoJack to play therapist on what looks to be a long, dark night of the soul.
And that’s fine, for what it is: BoJack has a very intimate understanding of what Dr. Champ might need after this unintentional setback. But given that BoJack spent the entire episode trying desperately to find a reason to stay within the walls of Pastiches, I wonder if the series should have given him such a noble, selfless reason to do it. There was a time when BoJack might well have intentionally planted that bottle of vodka for Dr. Champ, knowing it would give him an excuse to stick around. After so many bad decisions, I’m intrigued to see the final season placing BoJack on a nobler path than that. But if he’s really ready to turn to his better angels, I’m with Dr. Champ: It’s time for Pastiches to show him the door.
• As if BoJack didn’t already have enough reasons to feel guilty over Sarah Lynn’s death, a series of flashbacks to the set of Horsin’ Around reveal that he left out the liquor that she drank as a 10-year-old — and then lied about it, which led to hairstylist Sharona getting fired from the set.
• Meanwhile, in Chicago, Diane is suffering from a depression she refuses to reveal to anyone. When Guy comes home, she waxes rhapsodic about how well her book is going; when he walks away, the episode reveals that the only thing she has typed is “I am terrible,” over and over again.
• In a classic Todd adventure, an ice-cream truck crashes into a root-beer factory, and some hero is needed to slurp the mess up. “Five people are dead!” screams a man who is inexplicably dressed in a top hat and tails.
• Fulfilling her pact to even the score after Mr. Peanutbutter had sex with Diane, Pickles has sex with a dude named Carl. She then decides, because she didn’t have a real emotional connection with Carl, that it didn’t count, and she needs to sleep with somebody else. I’m sure this will end well for everyone involved!
• Dr. Champ’s impressively succinct summary of all the revelations you’re supposed to have in rehab: “Life is precious. God is religious, or merely the idea of human connection. Don’t do drugs. Say you’re sorry.”
• The “Goodbye Denise” banner clearly used to read “Goodbye Mario,” so I guess Jay Hernandez is done with his deep-cover research for the Super Mario Bros. movie.
• Todd’s assistant answers his phone with the question, “What if Todd was one of us?” His hold music is “Ode to Joy” if every note were the word Todd.
• Todd on his ever-growing army of helpers: “Assistants are like Deadpool movies. I couldn’t just stop at one, even though I probably should have.”
• The full working title of Diane’s book: One Last Thing and Then I Swear to God I’ll Shut Up Forever: A Definitive Retrospective of the Choices We Make, the People We Hurt, the Places We Go, Part One. (That said, that will almost certainly go through a few revisions before the season is over.)