BoJack Horseman Recap: S3E1 & S3E2

It’s good to be back in Hollywoo.

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Spoilers for S3E1 and S3E2 of BoJack Horseman follow

Quick breakdown of what’s happening here: these are episodic recaps of Season 3 of BoJack Horseman. The plan is to recap two episodes at a time, but we might rev it down to one at a time for particularly weighty episodes, and this show has a history of suddenly dropping extremely weighty episodes. We’re aiming to release about three recaps a week with the goal of having them all up in two weeks. We’ll see if I can pace myself.

Episode 1: Start Spreading the News and Episode 2: The BoJack Horseman Show

It’s good to be back in Hollywoo. Well, New York, initially. The show drops us into the press circuit BoJack is drinking through in hopes (?) of winning an Oscar for his stunningly raw performance in Secretariat, his dream film. The woman doing the stick-prodding and carrot-dangling is Ana Spanakopita, an apparently renowned publicist who has made her name sculpting Oscar-winners. It’s clear BoJack is more than willing to give her the keys to this car.

Todd is back and innocent as ever, having accidentally transported himself with BoJack to New York after unknowingly ingesting a milk/NyQuil/liquor cocktail for breakfast. Sometimes he just is places. We don’t get much of him in these first two episodes, but the show has morphed weird Todd misadventures into the larger storyline consistently in the past. Maybe his ice run through the New York grid won’t be particularly significant, but I’m already looking forward to his appearances in the 2007 flashbacks. Todd is the one source of consistent goodness in this show, so I hope whatever is happening with this girl isn’t too damaging.

Speaking of the flashbacks, I’m so glad there’s a new flashback song to add to the BoJack jukebox. I think “Generic 2007 Autotune Pop Song” slots in below “Generic 90s Grunge Song” and “Generic 80s New Age Song”, but it’s a worthy addition.

The flashbacks give us a good deal of Princess Caroline exposition – how her relationship with BoJack begins, how she almost brought the world There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men (one of my personal favorites), and how she becomes an agent. This already feels like we’re building toward Princess Caroline ditching her overworked agency in search of a life centered around happiness and relationships, but so far it’s one of the less interesting storylines. We’ve already seen Princess Caroline struggle with this before, and I’m not sure how this will play out in a more compelling way. Oh, the flashbacks also show how quickly her relationship with BoJack sours, due to BoJack, of course.

We’re supposed to be a little sympathetic to BoJack – he’s out of his comfort zone (acting, working), and the opportunity to work on a project that will overshadow his Horsin’ Around role is weighing heavy on him. The successful Harvard alumnus and showrunner behind “Krill & Grace”, Cuddlywhiskers, is giving BoJack that opportunity. In typical self-sabotaging BoJack fashion, he feels the script has been too well-received by the network suits, so he challenges Cuddlywhiskers to stick to his promise of making something Real ™. The ending of “The BoJack Horseman Show”, which happens just as the pilot for “The BoJack Horseman Show” kicks off with a “wazzup bitches!”, does not seem to bode well for the success of the show. Neither does the altered Grouplove outro song (“back in ’07, I was in an unsuccessful TV show…”), nor that we didn’t hear of this show in the first two seasons, nor that BoJack is being asked to check up on a suspiciously unresponsive Cuddlywhiskers.

The spider doing the asking is Jill Filipowicz, aka Jill Pill. She worked with BoJack and Cuddlywhiskers (especially Cuddlywhiskers) on “The BoJack Horseman Show”, and she’s concerned about Cuddlywhiskers’ well-being. This feels the most like the main thread that’ll carry the show, but we’ll have to see since this doesn’t get much time these first two episodes. Still, it feels too similar to the Herb Kazzaz storyline to not be important.

Who are we forgetting? We get a whole lot of Blarn Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter background and see their first encounter, Diane with a Wayne who seems very un-Buzzfeedy and Mr. Peanutbutter with his second wife, an extremely Biel-y Jessica Biel. Diane’s arc feels a lot like Princess Caroline’s so far – she still seems to be struggling through issues with her marriage to Mr. Peanutbutter, although professionally she seems surprisingly happy doing social media PR for BoJack’s Oscar tour.

Back to the Oscar tour – BoJack’s meeting with the playwright Jill Pill reawakens his somewhat dormant fear of being forgotten. Worse yet, Jill replaces it with a conundrum – what next? After being remembered after winning the Oscar, then what? During an interview at a bar that threatens to move past being a fluff piece, BoJack snaps at Ana pulling his strings too much on the tour. She leaves him to be BoJack, who predictably gets drunk and takes the journalist mermaid manatee up to his room. When things get rowdy, the journalist mentions something about a boat, which immediately shuts down BoJack.

He drunkenly, cringingly, alludes to the disturbing prom night in New Mexico, which the manatee is actually pretty sweet about. But he mentions in passing that he didn’t act in the film, that he was digitally replaced. That scoop is too much, and the manatee and tape recorder are gone in the morning. We get that cryptic phrase from Ana, that she is “handling it”. She reassures him later that the matter is dealt with, and BoJack is again recentered on himself, tricking himself into believing he’s more Secretariat than Horsin’ Around. There is no mention of the incident in “The BoJack Horseman Show”. BoJack remains self-destructive BoJack, and his blinders are still on, keeping him from notice those getting blown up around him.

That’s a lot of exposition to cover, and the first two episodes seem to be setting the table for the real developments in Season 3. So far, there isn’t much to praise or critique. The art direction is fantastic as ever, each of the main characters seem to be where they left off, and the opening credit scene and song combination is still one of the best in television. Season 3 has all the potential in the world, and I hope it lives up to it.

Notes:

I’m sure I just missed it, but why is BoJack getting lunch with Jill Pill? I understand she wants him to be the center of her next performance, but I guess my attention was elsewhere when presumably Princess Caroline set that meeting up.

There are a couple of good “BoJack is stuck in the mud” Easter eggs in Episode 1. There’s the promo poster for Secretariat (“He’s tired of running in circles) and a book on Pinky’s shelf called “One Trick Pony”.

I’m guessing the Wanda getting poached bit has to do with Lisa Kudrow leaving the show to work on another project, so it looks like that storyline is wrapped up.

The establishment of time in this show is still fantastic. Between the aforementioned radio songs, the alarm clock which notes the year along with the time, the radio DJ who mentions it is two months later to the confusion of his co-host, and the banner at the touching John Edwards fundraiser, it’s easy to get a good sense of the setting.

Mr. Peanutbutter is a monster for tearing away his accountant from his son.

Is The BoJack Horseman Show where BoJack first meets character-actress Margo Martindale?

By Jake Ramirez

 

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