Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

BoJack Horseman: “Out To Sea”

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“Out to Sea” feels like a series finale, but not necessarily a satisfying one. After delivering one of the series best and riskiest episodes with “Escape from LA”, the season finale tackles several plotlines at once without ever really letting any settle. In a case of perfect timing, Netflix just announced that it renewed BoJack Horseman for a third season this morning at the Television Critics Association press tour. Still, there’s a large part of me that thinks this finale was the result of some uncertainty regarding the show’s future. The show has taken so many big risks recently, namely sending two of its main characters into depressive tailspins with sometimes disastrous results. But this season’s high level of ambition also means having to deal with more nuanced storylines, and you can feel the pressure to resolve them all in “Out To Sea.” It manages to corral everyone into new places, but it does so in a hurry, like it can feel the clock ticking down to the season’s end.

This is why it’s confusing that the episode focuses so much on a pairing that the season really hasn’t dealt with all that much. Todd and BoJack’s friendship was much more a focus of season one, and even then, they are always better apart. While BoJack opened up to Diane, Todd would gallivant off with Mr. peanut butter to play out their next inevitably terrible idea. Todd has always been BoJack’s open and trusting foil, which is exactly what times to get him into the kind of trouble he does off from the side, but they were never really all that interesting as a pair. It’s certainly sweet—and overdue—when BoJack realizes he’s been a huge dick to Todd, but did it really need to be addressed in the finale?

Still, Todd’s brief time at sea gives us more time with Copernicus, the shadowy patriarch of improv. While BoJack was off making terrible decisions in New Mexico, Todd was working his way up the levels to become a Level 8. Now, Copernicus thinks he’s ready to join him on the high seas for his “comedy cruise line,” where improv teams take suggestions from people who literally have nothing else to do. At first, Copernicus’s music stings and choice bar makes him feel like one of those tired “magical Asian” stereotypes, but as voiced by a very game Liev Schreiber(!), he reveals himself to be an oily manipulator who can’t even make up his own butt jokes.

BoJack, meanwhile, steels himself for dealing with the fallout of disappearing for two months—but everyone has managed just fine without him. Sure, Princess Carolyn’s pissed, but the Secretariat movie replaced him with a computer version of himself, and his residuals have funded an orphanage. BoJack Horseman doesn’t even need to be present for BoJack Horseman to be around. It’s a depressing thought, but there’s no time to dwell when the Secretariat awards show push is coming. While BoJack’s eventual determination to be better could have worked as our last shot of him, a confirmed third season probably means following BoJack around the awards circuit with Larry Turtletaub (an exuberant J.K. Simmons) and awards whisperer Ana Spanikopita (Angela! Bassett!). It’s an intriguing direction for the season to follow, but since the Los Angeles awards circuit scene is a perfect storm of jaw-dropping excess and narcissism, I don’t have high hopes for BoJack’s latest attempt at a brand new attitude (or BNA, if you will). The real question is, who is this playwright slash blast from the past Jill Pill, and why is BoJack already so nervous about her?

If anything, though, I wish Todd and BoJack could have given up some of their time for Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter, whose relationship troubles essentially get smiled away. The cold open is smart to use a split screen trick to show just how different Mr. Peanutbutter Diane’s lives were as they were living apart, and how lonely they were without each other, but it is a little frustrating when it becomes clear that this slick sequence is about all we’ll get. To be fair, not every episode can, or should, get as real as “escape from LA,” or even Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s segment in “after the party.” But shrugging away the giant wedge between Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter is jarring when the series has committed so hard to its characters’ realistic relationships.

It’s not that the final beat of them calling each other in the restaurant feels false, exactly. They’re sweet and forgiving, ready and willing to move on if it means being with each other again. It’s genuinely touching to watch them work their ways back towards each other. Now, I’ve watched their reconciliation three times and still couldn’t tell you for sure if Mr. Peanutbutter actually realizes that was Diane staring at him in the restaurant, since he has a history of not being in on an obvious joke. Every time, though, the easy conclusion disappointed me a little more. It’s also frustrating because that cold open is one of the strongest parts of the entire episode, between Diane’s deadpan apathy (“Idea for a new app: an undo button that could undo long amounts of time”) and Mr. Peanutbutter’s “sell it with a smile” approach to life. But really, it just made me wish the series got a thirteen episode order. With “Out to Sea” trying to wrap up so much, even getting into BoJack and Todd’s previously neglected friendship, what this season needed was another episode like BoJack’s two months in New Mexico for Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter’s two months in purgatory.

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If anything, though, I will forever be grateful to “Out to Sea” for what it does with Princess Carolyn. More specifically: this episode lets Princess Carolyn kick ass. When her prospective partner Rutebega Rabitovitz finally just comes out and confirms that he’s a terrible trash rabbitperson by telling her she’ll be alone forever without him, Princess Carolyn takes a deep look at herself and realizes something huge. “I’m not afraid to be alone,” she says, and then fires him on the spot. Her name is the only one on the paperwork, and she’s the agent who turned BoJack Horseman’s career around. Without the burden of having to cater to a married rabbit’s selfish whims, she’s free to be her own boss. Both Amy Sedaris and Ben Schwartz are both excellent in this breakup scene, as Rutebega gawks at Princess Carolyn’s refusal to take his shit. “Carolyn!” Rutebega cries, shocked at her confidence. “My name is Princess Carolyn,” she purrs back, and I swear to God, I started clapping. In a show so steeped in melancholy and ache, a truly triumphant moment like this is one worth celebrating.

Now let’s see how long it lasts.

Stray observations:

  • Thank you all for reading along with me as I wrote these reviews approximately fifty times slower than you watched the episodes! (I’m estimating, but this is The A.V. Club, so how far off am I, really?) Even with the intense schedule, this has been one of my favorite reviewing experiences to date.
  • I’ve said so all along, but this voice cast is next level. All credit in the world to Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul, and Amy Sedaris for consistently turning out sharp and nuanced performances.
  • Shoutout to Aisha Tyler for voicing both an improv guard and self-absorbed pop star Sextina Aquafina (“I have to get my blowhole bleached”). Also, Ricky Gervais’s orphanage headmaster, who apparently thinks a t-shirt’s word is sacred.
  • The line to guess who should voice Jill Pill starts here, and I’ll go first: Portia De Rossi.
  • “I don’t know where you’re going, but if you could run there…” Seriously, if this episode teased us with a possible Angela Bassett recurring role and next season doesn’t deliver, I will be distraught.
  • Biggest laugh: BoJack picking up his shattered phone to answer a call from Princess Carolyn: “Hello…Prince?”
  • Perfect delivery alert, Aaron Paul and Will Arnett edition: “You don’t understand! If you die in improv, you die in real life.” “Ugh, so stupid.”
  • “Hi, this is Sarah Koenig. This is one story, told over the course of several ringtones. And the story is, to pick up your phone.”
  • “This is the only good thing I’ve ever done, and I did it by accident.”
  • “Live truthfully in the moment, and butt jokes will come to you.”
  • Today in Hollywoo signs:
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