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Two Drink Minimum: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Season 3 Recaps (Part 3 of 4)

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Two Drink Minimum is a comedy-based column by Vague Visages writer Jacob Oller.

Despite being under the “Two Drink Minimum” banner, make no mistake: BoJack Horseman is not a comedy. It may have started as one, as naive and free-wheeling and easygoing as its show-within-a-show, Horsin’ Around, but it’s gone too far to go back to those simple times. This becomes the theme of Season 3. As BoJack heads down the Oscar trail, it leads him further and further away from himself. It’s a path that he’s been told to take, which means it has nothing to offer him. Along the way, his co-stars take meandering routes to self-reevaluation while doing their best to break away from the toxic core that is BoJack himself.

Read Part 1 of the recaps HERE and Part 2 HERE.

Episode 7: “Stop the Presses”

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Waking up inside a giant paper mache Todd head and ending with a giant mirror, BoJack makes a last attempt at self-discovery in this episode, marked most prominently by Candice Bergen’s cameo as a newspaper sales rep/therapist. And the central metaphor requires someone to know BoJack and for BoJack to know himself. It’s a cute way of tricking stubborn BoJack into getting some form of help while reminding viewers that he’s only getting it because he’s such a dick.

That Margo Martindale, Emily, and even Ana fail to keep up their various facades (even though Ana’s is broken through BoJack’s spying), they let BoJack in on a secret that we’ve all known for three seasons: everyone lies and everyone’s afraid of themselves. Well, except Mr. Peanutbutter, who’s still certain those spaghetti strainers are going to pay off big time.

Miscellaneous bits:

  • BoJack’s listed temperament: 9/10 – spooky, stubborn, unpredictable, substance abuse.
  • “No, not murderous robots. Women.”
  • “In this case Nu is the Greek letter representing the variable for ‘what is going on’. So let’s solve for Nu, shall we?

Episode 8: “Old Acquaintance”

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It’s New Year’s in Hollywoo, David Pincher needs a new star and there are talks of a Horsin’ Around cinematic universe. Like any good year-end episode, it’s a battle between progress and nostalgia for BoJack and his various career satellites. While Princess Carolyn and BoJack jockey for prestige with the competing agency while (of course) also using this as an excuse to lie, Diane escapes to the Labrador Peninsula. Mr. Peanutbutter and his brother Captain Peanutbutter (“Weird Al” Yankovic) welcome her to a land far away from the bad feelings and deceit of Hollywoo, and for a little while, she really buys it.

Then things take a turn. As hilarious as it is hearing Weird Al be so morbid, Captain’s illness really brings Diane down and unearths some buried bones in the Peanutbutter family. Talking to people is hard, even for Mr. Peanutbutter. But he’s one of the only people to even try, and it works out for him. On the other side of the “successful person” spectrum, BoJack’s ego gets played as effortlessly and as explicitly as the series has shown seen all season, and Todd good-naturedly turns his safe space for women into an escort service. These lines are much thinner than you may think.

Miscellaneous bits:

  • “No goodbye? Well he’s a conversational Amelia Earhart.”
  • Carolyn’s competition works in At Least Nine Stories Tower. J.D. Salinger’d be proud.
  • “Are you just gonna do stupid bullshit for the rest of your life?” “You mean for work, or just in general?”

Episode 9: “Best Thing That Ever Happened”

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This flashback episode goes back and forth across a decade documenting the relationship between BoJack and Princess Carolyn. Since they’ve known each other, the power dynamic has radically shifted, though both remain the sad, codependent people they were when they formed their client-agent-with-benefits relationship.

Their mock-breakup/firing over dinner at BoJack’s restaurant makes how unhealthy their partnership truly was/is for each other, all desperation and vying for control. The explosive freakout by self-described charming Italian stereotype Sandro is the normal reaction one might have when someone that runs BoJack’s whole life (or restaurant) is fired. But Carolyn, both professionally and personally, still needs BoJack. There’s also no way BoJack is this mature or steadfast in his own beliefs, so it’s more of a battle for control over BoJack between Carolyn and Ana.

A similar, much sillier battle for control goes on in the restaurant’s hierarchy of command. A waiter, promoted to a chef, promotes a patron to waiter. They’re all trying to impress a critic like an even more absurd Ratatouille but with somehow lower stakes. It’s an excuse to hang out in the restaurant all night and to give BoJack another meaningless, nihilistic ending. But it also lets BoJack and Carolyn (convinced to go back after an extremely specific pop song plays on the radio) kick their personal parasitism down the path while they solve a meaningless distraction. When they eventually solve their problems, even making some emotional progress towards understanding one another, BoJack still ends things between them. Things are spinning off cycle, for better or worse. I’ll cover the repercussions in my final three recaps of BoJack Horseman’s third season. Get ready!

Miscellaneous bits:

  • 2007 Princess Carolyn’s denim skort is just begging to make a modern comeback.
  • Baron Vaughn’s awkward waiter-turned-chef is one of the best little roles of the season.
  • “A sex-mommy who also keeps her boundaries, is that too much to ask?”

From AAA TV to Z-movies, Chicago-based critic Jacob Oller (@JacobOller) would like to bring the world together through entertainment, writing about it for publications like The Guardian, the Oklahoma Gazette, and his own blog. He’s a decent impressionist, semi-decent karaoke participant, and terrible dancer, although you’ll have to get a few drinks in him first.

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