The Final Days of Bojack Horseman

I’ve spent the last six years following a talking horse struggling with addiction and navigating complex relationships and I’ve loved every minute of it. Though the show Bojack Horseman sounds like a crude knock off of Family Guy or South Park, it goes a lot deeper. For one thing, the show is actually funny and the writers are thoughtful with their critiques of celebrity culture and discussions of mental health.

But all good things must come to an end. As Todd says in the series finale, “it was nice while it lasted.” With six solid seasons under their belt, Bojack Horseman was ready to call it quits. To celebrate (and perhaps process) this ending, I’ve laid out all the unfinished business––both the highs and the lows––of the final season

Highs:

  1. 1. Diane and Bojack

    In season one, Diane is a typical, shy, writer girl who is eager to tell Bojack’s story––even when she has to sacrifice her own happiness to do so. After six seasons––Diane’s divorce, Bojack’s professing his love for Diane throughout the first two seasons, too many scandals to count, and even a death scare or two––Bojack has pushed Diane beyond her breaking point.

    In the final season, we see Diane finally start to take control of her life. She moves away from the toxicity that she was met with in LA, exchanging the constant celebrity gossip and politics for the chilly winters of Chicago and, later, Huston.

    Bojack, on the other hand, finds himself facing a year-long prison sentence due to yet another downward spiral that almost leaves him dead in the episode before the final. While out for the weekend for a wedding, Bojack and Diane are face-to-face once again––after more than a year of silence between the two.

    Though clearly they care for one another, Bojack has been a largely negative force in Diane’s life. The final scene depicts Bojack and Diane sitting on the rooftop gazing at the stars above them––perhaps a call back to when the pair first met and Diane tells a (false) story about stargazing on the roof with her father. We get the sense that this could be the last time the two speak. Though this is devastating––we’ve grown with both Diane and Bojack––we finally get to see a character set healthy and necessary boundaries.

    We’re also left with the final shot of the series––several uninterrupted minutes of silence fill the night sky as Bojack and Diane realize they might never speak again.

  2. 2. Princess Carolyn and Bojack

    While dancing with Princess Carolyn at her wedding, we see yet another relationship take a turn for the better. Bojack and Princess Carolyn spent years in an on-again-off-again relationship that sent Princess Carolyn spiraling when it was all over. Though Bojack worried that he wasted years of her life, another character points out, “it looks like these might be the best years of her life.”

    Bojack is happy for his longtime friend, but we also get a sense of jealousy. Of course, though Bojack has made progress, he still has many of his old toxic traits...and jealousy is certainly one of them. After all of the things Bojack has done, it feels right that he should watch the people around him be happy and move on as he struggles to find meaning and value in recovery. While the audience is rooting for Bojack to redeem himself, it’s nice to see the other characters thrive without his toxic energy.

    As the two are dancing, Bojack mentions offhandedly that he will need a new agent once he is released from prison. Princess Carolyn, who at one time would have jumped at the opportunity, tells Bojack that she can recommend him to some great people.

    The end of the show finally gives Princess Carolyn what she deserves: a baby, a husband, and of course a whole world of Hollywoo movies to make. She’s able to enjoy the things she’s always dreamt about––mostly having a family––without having to give up a career which she has worked her entire life for.

  3. 3. "The View from Halfway Down"

    The finale left us with a sense of closure (even if there are so many loose ends still dangling in the breeze) but this episode: “The View From Halfway Down” takes the cake. Bojack enters a dreamlike state after deciding to take a swim in the pool of his old house following a messy relapse.

    There he is confronted with all of the people who have died before him: his mother, his stage daughter Sarah Lynn, his father (who is represented by the famous runner, Secretariat), and his old friend Herb.

    The characters put on a show for Bojack as he watches in confusion. His mother performs a haunting duet with her older brother––the one who died in combat and left his mother’s family forever broken. The duet reminds us of an episode in a previous season, where the tragic history of his mother’s childhood is revealed. Bojack’s mother is finally able to be vulnerable in a way she never has been before, a moment that leaves the audience wondering what that would’ve done for their relationship in life.

    As the show goes on, Bojack has a horrifying realization: he is dying. The dream sequence continues because his brain is trying to process what is happening to his body lying face down in the pool. As death overtakes him, he makes one last call to Diane who reminds him that he got back in the pool when she didn’t pick up the phone.

    “If it doesn’t matter,” says Bojack, realizing this might be the end for him, “can I at least stay on the phone for you a little longer?” The screen fades to black and the now-iconic credit song roles.

  4. 4. Not Letting Bojack Off the Hook

    That episode could’ve killed Bojack. Just like his famous character, the Horse from the 90s sitcom Horsin’ Around, the horse could’ve died. But honestly, letting Bojack die would have been too easy for him, and too difficult for everyone else.

    The last phone call Bojack made before the overdose was that call to Diane. While he was in a dreamlike state, she was worried for seven hours about whether her friend was even still alive. If Bojack had ended up dead, we would have to assume that all of the other characters would be wrapped up in his narrative forever. Unable to forgive herself, Diane would be trapped in a web of guilt and anger with her friend.

    Although the two end their relationship at the conclusion of the show, the ownership is on Bojack for once in his life. He can no longer blame other people for the mistakes he has made; it is his job, and his job alone, to face the music.

    After Bojack expresses worry about his sobriety (wondering what happens if he relapses again) Todd reminds him of a simple truth: “then you’ll just get sober again.”

    We see that Bojack’s story doesn’t end with the show. While we can perhaps assume that Princess Carolyn and Diane will go on to live relatively happy lives, Bojack will face the ghosts of his past every single day in his new life. Though most of Hollywoo forgives him (sound familiar, anyone?), we at least know that Bojack will struggle with his internal battles for the rest of his life.

    Lows:

  5. 5. Todd

    Since the beginning, Todd has offered us comedic relief from Bojack’s increasingly intense storyline. While Bojack is drinking his sorrows away, Todd is becoming the governor of California or getting kidnapped by an improv cult (that definitely doesn’t resemble Scientology).

    It seems obvious that Todd would get a happy ending. Though constantly at the mercy of Bojack’s antics, Todd never fails to put on a happy face and comfort his friend, even when we know that Bojack is unwilling (or unable) to do the same.

    Todd, who is revealed to be asexual in an earlier season, finds a romantic partner and the two end up moving in together. Though we are vaguely aware that Todd is going through huge life changes, we don’t see him much––except when he shows up to support Bojack. Just like Princess Carolyn or Diane, Todd needs to set healthy boundaries with his friend. Even though he’s meant to be the digestible comic relief, he still deserved a three-dimensional end to his character arc. Though we are left to assume that Todd rides into the sunset with his new girlfriend, we never get to see it. One of my lasting wishes for the show could be as simple as one scene showing some resolution we are never given for Todd’s character.

  6. 6. Wesleyan

    In the first half of the season (which was released back in October), Bojack attempts to turn his life around as he scores a job as a professor at Wesleyan University. The first half ended with Bojack leaving LA in pursuit of a quieter teaching life, as well as his road to redemption.

    His stint at Wesleyan did raise an important point––that even after all he’s done, Bojack Horseman could still land a prestigious teaching job because of his celebrity status and identity, but it just didn’t go far enough. Since he was there for such a short time (pushed out by a scandal from his past, shocker), we didn’t have enough time to truly get a sense for his life on campus or what he was doing there in the first place.

    Overall, I got it, I really did, I’m just not sure that it advanced the show.

A lot of this show felt unfinished––but I think that’s the point. There are so many characters who don’t get their arc in the finale, but sometimes, that’s the way it goes. We won’t know how Penny’s life turns out post-Bojack, but we get the sense that her life will be forever changed by his actions. Many of Bojack’s girlfriends fade into the background, never to be seen again. The worst part of this is that many of them were good people (or animals) while Bojack was deeply flawed. We were left with a feeling of nostalgia, grief, and even hope for the future for each and every character.