I’ll be a little harsh; yeah, it’s kind of a box-checking and second-season-teasing episode, but it still worked fine far as I’m concerned; still as properly heartfelt and gritty and goofy as the rest of the show, and it’s great to see Bojack sifting around in the spacious “What now?”. That’s the unique strength of this show, it’s all about the disquieting “What now?”s.
Well-done pin placed in Bojack and Diane’s relationship for now. Really touching moments during the “Wild Horses” montage (not just a pun! These guys can really nail licensed music usage), seeing Herb and his nurse stood out, especially.
Props to Will Arnett for nailing the Secretariat monologue. An actor playing an actor acting is complicated, and making “really good acting” a plot point is a really risky play, but Arnett dunked it. Nothing more needed to be said about Bojack playing that monologue so close to the chest.
The Secretariat bit was genius, I swear these guys make a gorgeous patchwork portrait of Bojack in these flashbacks. I feel like Al Manheim assembling his jigsaw puzzle picture of Sammy Glick.
It’s probably the most astute diagnosis of the ills of celebrity culture the show has made so far; this version of Secretariat, Bojack, those among us who are sucked into the cult of “success” and always trying to run to the top, don’t pick up the pace because they see the winner’s circle in sight. They run because they feel hunted. They strive for an ill-conceived “greatness” because they feel small and horrible “deep down”. They’re afraid they don’t have a “deep down”, because at some point, they had to learn the simplest defense mechanisms a wounded child can muster; avoidance, and playing pretend. They grow up in a desperate survivalist mindset, rather than developing the strength it takes to live and learn from sadness, but knowing only to mask or run from it.
That’s perhaps why Bojack is the only person who recognizes Vincent as a child pretending to be an adult; because he knows what that’s like from the inside-out. He’s wounded enough and self-aware enough to know another kid awkwardly stuffed into a grown-up’s position when he sees it.
Right, that got a little flowery. But whatever. Bring on Season 2 (next year, I assume). I was happy to hear that apparently there was such faith behind the show that the second season was greenlit far before the announcement (i.e. before the first season even aired). It’s in a totally different class, but I haven’t been this enthralled by a series protagonist since Rust from ‘True Detective’, and I love that Bojack fits the “gritty antihero” mold of a lot of TV protagonists these days, but is skewed far more vulnerably and realistically. Your Rustin Cohle’s can be self-indulgent unreal badasses, hardened by the knowledge that they’re damaged and can never be fixed. Bojack’s terrified by the thought, and rightfully so.
Here’s hoping he calls Charlotte.