Spoilers ahead – only read if you’ve seen these episodes!
After a year-long wait, the fourth season of BoJack Horseman – the critically-adored animated comedy from Raphael Bob-Waksberg – is back. After a thrilling third season, culminating in the death of BoJack’s drug-addled sidekick Sarah Lynn, and the exile of BoJack himself, it’s impossible to guess where the fourth season will go – but we reckon it’ll be brilliant.
Episode 1: See Mr. Peanutbutter Run
As this episode’s title would suggest, season four’s premiere isn’t a conventional BoJack episode. In fact, his only appearance is in the slightly-revamped, psychedelic opening sequence – perhaps suggesting that when we eventually catch up with BoJack, he’ll be in a more unstable position than ever. The only tie to the former star of Horsin’ Around is Diane Nguyen, who fruitlessly attempts to contract BoJack, allowing for Alison Brie to really shine with her performance. Aside from BoJack’s absence, everyone is back: Todd returns on top form, providing some brilliant jokes but also a tinge of realism, as he comes to terms with his asexuality. The more serious undertones continue with the revelation that Princess Carolyn suffered a miscarriage – a topic too upsetting for many adult comedies to handle. The finesse with which these topics are dealt with is testament to the thoughtful, rich writing from creator Bob-Waksberg, who also weaves an interesting main plot, with Mr. Peanutbutter trying to attain the position of governor of California. The plot’s wackier than we’ve seen in a while, and is rammed with nods to former episodes and characters, but once again, the balance of dark topics with humour is note perfect, making this a very strong season opener – even if the eponymous horse isn’t here.
Episode 2: The Old Sugarman Place
Episode two delivers the belated re-introduction to BoJack, doing so in an incredibly nuanced fish-out-of-water approach. The Old Sugarman Place tells one of BoJack Horseman‘s darkest stories yet, employing some delightful visual parallels to show the history of BoJack’s bloodline while also exploring a powerful relationship between BoJack, who has exiled himself to Michigan, and his neighbour Eddie, who is one of the show’s most interesting and tragic bit-characters. The bond between them is delightful to watch develop, before ultimately ending through BoJack’s self-obsession and malice – reinforcing that our protagonist is no hero. The Old Sugarman Place is low on jokes, but high on drama, with some truly shocking plot developments, notably the dark history of BoJack’s family, which takes a very dark turn, and a beautiful new setting that unravels a completely new side to BoJack. The episode’s structure perfectly mirrors the paradox that is BoJack’s personality – starting off as a sombre, wretched character worthy of our sympathy, but ultimately proving to be selfish, thoughtless and flawed – a protagonist that makes the show so unique.
Episode 3: Hooray! Todd Episode!
This episode certainly has a more breakneck pace than the previous entries in this season, but nonetheless focuses on developing characters while providing plenty of laughs – notably the brilliant pun that is ‘Mr. Peanutbusser’, but we won’t ruin its context here. No doubt, it’s very successful at furthering our characters’ journeys: as the title suggests, Todd is front and centre here, and Aaron Paul’s performance is splendid. In an episode where Todd has to convey a wide array of emotions, Paul handles the challenge well, and helps make the tribulations of Todd in this episode convincing. The most exciting prospect for Todd is his acceptance of his asexuality: a hugely bold move that is testament to the fearlessness of creator Bob-Waksberg to discuss a topic rarely considered in mainstream media, which deserve massive praise. On top of this, there is the exciting revelation that BoJack, now back and hiding in his Hollywoo home, is the father of Hollyhock, a younger horse who has been trying to track him down. This is a fascinating turn of events that will certainly show us a new side of BoJack – perhaps more tender and caring – and is sure to create interesting new dynamics between characters. For all these reasons, Hooray! Todd Episode! is brilliant, not just thanks to some great moments with Todd himself, but the implications that this episode’s events will have on the rest of the season.
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