In the eighth episode of BoJack Horseman, BoJack’s past catches up with him in a zany cliffhanger that doesn’t feature the eponymous horse at all.
While the previous episode showed BoJack reconciling with all of the main characters on a cross-country tour before finally taking a job teaching drama at Wesleyan, the final episode of the first half of the last season of BoJack Horseman (whew) doesn’t feature BoJack at all.
Instead, episode eight picks up with the scattered ruins that BoJack has left behind, beginning with character actress Margo Martindale (who is still in the nunnery) contemplating her past. As the head nun grows increasingly frustrated by her, Martindale finally steals a car and speeds away, yelling, “When you get to heaven, look up Margo Martindale. I won’t be there, but my movies will!”
While the episode continues with some of the zanier comedy that has been missing from the season as it deals more seriously with the ramifications of BoJack’s behavior, it uses the jokes to propel the plot forward.
It’s hard to rank the terrible things BoJack has done, but this episode attempts to: participating in Sarah Lynn’s overdose, strangling Gina on set while high, almost committing statutory rape after getting a bunch of high schoolers drunk…
The episode serves as a reminder that, even though BoJack seems to be turning over a new leaf and truly getting better, he can’t undo the damage he’s caused, both to himself and the people whose lives he’s forever changed (or helped to end).
At The Hollywoo Reporter, a 1940s-style reporter, “Front Page Paige” (voiced by the amazing Paget Brewster), is set to retire on her wedding day — only to learn that her competitor/colleague has dug up a story she can’t resist: the death of Sarah Lynn.
“Front Page Paige” has her name for a reason. They interview Sarah Lynn’s mother and listen to the last voicemail she left her before she died, picking up on Sarah Lynn’s use of the word “we” and realize Sarah Lynn wasn’t alone when she went on the bender before she died.
Like any intrepid reporter in Hollywoo, Paige and her colleague go to AA, hoping to break into the “anonymous” meeting. It doesn’t take long before people start sharing all of BoJack’s secrets due to the slight brush with fame, and the reporters get the name of Penny Carson, the girl from New Mexico.
The episode also picks up with Kelsey, who BoJack got fired from Secretariat. She was at one point a very promising up-and-coming independent film director, but is now sadly relegated to directing chicken commercials masked as narrative content.
Simultaneously, Gina is shooting on the same lot and starring in a big action movie. While BoJack helped launch her career with Filburt, he also strangled her in a pill-addled rage, and Gina is clearly having some residual PTSD as she comes dangerously close to earning a “difficult” reputation.
Even then, it also goes to show that some of these people are better off without him. After pressuring her agent, Kelsey gets the opportunity to pitch a superhero movie.
Kelsey argues that a female superhero movie should depict saving the day as hard because people don’t respect women when they save the day. And, she hilariously blurts out, “Also in my version she’s gay!” Miraculously and happily, Kelsey gets the job (and a chance at redemption).
Meanwhile, Hollyhock is visiting her friend, Tawnie, in New York. While they’re waiting to go to a party, Hollyhock asks to go to the Empire State Building. Tawnie says they don’t have to go to the party as Hollyhock doesn’t seem like the drinking type.
But Hollyhock counters that she wants to drink and have fun like any other college kid, she’s just afraid of losing control. This is a very normal response for a young person who’s grown up around alcoholism and alcoholics, (especially if you’ve previously been drugged by someone else in that same family of alcoholics).
Ultimately, Hollyhock goes to the party with Tawnie, but she begins to have an anxiety attack seeing all the drunk people. It’s another reminder of the real trauma that Hollyhock has faced as a result of BoJack, even though he’s been good to her on the whole.
A cute guy comes up to her and helps her through it, who we learn is Peter from New Mexico, one of the kids BoJack took to prom. Hollyhock has her first beer and spits it out and Peter tells her it’s okay not to like the taste, that it takes a while to get used to.
Peter also tells her that he didn’t drink in high school because of what happened at his prom and proceeds to tell her the full story about BoJack getting him, Penny, and his girlfriend drunk to the point that his girlfriend got alcohol poisoning and he dumped them at the ER.
Peter doesn’t say BoJack’s name, but then confesses that the whole thing was made weirder by the fact that the guy who did this to them was actually kind of famous. An anxious Hollyhock presses him and asks who it was and the episode cuts to black.
With episode nine, BoJack will definitely have to face the impending story about the truth behind Sarah Lynn’s death along with Hollyhock’s discovery of the terrible thing he did in New Mexico (similar to when Diane discovered this in season five). Time will tell how this impacts his sobriety and ability to stay well…