Sunday, September 10, 2017

REVIEW: 'BoJack Horseman' - BoJack Confronts Several Women From His Past for Hollyhock in 'Commence Fracking'

Netflix's BoJack Horseman - Episode 4.04 "Commence Fracking"

The campaign takes a toll on Diane's love life. BoJack helps Hollyhock search for her mom. Princess Carolyn tries to get pregnant.

Over the years, BoJack has definitely fantasized about having a family. It's always been the path not taken with him. In the early years of the show, he believed he would have been happy if he went off to a cabin in the woods with Charlotte instead of making Horsin' Around with Herb. Of course, that would have been a toxic decision as well. He has shown tendencies to romanticize these fantasies. They could never be as great as he imagines them to be. This season has seen a slightly different BoJack Horseman. He doesn't suddenly know how to be a better person. He's ruined everything in his life to the point where no one really wants to interact with him anymore. But he's also more aware of his past behavior. He knows how destructive he can be. He knows that people are right not to want to be around him. He will only lead to disappointment. But now, Hollyhock has appeared. She's on a quest for answers. She's not looking for anything from BoJack. He just happened to be the only lead she has about her biological parentage. She thought he was her father and was proven right. But she's not lacking in paternal influences. In fact, all eight of her adoptive dads are better fathers than BoJack will probably ever be. That's something that he realizes and accepts right away. He can't offer Hollyhock anything she's looking for. But he still feels compelled to help her on this journey. He feels like he needs to do this for her because it's the right thing to do despite him also being glad that he didn't have children before this moment.

"Commence Fracking" is largely just setting up the main dynamic and story for BoJack and Hollyhock. They are on a mission to find Hollyhock's mother. She wants to know more about the woman who gave her up for adoption. BoJack didn't know she was pregnant so he's at a loss for who it possibly could have been. As he puts it, 1999 was a crazy year for sex in this country. Of course, he doesn't have the time to go on a whole monologue to elaborate that point. That's funny while still allowing some amusing visuals about the 1999 of it all. However, this story feels more lackluster and tamed than most stories on this show do. It's weird. It feels mostly like setup. The show has frequently been very good with that in the past. This is a new dynamic that is just figuring itself out. That's not an excuse for it being awkward though. It just feels very foundational. It's not surprising in the slightest that BoJack and Hollyhock don't discover who Hollyhock's mother is right now. If they came to that reveal at this point in the season, then there would be no reason for Hollyhock to stick around BoJack's life for a long time. That's clearly going to be a huge dynamic this season that is a key point in his evolution as a character. Can he be a good influence when it's really required of him? He sets Hollyhock's expectations low. She reveals herself as not that great of a person either. But there is still the expectation of him trying not to traumatize her at some point this season.

Of course, that mission isn't off to a great start. This whole story includes a trip to the president of BoJack's former fan club. He believes that Marcie is the only person crazy enough to do this. And yet, that's not true at all. There's photographic proof in her house that she wasn't pregnant the month before Hollyhock was born. It's just more important that she has a binder full of women BoJack slept with during that period in time. It plays as a plot device. A way to give these characters a checklist to go through in search of answers. It's more rewarding that BoJack knows the women he needs to see in order to find Hollyhock after she decides to go on this mission alone. She doesn't see any point in including him anymore because of this book. He's just cruel and traumatizing to her. The only way they get the book is because BoJack distracts Marcie by having sex with her. That's not healthy at all. He pushes Hollyhock away. And yet, his grand gesture is being able to find her while also having to confront all the women he slept with. Most of them are rightfully still angry with him. But it shows that he does remember all of them even though he says he didn't. Of course, it only adds to the mystery because Hollyhock's mom wasn't anyone in the book. They've hit a dead end. It's encouraging that BoJack allows Hollyhock to stay at his house until she finds her mom. That's the only genuine and caring thing that he does. And yet, he also gives her false hope by telling her about someone who isn't in the book. He makes her up on the spot and that's bound to cause problems in the future because he's lying to her. Lying is how everything starts when things are bound to become destructive for BoJack.

Elsewhere, things finally combust between Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter. That fight has been a long time coming after she made her feelings known to the audience in the season premiere. She wants to be the supportive wife who loves her husband's ambitions. But she's just so taken aback by how popular he is becoming in the race for Governor. He says that being liked is the one thing he is genuinely good at. That's definitely true. But now, that likability is ruining their marriage. They are getting into fights and failing to connect because they don't know how to have an honest conversation anymore. Katrina is loving it. She loves seeing another marriage of Mr. Peanutbutter's falling apart. She criticizes Diane at every chance she gets. She looks sad. Her work doesn't matter. She's incapable of being happy on her own. These are feelings that Diane has felt in the past that trigger something deep and passionate within her. She just chooses to express herself to the world with an article that's anti-fracking after her husband comes out in support of it. It causes so much trouble for the two of them. And yet, they finally are able to connect. They are full of emotions and that turns into sexual passion very quickly. It has the opposite effect of what Katrina intended. It's nice to see her reaction to it as well. But just how healthy is this dynamic for Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter? They are on opposing sides. That can be quite destructive. After all of this is over, what will become of their marriage? Will it survive?

And finally, Princess Carolyn's story is probably the funniest of the episode. It's also incredibly simple. It doesn't feel like it's building to a conventional twist either. Perhaps that's why the majority of this episode feels off. There's just too much of a familiar formula at play. But with Princess Carolyn, it's fun to see just how committed she is to having a baby with Ralph. She's so passionate about it. And yet, she doesn't have many eggs left. It's more than Harry Potter movies but less than James Bond movies. That's a figure that puts things into perspective. But this story just gets so much great comedic use out of guest voice Harvey Fierstein as himself as the voice of an iOvulate Watch. It's just a terrific and absurd premise. Princess Carolyn cares about her ovulation cycle. And now, Harvey Fierstein is describing it in detail which is just hilarious. Princess Carolyn has imagined this child that she and Ralph are destined to make at this precise moment when her egg is being released from her body. They are racing home in order to make Philbert. They want to be the proud parents who are astonished by all of the profound things their child will one day say to them. But all of their hopes seem to disappear when they get pulled over for speeding. It's always nice to see Officer Meow Meow Fuzzyface. And now, he's just a police officer obsessed with the speed limit. He pulls Princess Carolyn and Ralph over because they are going 36 miles per hour in a 35 zone. The animation really made it seem like they were traveling much faster than that. But if the speeding laws are that strict, it makes sense that everyone else was going so slow. Plus, it just sets up all the wonderful comedy that comes from Meow Meow not understanding where Harvey Fierstein's voice is coming from as well as being offended and surprised when Princess Carolyn and Ralph start having sex in the back seat of his police vehicle. That's just a fun conclusion that may lead to Princess Carolyn actually being successful in her attempts to get pregnant.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Commence Fracking" was written by Joanna Calo and directed by Matt Garofalo.
  • Mr. Peanutbutter is doubling down on his support for fracking too. He had to commit to it in the first place because of Todd. And now, he has to welcome it to his own backyard because of Diane. His yard is being torn up which is causing the water facet to spurt out fire instead of water. That's going to be an amusing recurring joke, isn't it?
  • Todd is still the only person who knows that BoJack is back in town. This isn't really a big episode for Todd. He's just enjoying his "DiCapricorn Flakes" at Mr. Peanutbutter's house while also yelling "Daaaaaaaaaamn!" when Katrina makes a burn about the current state of Diane's marriage.
  • Girl Croosh has a hot take cool down area/yoga space in its building. It's the place Stefani takes Diane to in order to empower her to write her article about fracking. Girl Croosh may be its most successful when its writing stories about sex and celebrities. But Diane's article must have had some impact if it made Katrina's job more difficult.
  • The most famous person BoJack slept with in the months where Hollyhock could have been conceived was an actress named Tilda Madison. She has gone on to have a long-running series called Time Medium where she plays a medium who can also travel through time solving murders. But she can't solve the one case that matters the most: her husband's murder.
  • Here's a sampling of the biggest articles at Girl Croosh right now: These Soups Will Enrage You!, Celeb Butt Hacks, Sixty-Nine Days of Sixty-Nining, and I Used Lube as Lip Gloss.
  • The headlines in the news ticker of MSNBSea are even more on point this season. The best (and most chilling) one here is definitely "Muslim kills at open mic night. Christian kills at grocery store."
  • IOvulate Watch: "Hi, I'm Harvey Fierstein. Let's put a baby in you!"
  • Diane: "Frack me, Mr. Peanutbutter! Frack me!"

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.