Monday, February 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'BoJack Horseman' - A Dream Quickly Turns Into a Nightmare for BoJack in 'The View from Halfway Down'

Netflix's BoJack Horseman - Episode 6.15 "The View from Halfway Down"

BoJack reconnects with faces from his past.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's BoJack Horseman.

"The View from Halfway Down" was written by Alison Tafel and directed by Amy Winfrey

BoJack Horseman doesn't want to die. He has been in a bleak and depressive headspace for the majority of his life though. The show has illustrated the nagging monologue in his head that contributes to his low self-esteem. He has been crushed by those around him for a long time. In his recent interview, Biscuits Braxby deduced that he doesn't care about people and what ultimately happens to them because of his actions. That's not entirely true. He does care about his friends. He wants to be better. That impulse has simply never been enough for him to overcome the sense of not being worthy of love or appreciation. He had it as a celebrity. And now, he has disdain from the entire world. It's at the point where no one is around to see him spiral once more in a bender. He ends up face down in his former pool likely with no one coming to save him. It would ring false if he tried to commit suicide. That would be a destructive message that could doom so many who live with mental illness and connect with the character journeys this show has presented. And yet, the narrative isn't afraid to embrace this dark headspace to prove just how disastrous all of this can ultimately get for BoJack. He is stuck in limbo for this entire episode. It plays as familiar territory for him. It's set at one of his mother's dinner parties. He is surrounded by friends and family who have died already. It allows the show to once again engage in those character dynamics that meant so much in the past. But this isn't just the same recurring dream that has plagued BoJack for awhile now. Instead, it's seemingly a reality he can't escape. It's the way his brain is shutting down while deprived of oxygen. None of it is real. These friends and family members are simply constructs putting forth the profound ideas that have tormented BoJack for a long time. Herb and Corduroy debate the thin line between being selfish and selfless. Corduroy fundamentally believes that any action is ultimately informed by how a person feels for doing it. As such, life is determined based on how good it made a person feel. That tracks with how he died. Meanwhile, Herb wants to express something with deeper meaning because he continually chose to live despite given the numerous opportunities to kill himself. Meanwhile, Crackerjack is the uncle that BoJack never got to meet but whose death set the expectations in his mother's eyes that he could never achieve. He doesn't know how much of a hero he ultimately was either. Crackerjack may have just signed up for the army to have people believe in the power of his sacrifice without putting in the work to actually earn it. Similarly, Sarah Lynn believes she has sacrificed her entire life and sense of privacy in order to entertain people. Her life was always onscreen or onstage. Nothing was ultimately private for her. All of this comes to a head when Butterscotch actually shows up to the party as seen through Secretariat. That makes all of this come to an even more meta context because Will Arnett voices both BoJack and Butterscotch. It makes it clear that BoJack is essentially talking to himself and the love he wishes his father could have expressed. And yes, Butterscotch has the same regrets that BoJack does. He too isn't willing to jump into the dark abyss that seems to be swirling around this party. Others are content with their fates. They understand what their lives were and still get to perform for this newcomer to their realm. Meanwhile, BoJack is continually trying to escape. He holds onto the idea that this can't be the end because his life didn't mean anything. That may be the tragic reality though. Life is complicated and so is death. People project a sense of grand feelings onto it. But it may be meaningless. BoJack may survive this. But he also has to surrender control knowing that it's not up to him whether or not he wakes up. He runs away refusing to believe that this nothingness is all that he can move towards. But he lets it swallow him whole with the comfort of knowing that Diane is on the other end of the phone having a good life. That may be all the clarity he needs. That can be uplifting but it sure cements this as one of the darkest episodes the show has ever produced. That has tracked with the trajectory of the character arc as well as knowing that there is one more episode left to perhaps offer some greater commentary about what this potential death means for the world.