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Review: Bojack Horseman S06 E09

January 29, 2020
9 min read

Bojack Horseman is landmark television. The best thing about the animated series is the fact that it is not a crowning achievement for comedy. Nope. ‘Bojack Horseman’ is genre-disruptive. It defies comedic norms and makes one introspect rather than escape away while nailing topical humour to a T. Yet, it never fails to amaze me how an animated show about anthropomorphic animal-celebrities can make such poignant inspections of society and sorrow.

It’s definitely doleful that we will not be seeing more of Bojack horsin’ around, but all good stories must come to an end. So, let’s start with the beginning of that end: ‘Intermediate Scene Study w/ Bojack Horseman’. Here’s the Bojack Horseman Season 6 Episode 9 Review and Recap. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Bojack Horseman Season 6 Episode 9 Recap:

‘Intermediate Scene Study w/ Bojack Horseman’ sees Bojack turning over a new leaf by starting his work as an acting teacher at Wesleyan University. In many ways, the episode is an ode to theater and the most glaring one is its structure: the plot is divided into nine chapters. A pastiche of the three-act structure, each chapter/act/scene is introduced with visuals depicting a curtained stage and a white board in spotlight.

The episode begins with a snow-y, Christmas-y atmosphere at the Wesleyan University campus. Bojack is rehearsing the first thing he plans to say in his first ever acting class: “What is acting.” Wesleyan University is also where Hollyhock studies, BTW.

The first chapter/act/scene begins…

What is Acting?

During Bojack’s first class, the students offer to act out a few scenes that they have prepared when one of them thinks the class is getting too theoretical. Bojack agrees with the idea too. The students enact a few scenes and Bojack reviews everyone’s performance thoroughly, giving them useful tips.

The Alcoholic

In the second scene, Bojack is in his room with one of his acting students. Bojack advises his student, who is an acting major to take up some other classes that aren’t related to acting. He wants the student to have a safety net if acting does not work out. However, that ends up offending the student, who misinterprets Bojack’s concern as unfounded criticism for his acting. He announces his intention to prove his skills.

Bojack is participating in an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) workshop, continuing his de-addiction bid. His student storms into the class, drunk. He disturbs the class slightly, embarrassing Bojack. However, it turns out that he was just acting drunk. He wanted to prove that he is a good actor.

Try

Hollyhock is taking part in a college rugby match and Bojack comes to watch it. After the match, Bojack offers to hang out with Hollyhock. However, she has plans to drink with her friends and does not want Bojack to come since there will be alcohol.

Bojack is perplexed, but decides to “get on” with Hollyhock’s newfound passion for rugby in order to connect with her. He starts reading books to understand the game and shows up for every match. However, Hollyhock quits rugby suddenly and decides to focus on her studies. When Bojack tries to make plans with her again, she tells him that she is swarmed with her academics. She promises to come for his class’ play and spend time with him.

The Arrangement

Bojack’s accountant informs Bojack about his not-so-good financial situation and advises him to sell his restaurant, Elefante. Mr. Peanutbutter makes an arrangement with the “international superstar and sex symbol,” Joey Pogo. Mr. Peanutbutter proposes that Pickles sleep with Pogo once. This is in lieu with the couple’s attempt to square off Mr. Peanutbutter having cheated on Pickles with Diane.

Mr. Peanutbutter is offered to buy Elefante. Joey gets excited upon hearing this and offers to become a partner. Mr. Peanutbutter decides to buy Elefante and have Joey Pogo as his business partner, not realizing that having him around would hamper the arrangement with Pickles.

The Old Man

Bojack criticizes another acting student, Terry for using his “old man voice” for all his characters. Terry says that its his gimmick. Bojack finds that stupid since anyone in the industry would opt to hire an actual old man to play the role of an old man. Terry gets offended and storms out of the class. Bojack is with his AA group again. Suddenly, Terry storms in! He is acting like an old man to prove a point to Bojack.

The Prodigy

Princess Carolyn comes to Wesleyan to deliver a guest lecture for Bojack’s class. The students ask her too many questions. However, she spots the student who does not ask any question and thinks he has potential. She tells Bojack she wants to hire him. However, Bojack does not think that it is a good idea since he wants his student to finish college. Bojack and Carolyn decide to let the student make a call. He chooses to take up Carolyn’s offer.

Sweet Science

Todd is taking care of Ruthie while Carolyn delivers her guest lecture. Todd gets fascinated by a research experiment involving marshmallows and decides to take part. The experiment is for Ruthie however. She has to avoid eating a marshmallow that is placed in front of her for fifteen minutes. If she manages to do so, she would get a bigger reward.

However, Todd ends up eating the marshmallow. He goes to the college’s science lab where a student helps him make a marshmallow. He uses that marshmallow to fool the researcher into thinking that both, Ruthie and he avoided eating the marshmallow.

His reward? The entire Wesleyan University is now his! Nope! That turns out to be untrue. It was just an aged, research subject on LSD blabbering non-sense due to another experiment.

Problem Student

Bojack calls Amy to his room and tells her that she has been lacking focus in the recent past. He tells her that she has been looking too tired and needs to pull up her socks.

Bojack is at another AA meeting. And…drum roll…Amy comes in, politely. Bojack anticipates another round of theatrics from one of his acting students and wants to nip it in the bud. He starts to shout at Amy but it turns out that she was there because she needed help with her alcohol addiction. She storms away crying.

Opening Night

It is time for the semester-end play by Bojack’s class. Bojack notices that Hollyhock hasn’t shown up. Bojack goes to her room to find out why. She tells him that she has multiple final papers to worry about. Moreover, she tells him that both of them had a life before they met each other.

Hollyhock makes it clear that Bojack’s presence at campus is being slightly intrusive for her. Bojack offers to not return the next semester. However, Hollyhock tells him that he does not need to stop teaching, but the two of them do need to “take things slow.”

Bojack returns just before his class’ play gets over. The performance gets a standing ovation. Then, Bojack gets a call from Charlotte and he goes outside to receive it. Charlotte tells Bojack that the reporters have been talking about Penny and that she does not want her daughter to be involved.

Bojack does not know what she is talking about. This is where the episode ends, leaving viewers to wonder what this new situation might be about.

Bojack Season 6 Episode 9 Review

The ninth episode of the sixth season of ‘Bojack Horseman’ reaffirmed the fact that the series might be the most well-crafted and wittily written comedies. The show’s writers have never shied away from experimenting with narrative structure or storytelling techniques. Just recall the largely dialogue-less episode ‘Fish Out of Water’ or ‘Free Churro’ which was one long monologue.

Fish Out of Water

‘Intermediate Scene Study w/ Bojack Horseman’ can easily be counted as one of the most avant-garde episodes of the animated series. The most commendable facet is surely the episode’s structure. As mentioned earlier, it is a pastiche of the three-act structure. The nine scenes can be understood as three scenes in three acts each.

It can also be looked at as the nine-act structure which is more dominant in filmmaking and screenplay. However, the episode leans towards a three-act structure, best evidenced by an allusion to the “rule of three.”

The rule of three is referenced when two acting students storm into Bojack’s AA meeting to prove a point. However, in a similar situation the third time around (Amy), the result is different since Amy ends up coming to get help and not prove a point. The rule of three suggests that: two similar, repetitive events ought to be followed by an unexpected one to deliver surprise and humour.

That was just one of the examples of the episode’s writing quality. Keeping the entire television show’s larger narrative in mind, this episode was also another example of the series’ command over the depiction of various stages of depression. One can actually see Bojack’s persistence in turning over a new leaf and watching him dedicatedly work towards his acting class and his students is refreshingly reassuring.

However, the past still threatens to strike back and pull the protagonist into a spiral of self-loathing and anxiety yet again. Raphael Bob-Waksberg and his team of writers deserve credit for effectively portraying different stages of depression. Getting past the final flag, battling a serious threat of relapse is certainly an engaging, overarching conflict for the last few episodes of the show.

Apart from that, there are enough laughs per minute to keep it thoroughly engaging and rib-tickling throughout. Moreover, it leaves viewers wanting for more by teasing a potential problem hurling towards Bojack. Here’s hoping the series maintains such impeccable quality for the remainder of the concluding half-season.

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