After a somber and uncertain end to Season 3 of BoJack Horseman, the critically-acclaimed Netflix series has returned with its fourth season earlier this month. For those who have yet to catch up, here are 10 things you should know about Season 4:
The history of BoJack’s family is explored in detail this season
After Sarah Lynn’s overdose death at the end of last season, BoJack is still missing-in-action from Hollywoo at the start of Season 4. Our first glimpse of the title character comes in the second episode, when BoJack winds up at his grandparents’ former home in Michigan, where we get our first flashback scene exploring the depths of pain and unresolved feelings that have been passed on for generations in BoJack’s family. This becomes a running theme throughout the season with which we come to a deeper understanding of BoJack’s relationship with his mother Beatrice, who moves in with BoJack this season after he makes his return to Hollywoo.
A new character claiming to be BoJack’s daughter appears, forming the central storyline of the season
After the end of the Sarah Lynn storyline, the show -- which has never shied away from tackling issues of mental illness and depression -- finds its emotional core for Season 4 by introducing Hollyhock, who shows up to Hollywoo claiming to be BoJack’s daughter, but neither knows who Hollyhock’s mother is. Voiced by comedian Aparna Nancherla, Hollyhock is the latest character that enters BoJack’s life and makes you wonder: just how exactly will our main character ruin this situation. While there are plenty of lows, the addition of a new character to BoJack’s life does turn out to have a positive impact by the end of the season.
The penultimate episode of the season will tear you apart
There’s a constant give and take on this show between its comedy and its more serious matter. This season spends plenty of time exploring Beatrice’s past, and why she has been a constant thorn in BoJack’s life as his resentful mother. Whether we like it or not, we are all very much shaped by our upbringing, and leave it to a show starring a horse to slap that fact right in our face in Season 4. The 11th episode of this season, titled “Time’s Arrow,” explores Beatrice’s past through her battle with dementia in the present. It is as crushing an episode as this show has produced. If you’ve seen the episode, be sure to check out Vulture’s oral history of the episode.
A brilliant bottle episode features Zach Braff, Jessica Biel and RuPaul
In real life, bottle episodes are money-savers for television shows where most of the episode is subjected to one particular set. BoJack Horseman has its own Season 4 bottle episode with episode seven, titled “Underground,” when a campaign fundraiser at Mr. Peanutbutter’s house goes terrible wrong, trapping everyone underground. The episode features three of the best cameos of the season. Zach Braff and Jessica Biel play satire versions of themselves, while RuPaul appears as an ant queen. It is, by BoJack standards, one of the lighter episodes of the season.
The show goes to the future
The Princess Carolyn-centric ninth episode of the season, titled “Ruthie,” opens in the future, with Princess Carolyn’s great-great-great-granddaughter telling a story about her ancestry, as the episode shifts back to present time. It is another heartbreaking episode, as Princess Carolyn deals with some very serious matters in her new relationship. The end of the episode is an absolute gut-punch. Bravo to the show’s creative team for their ability to still surprise us in the worse but also best ways.
Todd has his best season yet
Todd, voiced by Aaron Paul, has arguably been the character most impacted by BoJack’s selfishness and a lack of compassion for those around him through the first three seasons of the show. No longer living with BoJack in Season 4, Todd has his best season yet. In the Todd-centric episode three aptly titled “Hooray! Todd Episode!,” our man’s signature yellow beanie and red zipped-up hoodie look even becomes the latest trend in the fashion world, albeit accidentally (This is Todd, after all, so what isn’t by accident?). In its fourth season, BoJack Horseman has become very much an ensemble act, and no one showed more individual progress as a character in Season 4 than Todd.
And so does Mr. Peanutbutter, who runs for governor and becomes everyone’s favorite character
Does everyone remember just how grating Mr. Peanutbutter was in the first season of the show? He was the dimwit, who faced no consequence for his lack of awareness for anything around him. A mirror opposite of BoJack, Mr. Peanutbutter has gradually become a lot of people’s favorite characters. On a show where every character has their own self-destructive tendencies, Mr. Peanutbutter’s happy-go-lucky approach has won out over time. He ends up in a hilarious subplot running for governor, and seems to have found a happy medium in his relationship with Diana. There’s rarely an episode in Season 4 that goes by without Mr. Peanutbutter stealing a scene from the rest of the cast.
The easter eggs on the show remains top-notch
The creators of the show go to great lengths to include as many easter eggs as possible, from poster gags to background details and plenty of callbacks to plots from previous seasons. No show has made it more fun to look for easter eggs since Arrested Development. Once you’ve had a chance to finish Season 4, be sure to check out the 75 BoJack Horseman jokes you probably missed this season.
There’s plenty of relevant social commentary
While no real-life presidential candidates are referenced, you can draw plenty for conclusions yourself about what the creators of the show are trying to say about celebrity presidents and the current political climate with the Mr. Peanutbutter runs for governor story arc. It doesn’t end there. Fracking and mass shootings are two other topics that come up as well.
The end of this season feels like a new beginning for BoJack
After Season 3, Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg told Uproxx’s Alan Sepinwall: “I do think that this is the end for a certain chapter for BoJack Horseman. I’m not sure how long the show goes, but I think we’ve played the card of ‘BoJack’s a terrible person, and he knows it, and people start to forgive him and he fucks them up all over again.’ I feel like we had to tell that story completely.”
The Season 4 version of BoJack is not exactly a completely transformed character, but for the first time, he seems to genuinely want to turn a corner. And while acknowledging a problem isn’t solving it, for those of us who’ve been on this journey with BoJack, we know that’s an incredibly huge step. By the end of the season, we see that there is in fact hope for BoJack’s future. Whether that remains the case will depend on where Season 5 takes us next year.
Next up, here’s how the director made Pennywise so scary in IT.