I don’t usually do reviews of dramas let alone an episode because they are exceptionally long and most of the time, by the time I finish a drama I would have forgotten the start of the story. But I felt this urge to write about BOJACK HORSEMAN Season 3 Episode 4 “Fish Out of Water”. While its plot is simple and straightforward, its storytelling technique is rather uncommon in today’s animation. It has less than 3-4 minutes of verbal dialogue yet we can understand through the actions of the characters.
For those unfamiliar to this Netflix series, Bojack Horseman is an animated dark comedy and satire sitcom that follows the life of its titular character Bojack Horseman and his friends around him. As his name suggests, Bojack is a crossbred between a horse and a man and he was raised by unloving and toxic parents who resented his presence. As later mentioned by Bojack, his mom tried to drown him in a bathtub when he was 22. When he grew up, he left his parents’ house, sought for a life in Hollywoo (nope, not a typo) and had a breakthrough in sitcom Horsin’ Around. And while he achieved commercial success, Bojack soon fell into a deep depression and exhibited self-destructive behaviour to the people around him.
In this particular episode, Bojack finds himself underwater, specifically in the Pacific Ocean, to promote his latest movie Secretariat in the Pacific Ocean Film Fest (POFF). And because the series portrays real life so well, there exists a communication barrier between land and sea creatures and Bojack finds himself unable to talk to anyone in the sea. And I find this part a tad similar to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. We only know what the characters are feeling and are trying to say to each other by our intuition and this very beautifully haunting jazz-electronic soundtrack.
While Bojack was already reluctant to participate in the POFF, his publicist warned him that Kelsey Jennings, former director of Secretariat who got fired by another one of Bojack’s mishaps, is attending the Festival too, dampening Bojack’s already depressed mood (see S2EP9). And while he tried to approach her and apologise for his mistakes, Bojack literally got swerved onto a bus headed towards the outer city by a school of business-fishes.
Vexed by the fishes’ pushing and swerving, Bojack gave in and sat on the bus while accepting the fate that his apology will not be reciprocated.
The world is cruel out there and people are rational self-interested individuals. On the bus, there hangs this informational poster that read “If you see any suspicious packages..finders keepers” and an indifferent bus driver that “does not carry cash or deliver babies”. But it was in this scene that we get to see a kind and humanistic side of Bojack. He assisted in delivering the babies of a seahorse and went to the extent of crossing the ocean to bring a lost seahorse baby back to his father.
And although this movie star felt good about his heroic actions, the cold-blooded truth of reality sets in and Bojack is still not redeemed from his own personal hell. Also mentioned by himself in the previous episode, no one can be happy all the time.
At the ending, Bojack managed to chance upon Kelsey again and passed her his long-overdue apology. But because fate has it other way for Bojack, the ink on the apology letter has faded. This goes to show that an long-due apology is meaningless after a long time when emotional scars have formed.
In just twenty minutes, we saw how Bojack’s depression litereally got to a whole new level of low where verbal and non-verbal communication will not and could not save him. Not much verbal conversations were made but, sadly, somehow we can understand and symphatise with him.
It is truly a story of how actions speak louder than words.