The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: Ancient History

On her way home from college, Hollyhock stops over in LA to visit BoJack. However, when she throws his pain medication away, they spend the entire trip trying to find BoJack some replacement medication. Meanwhile, an adoption opportunity arises for Princess Carolyn, and Todd builds a sex robot for Emily.

I hadn’t really appreciated until this rewatch just how much I love Hollyhock, and so of course I’m delighted that she makes a return appearance here. But that also leads me feeling as frustrated as she does that, instead of getting to spend a nice evening with BoJack, she ends up traipsing around town with him trying to score some opioids.

One of the things I’ve been studiously avoiding mentioning is that ever since he hurt his back in The Amelia Earhart Story, we’ve seen BoJack necking prescription painkillers with some frequency. Given all we know about BoJack’s substance abuse issues and lack of self control, it should come as no surprise to discover that he might now just be a tiny bit addicted to pain medication.

Enter Hollyhock, whose own past traumas cause her to freak out at the sight of pills of any sort in BoJack’s apartment. Fearing a repeat of what happened to her last season, Hollyhock throws the painkillers away, giving BoJack the perfect excuse to guilt trip her into helping him get some more.

This is BoJack at his worst, blaming others for everything and failing to admit to his own problems. As if he hasn’t ruined enough relationships already, his relentless search for drugs causes him to screw things up with the one person he’s been at all close with this season – Gina. With filming having finished on BoJack, Gina seemed ready for their casual relationship to be over – chalking it up as the latest in a long line of on-set flings. BoJack lies about wanting it to be something more, just as an excuse to buy time for Hollyhock to search Gina’s house for drugs. Of course, just as Gina gets her hopes up for an actual, lasting, relationship, BoJack beats a hasty retreat.

At the end of the episode, Hollyhock makes BoJack promise that he will only take drugs if prescribed them by a medical professional. Unwilling to break the letter of his promise, if not the spirit, BoJack makes the obvious and most awful move he can – deliberately driving his car into traffic.

While all this is going on, Princess Carolyn is forced to reconnect with Ralph and his greetings card company when Mr Peanutbutter decides he wants to turn a “Happy Birthday, Dad” card into a movie. During the meeting, she also gets a call from the adoption agency, resulting in Ralph accompanying her to the hospital to meet her prospective new baby.

In any other show, this might be the point where Ralph and Princess Carolyn get back together – after all, it was an argument over whether to adopt instead of having their own child that led to their break-up. But, for all that Ralph is largely nice and inoffensive, I’m actually glad they didn’t get back together. Ralph always seemed quite cautious and restrictive when it came to their relationship – recall how reluctant was for her to go back to work after she temporarily closed Vim. There was something about being with Ralph that seemed to make Princess Carolyn less of the powerful force of nature that she deserves to be.

Todd is relegated to C-story here, as he tries to help Emily after she breaks up with her latest firefighter boyfriend. Todd and Emily are perfect for each other in all ways except one – she really enjoys having sex, and Todd is asexual. Once again, we come across the theme of how much one should compromise in order to be in a relationship, and on this score neither can meet the other’s needs.

It’s worth noting – as Emily herself says – that some asexuals do have sex. Asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual desire, and not all asexuals are actively repulsed by sex. Some don’t particularly care for it, but will do it to please a partner, whilst others do actually enjoy it – I imagine this as the difference between having regular cravings for cake, and never really craving cake but quite enjoying it when served a slice. Nonetheless, Todd does not seem to be in the class of asexuals who could even tolerate having sex, and so he devises an alternative solution – an utterly over-the-top, dildo-festooned sex robot named Henry Fondle. Expect to see more of Henry in upcoming episodes.

Other notes

  • This episode sees the return of Sarah Lynn’s former drug supplier, Dr Hu – complete with pop culture references to The Who and Doctor Who.

Summary – Ancient History: “I changed! I have plans now, and you’re not in them.”

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