The Great BoJack Horseman Rewatch: The Kidney Stays in the Picture

Hollywoo is in chaos after some chance remarks from BoJack lead to all of the assistants going on strike. Meanwhile, Todd’s stepfather shows up to ask Todd to donate a kidney to his estranged mother, and BoJack faces the prospect of life after rehab.

I told you we were due a Todd storyline soon, and here it is. BoJack wouldn’t be BoJack without a wacky Todd storyline, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. This time around, we have another dose of zany antics, as Todd tries to retrieve the kidney he sold for money, so that he can donate it to his sick mother. Accompanying him for the ride is his stepfather, Jorge.

Final seasons of TV shows are infamous for throwing in previously unseen family members. Up until now, all we knew of Todd’s parents was that they threw him out after he got addicted to Decapathon and flunked out of high school. This episode is the first time we actually get to meet one of them.

There’s always been a question about Todd’s ethnic origin – he appeared to be white, but had a Latino surname. The discrepancy arose simply because Raphael Bob-Waksberg named him after a high school friend without really thinking about the ethnicity of the name. In this episode, that issue is finally resolved, by giving Todd the surname of his Latino stepfather. Despite having the same name, however, we can see that the world doesn’t treat these two equally – where Todd can easily cruise through all of his adventures with few consequences because he’s white, Jorge faces many more hurdles and difficulties. He’s even able to easily pose as a janitor at the Whitewhale building simply by speaking fast and fluent Spanish.

Todd’s mother is not seen here, but we get a good idea of the fractious relationship between father and son. Jorge was clearly from the “tough love” school – wanting his son to conform to his own ideal of success, and believing that being hard on him was the way to achieve that. While I don’t really like having to sit through another round of outlandish Todd adventures, there is something really heartfelt and worth thinking at the core of it. Todd’s life may be unconventional, but Todd is happy with what he has achieved – why can’t that be enough for his father?

The other key plot thread of this episode is the Hollywoo assistants strike. BoJack unwittingly sparked this off when he told his new assistant Casey to have some self-respect, and not to accept just “getting to be a part of it” as a good enough reason to be treated like garbage. It’s a decent enough take on both the importance of the work done by those on the lowest rungs of the ladder, and the subtle and insidious ways one can use linguistic tricks to keep people “in their place”. It’s also a development moment for Princess Carolyn – herself an assistant turned agent, she initially sets out to trick the assistants back into compliance, but ultimately takes their side.

There’s time for one more storyline in this episode, as BoJack deals with the aftermath of Dr Champ accidentally drinking BoJack’s contraband vodka. Having fallen off the wagon, Dr Champ isn’t keen to remain sober, and it’s in dealing with him that BoJack confronts some uncomfortable home truths. As with last episode’s revelations about his past behaviour, BoJack having to acknowledge his self-hatred is in keeping with the character, but doesn’t really add anything we didn’t already know. Sometimes less is more.

Other notes

  • Diane is still struggling to write her book, so much so that she readily joins in with Todd’s antics.
  • Todd’s kidney ends up in the possession of the Whitewhale company.
  • Once again, various moments in this episode are highly reminiscent of Simpsons gags. We have the ominous music that turns out to be Todd playing the organ, Todd being unable to remember his fake name, and a play on the word “organ”.
  • Cabracadrabra is still going strong, and even seem to be hiring human drivers again.

Summary – The Kidney Stays in the Picture: “But what do assistants want? iTunes gift cards? Amazon gift cards? I honestly can’t think of another thing an assistant would want.”

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