Who knew Some Like It Hot actor Tony Curtis could start so much drama from beyond the grave. At Diane’s very much unwanted surprise 35th birthday party, she and Mr. Peanutbutter can’t stop arguing about whether Curtis has died. The tiff sends the partygoers home early, splintering the episode into three simultaneous lovers’ quarrels.
While driving Todd home from the party, Princess Carolyn nearly runs over a familiar face. But the pair of sharp detectives still can’t wrap their heads around the truth of Vincent Adultman, even as they’re directly confronted by an identical little boy sans trench coat. Todd runs off to facilitate a disturbing romance between two iPhones, and Princess Carolyn is caught in a farce. Kevin and the other two-thirds of Vincent somehow deceive her even in her own home. She never sees her boyfriend and Kevin, his so-called son, at the same time.
After many exhausting rounds of this game, Princess Carolyn finally breaks up with Vincent. She is none the wiser about her boyfriend’s age or lumpy body shape, but she does come to an important realization about why she stayed in a one-sided relationship for so long. “I think wanting to believe something doesn’t mean that something is real,” she tells Vincent, mostly for her own benefit. Through her toxic off-again, on-again flings with BoJack, she had managed to hold onto one last speck of romantic optimism until now.
BoJack and Wanda’s relationship fares way better that night, but not before it takes a turn for the worse. It’s been two weeks since Wanda moved in, and BoJack worries taking that step so soon was impulsive (duh). Wanda encourages him not to be too quick to judge, but he can’t help himself. He doesn’t find her jokes funny and he still has Charlotte on the brain after their brief chat at Herb’s funeral.
Distracted by their heavy conversation, BoJack hits a deer. He’s prepared to pretend nothing has happened and keep driving, but Wanda insists they stop to make sure the deer is OK. In the end, he is, after a trip to the hospital on BoJack’s dime. Wanda and BoJack might be OK, too. Her elaborate mulch joke does eventually have a punchline of sorts, much to his relief.
At one point in the woods, Wanda tells the deer, “I know you’ve been hurt and I know you’re afraid. We’re all afraid. But you have to trust us. It’s going to be OK.” With her arm on BoJack, it almost feels like she’s talking directly to him. Actually, it’s something Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane could benefit from hearing, too.
Each segment of this episode is sweet and silly and touching, but Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane’s scenes take the (Sir Paul McCartney-filled) cake. Mr. Peanutbutter chooses to throw a giant, involved surprise party for an introvert, making her question how well he listens to what she wants and needs from the marriage.
The couple has the most endearing fights, and this is no exception. Watching Diane lie next to Mr. Peanutbutter in his green jello-filled pool is weirdly relatable. She knows she looks ridiculous and she knows Mr. Peanutbutter means well, but she’s determined to try and stay mad, regardless. Ultimately, after a tour of the house’s incredible set design, they recognize each of his days are bound to revolve around her, but counting on the reverse being true is not realistic. Diane wants to change and grow and adventure, and he’s just a big-hearted old dog who won’t learn new tricks.
“After the Party” is a good example of the way BoJack holds up to the light the delicate insecurities we all harbor before mercilessly shattering them with humor. That it all manages to come across as warm in the end is a testament to the cartoon’s unlikely sensitivity, nuance and range.
Julie Kliegman is the weekend editor for TheWeek.com and a freelance journalist based in New York. She’s written publications including BuzzFeed, Vox, Mental Floss, PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times. Tweet her your favorite SpongeBob GIF.