It’s always a delight when BoJack & Co. venture beyond his home and navigate unfamiliar situations together. Unfortunately, this episode’s change of pace is prompted by the funeral of his one-time best friend, Horsin’ Around creator Herb Kazzaz. Herb, long sick of rectal cancer but newly in remission, died on his way home from the hospital when his brakes failed, sending him crashing into a peanut truck. Herb was deathly allergic.
The funeral first sets up a reunion between BoJack and Charlotte Moore, Herb’s ex-girlfriend, that’s so brief it feels like a tease. She ditches the crowd, leaving BoJack with a business card and an invitation to visit her in New Mexico, with BoJack’s confusion serving as a playful nod to last season’s epic dream sequence where they start a life together in Maine.
With Charlotte gone, BoJack is left to reckon with more ghosts from his past in a ‘90s-tastic gathering with all three of his Horsin’ Around kids. It’s been so long since they’ve all seen each other that Joelle, the eldest, has mysteriously picked up a strong British accent in the interim, and Brad sports a gaping bald spot.
As the kids frequently point out, the Horsin’ Around cast is hardly a family. They’re all far too self-involved to look after each other. Confronted with their adult selves, BoJack seems keenly aware of his failures as a TV dad and role model all those years earlier. The episode is peppered with flashbacks featuring Herb reminding the foursome to always stick together. BoJack is determined to respect his wish this time around.
Adding to BoJack’s guilt is Herb’s refusal to grant BoJack forgiveness for not standing up for him to the cable network. The two ended up wrestling each other in what both knew would be their last moment together. A solemn BoJack is struggling to come to terms with how things ended. His response is a heartbreaking attempt to unite Joelle, Brad, and Sarah Lynn in Herb’s honor.
Herb left Sarah Lynn a floppy disk labelled “gold.” BoJack turns following his instructions into a full-blown scavenger hunt, leading them first to Herb’s abandoned office and later a storage unit. There’s no real treasure to be had—just a disgustingly verbose manuscript that Herb’s nurse and longtime friend Henry Winkler conspire to steal so it won’t see the light of days.
BoJack’s obsession over Herb’s end-of-life instructions is rooted in grief. He was denied the reconciliation he badly wanted, so he can’t stop looking for signs of closure where there are clearly none to be had. Herb didn’t conspire in his final moments to reunite his cast in a magical adventure, nor did he die in some elaborate set-up orchestrated by a Pep Boys mechanic.
Throughout all this, Diane, often BoJack’s voice of reason, is nowhere to be found. She’s in many ways the most stable of the main characters, so her presence is sorely missed. While BoJack is working through his feelings of loss, everyone else is off the wall. Like Steve Urkel, Todd takes on a cool alter ego, but hilariously loses his charm the second he interacts with BoJack. Princess Carolyn and Mr. Peanutbutter share a rare plot line back at the funeral, in which he unwittingly forces her to craft a series of complex lies about her supposed friendship with Herb, whom she had never met.
To Princess Carolyn’s relief, BoJack returns and Henry Winkler neatly sums up for him the reality of Herb’s unremarkable death. “There is no shame in dying for nothing. That’s why most people die.” It’s a difficult truth to swallow, to be sure. But the sharpest commentary on humanity’s hopelessness may have actually come minutes earlier, as the gang correctly guesses Herb’s password: “password.”
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.