Save for the fact that it has, since 2018, held the record for being Amazon’s longest-running original series, there’s never been anything particularly flashy about Bosch. Stylish, sure—between J. Edgar’s sharp designer suits, Harry’s glass-walled house in the hills, and that iconic neon kaleidoscope of a title sequence, Bosch has always sported an undercurrent of low-key cool. But where so many other prestige-adjacent detective shows have spent the last decade depending on narrative gimmicks or A-list casting to reel in eyeballs, Bosch leaned instead on the kind of stoic, do-the-work grit that made Michael Connelly’s Heironymous Bosch books perennial bestsellers decades before Amazon entered the picture.
Fitting, then, that the sun-soaked noir’s seventh and final season, which hit Prime this past Friday but has been in the cards since Season 5, found Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) and the rest of the Hollywood Homicide crew working through their cases with the same sense of careful urgency they’ve had since the moment we met them. From its opening sequence (New Year’s Eve, 2019; i.e. explicitly pre-pandemic) to its penultimate shot, Season 7 could almost have passed for just one more (long) day on the job: cut the bullshit, do the work, strive for justice, repeat.
Sure, the hit parade of Bosch’s previous federal allies/guest stars tipped the scales a bit in the direction of, oh, right, this is a farewell—as did the fact that Season 6 put into motion the shuttering of the Hollywood Homicide shop as a whole. But aside, really, from making its audience wise to the fact that Matthew Lillard (Season 2) would have to eventually be making an appearance and giving the writers the opportunity to tie up all sorts of loose ensemble ends, this final season was blessedly void of that sense of headlong rush to the finish so many fan-favorites get when given the same chance to plan their swan song in advance. Arguably, not even the fact that Mimi Roger’s Honey Chandler spent the majority of the season in a medically-induced coma after barely surviving a harrowing, point blank assassination attempt lent this season any more excitement than normal. Honey’s long been set to be a part of Bosch’s second act and spinoff series on IMDb TV, after all; her survival was always assured.
What was it, then, that made the case Bosch ended up with this season—a New Year’s Eve arson in an apartment complex full of low-income Mexican immigrants that results in the death of a pregnant woman and her 10-year-old daughter—different enough that it put him on the path to needing a second act at all? Fascinatingly, the fact that, at the end of the day, it wasn’t. It just turned out that, after decades of fighting a corrupt LAPD establishment tooth and claw to get equal justice for everyone, no matter their gender, class, or immigration status, his failure to secure it for “the little tamale girl” in the face of political machinations and federal dealmaking made Bosch finally decide that the system was just too broken to tolerate. Sure, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts” has been Harry’s credo from the jump, but while it’s always been a commendable philosophy, on both the personal and the professional level, it’s never *not* been in tension with the system he’s tried so long to put his faith in to see it through.
This was certainly true in the books, which were originally set in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but it’s arguably even truer today—a fact Bosch has been happy to confront from its very first season, which debuted, not for nothing, the same year that the Ferguson protests sparked the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. That Bosch, the detective, would find his ability to put up with that friction wearing thin was inevitable. That Bosch, the show, would be willing to let it wear so thin that Harry would feel obliged not just to quit, but to burn every bridge on his way out? Less so. And yet, letting Bosch be true to himself in the service of justice has always been this series’ strongest selling point.
Of course, this isn’t to say Bosch was bold enough in its final season to go full ACAB; for better or worse, with as much love as the whole Bosch team has for the real LAPD, whose detectives who have been invaluable consultants throughout, that was never in the cards. Sure, Harry was often joined by the rest of the Hollywood Homicide crew in his disdain for the sexist, bigoted good ol’ boys culture permeating the department like a rot—a theme that finds satisfyingly conclusive (if mostly fantastical) treatment this season in Lt. Billets (Amy Aquino) taking down not just the incel patrol officers targeting her and her girlfriend with increasingly frightening “pranks,” but also the noxiously sexist captain she locked horns with last season. But that shared disdain only made the squad’s collective role as “the good ones” more convincing. Even Harry, in the midst of cutting the FBI’s quid-pro-quo dealmaking off at the knees and torching Irving’s (Lance Reddick) political career, doesn’t come out of Season 7 wanting to burn the entire institution to the ground. The friends he’s leaving behind, to go on to gigs in other precincts? He believes in them, and in their ability to work the system. He just no longer believes in his own.
The biggest upside to this shift in Bosch’s approach to the work of making sure everybody counts, of course, is the fact that it leads organically to his future IMDb TV career as a private detective, a professional evolution that also happens in the books. What’s more, he’ll be making that shift with his daughter, Maddie (Madison Lintz), who audiences have gotten to see grow up from moody, estranged teen to tough, compassionate young adult, and whose presence in Harry’s life has been a constant bright spot. That the pair will be joined by Honey Chandler, whose role in the series expanded in direct proportion to Roger’s knife-edged charm, is better news still. And with so many friends still employed by the LAPD, the endless work of solving crime in LA plodding ever along, it’s likely we haven’t seen the end of the rest of Bosch’s exceptional ensemble, either. What the tone of this future show will be, who knows—the fact the final credits roll with John Fogerty’s “Long As I Can See the Light” playing over them, rather than the rest of the series’ pulsing noir music or Bosch’s preferred jazz, suggests there will be some kind of change, but I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’m ready to trust the ride.
Which means, I guess, the only logical thing left to say is: Bosch is dead; long live Bosch.
All seven seasons of Bosch are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.
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