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Recap / Bojack Horseman S 5 E 11 The Showstopper

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"Philbert" is a hit, and filming begins on Season 2. But as BoJack spirals deeper into his recent painkiller addiction, he loses his grip on reality.


Tropes:

  • Addled Addict: BoJack's opioid abuse issues come to a head in this episode. While it puts a strain on his and Gina's relationship when she finds out what's going on, the final nail in the coffin is when a drug-induced BoJack snaps during the recording of a fight scene and strangles her.
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  • Apathetic Citizens: As the production crew start to notice that Bojack is strangling Gina for real, Flip tells his cameraman to continue filming while other members take videos on their phones. Only Mr Peanutbutter, Princess Carolyn and a couple of crew members figure to step in and stop Bojack.
  • After the End: The second season of Philbert is set after Los Angeles has been razed by nuclear missiles.
  • Call-Back: BoJack tells Kyle, "You the man now, dawg" before hanging up on him –- a call-back to the Punny Name of Princess Carolyn's former assistant, Judah Mannowdog.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: BoJack goes beyond "merely" being Lost in Character, as he rapidly loses the ability to distinguish between Philbert and his actual life, thanks to his rampant drug abuse.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: In "BoJack the Feminist", BoJack's statement that people "shouldn't choke women" is Played for Laughs as a ridiculously low bar for being decent with women. In this episode he ends up choking Gina while he's under the effect of drugs.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Gina's number "Don't Stop Dancing" as BoJack hallucinates is a huge call back to several moments of the show:
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The musical number that Gina sings in one of BoJack's drug-induced hallucinations.
  • Downer Ending: First, Gina breaks up with a drug-addled BoJack after finding all his stash and later he, unable to distinguish reality from fiction, legitimately strangles her on set.
  • Embarrassing Rescue: No one is pleased when Mr. Peanutbutter of all people has to pull Bojack off Gina and restrain him, least of all Mr. Peanutbutter himself. Gina's too busy trying to breathe to prioritize that.
  • Enforced Method Acting: invoked BoJack, under the influence of drugs, legitimately strangles Gina while on set. Flip's rather callous response is to ask for the camera to keep rolling.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "INT. SUB", BoJack mentions to Dr. Indira that he has dreams where he is Philbert and when he wakes up, he doesn't know who he is. By this episode, this becomes a major conflict as this issue is expanded due to BoJack's addiction to painkillers.
    • Early in the episode, Flip complains that a strangling scene doesn't look "real" enough. Near the end, he gets that realistic strangling scene.
  • Hurricane of Puns: What Philbert devolves into thanks to Diane quitting.
  • Kick the Dog: Once it starts to dawn on everyone that BoJack is strangling Gina for real, and isn't stopping, Flip's only reaction to the revelation... is to tell the cameraman to resume filming.
    Mr. Peanutbutter: (worried) Bojack? Buddy? (to everyone within earshot) I think he's... really... strangling her...
  • Laughing Mad: In the French dub, on top of making more audible growls, BoJack starts laughing while he’s strangling Gina.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Some lines of Gina's song can be applied to the show itself, like "why not sell your sadness as a brand" and the notion that he doesn't want things to be fine because "boring". As much as they deconstruct it, the show does kinda run on Bojack being miserable and screwing up.
    • Additionally, the episode makes use of the things that are affecting Bojack's ability to keep track of reality - he's almost always wearing his Philbert costume, he's in a relationship with Gina at the same time Philbert is dating Sassy, and his house looks exactly like the set of the show - in order to make it hard for the viewer to tell the difference between Philbert and real life.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Mr. Peanutbutter sheds his Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! nature to save Gina from an addled Bojack. And he succeeds!
  • Lost in Character: BoJack, with Philbert.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: At one point, Mr. Peanutbutter thinks BoJack is talking about his one-night stand with Diane while BoJack thinks Mr. Peanutbutter is talking about a conspiracy against him.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Once he sees that Bojack is actually hurting Gina, the normally air-headed Mr. Peanutbutter exclaims, without a hint of nonsense in his voice, "Okay, that's enough!" while leaping to her aid.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In-universe. BoJack affects a Scottish accent while calling Charlotte's husband Kyle in the guise of a cable representative. As BoJack gets to the topic of Penny and her "sexual maturity," he loses his fake accent completely, before reverting to it as he hurriedly hangs up on Kyle.
  • Precision F-Strike: Gina delivers the traditional once-per-season f-bomb after a drug-addled BoJack loses control and actually strangles her during a fight scene.
    Gina: What the fuck is wrong with you?!
  • Punch a Wall: When demanding Gina to give back his bag of pills, BoJack punches his wall in a fury.
    BoJack: (on edge) Gina, I'm not kidding! The pills! (smashes his fist into the wall) NOW!
  • The Reveal: Who slipped that anonymous note under BoJack's door saying "You did a bad thing and I'm going to tell everyone"? No one; it's a promotional gimmick for Philbert with a flier on the other side that got sent to everyone in LA.
  • Sanity Slippage: Throughout the episode, BoJack's painkiller addiction makes him lose more of his grip on reality, to the point that he thinks everyone is conspiring against him and he's no longer able to tell the difference between his role on Philbert and real life.
  • Seasonal Rot: In-universe, Gina comments how the writing quality for Philbert plummeted in the second season without Diane around.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The musical number is one to All That Jazz, though with a brief nod to Cabaret.
    • A bird in the first post-credits shot is wearing a Fallout-style blue and yellow jumpsuit.
    • While attempting a Scottish accent, BoJack ends a phone call saying, "You're the man now, dawg."
  • Shown Their Work: The facial contortions Gina makes as she's being strangled (eye twitching, one eye blinking spastically, eyeballs rolling back into the head) are all actual signs of asphyxiation.
  • Silent Credits: Absolutely no lyrics play during the credits of this episode.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The show Philbert eventually reveals that Fritz never existed and Philbert made him up to deflect his guilt for strangling his wife, all those strangle victims (people who knew him), and Sassy when she learns the truth in the Season 2 Finale.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gina weaponizes this season's only "fuck" this way after BoJack legitimately tries to strangle her under the influence of opioids.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The episode is quite reminiscent of Perfect Blue, also about the star of a gritty cop show who gradually loses all sense of what's fiction or reality.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The Philbert theme is complete nonsense.

 
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Don't Choke Women

It only takes seven episodes for him to go back on his words.

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