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Recap / Bojack Horseman S 3 E 04 Fish Out Of Water

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Needing to promote "Secretariat", BoJack goes underwater to the Pacific Ocean Film Festival.

"Fish Out Of Water" contains examples of:

  • Accidental Unfortunate Gesture: The “thumbs up” sign BoJack makes obliviously a few times.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted. The baby seahorse BoJack rescues has a very visible penis.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bojack gets the baby seahorse back to his father and humbly turns down any compensation he's offered, and despite not showing up to the festival screening, Secretariat is a hit, but he fails to reconcile with Kelsey when the ink on the letter he shows her smudges beyond legibility. And he finds out how to speak with his air helmet immediately after!
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  • Bizarro Episode: Mostly due to the lack of dialogue in a show that otherwise relies heavily in verbal comedy.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The seahorse milk. First, when BoJack has to feed the seahorse baby, then during his escape from the shopkeeper and, finally, when he wants to write a letter to Kelsey.
  • Cheerful Child: The baby seahorse.
  • Clamshell Currency: At some point, BoJack tries shopping at an underwater convenience store that refuses to take his paper money and only accepts shells.
  • Explosive Breeder: The seahorse.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The Shark shopkeeper, after BoJack hides in front of Mr. Peanutbutter's cardboard cutout.
  • Fish out of Water: And how, not just in the sense that this episode literally focuses on a horse underwater. There are several details meant to evoke the feeling of suddenly finding yourself in an unfamiliar country. Bojack is trying to find his way in a place where he doesn't understand the language (granted, when written, it seems to be pretty much the same as English with a few letters switched out, but spoken it's incomprehensible, but maybe that's because they're speaking underwater), they have their own currency that Bojack isn't carrying, and a simple thumbs up seems to be their equivalent of flipping the bird, much to Bojack's confusion. Also, they drive on the side opposite to the standard in the U.S., much like in Japan or the U.K. All of this makes the underwater city feel way more real, being portrayed as actually foreign.
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  • "Good Luck" Gesture: The “thumbs up” sign turns out to be quite obscene enough in the Pacific Ocean to cause a sizeable media outrage. The fig sign, on the other hand, is okay.
  • I Forgot I Could Fly: It takes most of the episode before BoJack realizes he can swim through the water more efficiently than he can run.
  • Japandering: Mr. Peanutbutter has made a seahorse milk commercial in the Pacific Ocean. Doubles as a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Mister Seahorse: Literally. The male character who gives birth is an actual seahorse.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: There is no English dialogue underwater; underwater folk have their own gurgling language, and BoJack's voice is silenced by his helmet.
  • The Pollyanna: Being an innocent child, the baby seahorse is energetic, cheery, and guileless. This stands in sharp contrast to the jaded and world-weary Bojack, which gives them an interesting dynamic. The seahorse acts and looks similar to how Bojack was as a kid, before his heart was hardened by abuse and loneliness. Perhaps because of that underlying similarity, they form a bond during their brief experiences together.
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  • Reality Ensues: BoJack tries to write a letter to Kelsey. While they're all underwater. Guess what happens to the ink.
  • The Reveal: At the very end, BoJack realizes his underwater helmet is equipped with a speaker designed to let him communicate underwater. Also doubles as Curse Cut Short.
  • Shout-Out: BoJack getting Persona Non Grata from France for criticizing Sartre's philosophy is a reference to what happened to Lars von Trier after he made his infamous "I'm a Nazi" comment at a press screening for Melancholia at the Cannes Film Festival. note 
  • Water Is Air: Zig-Zagged mercilessly, mostly for the sake of jokes. Land-dwellers need special helmets to breathe in the underwater city. However, we see walruses and other such sea animals that actually need air doing totally fine without them. In the spirit of this trope, citizens walk and drive along the sea floor instead of swimming or floating (they also walk normally without any extra effort), yet, Bojack realizes soon enough that he actually can swim, something he takes advantage of to escape safely through a window several stories above the floor. Made even more hilarious by the fact that his pursuers, actual fish, make no effort to swim after him, instead standing there shaking their fists. Printed media and pens seem to be a thing down there as well, but the moment Bojack tries to communicate with Kelsey through a heartfelt, hand-written letter, the ink washes away. This trope seems to be averted and played straight as the story demands, and it's perfect.
  • Weird Currency: The underwater dwellers use multicolored shells as currency. Bojack is rebuffed when he tries to pay for seahorse milk and a nudie mag with greenbacks.


Example of: