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Recap / BoJack Horseman S4E11 "Time's Arrow"

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Butterscotch: Say, did you ever hear the story of the couple who moved to California?
Beatrice: I can't say that I have.
Butterscotch: Oh it's a marvelous adventure! You see, they hardly knew each other but they shared a certain sensitivity and a taste for the unknown they were living in a one horse town, they headed west, towards a new town that could accommodate three horses.

As BoJack is driving Beatrice off to a nursing home for drugging Hollyhock, we see Beatrice's backstory play out within her damaged mind.


  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Henrietta's trauma over having her baby taken from her is matched by young Beatrice's trauma over seeing her beloved "baby" doll ripped from her arms and casually thrown in the fire right in front of her.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Beatrice correctly deduces that Joseph is arranging events to ensure she'll eventually marry Corbin Creamerman since it would provide a valuable alliance between Sugarman Sugar and Creamerman Ice Cream that would make both more powerful. The marriage would be more of a transaction than anything else. After Beatrice marries Butterscotch, the deal is called off.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not clear if Corbin Creamerman would have still taken Beatrice back after she got pregnant with BoJack (abortion or no). When Beatrice first found out she was pregnant and couldn't bear the thought of abortion, she impulsively felt sure that she was Defiled Forever and no one but Butterscotch (the father) would want her. After her marriage with Butterscotch went south, she became retroactively convinced that Corbin would have had her if she'd just given him a chance... but then she could also just have more flattering memories of him through a Nostalgia Filter. Butterscotch doubts it, and Corbin's family (at least) was raised on the same regressive societal values for women as Beatrice. Regardless, the knowledge that happiness barely slipped through her grasp caused a huge amount of tension, misery, and regret throughout the rest of her life.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When talking to Henrietta, Beatrice warns her not to "let that man poison [her] life the way he did [hers]". Due to the situation, it's easy to see her talking about Butterscotch but the argument could still be made about Beatrice projecting her hatred of her father as well, since her life was contaminated by him too. The fact that both Joseph and Butterscotch at that point resemble each other with their diverging philosophies the only difference makes more murky. Which one she's referring to is unclear. Probably both.
  • An Aesop: A couple.
    • It's better to break the cycle of abuse than to take revenge on abusers. Likewise, even if they deserve it, there's nothing to be gained from lashing out at someone too confused and vulnerable to even remember what they did to you.
    • Babies are loud, grueling, demanding new lives that put an immense strain on lives and relationships; as such, there are no easy answers when it comes to unwanted pregnancies.
  • Alpha Bitch: Clemilia Bloodsworth, to the point where she refused to let anyone other than her and her Girl Posse use the slide when she and Beatrice were children, even going as far to push Beatrice off the ladder. She and her posse also call Beatrice fat, making them and her father the culprits for her adult Weight Woe.
  • And Then What?: During the kitchen conversation:
    Henrietta: If I can just finish school and get a job, it'll be okay.
    Beatrice: And who's going to care for the baby while you work? Because God knows he won't.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • Throughout "Time's Arrow", there are three books being read by Beatrice with covers saying the duration of the Time Skips. Then, near the end, those three books appear in Young Beatrice's room and are burnt in the fireplace by Beatrice's father's servants, due to her illness. This is meant to represent the effects that dementia has on the person, it destroys the passage of time.
    • Through her life, Beatrice was never allowed to eat ice-cream, claiming it was a food for boys. During her youngster years, Beatrice met Corbin Creamerman, one of her suitors, who was the heir to Creamerman Industries (dairy products of any kind, ice-cream as well) and sympathized with her due to their mutual daddy issues. Just when it seemed Beatrice was starting to come around to him, she ends pregnant and elopes with Butterscotch in a vain hope he'd make it big with his novel and she'd still have the luxuries she was accustomed to. Several years later, she regrets everything in her life. In other words, Beatrice was denied ice-cream and when she had the chance to have it, it was ruined by youth mistakes.
  • Audience Surrogate: For once (and it's quite a feat considering who Beatrice is), Memory!Beatrice is just as confused by the sudden changes in the environment and changes in scenery within her mind as the audience is.
  • Big "NO!": A young Beatrice does this when she sees her doll burning in the fireplace after Joseph takes it from her and throws it in there.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Beatrice has come to the end of her unhappy life, is slowly going more and more senile in a filthy nursing home, and BoJack never gets to fully tell his mother off for the miserable childhood she gave him, but only because he decides it's better to let her die with a happy memory, even if it's just a fantasy. Sadly, Beatrice is yanked out of the delusion, because BoJack tells her they're having ice cream, something she's never had.
  • Blatant Lies: BoJack convincing her mother she's in her old summer home with her family eating ice cream instead of a run down nursing home. Beatrice gets to return the favor when BoJack asks her if she can taste the vanilla ice cream and she has a clear moment of realization that she can't — she was denied ice cream as a child, save for a single orange freezy pop that she only got two licks off of. All she can say is that the ice cream is "delicious".
  • Bookworm: A lot of the time skips throughout the episode are marked by Beatrice reading a book, two of which are interrupted by her father, who believes reading takes away from a woman's breasts and hips. And even before that it's mentioned that Joseph sent Beatrice to college solely so she'd meet a husband but instead she got a full-fledged degree.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Beatrice gets pregnant from what was supposed to be a one-night stand with Butterscotch.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The painting Beatrice gives to BoJack is the one that's destroyed in "Prickly Muffin".
    • When Beatrice gives BoJack the painting, she refers to Hollywoo as "Hollywood," being that this was years before the "D" disappeared in the first season. Likewise, "Hollywood" is spelled out in full in the background from BoJack's house.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Beatrice decides to pay Henrietta's way through medical school on the terms that she is to give Hollyhock up for adoption, and even goes as far as to refuse to let her hold her baby after the birth because she knows Henrietta will get attached and back out, all to protect Henrietta from going through what she went through. It is, in her own twisted way, the kindest thing we ever see her do.
    Beatrice: You think you want this, but you don't. Not like this.
    Henrietta: Mrs. Horseman...
    Beatrice: Don't throw away your dreams for this child. Don't let that man poison your life the way he did mine. You are going to finish your schooling and become a nurse. You'll meet a man, a good man, and you'll have a family, but please believe me, you don't want this. Please, Henrietta, you have to believe me. Please, don't do what I did.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the second-to-last episode of the season is typically the most dramatic, they also save the heaviest drama for the last few minutes to pack the biggest wallop. This episode, however, is extremely light on jokes and its subject is treated with the utmost tact, making it the closest the show has ever come to straight tragedy.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Most of the episode is a flashback to Beatrice's life, how she met BoJack's father and why they were as cruel to him as they were.
  • Deranged Animation: Beatrice's dementia is portrayed in her memories through disturbing details such as exit signs and hotel names glitching into an illegible bunch of letters, many background characters' faces left blank or people she's trying to forget having their faces scribbled over. There are several quick shots of her burning baby doll and lobotomized mother rapid-cut into the otherwise vivid memories.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Beatrice doesn't find Corbin Creamerman boring, just his preferred themes of conversation and how he talks.
  • Dramatic Irony: BoJack had the intention of firing a Precision F-Strike at his mother once she finally recognizes him, but the original attempt failed. Near the end of this episode, he takes pity on her and decides to Pet the Dog.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Butterscotch's life plans are built around the idea that the Beats would happily embrace an anti-intellectual extreme conservative who has never written anything. He then spends decades consumed by bitterness that it didn't work out.
  • Empty Shell: Honey is implied to have gone completely catatonic since her lobotomy to the point where all Beatrice remembers her as is a shadow. This also serves as a subtle warning from her father to Beatrice: when she cries after Joseph burns her baby doll due to her scarlet fever, he tells her to not let her womanly emotions consume her, or she’ll end up like her mother. Honey's shadow appears, complete with a contrasting white scar as a reminder. This is probably what Beatrice thought her father was going to do when she starts to show individualism or make her father upset, essentially every time she displeased him.
  • The Faceless: Throughout the episode, all the background characters' faces are blank due to Beatrice's dementia affecting her memory. A few characters, like Henrietta and the Sugarman family's servants, have their faces scribbled over, which seems to imply that Beatrice doesn't want to remember what they looked like.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: It turns out that BoJack isn't Hollyhock's father; he's her half-brother. Her mother was the family maid, and Butterscotch had an affair with her.
  • Fever Dream Episode: The episode is told from the perspective of Beatrice's dementia warped mind.
  • Foreshadowing: While flirting, Butterscotch remarks that his mother has a diamond on her face just like Beatrice's. This becomes relevant by the end of the episode where it's clear Hollyhock's diamond comes from her grandmother rather than her father.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Beatrice hadn't slept with Butterscotch, she probably would have married Corbin Creamerman because she came to like him, and not for an Arranged Marriage. She could have also aborted BoJack and married Corbin, with no one the wiser, or pretended that he was the goat's son, however that may have turned out. It may have been happier for everyone in the long run if she hadn't married Butterscotch instead.
  • For Your Own Good: Beatrice says this verbatim as she takes baby Hollyhock away from Henrietta. Joseph also used this as justification for burning Beatrice's contaminated things.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Deconstructed. As it turns out, Beatrice and Butterscotch running away to California and getting married in a wild romantic adventure meant that they did not really get to know each other or prepare for a life together, and grew to resent each other quickly.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: When Henrietta screams that she wants to hold her baby, the black scribble obscuring her fact engulfs the entire screen to symbolize her anguish.
  • Funny Background Event: At one point when Beatrice is at the park with Corbin, a bear trying to eat a picnic lunch is visible in the background. However, as Beatrice's dementia has rendered him (and most other background characters) The Blank, he confusedly tries to eat without a mouth.
  • Furry Reminder:
    • Clemilia Bloodsworth, who's a goose, makes Beatrice fall off the ladder to the slide by pecking at her hands until she lets go.
    • The performance Beatrice puts on at her debutante ball has her jumping over hurdles and trotting as though she's in a horse jumping competition. Just to cap off the effect, she blows delicately as she does.
    • As Beatrice and Butterscotch have sex, he neighs after saying her name.
  • The Gentleman or the Scoundrel: A rare, but welcome deconstruction. Beatrice's father wants to marry her off to the heir of a cream company, a sweet if dull goat, but after meeting and getting pregnant by BoJack's father, she chooses the scoundrel. It doesn't end well for either of them.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Beatrice chooses not to abort BoJack, perhaps due to her traumatic flashback of her baby doll being thrown to the fire after she had scarlet fever. Henrietta also wanted to keep hers and Butterscotch's lovechild, which Butterscotch wanted her to abort, but in the end, Beatrice convinces her to compromise and give the baby up for adoption.
  • Historical In-Joke: Beatrice is upset at the assassination of Medgar Evers but takes comfort in the fact that the FBI will be on so high alert that no one else will be assassinated in 1963.
  • Horns of Villainy: After throwing her toys into the fire, Beatrice's room is engulfed in flames and her father's horse ears curl into devil horns (due to her dementia affecting her memories) as he threatens to lobotomize her as he did her mother if she doesn't stop crying.
  • Implied Death Threat: Not exactly a death threat, but when Joseph asks Beatrice "You don't want to end up like your mother, now, do you?", as her mother's silhouette with her lobotomy scar highlighted approaches from behind him, there's a clear implication that Beatrice fully believes he'd be willing to get Beatrice lobotomized if she ever got too emotional again.
  • Infernal Background: In one very formative memory of Beatrice's where her father Joseph is burning her things, he is shown against a background of flames.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Joseph raised Beatrice to be a Stepford Smiler Trophy Wife for Corbin Creamerman, wanting her to remain an Emotionless Girl and thin. This would have preserved the Sugarman legacy. Instead, she married a random scoundrel, eloping with him, and ensuring there would be no heir for the Sugarman business. Deconstructed in that this started The Chain of Harm that would harm Joseph's grandchildren.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Butterscotch's conversations glitch into BoJack, not only symbolizing how they're more alike than they think, but on how they're both voiced by Will Arnett.
  • Like Parent, Like Child:
    • Beatrice's father told her never to cry. Henceforth, she told BoJack and Henrietta the same.
    • BoJack picked up his "I can see the headline now" line from his equally bitter father, as well as his habit of giving fast food joint numbers to one night stands.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Lightly implied for Butterscotch as the one thing in common from the women he's fathered a child with is complimenting them on having something physically in common with his deceased mother.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: In her mind, a younger Beatrice still sees her current day self reflected back in BoJack's rear view mirror.
  • MRS Degree: Joseph had sent Beatrice off to college while hoping this would happen, but Beatrice was smart enough to come back with an actual degree instead of a husband. Joseph writes off her education as "a waste" in disgust.
  • Oppose What You Suffered: Beatrice had a child out of wedlock, and as a result, she endured a really crappy daily life. As a result, she desperately tries to stop Henrietta from going through the same thing she did.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Butterscotch breaking down in tears and admitting he screwed up shocks Beatrice enough that she agrees to talk to Henrietta.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Beatrice still fires Henrietta after her and Butterscotch's affair, but she decides to pay for Henrietta's schooling if she agrees to give up the baby for adoption. This is because Beatrice knows that Henrietta won't be able to handle being a single mother, and she doesn't want to see Henrietta make the same mistake she did of deciding to keep a baby before she's really ready to raise one.
    • Despite not finding him interesting (at least at first), Beatrice does defend Corbin Creamerman from Alpha Bitch Clemilia Bloodsworth.
    • Though largely due to her current mental health, present-day Beatrice briefly has a moment of lucidity and remembers BoJack, and talks to him much more softly and genially than she arguably ever has her whole life before. This leads to BoJack, rather than tearing into her as he originally planned, giving her a moment of comfort.
  • Put on the Bus: Chronologically, this is Beatrice's final present day appearance prior to her death in Season Five.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: In her mind, when a younger Beatrice sees her present-day self reflected back in BoJack's rear view mirror, she bats at it in disgust, causing it to crack.
  • This Is Reality: Beatrice and Butterscotch, despite having known each other for all of one passionate night, decide to run off together armed with grandiose dreams of the life they'll have. They're very happy for a time, but the realities of caring for a new baby and (for Beatrice) living in the middle class quickly lead to them resenting each other.
  • The Reveal:
    • Hollyhock isn't BoJack's illegitimate daughter, she's his illegitimate half-sister by his father and their housekeeper.
    • Beatrice's freak out from when BoJack threw away her baby doll, was because it triggered a memory of her father and their servants burning her toys.
    • Throughout the season, Beatrice believes that BoJack is a maid named Henrietta due to her dementia. This episode reveals that she and Butterscotch really did have a maid named Henrietta, whom Butterscotch got pregnant, leading to the birth of Hollyhock.
    • The first thing Beatrice says to Hollyhock is, "Oh, it's you." She recognizes Henrietta's baby, which is most likely why she starts calling BoJack "Henrietta".
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Beatrice's two suitors: Corbin Creamerman (her societal equal whom she initially finds dull) and Butterscotch Horseman (a poor but passionate wannabe artist). She chooses the latter, to their detriment.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Throughout the episode, there are three books being read by Beatrice with covers saying the duration of the Time Skips. Then, near the end, those three books appear in Young Beatrice's room and are burnt in the fireplace by Beatrice's father's servants, due to her illness. This is meant to represent the effects that dementia has on the person, it destroys the passage of time.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Beatrice's two suitors: Corbin Creamerman (nerdy and easily cowed by her) and Butterscotch (a rough-and-tumble stallion).
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The entire episode is seen through Beatrice's deteriorating mind. To give off implications to how dementia works, there's a lot of Deranged Animation at play, as well as unsettling details like background characters' faces being completely blank and the letters on signs glitching and getting mixed up.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Beatrice is not intentionally trying to be this, but her dementia causes her to have problems with recalling the past, so her memories constantly shift around.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Just when Beatrice is starting to actually like Corbin Creamerman as a person, she very visibly throws up all over him. It turns out to be a sign that she's gotten pregnant.
  • Weight Woe: Beatrice's weight is commented on by her school bully and father when she is just a little girl, the latter of whom sees her throat being nearly swollen shut from her scarlet fever as a positive, as she could finally lose some weight. These incidents lead to Beatrice having body image issues for her entire life, where she takes what she calls “pretty pills” as a young adult to help her stay thin, as seen when her maid is trying to tighten her corset, and reveals what lead her to believe pregnancy ruined her looks and figure.
    • When BoJack opens his fridge to grab wine, we see that it is, in Beatrice’s memories, filled with lemons and sugar, referring to how her parents only let her eat lemons with sugar sprinkled on them as “a healthy girls snack”, as “ice cream is for boys”. Her father even still forbade her from eating it as an adult, and by the time she is at the end of her life she never ate it once. Even in the throes of dementia, one of the few things Beatrice remembers is she needs to maintain her slim figure
    • These factors all led to dementia-affected Beatrice in the present slipping Hollyhock weight loss supplements in her coffee, saying after BoJack discovers this “It’s only until she learns to take them herself".
  • Wham Shot: Henrietta giving birth to her baby; the baby is very clearly Hollyhock.
  • What You Are in the Dark: BoJack has what he's been wanting, his mother lucid long enough for him to tell her off, but instead he comforts her with stories of all the things she loved in life.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The audience gets to see Beatrice's difficult childhood and relationship with her father, as well as how she ended up meeting and getting knocked up by BoJack's father, her realization that it wasn't worth it, and how Hollyhock was conceived: BoJack's father got Henrietta the maid pregnant.


Video Example(s):


Time's Arrow

In her mindscape, Beatrice reacts to the sight of her present-day self.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / RageAgainstTheReflection

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