'BoJack Horseman' spirals in 'hopeless' Season 3 finale

Patrick Ryan
USA TODAY
Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) and BoJack (Will Arnett) go on a bender with fatal consequences.

Spoiler alert! This story contains details about BoJack Horseman Season 3, now streaming on Netflix. 

In its grim final moments, BoJack Horseman's third season nearly becomes its last.

At the end of the Netflix animated comedy's latest batch of 12 episodes, washed-up sitcom star BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett) careens down a desert highway in what appears to be a suicide attempt: eyes closed and hands off the wheel, as Nina Simone's devastating Stars crescendos. But just as his speedometer zips toward 100 miles per hour, BoJack catches something out of the corner of his eye and swerves to the side of the road, where he gazes at a galloping group of wild horses before the screen cuts to black.

"This finale is a little more hopeless and cynical than last year's," creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg says — a sentiment echoed by Arnett, who applauds the new season's mix of sharp satire and "heavier issues." After soldiering through an exhaustive awards campaign, the hard-drinking half-man/half-horse fails to land an Oscar nomination for his dramatic turn in biopic Secretariat. He also betrays his best friend Todd (Aaron Paul), a human, by sleeping with his love interest (Abbi Jacobson), and cuts ties with his agent Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), whose romantic past with BoJack is explored in greater depth.

But it's a drug-fueled bender with his ex-Horsin' Around castmate Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) that sends him over the edge. Traveling to Ohio in the penultimate episode, BoJack fails to make amends with a teenage doe (Ilana Glazer), whom he was caught in bed with last season, and Sarah Lynn later overdoses. Afterward, he reluctantly starts shooting a spin-off series, Ethan Around, only to walk off set when his young co-star says that she wants to grow up to be famous just like him.

Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) and BoJack (Will Arnett) embark on a liquored-up road trip in Season 3's penultimate episode.

"He realizes that the cycle is starting again," Bob-Waksberg says. "Particularly in the last couple episodes, we see how he feels he's damaged young women." But with the joy that Ethan Around could potentially bring viewers, "one of the interesting questions is, 'Is it worth it to ruin this one life if he is helping many others by making this show? When (is) it OK to sacrifice these people on the altar of Hollywood?' "

Ultimately for BoJack, "it's not worth the toll on his soul, to feel like he's doing this again to another girl," Bob-Waksberg continues. "The final moments of the show are about him escaping that but not necessarily knowing where he's going or what he should be doing. He's as lost as he's ever been."

The tragedy of BoJack and Sarah Lynn is that they're both "deeply troubled, spiritually and emotionally, and they don't have the tools to get themselves out," Arnett says. The show illustrates "that in this town, as long as you're doing your job and making money for the powers that be, they'll indulge you in whatever sort of bad behavior. Some people have real mental illness, but it'll never be conquered because it doesn't serve the needs of the people who are in it for commerce."

Although Bob-Waksberg hasn't started working on the fourth season, he says BoJack would certainly benefit from counseling — an idea suggested in the new season's seventh episode, when a customer-service rep becomes his de facto therapist as he tries to cancel a newspaper subscription by phone.

But like any positive development in BoJack's life, "he'd find a way to sabotage it," Arnett says. "I think Raphael is hell-bent on making sure that he is never happy."