How the Ending of 'Bosch' Wraps Up the Series and Sets Up a Spinoff
Amazon's longest-running show closed its last case, but its grizzled star isn't going anywhere.
Detective Harry Bosch of the Los Angeles Police Department, played with a weary stillness by handsomely grizzled actor Titus Welliver, keeps a paper sign near his desk that reads, "Get off your ass and go knock on doors." Throughout the show's seven-season run on Amazon, where it started as one of the initial pilots for the fledgling streaming platform back in 2014, viewers would occasionally catch a glimpse of the gruff command, a tough guy version of a self-help poster, in the background of shots that featured the show's hero at his humble cubicle, a location that Bosch often appeared uncomfortable in. As the sign suggests, Bosch's natural state was off his ass and out in the streets.
Still, as the show arrived at the end of its 68th episode, "Por Sonia," written by showrunner Eric Overmyer and author Michael Connelly, who created the Bosch character in his 1992 novel The Black Echo, Bosch, like many police procedurals and detective shows, revealed itself as a stealth workplace drama. Bosch (the character) might have his name in the title, but Bosch (the series), at least in its best moments, was always equally observant of the larger bureaucratic world he moved through, a complex system of favors and slights and truces and betrayals. At one point in the finale, Bosch uttered a line that could read as a thesis on its cynical view of law enforcement: "There's always a quid quo pro."
Those workplace machinations provided the launching pad for the next chapter in Bosch's on-screen life, which will continue in a new show focused on the character's adventures as a private investigator working with his daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz), who was considering joining the force at the show's conclusion, and attorney Honey "Money" Chandler (Mimi Rogers), who spent most of the final season in a coma after an assassination attempt. The show doesn't have a title yet (or a premiere date), but one assumes it won't fuss with the formula––Bosch gets new case, Bosch gets obsessed, Bosch solves case––too much. If you like Bosch, you like the consistency.
Even in its more muddled or cliche-filled seasons, like Season 5's detour into pill-mills and the opioid crisis, Bosch excelled at delivering exactly what you'd expect. Looking for a season-long mystery with a bunch of moving parts and interlocking storylines? Hoping to see Welliver, a stoic performer who knows exactly how to underplay certain interactions and turn up the charisma in others, get fired up with righteous indignation over the murder of an innocent civilian? Need scenes set in swanky LA restaurants, drop-ins from underrated character actors like Paul Calderón, and the occasional shoot-out? Bosch's got you covered, brother. (Important to remember: Bosch calls everyone "brother.")
Even at only eight episodes instead of the typical 10, Season 7, which was shot in Los Angeles during the pandemic, didn't mess with what works. Drawing literary inspiration from two different Bosch novels, 1994's The Concrete Blonde and 2014's The Burning Room, the plot followed our bracelet-wearing, jazz-loving hero as he worked a case involving a fire in an apartment building and another one centered around a wealthy businessman attempting to rat out some of his fellow financial criminals. What was different this time? In classic detective show fashion, it got personal. So personal, in fact, that Bosch ended up turning in his badge to Chief Irving (Lance Reddick), who cut a deal with the FBI to let a protected informant skirt justice in the arson case. Finally, the hypocrisy was too much.
Despite Bosch's career change, the ending was not exactly an "abolish the police" kiss-off. Beginning on New Year's Eve 2019 and ending as news reports of a dangerous flu play out in the background on TV, Bosch's final season didn't attempt to reckon with the ongoing national conversation around policing or the protests after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. In past seasons, the show has offered up both clumsy and nuanced critiques of the police state. (Oddly enough, Season 7 featured a plotline about Amy Aquino's Lieutenant Billets facing off with some cruel incel cops.) In an interview with Vulture, Welliver, answering a question about if the last year's uprising informed the series, diplomatically said, "Nobody is ever going to accuse our show of pandering one way or the other."
But even as it gestures towards reality and rarely turns away from the bleak darkness at its center, Bosch remains a fantasy, one where the righteous detective is (pretty much) always right and the case always gets solved. At the same time, the show told thoughtful stories within the confines it set for itself. Though it lacked the grand ambitions of HBO's The Wire, the classic that Overmeyer wrote for and a handful of cast members––Lance Reddick and Jamie Hector–– appeared on, Bosch remained keenly perceptive of how careers are made and unmade. Where David Simon's series was an ever-expanding study of a city, Bosch was a far more contained portrait of a profession. Now, with Bosch himself heading to spinoff land, it's time to find out who the character is in a slightly different context. He can still get off his ass and knock on doors. He just has to do it without the inherent protection and implied authority of the badge in hand.