“Bosch” is back and as addictive as ever, showing why it’s Amazon’s oldest continuing original drama despite a call for new blood. As the streaming service is working hard to freshen its programming with big tentpoles like “Jack Ryan” or the upcoming “Good Omens” and “Lord of the Rings,” it always returns to the reliable, meticulous charms of Det. Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch (Titus Welliver).
In its fifth season, “Bosch” once again proves how delving into the everyday drudgery of police work and unspooling cases in an unhurried, unglamorous way can be even more effective than the splashier storytelling on its network counterparts. The series jumps forward about a year after the shocking events of Season 4, when Bosch witnesses his ex-wife Eleanor’s (Sarah Clarke) murder in a drive-by shooting. Grief and anger are mostly in the rearview as Bosch and his undergrad daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) are now living together and working at the same Hollywood precinct. This season, Bosch’s attention is split between two cases: one involving an opioid ring that requires him to go undercover and the other, the reopening of a 20-year-old case that could lead to overturning one of his convictions.
Director Alex Zakrzewski and writer/executive producer Daniel Pyne make a curious decision to begin with a flash-forward in which Bosch is undercover in a dangerous situation. It’s a tried-and-true storytelling device that builds anticipation, but viewers will have to be very patient. In the first five episodes given to critics to review, this tease still hasn’t been paid off, although he does actually get around to going undercover. More interesting than the pharmaceutical case itself – been there, bought that illegally – is how Bosch embeds with the criminals. There is a satisfaction in seeing how the show builds and equips his undercover persona with a little bit of bumbling around first to reach his goal.
It’s the second case, however, that is far more intriguing for Harry Bosch fans. The new District Attorney has established a Conviction Integrity Unit that is digging into one of Bosch’s earliest cases after joining the force. Dominque Skyler was raped and murdered by a man who is currently serving jail time, but new evidence has surfaced that calls into question that conviction and all of Bosch’s subsequent convictions.
This situation threatens to take Bosch’s agency as he’s placed in the hotseat, but no matter; his integrity has been called into question before. “It is what it is,” he says. Bosch isn’t about to rage against the DA’s machine, gnash his teeth, or wring his hands. Instead, he defends himself by doing what he does best: getting down to business by hiring a lawyer and investigating the old case to see what he might have missed. That Bosch’s position and authority as a cop are in question demonstrates how the series always remains relevant to the real world. Even when cases aren’t ripped from the headlines as in Dick Wolf projects, the show has created an authenticity through its characters, the work they do, and how that affects the community. Yes, the series’ many references to real Los Angeles restaurants and landmarks help ground the series in that world, but it’s these richer character details and storylines that bring that world to life.
Even though Bosch already has a partner in Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector), his daughter Maddie also gets pulled into the investigation peripherally. It’s a credit to the writers in how they’ve developed Maddie into a full-fledged character and avoided all of the stereotypical rebellious offspring pitfalls while maintaining her youthful curiosity and resilience. She also exudes the same sort of unshakable integrity and self-assuredness as her father. Their relationship and her growing importance to the story can be added to the growing list of highlights for this season.
As with any season of Bosch, there are many, many more ongoing storylines. Deputy Chief Irving (Lance Reddick) has new aspirations. An old police shooting has come under the scrutiny of the DA. Jerry Edgar is working with one of his former criminal informants. And finally, Det. Moore and Det. Johnson (Gregory Scott Cummins, Troy Moore), better known as Crate & Barrel, must face a growing belief that they’ve aged out of their usefulness to the precinct, at least in the field.
Although this last storyline may seem insignificant, like office politics as usual, it has surprising resonance for the season. Crate & Barrel have always been fan favorites for their cantankerous camaraderie, but here they reveal more of the no-bullshit characteristics that have made them the good cops that they are today. Once again, “Bosch” takes on a topic that is rarely mentioned, much less spotlighted and spins it into a bigger meditation on aging and service to the community.
This ties in with Bosch’s revived Skyler case, in which the justice that he has accomplished isn’t a binary, but should taken as a whole. It’s a clever way to begin the conversations about the work of Harry Bosch over the course of his 20-plus-year career and his nearing retirement age in the next season or so of the series. But will he retire, and more importantly, should he? The world would be a better place with more Bosches wearing blue, no matter how grey he’s gotten up top.
The season is based on Connelly’s novel “Two Kinds of Truth,” which also provides the title for the premiere episode. Bosch reveals the title’s meaning in this speech to his daughter: “There are two kinds of truth, Mads. The kind that comes from darkness, gets bent, manipulated for someone’s self-interest and the kind you carry inside and know is real.”
Harry Bosch is the embodiment of that second truth, which is why viewers will continue to return to his authentic world as long as Amazon allows it.
Watch a trailer for Season 5 below:
”Bosch” Season 5, along with is previous four seasons, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.