Consistency in often an overlooked quality in TV shows during the Peak TV era. With so many series competing for viewers’ eyeballs, it seems like more and more of them are swinging for the fences with increased regularity. And while many are hitting it out of the park, just as many are striking out at the plate. Then there’re shows like Amazon’s Bosch, a reliable hitter that may not bring a whole lot of flash to its game, but makes up for it by being remarkably consistent.
That steadiness has followed the cop show through its first four seasons (though it didn’t really hit its stride until season 2), as central protagonist, Det. Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch (Titus Welliver), solved various cases, dealt with his myriad personal problems, quashed the efforts of those in the LAPD to sully his good(ish) name, and, at the end of season 4, solve the mystery of his mother’s murder (for a second time). But while Welliver perfectly embodies the kind of steely cop character this sort of modern noir depends on, the series itself, developed by executive producer Eric Overmeyer, has become an ensemble with an enviable cop show pedigree that begins with a pair of The Wire alums in Lance Reddick and Jamie Hector, and continues with Amy Aquino as Lt. Grace Billets, and a pair of (overly) seasoned detectives “Crate” and “Barrel,” played by Gregory Scott Cummins and Troy Evans, respectively.
The show’s cast is a big part of what makes Bosch work. The subplots and other cases investigated by the various members of the LAPD make for compelling asides to the central Bosch storylines, ensuring that even though the show’s attentions are occasionally focused elsewhere, the forward momentum of the season as a whole never slows down. In essence, Bosch is one of the rare streaming series that hardly ever sags in the middle parts of the season, mostly due to the fact that its supporting cast is strong enough to sustain the narrative for short periods of time.
That’s certainly the case in season 5, as the series takes a slightly different approach to its two central storylines: Bosch defending himself against allegations that he planted evidence in a old case, and the grizzled detective going undercover to expose an elaborate criminal enterprise dealing prescription opioids. The latter case works as the season’s inciting incident in two ways - first by employing a flash forward narrative in which Bosch is posing as a physically impaired drug seeker whose found himself at a basecamp for the opioid ring. This puts him under the suspicion of the group’s ostensible leader Dalton Walsh (Chris Vance, Supergirl). The second begins two weeks earlier, with the violent armed robbery of a smalltime pharmacy suspected of supplying Oxycontin to the dealers.
Despite the setup, Bosch differs from the typical police procedural. The police investigations and especially the inter-office dynamics of the main cast establish the show’s modern noir credentials, showcasing a stark Los Angeles that at times feels like it’s thousands of miles away from the glitz and glamour so often associated with the City of Angels. This time around, the dual narratives, and the prospect of seeing Bosch go undercover, keeps the various goings-on in the overarching storyline from becoming too overwhelming. That was an issue with much of season 4 as, in addition to the high-profile, racially charged murder case on Bosch’s desk, he also had to attend to solving his mother’s murder, the assassination of his wife, and re-establishing his friendship and partnership with Jerry Edgar (Hector).
In other words, while Bosch season 4 was in many ways the most ambitious season in the show’s run so far, it also felt as though the writers may have had to many balls in the air. That’s not the case in season 5, which more effectively balances the personal with the professional, as well as the two main investigations currently posing as a threat to Bosch’s future — both personally and professionally.
Some of the best moments in Bosch attend to the internal politics of police work, and season 5 is no different. Whether it be an argument that Crate and Barrel are too old to be speeding to the scene of a crime, questioning the legitimacy of Bosch’s past convictions, or watching Irvin Irving (Reddick) square off against DA Roselyn Hines (Judith Moreland) regarding a controversial police shooting caught on the body cam of the officer in question, the series gives each plot the attention it deserves. This time around, that includes a subplot for Bosch daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz), who is working in the DA’s office and discovers the investigation into one of her father’s old cases.
After the events of last season put her and her father into a grief spiral, Maddie finally gets the chance to come into her own here, demonstrating a resourcefulness and growing independence from her father, as she begins to question some of his tactics on the job while also working diligently to defend Harry from the accusations leveled against him. It’s a compelling place for any character to be, and Bosch capitalizes on it by virtue of Maddie being the one person who likely knows Harry better than anyone else.
The exploration of such moral gray areas makes Bosch more captivating than the average police procedural, and with five seasons now under its belt, Amazon’s long-running cop show has once again proven itself to be the most reliably entertaining series of its kind on TV.
Bosch season 5 will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video beginning Friday, April 19.