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The Ending Of Bosch Season 7 Explained

Season 7 of Amazon Prime's hit series "Bosch" begins with a fire and ends with a double-tap twist that highlights the series' thematic through-line. The 7th season — an adaptation of "Bosch" author Michael Connelly's novel, "The Burning Room" — sees the ever-more disillusioned detective's black-and-white values collide with the murky politics of the L.A. and the federal justice system. It's the sort of Harry Bosch-as-underdog vs "The Man" setup that viewers have come to expect but with an additional, swirling undercurrent of subplots and dynamic character arcs. 

At the start of this season, Bosch is called out on New Year's Eve to investigate an arson that claims five lives, including that of a young girl, Sonia Hernandez, whom the press callously caricatures as "The Little Tamale Girl." (A nod to the series' frequent reminders of the lack of humanity in reporting). With his partner J. Edgar  (Jamie Hector) on a downward spiral after coming to terms with shooting the murderous Jacques Avril (Treva Etienne) in Season 6, Bosch begins a harrowing hunt to bring the person responsible for Sonia's murder to justice. 

Meanwhile, Bosch's daughter, Maddie (Maddison Lintz), is working for Bosch's on-again-off-again antagonist, defense attorney Honey "Money" Chandler (Mimi Rogers), who's just hooked yet another big-fish client in white-collar criminal Vincent Franzen (Reed Diamond). While Maddie learns the ins-and-outs of what Bosch calls "playing the system," Lt. Grace Billets (Amy Aquino) fights to maintain her career and dignity amid an inundation of harassment, toxic masculinity, and conspiracy from within her own department. Underpinning all of this is the question of whether Police Commissioner Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick) will be reinstated for a second term. In typical "Bosch" fashion, these various storylines and tensions eventually weave themselves together.

Por Sonia

Early in Season 7, Bosch discovers that while the "foot soldiers" who set the fire may have been arrested, the man who gave the order, Miguel "Mickey" Peña, is still at large. Determined to bring Peña (Gino Vento) to justice, Bosch convinces the actual arsonist, Pedro Alvarez, to flip on the leader of the Las Palmas gang. Of course, nothing comes easy for our jazz-obsessed detective, and Bosch discovers there's more than a few powers "above [his] pay grade" standing between him and his goal. 

This is a theme that creeps up a lot in Bosch: moral or ethical justice (his ideal) vs. practical justice (ostensibly, everyone else's). For a detective known for breaking rules, Harry Bosch is decidedly dogmatic when it comes to the notion of justice. There's right, there's wrong, and the path to both is relatively clear-cut. But these paths don't exist in a vacuum— they exist in modern-day LA. In the final episode of Season 7, the audience is forced to oscillate between agreeing with Bosch and wondering if what's driving him has less to do with Sonia Hernandez, the murdered girl, and more to do with her as a symbol for all the unsolved cases lost to the realities and limitations of the system in which Bosch currently works. 

Bosch holds fast, as usual

For instance: after learning that the FBI is protecting Peña to help them build a RICO case against Las Palmas, the Mexican Mafia, and (possibly) the cartel as well, Bosch asks Commissioner Irving for help in getting his hands on the criminal. He assumes Irving shares his desire to hold the man-behind-the curtain accountable for Sonia's (and her mother's, and three other tenants') murder, but he assumes wrong. Irving has made a deal with the FBI: he'll drop the investigation into Peña if the Feds give him the dirt he needs to blackmail Mayor Lopez into ensuring him another five-year term as Police Commissioner. All goes according to plan for Irving, and to the surprise of no one, Bosch fervently disagrees with the commissioner's claim that he did what he did for "the greater good." For Bosch, there is no "greater" or "lesser" when it comes to good, (another of the show's recurring themes) and as usual, Bosch is sticking to the motto formerly tattooed on his knuckles: Hold Fast. 

"I can't let it go," he tells J. Edgar more than once, who eventually decides it's easier to help his partner than it is to try and argue with him. If Season 7's finale concludes anything about the detective's narrative, it's that his archetype has transitioned fully from that of the "hard-nosed, dogged detective" to that of the tragic hero, with a modern twist.

An exercise in futility

Bosch's tragic flaw is that he's incapable of giving up the search for the one thing he desires most, even if that "thing"— in this case, what he sees as pure, untainted justice — is paradoxically and practically unattainable. "It's an exercise in futility," Jerry tells him. Bosch knows this, of course, but like most tragic heroes, he just can't help himself. This inability to compromise is foiled fairly clearly in the series finale by Lt. Grace Billet's response to the systemic sexism and misogyny of the LAPD. Unlike Bosch, Billets decides (to the dismay of her partner) not to sue the department, but to use what's happened to her as leverage to further her career. Whereas Bosch is too idealistic to play nice within the system at large, Billets is too realistic to fight it from anywhere but within.

Although Bosch and Edgar do manage to snag Peña away from feds (even managing to place him under arrest and book him) the Las Palmas heavyweight slips through their grasp — and avoids Bosch's understanding of justice — once again. While being freed from jail by Irving and the feds, the gang leader is shot and killed by Sonia Hernandez' desperate father, who is then shot and killed by the police. And here's where something that smells a lot like "Bosch" spin-off material begins rising from the ashes of his East Hollywood Fire case.

Maddie follows Bosch into the fold

Having finally lost faith in his ability to find justice for the victims and juggle the often unjust politics of the LAPD and the FBI, Bosch hands his badge over to Irving. "Who are you if you don't have a badge?" the commissioner asks, to which Bosch replies, "I'm gonna find out." Initially, the line reads like Bosch preparing himself to retire to his home in the Hollywood Hills to brood and listen to jazz while he takes up a new hobby — selling vinyl records, perhaps, or writing a screenplay. But when his daughter, Maddie, who's just begun the application process to become an LAPD officer, returns home, their conversation in the episode's penultimate scene belies a much more interesting next chapter for the detective. As the camera goes from focusing on the backgrounded Bosch to the foregrounded Maddie, and he tells her that "something will come up" for him to do with his life, she responds with, "I want to help." Of course, this is only the first in the finale's "double-tap" twists. 

As the camera pans away from the pair and the audience begins to understand that whatever Bosch does next, he'll do with his daughter by his side, we're treated to one last scene in the seventh chapter of Detective Harry Bosch's tragic saga— one that sets fans up perfectly for a spin-off that will reunite Titus Welliver with "Bosch" series creator Eric Overmyer. Season 7 ends, truly ends, with Bosch applying for his license to become a state-licensed private investigator. In a nod to the many run-ins he's had with the FBI over the years, the clerk taking his paperwork explains that the FBI will have to do a background check before he can officially proceed. "Is that a problem?" she asks. 

Bosch comes full circle

Since the FBI is merely a stand-in for the many kinds of compromises Bosch just isn't willing to make, fans will have to wait and see just how he faces that "problem" once he's on the outside looking in. In some ways, the season's mini-conclusion to the character's narrative has brought Harry Bosch full circle. 

He began his life on the outskirts of society, as an orphan whose mother was yet another nameless victim of violent crime — and whose murder would have surely gone unsolved had it not been for Bosch's years of work on the case. From there, Bosch moved directly to the middle of a system he thought he could improve from within. But as episode 8 of the show's goodbye season illustrates, Bosch is about to be an outsider once more — just another individual seeking justice, without all the red tape, politics, and pragmatists "above his pay grade."