Bosch Season 5 review: Is this TV’s best crime drama?

Bosch -- Photo by: Lacey Terrell/Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video -- Acquired via
Bosch -- Photo by: Lacey Terrell/Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video -- Acquired via /

Bosch has returned to Amazon Prime, and Titus Welliver is in magnificent form as Bosch Season 5 cements the show’s status as must-watch TV.

Bosch is back, and not a moment too soon. The Amazon Original series is now in its fifth season, and starting to show its age, just like its title character—but in the good way that reminds TV fans there are reasons why some heroes last longer than others.

Everything about Bosch Season 5 has the feel of a show, and a world, that’s been lived in for a while. It’s not trying to be shiny and new, or reinvent itself after five years, or latch on to the latest hot topic. It’s a series that’s been in the trenches, and just continues doing excellent work with an excellent lead.

This is the gritty, relevant show that other crime dramas aspire to be. Part of that is due to the source material; Michael Connelly is the modern James Ellroy, and his novel on which this season is based, Two Kinds of Truth, is a solid book.

The other part is the cast and crew, who don’t mess around. They’re veterans of some of TV’s best cop shows, like The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street, and it shows.

Titus Welliver continues to do his best work as Det. Harry Bosch, who’s caught between a very timely case (an apparent opioid robbery) and something else from his past (an old conviction about to be re-opened).

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He’s the cop who’s seen it all, who works from his gut in a new world order that’s more concerned with facts and optics than instinct and experience. And maybe because Welliver has played the bad guy in his fair share of crime shows—last season’s Chicago PD and this season on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, to name but two—he’s perfect for the part. He’s played the darkness so well that when he’s the good guy, there’s still that element of darkness in him. He inherently balances both sides, rather than other shows that try to make their cops these hard-bitten anti-heroes.

This season lines up some strong new additions to step into Bosch’s world. While it’s saddening not to see Steven Culp return, Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Richard Brooks (Law & Order), and Ryan Hurst (Remember The Titans, Sons of Anarchy) are all welcome.

Plus, one of the antagonists in this season is portrayed by the criminally underrated—no pun intended—Chris Vance, so you know there’s some serious stuff going on. Though he only appears in three of the 10 episodes, he immediately ratchets the tension level up whenever he’s on screen.

What makes Bosch Season 5 so great isn’t just the casting and the modern noir feel. It’s that this is everything that other TV shows talk about being. It hits on two topics that audiences are asking about right now—the opioid crisis and police accountability—and actually digs into them, rather than just using them for an episode’s worth of lip service.

Harry’s boss Chief Irving (the always reliable Lance Reddick) says in the premiere episode, “There’s no good version of someone getting killed.” The season subplot doesn’t flinch in discussing officer-involved shootings, and the difference between what it is and what it looks like—which in today’s world of controversy, can be a mile. Meanwhile, the main plotline isn’t just about drug addiction as a motive for murder; it actually explores why one can push someone to the other.

The dark and gritty nature of the series may wear on some people after a while, or those who are used to shows where everything semi-wraps up episode to episode. This is messy, it’s grim and it takes its time. But if you’ve got the time to binge-watch, and want to truly dive into a crime thriller, Bosch delivers yet again.

Read our interview with Bosch star Juliet Landau. dark. Next

The complete Bosch season 5 is streaming now. For more on Bosch and other Amazon original series, see the Amazon Originals category at Amazon Adviser.