Vulture is doing fifteen immediate recaps for hard-core Arrested Development fans. Five regular Vulture writers will write on three episodes each. More in-depth analyses of the new episodes will appear in the coming weeks.
About twelve minutes into “Queen B.” Lucille and George are talking about Michael when Mama Bluth asks, “Where the hell did we go wrong with that kid?” George’s answer: “Probably where we went wrong with the others.” Bingo. These two weirdos are behind all the problems with their weird kids and ten episodes into season four, the matriarch finally gets 30 minutes to herself.
We meet up with Lucille in prison, where she’s leading the Jade Dragon Triads, a gang that stars in Real Asian Prison Housewives of the Orange County White Collar Prison System.” Before that’s explained, it’s back to the Queen Mary, which Lucille flipped while trying to turn around so she could flip off Lucille 2. That’s what I call a real flip-flop.
Lucille was arrested for her grand theft ship-o and returned home with an ankle bracelet, requiring Buster to wait on her hand and foot and lungs (so she can smoke). The family meeting we’ve already seen bits of is revealed as Lucille’s pre-trial planning session where Buster rehearses Lucille’s lies about why she stole the Queen Mary. He adds, “Oh, and a fish swam by my ankle!” There’s the sweet Buster we love.
He’s not sweet enough to show up at the trial. Neither is any other Bluth. Lucille 2 does take the stand though, and Lucille insists on questioning her while Barry Zuckerkorn is distracted by a kid’s menu. The questioning is more a catty back-and-forth of passive-aggressive insults. Lucille: “You’re such a LARGE shareholder.” Lucille 2: “How could I not do it for my OLDEST friend.” It goes on, but not long enough. Netflix, if there’s any of this on the cutting-room floor, please put it on YouTube.
So Lucille’s convicted, but life inside isn’t so hard, especially after George gets her in with the Triads who immediately appreciate her creative way around the smoking rules. It doesn’t last long, though, as Lucille’s controlling nature leads to an attack with a shiv of uncooked noodles. Lucille douses them with hot tea. If it ended there, this would already be the best instant-noodle-related violence in TV history. But the scene outdoes itself when Lucille rips open the seasoning packet and blows it into the eyes of Mrs. Oh (longtime Mad TV-er Bobby Lee).
Post-fight Lucille learns that her prison family, just like her real family, is preparing for her departure. That hurts, so he leaves for Lucille 2’s rehab clinic, where Tobais works as a therapist. She wants him to sign some forms and let her out, but he insists on real therapy. Lucille won’t bite until she mistakenly hears him call her a villain (he was talking about Lucia, the villain in his Fantastic Four musical). Lucille almost cries for the first time in 60 years. Almost! Instead, as Tobias whines about performing his play at sea, she sees an opening to escape and volunteers to take the role. But first she must audition. She does so with an original song about being hated that sounds like a lost track from Jagged Little Pill. It’s great.
On the big night, the cast of the musical shows up at the Cinco celebration where Lucille learns Oscar and George have pulled the twin switcheroo at conjugal visits. Gross. She tells George she wants a divorce, then runs into Oscar, whose butt has been claimed by Lucille 2. Gross.
Then she runs into a third flawed bald man, this one not played by Jeffery Tambor. It’s Tobias (gross) who tells her she’s playing the invisible girl instead of Lucia. Lucille misunderstands what he’s saying for a therapist truth bomb and she has a breakthrough. She’s happy for maybe the first time ever and resolves to make up with Lucille 2. It’s a happy ending but it won’t last. No one can be happy around Lucille, especially herself.
Odds and Ends
- Buster’s attempt to rub his claw together while saying “stimee,” the family’s slang for stimulus, was both cute and creepy, which I guess is his thing.
- Gene Parmesan, ahhhhhh!
- Loved how Lucille thought George Michael was claiming that ugly little ashtray by scratching his name into it. He made that for you, lady!
- Holy crap, Jessica Walter’s legs.