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Arrested Development Recap: George Michael 2.0

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.

This new season opened with what appeared to be Michael Bluth's ultimate corruption, after he debased himself with Lucille 2 in order to pay off his debts. From there, the season has focused on one character, examining how everyone has gone astray since the Bluths went their separate ways. And in "It Gets Better," we finally check in on George Michael. I'm sorry, we finally check in with Mr. George Maharis, Risk Taker.

George Michael was always the most innocent of the Bluths. (Though I'll hear your Buster arguments.) "It Gets Better" tells the story of the corruption of George Michael. We had previously seen that he and his roommate P-Hound were working on software called Fake Block that would help people protect their safety on the Internet. (It would also be helpful for, say, keeping Star Wars kid tribute videos offline.) It turns out that was all a lie to impress Maeby. It also turns out that it wasn't an accident that these two were paired together for tutoring, in yet another smart reveal that made a previous scene seem a lot funnier in retrospect.

P-Hound and George Michael were really working on an iPhone application that would replicate the sound of a wood block (lucky for them, all of the competition was garbage) when the newly O.S. George Michael (awakened after a semester abroad in Spain) realized that his dad's misinterpretation of what they were working on might finally lead to him starring in own remake of Les Cousins Dangereux. The episode basically serves as a cracked parody of The Social Network, complete with misplaced sexual anxiety, betrayal, and people wearing hoodies to legal proceedings. Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg were frequently compared to each other a few years ago, and Cera did an ace job of spoofing the way Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg swallowed his own overblown hype, while suggesting that at his core George Michael was still just a sweet, in-over-his-head kid who just wanted his damn cousin to take him seriously for once. Of course, it wasn't Maeby whom he ended up with at the end, but we have a few more episodes to go before Michael Bluth finds out about that.

Odds and Ends

  • Even though there was a banner celebrating that he was heading off to college, the rest of the family still thought it was his birthday or something. It's the sad little details on this show.
  • "He had not responded now for 41 seconds according to his unfailing internal clock."
  • I think I've lost track of how many times we've seen George Michael's suitcase fall off the stair car, but this episode shows how he tried to play it all off after he arrived at UC Irvine. Is there any sound sweeter than that of the strained laughter of George Michael while he pretends that the joke isn't on him?
  • Is this the first time we've ever seen the late Tracey Bluth in a flashback? Either way, she didn't seem to approve of George Sr.'s Baby Tock device. George Sr., of course, is played by Cera's bro Seth Rogen in the flashbacks. The callback to the Cornballer might have been a bit forced, in terms of fan service, but it has been previously established that George Sr. has plenty of inappropriate ideas for children's entertainment.
  • "NOT a Medical Doctor. Guarantee can NOT be guaranteed."
  • Michael Cera joined the writing staff for this season, though he didn't have any scripts credited to him.
  • Considering his semester abroad, the Pedro Almodóvar poster seems appropriate.
  • "How is that a chicken noise?"
  • The mechanical device that tested George Michael's kissing abilities will haunt my nightmares. Did someone from Game of Thrones ghostwrite that bit?
  • If you're a fan of Michael Cera with a mustache or Michael Cera acting like an aloof asshole, give Youth in Revolt a try.
  • Like most of the episodes, this one managed to slip in some genuine pathos in between all the rug pulling. Here we see that George Michael and Michael Bluth were in the same building and about to reunite, and then both started lying about traffic so that they could take a shot at getting into bed with Rebel Alley, star of the American remake of Dangerous Cousins. Michael Bluth's increasingly passive-aggressive description of the cause of the fictional plane crash that caused the fictional traffic was the clearest indication of how deeply his estrangement from his son has hurt him.
  • "It was that. That's what made him change his mind."
Photo: Netflix/FOX