Arrested Development Recap: Father B

Photo: Netflix/FOX
Arrested Development
Episode Title
Borderline Personalities
Editor’s Rating

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.

Present-day George Sr. is sitting in a sweat lodge on the U.S.-Mexico border with a group of CEOs he has promised to bring to spiritual enlightenment in his latest get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s about to take a turn for the worse.

Years ago, George Sr. duped Oscar into taking his place on the Queen Mary while he stowed away on Michael’s getaway boat. When Lucille went back to shore, George Sr. visited Stan Sitwell in an attempt to sell the rest of his stock, but Sitwell turned him down, revealing he had another huge project in the works. George Sr. found the blueprints for that project in the office, took pictures of them, and during a visit with Lucille figured out that Sitwell would be building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

George Sr. envies Oscar when he sees him at the club eating lunch with all of his friends. The two connect, and Oscar invites him to the desert where he lives. He explains the medicinal properties of the macca herb, grown in Mexico but illegal to eat there, and reveals that he is getting kicked off the land. George Sr. offers to buy the land for his brother; he wants to use the money he can make from the sale of the land to contribute to Lucille’s legal defense. Lucille wants to cut Sitwell out entirely and build the wall themselves; since Michael sold his shares to Lucille 2, they “just have to keep their shares a secret” from her long enough to cash in, so they plan the fake divorce as a way to keep their assets separate.

The government puts a hold on the wall project during the housing crisis, and George Sr. is threatened with losing the land; he put a down payment on the property, but without the government paying for the wall, it won’t generate any income. He thought of the “sweat and squeeze” CEO retreats during a sweat-lodge session that caused him to pass out for two days. In order to navigate the heat, Oscar sits inside the sweat lodge, and George Sr. comes out of a nearby trailer, refreshed and ready to go.

One day, while eating macca, George Sr. and Oscar see a divine spirit personified as an ostrich that warns them to leave the land. A year later, George Sr. has lost control of his business, and the “sweat and squeeze” crowd slows down, followed by bad news from Barry Zuckercorn that he owes a $15 million balloon payment on the mortgage. Barry tells him to convince a politician to take up the cause of building the wall, while Oscar begs to stay out of the sweat lodge. George Sr. goes to convince the politician to invest in the wall project, and sends Oscar to see Lucille, but not before Zuckercorn mistakes him for George Sr. and tells Oscar about the entire plan, with the wall being built on the property. When he goes to see Lucille, she confirms that Oscar is an afterthought now that she and George Sr. own his land.

Odds and Ends

  • Oscar’s “so hot” gasp in the sweat lodge was a nice nod to the attic hot tub at the model house in Sudden Valley.
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub was excellent as Artfire, the desert ingenue who only communicates with thoughts.
  • A soaking wet, post–Queen Mary–theft Lucille screaming, “Look what they’ve done, George — look what the homosexuals have done to me!”
  • Stillwell losing a pair of human hair nipple tufts during the Queen Mary fiasco.
  • “Detention Room and Diaper Changing Station.”
  • John Slattery was excellent as disgraced anesthesiologist Dr. Norman: “No one cares about the part of the oath you kept.”
  • Oscar: You’re welcome to my friends.
  • George, looking around the table: I don’t want these.
  • Cameos: Busy Phillips and Natasha Leggero on the morning news, ribbing John Beard with hand-drawn mustaches, and Dan Harmon.
  • When her ankle monitor prevents her from getting close to the balcony and she is confined to a smoke-free room, Lucille blows smoke into Buster’s open mouth and he blows it out the window.
  • Lucille exclaiming, “I haven’t had an orgasm outside of my bathtub in 30 years!” when she and George Sr. get together.
  • “Yesterday I was talking to a lizard and it turned into Elizabeth Taylor”.
  • “I don’t know what you saw — I got an ostrich and no boner.”