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.
There are plenty of wild cards on Arrested Development, but none wilder than Will Arnett's Gob Bluth. While you never know what ridiculous path Tobias will take, you know his endgame is to become an actor. You can’t be sure what Buster will stumble into next, or how he’ll land back in the hospital, but you know he’ll wind up close to Lucille. With Gob, no one knows anything. Bees. Banana grabbers. Black puppets.
Gob’s unpredictability means it makes perfect sense for his episode to open with an Entourage homage blatant enough to feature the crew walking into a Jeremy Piven–owned and/or –themed club. Gob is now rolling with Mark Cherry — the baby-faced, Bieber-faced singer, not the baby-faced, non-Bieber-faced Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry — and, played by Parks and Recreation’s Ben “Jean Ralphio” Schwartz, J.B.J., the son of Arrested’s favorite news anchor.
To learn how Gob got here, we do the ol’ Netflix rewind to see what happens between Gob and Ann back in 2006. Gob, freshly face-punched by George Michael, squeezes some forgiveness out of his nephew. And boy does Michael Cera look nothing like he did in that original scene, although it's set on the same day. Ann, on the other hand, appears unchanged. Gob realizes he’s got the world’s most forgettable lady all to himself and sinks into a Simon & Garfunkel–soundtracked depression. (You can also hear Tobias singing his fallacy bit from the earlier new episodes offscreen — nice detail.)
I just rewatched the first three seasons ultra closely (putting this quiz together in the process) and I'm still having a hard time remembering what made Ann go from being 100 percent virtuous to wanting to bone Gob. Regardless, after one long pajama-unzipping, the deed is done. Afterward, Gob hits one of three rock bottoms for the episode. The man has encountered a lot of difficult scenarios and never reacted quite this frantically. Momentarily sharing his father’s propensity for womenswear, Gob tries to bust out a renowned C’MON!! but can only splutter. He tries channeling his haughty suit-wearing self, only to fail again. Gob’s brain is short-circuiting with Arrested Development references.
After a facetious, Maeby-style "marry me," Gob and Ann are engaged. Ann's Evangelical family swarms from the shadows, mobbing Gob and bending him into a Christ pose while hugging and celebrating him. Cue "The Sound of Silence" again. Cue "I've made a huge mistake." Debate among yourselves which is the bigger classic.
On the heinously titled Christian talk show And As It Is Such, So Also As Such Is It Unto You, Gob delivers an announcement that demands faithful transcription: "At our wedding, I will be performing one of my famous magical illusions, that once your eyes have beholden it, you will put no god before me, because of its spectacularity." Okay, Gob.
Neither Michael nor any Bluths are interested in attending Gob’s wedding/ultimate illusion. It’s a disaster, of course, although a little on the lengthy side — Gob’s magical failures work best as snappy sequences. I’m still laughing from the camera panning up to reveal a behemoth HER? above Ann at the altar, though. Tobias wearing his glasses under his centurion helmet is also great.
Gob’s failed illusion sets off a horrible chain of events, and he’s eventually discovered on a Mitch Hurwitz–ified version of Storage Wars known as Locker Hawkers. Gob, amazingly dubbed Feral Jesus, is found handcuffed and eating Candy Vines, surely brought to you by the fine folks who created Candy Beans. Recovering in the hospital, Gob can't stammer out a zinger to Ann as she dumps him. Here’s his second rock bottom.
Gob decides to set his life straight by reuniting with his son, STEVE HOLT. At the bar, we’re meant to wonder something along the lines of, “Good lord, has Steve Holt aged terribly! Is that even him? The receding-hairline thing makes sense, I guess ...” Then we realize Gob has been talking to Steve for 90 minutes with no idea it’s Steve. Excellently played. The belated father-and-son reunion leads to revelry, which leads to Gob joining the entourage from the intro. He has a one-night stand with someone who thinks his name is Joe With a B. He enters a many-months-long stretch of Forget Me Now ingestion. The “roofie circle” is a clever premise, although, like the magic show, too drawn-out.
After some time away from his legendary bee business, Gob reclaims his ailing insects from Johnny Bark (Ron Howard’s brother, Clint). Gob has finally exhausted his entourage and gets degraded from limo-driving friend to just limo driver. He's oblivious as his bees sting everyone nearly to death behind the limo partition. Gob hits his third rock bottom when he realizes he can't even sabotage Tony Wonder, although there’s a ray of revenge-hope when Gob realizes he’s got another battle coming with the newly publicly gay magician.
At 36 minutes, this is one of the new season’s longest episodes, leading me to believe Mitch Hurwitz is as fond of Gob as I am. All these new episodes have something of a stand-alone feel, but this especially plays out like a Gob mini-movie. It drags a bit and it’s a shame Gob doesn’t get to interact much with the Bluths, but Gob is Gob, and Gob is good.
Odds and Ends
- Jeff Garlin and Ben Stiller appear in the distance, sans lines. I’m betting/hoping the upcoming episodes include alternate angles that feature them getting some actual lines.
- Is Gob having a child with Ann? Her stomach's "out to here"? That would make the misunderstanding about Gob having a second son at the bar a quality bit of foreshadowing.
- Mark Cherry’s backstory — Pop-a-R.O.T.C., the hit song "Practice Kisses" — is Arrested operating on its singular plane of boundlessly creative zaniness.
- “Howdy doodat?”
- Simon & Garfunkel makes me think of that Graduate-looking shot of Michael on the escalator earlier. It’s also a brilliant counterpoint to Gob’s usual theme, “The Final Countdown.”
- Those glimpses at Tobias’s work with the Miracle Network, A Jew Came to Dinner, and the anti-abortion drama Embryo Dan: It Would Have Been a Wonderful Life? Flawless.
- FRANKLIN, WHERE ARE YOU?