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Arrested Development Recap: The Great American Scallop

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.

Mitch Hurwitz is impressively tying up loose ends while throwing out new ones and pushing the plot forward. We now know that Lindsay's face-blind boyfriend Marky Bark is the one who gave a revelation/warning to George and Oscar down by the macca patch. Marky’s also the source of this mysterious, hilarious ostrich that’s been strutting around. Imagine if Lost had been written in a bubble and debuted all at once, how much loose-end rage we could have avoided.

While Marky isn't particularly interesting, it's a suitable comeuppance for perennial faux activist Lindsay Bluth to wind up with a real activist so active he’s actually bonkers. Marky and Lindsay take over Lucille’s newly vacated penthouse, which has this weird not-urine odor going on. Now we know who destroyed the apartment we first saw in shambles back in Michael’s episode. We also have confirmation that an unsupervised, unchecked Lindsay will indeed wreak havoc on her own life and surroundings. Marky's condition leading him to use a family photo as a plate and licking Buster’s face is one of the biggest belly laughs of the season for me so far. Maybe I'm just dumb, though.

Does Maeby have any of her angry, scheming side left? Alia Shawkat looks bored. We’ll have to wait till her episode to judge. For now, Maeby decides to try a bit of honesty on her mother, but Maeby’s secret life as a film executive is too insane to register as truth. At the bar, Herbert Love reminds Lindsay of Tobias when they got together. It's an obscure callback to an elaborate joke Arrested didn’t live long enough to make — that Tobias was actually an albino black man. And speaking of Tobias-oriented déjà vu, Marky just blue himself. The glitter in his bomb was shrapnel-grade, so here’s our chance for another prison scene. Countdown to "no touching!" in three, two … ah, there it is.

There's some acrobatic plot rejiggering as we go back and learn for a second time that Michael and George Sr.'s conversation was longer than we thought. Lindsay and Michael pile on some more "you do this for me, I'll do that for you" jazz. Lots of pieces are being put into place. At the fancy dinner club, witnessing more of Michael and George Michael's relationship as adults — even over the phone — is bleak. Michael is ostensibly the good guy of the series, but George Michael is finally independent and observant enough to be tired of his father’s haplessness and dedication to his destructive family. The premiere opened a wound I assume won’t be healed till the finale.

Lindsay thinks she’s gotten Herbert Love to go against the wall between Mexico and the U.S., but all she’s done is get him against the wall of a hotel room. In a sex way. Arrested has always leaned on miscommunications for joke setups, but I can’t be brought to care about this half-baked immigration plot. Gimme the jokes. Gimme the Bluths. The wall and the machinations? Eh. I’m not really sold at this point.

Lindsay and Michael’s eternal hug moment is okay, but it works as a funny alternative to the TV thing where characters speak privately while obviously in earshot of the character they’re trying to keep a secret from. The gag pays off when Michael and Lindsay decide their story is that they just met each other. I always give three 30-second hugs to people I just met. Super normal.

At dinner with Michael, Rebel can’t stand finding herself within spitting distance of the paradoxically charming yet politically vile Herbert Love. Love's politician-isms are truly vapid gems: “The beautiful American ocean!” “The great American scallop!” I love Howard Love. Terry Crews and Portia de Rossi have a wonderful dynamic together. But things go sour, as they always do with the Bluth family. 

Lindsay, pissed at Love and both Lucilles, hits the stage to take Love down. It’s not the gesture of real activism Lindsay thinks she’s always had in her; it’s just more Bluthian self-interest, in this case a way to avoid being outed as Love’s mistress. Lindsay finds the hateful crowd easy to please and soaks up the power. And now Lindsay is a Republican running for office.

Odds and Ends

  • Probably the only time we’ll see Annyong, but easily the best "on the next Arrested Development" of the new season so far. Amazing. "Good-bye, Annyong."
  • Great flashback to Lindsay's brutally shallow student-council campaign. "Rich, pretty, thin — Sally Sitwell’s not even that hot." Sally’s comeback: "I won’t leave for two months and come back with a new nose like Lindsay did."
  • "I'll be out on parole by the time you work up a tear," Lucille burns Lindsay. "Okay, so you figured it out, Gene Parmesan,” Lindsay retorts.
  • Maeby’s check reads Gangie 4: Facelift. It’s not Lucille bankrolling a surgery, it’s Maeby’s paycheck for working on a fourth installment of a Lucille-inspired horror film we saw in season three.
  • Great reference to the "finish each other's —" "— sandwiches" exchange between Michael and Lindsay from way back when.
Photo: Netflix/FOX