In addition to our Arrested Development season 4 review, Splitsider has also been posting episode-by-episode recaps that will cover two episodes at a time. So if you haven’t yet plowed through all 8 hours of the new season, and instead opted for a slower, more leisurely approach to screening the episodes, these weekly recaps should suit your old fashioned and increasingly obsolete lifestyle perfectly. These articles will be written from the perspective of someone watching the episodes sequentially, with no knowledge of future reveals or plot twists. That said, there may be some discussion of running gags or seemingly throwaway jokes, which, given the show’s reputation, may very well likely serve as setups or foreshadowing of events to come. We ask that commenters refrain from discussing information from episodes past the ones reviewed below.
Episode 7 – Colony Collapse
What Happened: After taking George Michael’s plain-faced girlfriend Ann – as well as a punch in the face – GOB begs for his nephew’s forgiveness/blessing, and receives it (sort of). Upon realizing his fate with Ann is sealed, he panics and sneaks into her house late at night to break things off, but ends up sleeping with… her… and accidentally proposing to… her. GOB plans to televise the wedding on Ann’s father’s evangelical TV show, along with a magic spectacle to top his rival Tony Wonder’s publicity for coming out. GOB’s illusion (which casts him as Jesus) malfunctions when he can’t get out of his handcuffs and is locked inside a dummy boulder for two weeks. He’s finally discovered having gone feral in a storage locker. Ann leaves GOB as he recovers, so he reaches out to his son Steve Holt (who looks drastically different). Steve offers GOB a job in his pest control business. GOB celebrates with some magic tricks and gets the attention of pop sensation Mark Cherry’s entourage. He helps them escape from the paparazzi and becomes Cherry’s driver… blowing off his son in the process. GOB becomes a hardcore partier, curbing his next-morning shame with roofie pills called Forget-Me-Now’s. However, he gets trapped in a self-destructive “roofie circle,” with his only erased memories being having already taken a roofie. GOB also wears out his welcome with Cherry, who writes the song “Getaway” about him. GOB’s bee colony is about to collapse, so he transports the bees in his limo while driving the entourage. A high Debrie unleashes the bees, which attack the entourage, unbeknownst to GOB. GOB arrives at the Opie Awards , stumbles across what he thinks is Tony Wonder’s trick, and sabotages it… but fails. Shortly after, he learns that Cherry has checked into rehab. When his bees swarm George Sr.’s desert colony, GOB discovers in the sweat lodge (the same tomb from his magic trick) a cross jammed into the handcuff compartment, which he interprets as a sabotage attempt by Tony Wonder.
Our Thoughts: At this point in the series, we’ve received relatively little information about GOB (as well as Buster and Maeby), so an episode focused on the eldest Bluth son couldn’t have come soon enough. From a storytelling perspective, the writers milked far more out of the GOB/Ann arc than it seemed willing to give in the relatively temporary twist at the end of Season 3, so despite all the hilarious Ann gags (including the wedding at the church of the Holy Eternal Rapture), I was happy to see this wrap up mid-episode. Similarly out-of-place were GOB’s interactions with the Bieber-esque Mark Cherry, which, like the Ann thread, felt like a script decision made more out of schedule availabilities of the rest of the main cast than out of genuine creative inspiration. Disappointments aside, the “roofie circle” was a flash of comedic brilliance, and GOB’s bumbling magician shtick is always a joy to watch. Moreover, the episode came out on top largely because of its consistencies with the character of GOB that has already been well-established: a fiercely competitive egomaniac who is only motivated to achieve something when someone else wants it first.
Episode 8 – Red Herring
What Happened: Bored with her life on Marky Bark’s desert ostrich farm (which is right next door to George Sr.’s sweat-and-squeeze colony), Lindsay moves with Marky and their ostrich into her mother’s empty penthouse. One year later, the penthouse is a mess, and Marky plans on glitter-bombing Herbert Love at his rally. Lindsay secretly bonds with Lucille 2, and Marky senses that Lindsay is losing her activist spirit. Lindsay visits her mother and walks away from it feeling rebellious, so she joins Marky in his plot. At the rally, Lindsay, wearing Lucille 2’s red wig, hits it off with Herbert Love… leaving Marky’s glitter bomb to blow up in his own face. Maeby tells Lindsay that the man she’s been flirting with is the man she supposedly opposed. Lindsay returns to find an eviction notice on the penthouse, so she returns to the model home (where Tobias isn’t home because he’s in jail… along with Marky). Maeby tells Lindsay to meet with Love at the Ealing Club to get Marky out of jail. She runs into Michael downstairs, who asks her to convince Love to come out against the wall (making good on his deal with George Sr.). Michael also agrees to talk to Warden Gentles about Marky in exchange for Lindsay’s movie rights. Lindsay makes love to Love and joins his campaign. She ends up on an awkward double date at the Balboa Club with Michael and Rebel (with the brother and sister promising not to reveal their true identities to their dates). Rebel gives Lindsay a reality check about her superficiality, and she leaves dinner and runs into Marky, who is planning another Love bomb at the upcoming Cinco de Quatro celebration. There, she tries to warn Love, but he breaks things off with Lindsay for being a political liability. After some dismissive words from her mother, Lindsay plans revenge on both Love and Lucille by working for Lucille 2’s campaign, but finds she has already been replaced by Sally Sitwell. Sally reveals to Lindsay that she possesses pictures of her with Love and plans on exposing the affair. When Love goes missing, Lindsay speaks at his rally in hopes of accusing him of sexual harassment, but inadvertently riles up his supporters. When the Mexican blowback begins, Lindsay loses her necklace and advocates for a wall between the US and Mexico. With Love in a coma, Lindsay takes over his campaign and runs in his place.
Our Thoughts: At over 37 minutes, “Red Herring” is the longest episode yet of Arrested Development, and boy, do we feel it. In addition to Lindsay’s long and twisted journey from desert ostrich farmer to GOP politician, the writers crammed in a subplot about Michael’s schemes to get closer with Rebel and blow off spending time with his son. Normally, I wouldn’t complain over storylines bringing more Bluths into the equation – something that’s been missing from Season 4 – but in this case, it was a little too much to digest in one sitting. Specifically, with so much of the episode concerning itself with the Bluth family’s political maneuvering (for the wall vs. against the wall) and multi-layered movie rights deals, Lindsay’s emotional arc often got bogged down in the intricate web of jokes and plot points that have defined George Sr.’s episodes. However, I appreciated Lindsay’s journey of self-discovery, finally shedding off her phony liberal activism for the privileged, conservative Orange County snob she always knew she was. And now that Season 4 has crossed its midway point, many of its visual jokes are paying off, with the ostrich in the penthouse and Marky covered in blue glitter paint (reminiscent of a certain never-nude). Mitch Hurwitz and his writers have thus far presented quite an elaborate puzzle, and although production schedules may have kept us from ever seeing the big picture in one glance, assembling the pieces in our minds is an exciting process nonetheless.
For a full list of all the subtle and recurring jokes in Arrested Development Season 4, see Splitsider’s comprehensive list. (Warning: it contains spoilers for those who haven’t yet seen all the episodes.)
I’ll be back later this week with reviews from the next two episodes!