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 3 – Indian Takers
What Happened: This Lindsay-centric episode picks up where Season 3 left off. After she discovers she’s actually adopted, Lindsay feels emotionally estranged from her family. Lindsay calls off her marriage with Tobias and sets out on a journey of spiritual enlightenment to India. After a shopping binge, a mysterious shaman encourages her to return home to her family. With Lindsay’s credit card maxed out, Lucille agrees to pay Lindsay to defend her in trial. Lindsay returns home and gives her marriage with Tobias a second shot. The two buy an extravagant mansion, this being the debt-happy pre-recession years. Lindsay’s inability to express sincere empathy is hurting her testimony, and Lucille threatens to withhold the money. So Lindsay joins Tobias at his “Method One” acting clinic, which is in fact a methadone clinic. There, she meets Marky Bark (Chris Diamantopoulos), a political activist. Lindsay and Tobias join Marky and an addict named Debrie (Maria Bamford) at a barter restaurant. Tobias (high on methadone) hits it off with Debrie, Lindsay hits it off with Marky, and the latter two run off together. Lindsay has sex with Marky and discovers that he has face blindness. She wakes up at his desert ostrich ranch, missing her mother’s trial altogether. Tobias becomes a full-on methadone addict.
Our Thoughts: While its story is packed with intricate detail and the visual gags are as elaborate as ever, “Indian Takers” has the same slow, plodding pacing of the first two episodes, and suffers equally from isolating its lead character from her costars. Lindsay’s vanity has always been sufficient to drive a B or C storyline, but it’s too thin to carry an entire half hour – certainly among the least interesting quirks in a family plagued by incestuous and Oedipal urges. The episode’s more absurdist elements were entertaining but reeked of obvious setup (it’s pretty certain we will see that trip to India again, from a wider angle). Guest stars Ed Helms, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Maria Bamford provide some fun exchanges between the regulars, and it’s nice to see the entire cast of Outsourced get some work. But aside from retreading on old AD gags and a hilarious “Thanksgiving miracle” featuring a duck, this episode had few laugh-out-loud moments.
Episode 4 – The B. Team
What Happened: After getting a job driving the Google Street View car, Michael gets a call from Barry Zuckercorn that Ron Howard wants to meet with him. Michael goes to Imagine Entertainment, where he discovers that Kitty Sanchez is now working there after ousting an underage Maeby and shelving her Bluth family project. Michael meets with Ron Howard, who saw Michael’s picture in Altitude magazine and thought his story would make a good movie. Ron suggests his “girl” Rebel to play the part of Michael’s dying wife – referring to his daughter, but Michael assumes he means his girlfriend. Ron tasks Michael with getting his family members to sign the releases, but Michael is conflicted about exposing his family. Outside, Michael runs into a young actress and immediately falls for her (despite never getting her name) and offers to use his “movie producer” status to help her career. Michael tracks down his father, finding him getting intimate with Lucille Austero. George Sr. rudely refuses to sign the release. Michael puts together a production team – Warden Gentles (screenwriter), Andy Richter (playing George Sr.), and Carl Weathers (undetermined role) – and meets with Ron, who is unimpressed with Michael’s pitch and moves him to an office in Orange County. There, Michael runs into his father, who apologizes. Michael admits that he’s only trying to be a producer to get a girl. George Sr. offers his signature, and Michael returns to Ron, who tells him that the movie would actually focus on his relationship with George Michael – which Michael views as an uncomfortable invasion of privacy. Michael runs into his mystery woman again and watches her play in a bagpipe concert. They realize they’re both single parents (though Michael lies about George Michael’s age) and make out in the photo booth. Michael sees in a picture that she has a tattoo with her name: Rebel. He now assumes he is dating Ron Howard’s girlfriend (but she’s actually his daughter).
Our Thoughts: Finally in its fourth installment did Arrested Development Season 4 give us something that actually felt like a true-to-the-series (and across the board hilarious) episode. “The B. Team” may not have given us any full-cast moments, but seeing Michael interact with several fringe characters of the previous three seasons (Kitty Sanchez, Carl Weathers, Warden Gentles, Andy Richter, and Barry Zuckercorn), as well as finding a new way to explore Michael’s flaws – his failures to be honest with women and to see the obvious, and his willingness to exploit his family for personal gain – made us feel right at home. Up until this point, the new visual gags of Season 4 have been hit or miss, but the ones introduced in this episode worked out nicely, from the ironically blurred-out Google logos to Michael’s Being John Malkovich-esque office height. This episode also gave us the season’s best-yet Barry Zuckercorn moments, with one brilliantly crafted conversation while Zuckercorn is getting booked in prison and a killer Bob Loblaw line to close out the cold open. Now that the season is well underway, it appears that the setup of the first three episodes is beginning to pay off, with the layers of characters’ arcs folding on top of each other, with ironic results. Things can only get wilder from here.
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.)
Now that most viewers are starting to catch up with the new episodes, we’re going to start pumping out these episode-by-episode reviews a little more frequently. We’ll be back on Thursday with reviews of the next two episodes.