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Netflix has released Season 4 of Arrested Development in its entirety, which means we'll be binge-watching the series' revival and sharing our reactions with you over the next couple of days. The recap below contains spoilers from Episode 10 - "Queen B." Read no further if you haven't seen the episode yet!
”Now the story of a family whose future was abruptly cancelled and the one mother who had no choice but to keep herself together. It’s Lucille’s Arrested Development.”
One thing has become abundantly clear after watching ten episodes of the new season of Arrested Development: a rewatch is most definitely in order. Not that there isn't a tremendous amount to love the first time through, with each installment completing a little more of the full tapestry, however, there are even more gags and connections that are slipping past unnoticed. Of course, that's also what has always made Arrested Development so special. Seeing it once has never been enough to fully appreciate the intricate plotting or dense joke structure of the show and Season 4 is no different. Actually, it's probably even more complex than the three previous but still offers a ton of laughs in the moment and “Queen B,” the first Lucille-centric episode, delivers plenty as well as an attempt at some character development. That's right, the Bluths are finally growing as people. Even at Gangy's age.
”Their bark is louder than the dogs they eat back home. And I got news for them, anyone who comes after me is going to be one un-fortunate cookie. [laughs] I made a pun!”
AD fans have a lot of experiencing watching George Sr. operate behind bars (in fact, we've seen many of the Bluths imprisoned) but the fourth season is time for Lucille to finally face the music. "Queen B." cold opens with a look at the Bluth Matriarch's life in prison as part of yet another reality show (no, not John Beard's How To Entrap a Local Predator, she's already entrapped) called the Real Asian Prison Housewives of The Orange County White Collar Prison System. How did 'Lu,' inmate number 07734, become a (despised) member of the Jade Dragon Triad? Could it be her penchant for puns? (I love puns.) Nope. It's just a suggestion from George Sr. (I think... anyone else getting their George Sr. and Oscar wires crossed?) when he pays her a visit about halfway through the episode. He actually wants her to 'fake' an alcohol addiction in order to secure a transfer to Lucille 2's rehab clinic called Austerity. Puns! At this point though, Lu is happy to stay in the nice prison that's still a prison and play Mah Jong with the JDT.
”I got Olive Garden to offer us unlimited bread. Who better than the Chinese to help us build a wall...”
Oh, she also teaches them her Buster inspired smoking loophole, even though it's incredibly hard for the rest of them to say, and convinces Olive to invest some of that bread into the wall separating the US and Mexico. So, it's crossing that too familiar 'light treason' line, big deal. Especially since Lu is quickly wearing out her welcome with the JDT anyway, not to mention their reality show camera crew, meaning her plans quickly flip-flop over to the anti-wall side of the argument even before she watches the Steamboat Willy'd video of the progress. The exact details of her plan, once all the flipping and flopping has happened, well, are not really clear to me but in the end they need Love (Terry Crews in a great recurring role) to be against building it and we all know how that turns out. What? I haven't discussed that yet? Well, Love is in a coma and out of the picture leaving Lindsay to take up his cause and rally in support of the wall. This also puts her in a dangerous position since her lover Johnny Bark has but a bomb on board her boat!
”Homosexuals kidnapped the boat and took it on a joyride. Mother didn't want to trample their rights, so she let 'em. Then she realized that her son fell off the boat and into the water and she went back. Oh, and a fish swam by my ankle. That really happened... Should I keep that? ”
Right. The luggage. It turns out it is kind of romantic that Tobias and Lindsay have matching suitcases since it saves the latter from the explosion. As for the former, the recently blued stand-in for Sue Storm presumably goes down with his ship but had his own very funny journey getting there. One of the relationships that never got too much screen-time in the original run was Lucille and Tobias which is a shame since Jessica Walters and David Cross are absolutely hilarious together. After things goes south for Lu in the nice prison, she eventually transfers (thanks to some drunk acting worthy of Method One) to rehab where her son-in-law has recently been hired as a therapist. Well, hired is a stretch, he's on a work release program since he was arrested in John Beard's sting operation. This also means he must identity himself as a sex offender to everyone, something old T-Bag takes in stride.
I knew the moment Tobias asked her how she was that we were in for a treat. Especially since Lucille followed up the query with one of her signature winks. It's also pretty fun to have the pair together now that the (thin) veil has been lifted on the family's running gag about his sexual orientation since no one takes shots like Mother. Tobias stands his ground though, refusing to give in to her demands, which leads to many sessions of staring. Even a pun couldn't rouse her out of the battle of wills but her doctor's new musical, on the other hand, might be the breakthrough she needs! The stupid play is the first time she's cried in-it's not a stupid play! Sorry. The not stupid play based on Marvel's Fantastic Four has found its villain (Lucia) thanks to a truly wonderful/terrifying audition followed by her bossy attempts to, well, be Bob Fosse. Her natural charm can't be contained and she's soon tap dancing on everyone's feelings. Poor DeBrie. Jessica Walter is too talented. It's not really fair. The not stupid play also puts the squeeze on Michael since Lucille 2's brother Argyle (Tommy Tune), who's quite similar to Tobias, needs some cash to make it a full on broadway production.
” I probably should have expected that.”
First things first though, a performance at Cinco de Cuatro to prove it's worth the investment. Of course, it is not. Back to squeezing Michael, who hasn't been to see his mother since she was arrested, however, it only takes a quick run-in with his father (and five or six deals) to make him go visit. He also is going to make his separation from the company and family official by putting it in writing, another part of one of Lucille's master plans. When Michael and his mother do come together, it's just like old-times, all lies and mistrust. These two Bluths don't mess around with contracts, making me realize that perhaps they are more alike than I previous thought. They also exchange a few details (rumors) about the family, mostly raising suspicions that perhaps Gob is the one dating Rebel. The note from George Maharis didn't ring any bells but DOVE (BAR), DO NOT EAT should have raised warning flags. And what would a Lucille-centric episode be without an appearance from Martin Mull's Gene Parmesan? Scream! Michael hires the P.I. to do a little snooping, too bad his old fashioned tactics cause a bit of Google-car sickness.
”Star witness. And are you threatening yourself?”
Speaking of sickness, back when Lucille was just under house arrest, Buster was getting pretty sick of waiting on his mother hook and foot. Her attempt to flee the scene when the original run ended was thwarted by the Bluth's compulsion to always turn back, this time inspired by a spat with Lucille 2 and a desire to ensure that 1's insult landed. The more aggressive than passive relationship continued to be Lucille's downfall when her 'friend' was the only one to appear at her trial, thanks to having fully alienated the rest of the family. As I said, even Buster couldn't stand to stare her 100 years in the face making the Lady Austero the star (only) witness. Lucille represented herself. The cross-examination didn't go well and, as per Maritime Law, she got 3-5 years. Of course, that sentence may still be better than what ultimately befalls her rival since I have no clue what happened to Lucille 2 at the end of the episode. She's invisible? A magic trick? Was Gob involved?
”It's only a trial separation.”
There's also that bit of character development I mentioned and most of it comes through Lucille's relationships with George Sr. and Oscar. Okay, Tobias' unintentional counselling may have also helped but the results are shown through her interaction with hr husband and his twin brother. I was actually hoping that Lucille was not only fully aware of the old switcheroo but also using it to her advantage so I was initially disappointed to learn that she really was the one being used. Of course, there are some great jokes in this thread, with Oscar calling for Lucille 2 and getting 1 (because the numbers are reversed from Austero's point of view), the bum-per sticker and countless double entendres. In the end, Lucille learns that she's not the villain (debatable) but instead keeps people at a distance as some kind of defence mechanism. A new woman (debatable), she decides to do something she never would have imagined: sincerely thank Lucille 2. Good luck. She'll have to find her first.
”On the next Real Asian Prison Housewives of The Orange County White Collar Prison System.”
Read more Arrested Development recaps here.