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Arrested Development Season 4 Episode 6 Review: Too Long, Hit And Miss
Episode 6 of Arrested Development Season 4, “Double Crossers,” continues trends seen in the show thus far. It has funny moments, and the characters are good, but overall, the story doesn’t roll well.
Here we follow George Sr., in his adventures to gain funding for his “Mexican Wall”. The whole plot line is pretty flawed. I don’t particularly get it and don’t think it’s clear for the viewer; but it does lead to some funny situations.
The introduction of Herbert Love proves to be a strong move. Basically Arrested Development’s anti-Obama, he is ultra-right wing and un-PC politician, who drops one of the best lines of the series thus far while George Sr. tries to get his financial support for the bizarre “Mexican Wall” campaign:
“All I got right now is, ‘You wanna reach your hand into my pocket to pay for your birth control?’ I get to put my hand in your pocket to put it in.”
It’s just so surreal, it’s fantastic.
There’s also a further clever development which mirrors the show’s themes of role-reversal and inversion:
Oscar Bluth is becoming George Bluth Sr.
The scene where Oscar woos Lucille Bluth in an overt act as George is pretty funny, and contains more genius wordplay jokes, in this case around the word “hotbox.” Oscar is a character gaining autonomy and upward mobility in the show- because of his masquerade as his assertive brother. While it would be great to see some Old Oscar with the wig and the stoner behaviour, Jeffry Tambor’s acting as both of the men similarly, but slightly different is great. George’s more feminine, desperate side coming through is also good to watch, though it’s not necessarily that funny.
George’s more feminine side is an interesting . This is a theme which was present throughout seasons 1-3 of Arrested Development:
George Sr is becoming a woman.
It’s curious- but pretty funny. Jeffrey Tambow is flawless in his sporadic moments of effeminate delicacy. When two builders at the Mexican border mistake him for a woman, he plays it off perfectly with clear pleasure; “Oh, haha, I’m just wearing this, uh, blouse because I was driving and I hate my arms!”
It becomes a running joke of George getting over-emotional and “hating the way he looks.” I laughed quite a lot. “George, you’ve gone puny again,” says Lucille, as George realises he has to get Herbert Love against the funding of the wall.
The continued plots of tragedy and disappointment continue with the confusing Mexican Wall idea- it turns out the land was already in Mexico and they don’t own it because of Barry Zuckercorn. A scene which would be very funny consists of Oscar’s mescaline-drinking team burning signs which are in Spanish in some kind of bonfire ritual.
Unfortunately, the scene is again ruined by the character who speaks with thoughts. The second her words appear in front of her character in the background, saying “We aren’t in America, are we?” I immediately lost all compulsion to laugh. It just isn’t funny. Easily the biggest misstep of the show so far.
Rewatching this episode in light of Episode 7, the scene where GOB shows up out of nowhere and brings some sick bees is pretty funny.
But on a first time watch… It makes very little sense and leads to a not-that-funny scene of chaos.
Another big issue is that the episodes are just too long at this stage. The inter-funny stuff becomes really tiring when an episode is just over 30 minutes in length. This is something we’ll be discussing in our whole-season review later.
Overlapping stories are GOB’s addiction to roofies, Michael’s film-production plotline… It’s pretty well handled.
Later in the episode, the narrative focus shifts from George onto Michael and Gob, who are both put onto the real estate retail of Sudden Valley. Which is really compelling. Out of nowhere, it’s like Season 3 never finished. In an immediate move to Gob and Michael having a mid-highway road-rage clash. It’s funny.
The focus on Michael remains, and leads to a great joke from Ron Howard, “like Bryce Dallas, and Paige Carlyle, was named after the place she was conceived.” And her name pops up: Rebel Alley. Fantastic work.
Michael and GOB continue to have a great discussion about their sons, and relationships. The dialogue is spot in in this short scene- suggesting that, indeed, Arrested Development’s strength was always in tight, focused scenes. Scenes that were almost like little vignettes, that tied together to make a great whole. In this season, following individual characters undermines this.
Even Buster’s appearance while George Sr tries to make a promotional video about his wall is a hilarious moment- and is the only time we see Buster all episode. Frustrating.
Also present is the shows continued obsession with streaming and modern media- in a love scene nearly conatining full-frontal nudity, a YouTube-like viewing interface appears and fastforwards through the disgusting proceedings. I definitely prefer this limited, minor use over the shows over-reliance on the flashback-and-forwards which start and end the show, with an iTunes like video scrolling interface. That stuff is too quick and unclear. They should cut it out.
The final development of George Sr being told he has the oestrogen levels of a woman in menopause, and finding it comfortable wearing a redhead wig is decent. His final line to an FBI agent of “sorry I don’t allow strangers into my house unless my husband is home,” is brilliantly performed with an almost Winnieh The Pooh high register voice. It also leads to another in-joke which is rather cleverly being developed, with Linsday’s red hair, and Rebel Alley the redhead, and Herbert Loves favour towards redheads. Who knows where it will go.
Basically, as strong as any one scene in the show is, it’s all tied together by a narrative thread which is hazy and rushed. Recurring injokes are gradually getting smarter and smarter; but really I can’t wait for the film to see how it works when they bring it back down to the regular old narrative.
However, this episode is proving to me how excellent this series can be to rewatch. Episode 7 will prove it further.
Best Line Of The Show: Herbert Love again comes in with an incredible tongue twisting, meaningfully contrived, hilarious statement regarding “flipping flops”, i.e. flipping bad deals.
“It’s a forty foot a flip and a forty foot a flop, and since it’s gonna cause a flap… I’d say another forty. So it’s a flap forty forty forty flip flop and a flap fee.”
I have literally no idea what it means, and you have no idea how many tried it took me to transcribe it. And it’s hilarious.