Arrested Development Season 4 Episode 8 Review: Best So Far?
Episode 8 of Arrested Development’s fourth new season is the second episode to focus primarily on Lindsey Bluth. Which, unlike episode 3, in which Lindsey’s adventures were often slightly problematic, is absolutely fine. And further, like the last couple of episodes, the focus of the story often slips over onto some of AD’s other characters, in a refreshing return to a format slightly closer to the show’s original run.
In this case we follow on from Lindsey Bluth’s questionable Marxist lifestyle living with Marky Mark, the prosopagnosiac activist who resides at an Ostrich farm at the Mexican border. There are some decent plot twists in here- it transpires that they live just across a small ravine from George Sr’s “executive resort” which has been a focal point of at least two episodes in the season, and that some of the strange goings on there have been Marky’s attempt at forcing them off the land. Hence the crazy, unfunny ostich-man from episode two.
There’s the thing. Injokes and situations earlier in the season may just not have been funny at the time, but after ample set up and development over the season’s mid-early episodes, it’s all gradually coming together. Lindsey’s first line is “I’d give twenty thousand dollars for a lemonade right now,” tying directly to George’s CEO-scamming ploy across the way.
And on top of new up-and-coming injokes, some original jokes from Arrested Development’s past are coming back.
Lindsey was never one of my favourite characters. She never even struck me as particularly funny; in fact she was probably my least favourite. However, the dialogue in this episode is remarkably sharp. Her narcissistic exploits (“I’m surrounded by squalor and death, and I still can’t be happy”) get more and more extreme as she tries her hardest to be a Marxist, ascetic activist, but instead, in classic Lindsey style, falls into a sexual affair with Herbert Love, the ultra-conservative candidate for the house of representatives.
This happens due to Marky Mark’s madcap plans to shame capitalist celebrities. Here, he plans to hide in a podium for three days and explode ink and glitter all over Herbert Love and his audience. I love the touch of Marky Mark’s hidden genius; frankly I think he’s one of the best characters in the show.
Lindsey: At least it’ll give us a chance to live a normal life for a while.
Marky Mark: [Smiling at the prospect.] Yeah. Now let’s put some newspaper on these windows.
Then there’s his plan where he jerry-rigs a paint-bomb inside Love’s speech podium. On a wall of Lucille Bluth’s apartment he scrawls some kind of formulaic insane plan on a wall, and blabbers about pressure gauges. “I’ve thought of everything,” he says, and Ron Howard narrates, “he had,” with a close up of the wall painting. He is clearly some kind of well-intentioned genius, and his honesty is a fantastic counterpoint to Lindsey’s vanity.
Whereas Herbert Love is the opposite. Michael Hurwiz has managed to work in a genius opposition drama- Marky Mark versus Herbert Love. Who is incredible, un-PC, and conservative. He gets easily some of the best lines.
Some of the best lines of the episode:
“The only phoney I’m interested in is your phoney number.”
“Here’s a severance package for servicing my package.”
Incredible stuff from Herb Love. It’s also great that Ron Howard mentions that Lindsey is drawn to Herbert because “he reminds her of her husband Tobias.” One of the best nods to the little-developed “Tobias is actually black” injoke.
But besides the supporting cast, we have a lot of classic Lindsey here. As I said before, I never liked her that much. Yet somehow all of her old jokes came across as incredibly fun and clever: from her fake nose (“You look like a can opener”- Lucille), her inability to cry, her hoarse voice. They’ve found actual contextual moments to bring these things in, rather than just arbitrary character-building like in the original season. It ties into situations with characters who make it work.
Even the link to GOB’s episode later on is ingenious. We’re getting to the stage where character’s mistakes and accidents from earlier episodes are impacting what we see now, and in ingenious AD fashion, little flashbacks make the story clear and compelling, instead of being dull and confusing like the season’s early episodes.
The patterns are slowly emerging in the show, which explains its utterly slow and weak opening episodes. Basically, Hurwitz has been playing the long game. In the first four or five episodes, I understood perhaps one esoteric reference to another episode. However, by episode seven and eight, the narrative pattern is finally starting to pay off: in this episode I saw at least four references to other episodes which were very funny indeed. For example, Marky Mark getting trapped in a press conference podium because GOB jammed it shut in the episode before, an attempt to sabotage Tony Wonder.
And the best bit? At the very end of it is some actual character development for Lindsey. Herbert Love goes missing at the Cinco event- and Lindsey goes on stage to try and sabotage him after he fires her. Yet she finds that she’s more comfortable promoting Herbert Love’s racist Mexican-wall building propaganda.And finds that her real nature… A right-wing PR-building individual. A true Bluth.
Great ending. Lindsey even ends it, taking over Herbert Love’s campaign with a Hilary Clinton hairstyle. It’s brilliant. However, I’m still concerned the rest of the season is going to sag into mediocrity. Again, let’s see what happens.