Arrested Development Season 4 Review, Episode 7: Now This Is Arrested Development
GOB’s episode, number 7 of Arrested Development Season 4, is what I’m talking about.
Unlike practically the whole season thus far (excepting perhaps episode three) I laughed at least once every several minutes. Possibly more. Will Arnett comes back in full force, and while every other character has been disappointing, GOB’s antics bring out the best in everyone. Even Tobias’ who was unforgivably lame in his own episode, is subject to brilliant dramatic irony when GOB’s plot is involved. GOB had always been the other consistently solid Arrested Development character, who in this episode maintains his highs of the show’s original run.
Let’s break it down. This episode has:
- A continuation of Ann-name jokes.
- A continuation of GOB’s incredible magic failures.
- GOB’s failures managing to escalate beyond those of Season 3.
- An incredible new injoke featuring Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”.
So many little touches add new limbs to GOB’s already well-fleshed out comedy body. GOB’s relationship with Ann is the plot source of most of the episode’s humour: by the end of the first ten minutes, he’s said “I’ve made a huge mistake,” regarding his inadvertent agreement to marry Ann. Alan Tudyk is another welcome face, who blasts into the scene with the Veal family in tow, who dogpile GOB.
The scene finishes with a slow close up on GOB’s vacuous facial expression with the ‘Hello Darkness’ refrain over the top. It’s hilarious.
One of the most remarkable things about the show is how they don’t overuse special guest actors. Tudyk and Ben Stiller are so, so welcome onscreen, but rather than force close ups on them to milk their return to the show, they are almost in the background. They fit right in to the shows universe, rather than being token actors who break immersion.
GOB’s entering into the Veal family leads to so many fantastic situations. A Christian talk show where GOB’s adoption of zealous rhetoric leaves Tudyk and the other onstage castmembers struggling not to laugh.
Further, in another return to seminal plotlines, GOB begins preparation for his most ambitious illusion yet (which is where Ben Stiller returns in his no-line cameo as a now-homosexual Tony Wonder.) For GOB, this, as per usual, has an ulterior motive to escape (his marriage to Ann.) The man’s obsession with escaping every socially awkward situation he finds himself in is back.
Tobias even picks up at this stage, in classic ignorant fashion, cast as an assistant in GOB’s trick, not realising that it is GOB’s marriage he attends. GOB was already depressed about the fact that none of the Bluths turned up to the marriage. This moment captures a sublime moment of comic shadenfreude, the likes of which happened frequently with every character in the show’s original run. The scene also includes an incredible montage of Tobias’ parts on “The Miracle Network” (for example “Embryo Dan: It Would Have Been A Wonderful Life.”)
GOB’s trick, where he essentially acts as Jesus who will escape from the cave, is in perfectly pitched bad taste. Unlike some of the earlier episodes, where tasteless jokes actually impinge on the possibly offensive or racist, GOB’s just works because of the Veal’s religious audience. All his jokes fall flat, the trick falls flat, his dancing to “Final Countdown” still elicits silence from the crowd. It’s well directed, a perfect mix of funny and awkward. An undercurrent of David Blaine pastiche carries it through, as if David Blaine messed up a trick and got stuck in a storage container like GOB. Who is later found accidentally by a storage hunting troupe on a TV programme, eating candy vines. It’s hilarious. Nobody bids to buy the “Feral Jesus” in the locker he’s stuck in.
He later chats to Steve Holt, who has aged fantastically, with added baldness and weight. It leads to:
One Of The Best Lines Of The Show:
“When I was in that locker, at the bottom of that rock, it was like…”
“You hit rock bottom?”
“No, no, not like that. It was more like a trending downward moment… I don’t know.”
GOB also doesn’t realise it’s Steve Holt, due to the change of image. Brilliant.
As usual, the present-day plotline isn’t incredible. GOB is part of an entourage who follow a Justin Bieber-esque young male popstar, called Mark Cherry, who loves magic. As with most of the current plotline, it just isn’t that funny, but leads to a couple of decent situations. A brilliant example is GOB’s “roofie circle”, which ties again to the show’s theme of circularity and dramatic irony, which so often rears its genius head. GOB takes a roofie to forget his shame from being on constant benders, but takes it too late, and it only erases the memory of taking the roofie, but still remembers the shame, so he takes another roogie. He ends up in a limbo of constantly taking roofies for weeks. Good stuff. Worthy of Arrested Development’s original status.
Generally, the episode is chock full of brilliant moments. Tobias is lifted to hilarity, GOB is classic GOB, Michael seems just like Michael from the original run. It’s great. Even hints from other episodes which haven’t been watched yet are somehow witty and compelling- like seeing Maebe run past carrying an award from a ceremony, with a bunch of security in tow. I had no idea what was happening there, but it was a nice nod to a later episode- rather than the usually opaque, esoteric moments which make no sense till you see a later episode.
There’s some pretty great character development here, too. GOB is getting more and more desperate. He has nervous-breakdown-style frenetic monologues several times. Ann becomes more cynical and independent. There are tons of little asides, like Tobias’ performance on Christian TV, an amazing bit where we watch a news anchor talk down magicians (with hilariously wrong closed captions,) and the previously mentioned Locker Hawkers TV show.
At this stage, it feels like the shows self-referential and almost family-guy aside material is on the way back.
It’s a good episode. A very good episode. I hope the rest of the season keeps it up.
Other Best Line Of The Show: “My bees are dropping like flies. And I need them flying like bees.”