I think Season 4 of Arrested Development is every bit as great as the seasons that came before it. Maybe even a little better. No seriously. Allow me to explain,
The reason why the reactions to S4 have been a little mixed is that Season 4 is one colossal story, and it’s hard to see the overall picture until you are a couple episodes in. The final result is a staggeringly dense web of coincidences, deceptions, and running jokes. The plot of Arrested Development S4 is as intricate as LOST, it just makes a lot more sense.
It’s easy to see why Arrested Development came in one massive 15 episode dump. It’s far easier to spot all the subtle jokes when you can watch the season in rapid succession. Next week I’m going to try and put Season 4 in Chronological order. The overall plot is a nearly Mementoesque mindfuck so it’ll take some effort to put it in a more conventional order. Here are some of the few consistencies to hold onto:
[Below Be Spoilers]
It’s all About Cinquo de Quatro
Cinquo de Quatro represents the chronological end of all characters storylines, even though it frequently wasn’t the last thing presented. In fact, Arrested Development led with Cinquo in one of it’s first scenes. Hats off to that kind of ballsiness in a comedy. Every single character’s storyline climaxes with Cinquo de Quatro, regardless of when it was actually presented. Michael and Gob are a slight exception to that, but Michael won’t remember anyway.
Meanwhile, the family meeting is the approximate beginning of modern events in the Bluth continuum, and one of the few times when everyone is in the same room.
It’s Fraud all the Way Down
Season 4 is interesting because all of the characters get their own seperate storyline and all of them are committing some kind of fraud. It’s like Game of Thrones if you swapped out the tits and gore for laughs and even more lies.
Let’s recap the frauds shall we?
Lucille compelled Buster to testify in favor of a ridiculous explanation of Lucille’s innocence. She also largely orchestrated George Sr’s fraud against the government. As it turns out she really is the mastermind.
George, Sr is simultaneously trying to gouge money from the government for land he doesn’t own and a border fence he won’t / can’t / hasn’t and never will build. On that same land, he’s also luring his executive type-A into his brutal sweat hut, changing himself out for his brother, and then charging thousands of dollars for lemonade.
Lindsey is in a perpetual state of fraud due to her shallow political beliefs that she never actually practices. That fraud is compounded when she swiftly takes up an exploitative relationship with Herbert Love who has the exact opposite political beliefs of the ones she’s assumed.
Tobias faces overwhelming pressure to give up on his delusional acting dreams, gives in for just a small moment, but then immediately returns to the delusions. Consequently, he almost instantly abandons his duty to help a group addicts recover and instead turns them into an acting vehicle. He keeps going even when it’s obviously putting a sweet disease bag like Debris in danger of relapse. Given that he’s supposed to love Debris, it makes you feel for Lindsey, slightly.
Michael’s lies all surround Rebel, he pretends to be a big shot producer, pretends to not know that he and George Michael are both after her, and even tries to secretely sabotage George Michael.
George Michael stumbles on his lie but then continues with it genuine Bluth aplomb. Fakeblock / faceblock allows George Michael to impress his friends, his Dad, get a house, and gives him a chance at Rebel. If only it weren’t a woodblock app.
Maeby‘s been a five year high school student. She hops on George Michael’s fakeblock lie, tries a seduce an underage cop as a (not really) underaged girl. She tricks her mother into thinking she’s a shaman. Oh, and she also pimps out her mother to a far-right politician, without telling her Mother about it.
Strangely, despite being such an accomplished liar Maeby is pretty easy to trick. George Michael manages to lie to her twice about the coincidence of him being her tutor and then fakeblock. More shamefully was Perfetto, who was pretty obviously full of shit, but still got past Maeby.
Buster does a rather unconvincing job of masking his insanity in attempt to persuade a variety of people to meet his rather, unique, emotional needs. On an unrelated note, I’ll say I didn’t quite know how they would fill a whole episode with Buster. My God was I wrong to doubt.
Lastly, it’d be hard have too many scenes with Gob. The romantic daisy chain of lies starts with Gob and uh… egg? Gob sleeps with plain, presumably deflowers her, and then uses her wedding to stage a big magic act. Of course, the act fails and Gob never marries yam. Granted, he was unconscious with a serious head injury, but he wouldn’t have married her anyway.
Meanwhile, rival Tony Wonder has reached ever greater heights of the magic world by pretending to be gay. So Gob also pretends to be gay to get close to Tony and sabotage him. The only sincere part of any of it is they end up falling in love.
The only note that rings false is Plant successfully completing the fraud circle, somehow having the guile to persuade Gob and Tony Wonder to consummate their love. Despite that, Tony and Gob make an absolutely adorable couple.
Strangely, Gob plays it kind of honest with the pop stars. He just hits them with a massive swarm of bees instead (accidentally). On the plus side, I doubt the bees ever lied to them. So they have that.
Cousin on Cousin Incest Makes Way for Sex Offender Status
Sex offender status was the recurring joke across a couple of different storylines. Two out of the three Funkes got hit with sex offender status. Then there’s George Michael’s unwitting romance by the colony of sex offenders at Sudden Valley. I wonder if each new season will have a new sexual deviance as its joke theme. A man can dream.