8.5

Arrested Development Review: "Borderline Personalities" (Episode 4.02)

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<i>Arrested Development</i> Review: "Borderline Personalities" (Episode 4.02)

Just two episodes in, and it’s already apparent why Mitch Hurwitz changed his tune and asked that fans watch these new Arrested Development episodes in order. Running jokes have always been this show’s bread and butter, but it’d be disappointing if after seven long years its triumphant return was just more of characters uttering “I’ve made a huge mistake.” Thankfully, it appears as though we’ll be getting a whole new crop of recurring gags (so far we’ve got the in-flight magazine photos and the ostrich), but it’s important to watch in order so as not to miss the first time they pop up.

While we kicked off this new season watching Michael Bluth get voted out of George Michael’s dorm room, episode two takes us to the other end of the fatherhood spectrum—everyone’s favorite distant dad, George Sr. He’s on the lam again (this time to avoid testifying at Lucille’s hearing), and he runs into Oscar and his friends. When George Sr. admits he’s envious of Oscar for having friends (who include John Slattery as Dr. Norman, “a disgraced anesthesiologist,” and Mary Lynn Rajskub as a woman trying to communicate exclusively via thought), Oscar generously responds “You’re welcome to my friends, brother.” George Sr. doesn’t miss a beat: “I don’t want these,” he replies.

But it turns out Oscar and his gang of weirdos have been living on the California-Mexico border, an area of land Lucille convinces George Sr. the government wants to use to build a wall to keep out immigrants. He buys the land and lets Oscar think he’s doing it out of the kindness of his heart, and while he’s down there he starts a “sweat-and-squeeze” con in which he has wealthy CEOs sweat in a desert hut for hours and then sells them a glass of lemonade for $1500.

The episode is non-linear (we open on George Sr.’s sweat lodge), and it’s obvious as soon as lemonade sales are mentioned that Oscar will be involved. That and the purchase of his land were nice callbacks to our introduction to the character all the way back in season one. And it wouldn’t be an Oscar episode without some swapping of places, either. At first he stands in for George Sr. during the sweat portion of the sweat-and-squeeze, but by episode’s end he’s impersonating him on a hotel-room visit to Lucille, where he manages to confirm his suspicions that George Sr. bought the land for personal gain. What’ll happen from here? The only way to find out is to keep watching—and we’ll be doing it in order.

Stray observations:
-”And so the family met up at the beginning of a fourth season…that would never come.” So glad to see Arrested Development has retained its meta humor.
-That hilarious young Barry Zuckerkorn sequence featured Max Winkler—Henry Winkler’s real-life son—and man oh man, does he look like his dad.
-Looks like Oscar’s just as terrible a winker as Lucille.
-The divorce reveal (that Lucille and George Sr. are only doing it to separate their assets before the trial) is just further proof that these episodes should be viewed in order.
-The scene with Lucille blowing smoke into Buster’s mouth has been around for a while now (the clip was released earlier this month), but seeing it here still makes me laugh out loud.

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