Arrested Development: “Indian Takers” (Episode 4.3)

TV Reviews Arrested Development
Arrested Development: “Indian Takers” (Episode 4.3)

Let’s not bury the lead: Episode Three of the long awaited fourth season of Arrested Development belongs to Lindsay Bluth Funke, and Lindsay Bluth Funke looks…different. I’m not 100 percent sure how to describe it, but the change is so pronounced that early in the episode, I thought I might be experiencing a bout of “face blindness,” the malady plaguing Lindsay’s romantic interest, Marky Bark. (And also Brad Pitt in real life, apparently.) And I definitely entertained the idea that something happened to Portia De Rossi, and the AD creators had to use a new actress. But no, it’s her, in some vaguely changed form. The best I can do by way of description is this: It seems like the character is gone from her face. I’m not an expert, but the changes have the definite whiff of plastic surgery, and Google tells me I’m not the only one speculating. In any case, she looks less like the Lindsay of old and more like…well, a sort of run-of-the-mill Hollywood actress trying to hold on to something by cosmetic means.

I say all this not because I’m a judgmental jerk—not exclusively, anyway—but because it matters in the context of the show. Great comedic actors have great comedic faces, and it’s part of what made Lindsay Funke-Bluth such an underrated star in the first three seasons. The character was always superficial, but there was a sweetness to her portrayal, a hopeful heart that made her such an easy target for her bloodless mother. She was materialistic, but some part of her yearned to be an activist, and to treat the world with dignity. Her efforts inevitably failed, but the good intentions meant something. In episode three—”Indian Takers”—that heart is missing, and I can’t help feel that de Rossi’s expressionistic flexibility has been frozen by a surgeon’s knife.

At this point, I should note that I could be 100 percent wrong about everything I’ve just stated, in which case I apologize to de Rossi and the rest of the world for being an inaccurate gossip. But it was a major distraction, and this is me trying to sort it out.

So, enough downer talk—on to the episode. We start at the police station, where Lucille is trying to sell her attempted escape on board the Queen Mary as a ploy to hold wedding ceremonies for a group of gay sailors. This doesn’t jive with her record, which includes marrying a gorilla (or her son Buster, in a gorilla outfit) in Balboa Bay magazine as a bizarre protest against same-sex marriage. She and Lindsay exchange words, leading to our first great mother-daughter barb in nearly a decade—”at least I was able to turn my Queen around.” Tobias doesn’t help his cause when it becomes clear that he’s memorized all the sailors’ names, but can’t quite remember what he calls his brother-in-law (it’s Michael, but he was thinking of Mike, the hot seaman). Things get worse when he invents a song about a phallus, and soon Lindsay wants to end the marriage again. “Let’s give it another shot,” says Tobias, before realizing that his wife isn’t on board and adding, “to the head…kill it…yes.” Awkward shoulder kisses commence, and she’s gone.

To India, as it turns out (inspired by Eat, Pray Love, of course), where we find her being roped in by a con artist and his confederate hawking a Louis Vuitton bag that they spell “with two e’s.” She’s the same easy mark, with the same appetite for the finer things, and it’s that strange combination of unabated consumerism and spirituality that leads her to a resort hotel shaman who calls her “full of shit” (“in my culture, it’s sort of a dig,” she says) and advises her to return home to find true love. The shaman then turns into an ostrich, maybe, and Lindsay’s gone.

Back to America, where instead of trying to form some semblance of a relationship with her daughter, she and Tobias rekindle their romance by purchasing a gigantic house from real estate agent James Carr, played by the excellent Ed Helms, who talks them into two master bathrooms a gatehouse with a simple justification—”that way you have it.” They even get a NINJA loan—No Income, No Jobs, No Assets. The two are so enthused about the purchase that they forget they have a daughter when asked directly. But Maeby is in the room, and nearly steals the episode with her sense of casual resignation. “I could’ve spoken up, but I just wanted to see if you guys got there.”

Three episodes in, it seems like a lot of this season’s plot will hinge on the collapse of the California housing market, and though Tobias and Lindsay are ignorant regarding their imminent financial doom, they realize they need something more to truly spark the flame of marriage. Tobias suggests an acting class—”Method One,” an example of why pun-based humor can still, sometimes, be awesome (public service for pun-deaf viewers: It’s a methadone clinic). There, Lindsay falls for Marky Bark, a fellow activist who eats at chain barter restaurants (“do I like barter?” Tobias asks, unable to place the cuisine) and lives with—GASP—ostriches on a depressing little plot in the desert. Diegetic singers tell us that this is a mere coincidence, but Lindsay isn’t having it.

Marky Bark can’t even appreciate her good looks due to his face blindness, and it took a quick lovemaking session in a caravanette for him to be sure she was female (“I can usually tell by the voice, but some guys…they’ll fool you, if that’s what they want to do”), but it’s good enough for Lindsay. At least until the euphoria of desert dancing wears off, and she wakes up the next morning to deliver a truly excellent button in the face of her grim reality: “I have the worst fucking shaman.”

Other delightful notes:

– Among other running gags, Halliburton Teen makes an appearance in this episode, with a tag line that Marky Bark steals for seduction purposes: “Live truthfully and skate through life.”

– When Lindsay has to lie and say she loves Tobias, she thinks of fudge.

– Second best line of the episode goes to Tobias, discussing his new “actress” friend DeBrie Bardeaux: “She used to be in big movies, but then like a lot of actors, the teeth go.”

– Second best dental line of the episode goes to Marky Bark, after he kisses Lindsay for the first time: “I can’t believe how little give your teeth have.”

– This may be because I’m a former improv comedy nerd, but I could watch Tobias fail to improvise all day. “I don’t ever have a guy.”

– More Tobias: The novelty single bed he bought has the words “Hooray Tobias” printed on the headboard.

– Marky Bark is the son of Johnny Bark, who fell in love with Lindsay during a tree protest back in Season One. We learn that he was chased out of a tree by angry bees, and fell to his death.

– Marky Bark won’t give his real name at government functions due to the time he mistakenly joined Al-Qaeda because they were giving away free beard brushes.

– The “Showstealer Trial Pro” watermark on the footage from previous seasons is truly a genius move by the writers. By far the most subtle joke I’ve seen in three episodes, and this in a series known for subtle jokes.

– “Champagne Glass Breasts.” That’s all.

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