Arrested Development S04E06 Recap - 'Double Crossers': All You Need Is Smiles

Note: We've reviewed season 4 of Arrested Development as a whole already, but this is the kind of show that deserves more attention, so over the course of the next couple of months, we'll be reviewing each of the 15 new episodes at a pace of about 2 a week (don't hold me to that). Check out our review of the sixth episode, "Double Crossers", below!
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Six episodes (I'm lying, I've watched ahead in my second viewing, so seven) in, it's pretty clear to me that both the strengths and weaknesses of Arrested Development season 4 lie in the characters and how Mitch Hurwitz managed to use them. The show as a whole lives and dies with Michael, but it should be rather clear that the biggest sources of laughter in the first three seasons were Tobias and Gob, and to a lesser extent, George Michael.

And it's been this weird thing over the course of the entire season (forgive me for getting ahead of the reviews), where even though you might think that focusing too much on a secondary character might kill the joke, it really doesn't. I'm totally fine with a half hour of Tobias making homosexual innuendo, or Gob, well, making homosexual innuendo. But there are other characters who I'm just now realizing I never really cared for in the comedic sense.

Despite the fact that Jeffrey Tambor is one of the greatest comedic talents of the last few decades, season 4 has proven to me that he might be my least favorite person in Arrested Development. At first I was hoping "Borderline Personalities" was just sort of a fluke, or maybe it was the shock of seeing George Sr. not confined to a single place as he was over nearly the entirety of the first three. But after "Double Crossers", I think it might just have more to do with the character of George Sr. (and to a lesser extent Oscar).

There's something fundamentally wrong with George Sr. running around trying to fix problems, almost Michael style. He's supposed to be the family's rock, the seer that sits there and dispells wisdom, however misguided it might be. I get the point of breaking him down to his lowest point, that's kind of been the point of the entire season, but I just didn't enjoy see him turn into an estrogen-filled hot mess. Is that wrong of me?

In the episode, George Sr. bribes a politician, Herbert Love (the great Terry Crews) -- who we finally meet after a few teases in previous episodes -- with the check Lindsay took from Maeby in order to speed up the process of getting the wall up along the Mexican border where he owns some land. But when he heads back to the land, he finds out that it's not actually on the border, but a few hundred feet within Mexico, thanks to Buster's only adequate cartography. He's trying to get Love to flip-flop, but he doesn't have enough money, so he tries various things, like going as far as to convince people that the wall is already up.

Things are generally going poorly for George Sr., and even worse when Gob accidentally unleashes bees on his "colony", when Oscar dumps him and takes over his life, and as he finds out that he's slowly turning into a woman for some reason.

The third act also took a bit of an unusual twist where the story focused once again on Michael, where we got his first full-fledged interactions with both his father and with his brother Gob, and dove a little further into his own movie storyline. It makes sense, as Michael is the main character of the show and it was inevitable that Jason Bateman would seep into the other episodes as he's the connecting factor to most of the other stories.

In reality, it comes off as more of a distraction, because he's just not really in the Lindsay and Tobias episodes before that, and that's kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it pads an otherwise boring and kind of bad episode with something that I've been much more interested in over the first six episodes, despite its flaws, in Michael's story. On the other hand, everything that George Sr. is going through is already really frantic and fast-paced. He already has a few too many plots going on, and with Michael there, none of them are fleshed out.

For instance, I'm not really sure about George Sr.'s motivations with the wall. I'm sure they're there, but they're not made entirely clear. It's also hard to make sense of why he's turning into a woman and losing estrogen by the end. I'm not sure if that's something Mitch Hurwitz wanted to address in the next season, or that he just found funny, but it comes off as odd more than anything else.

They say the night is always darkest before the dawn (credit: Harvey Dent). As you'll see with Gob's first appearance in "Colony Collapse", that holds true for season 4 of Arrested Development, because while Double Crossers might not necessarily be as bad as Borderline Personalities, it definitely comes close. "Double Crossers" gets 6.5 cups of Hal & Burton's goat cream out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • If you're interested in more insight on the fourth season and the process behind a show, Mitch Hurwitz did a great AMA on Reddit the other day.
  • I think I may have confused the look back at Rebel Alley's career and the place she was conceived (hint: rebel alley) as a joke from episode 4, but it was here, and a damn good one as the show reminded us of the whole situation.
  • Coming in up there with Michael chasing around a tumbleweed is Gob breaking the side of a table trying to open a bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Barry buying a ladder was pretty good too.
  • I'm not going to bother retyping it but I also loved George Sr.'s story about black kids running over his hat "for no reason".
  • To be a fly on the wall of the set when Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter were filming their fast forwarded and blurred sex scene...
  • Candidate for most obscure joke of the season: Rebel Alley did a Terrence Malick movie, which might be a reference to how Jessica Chastain did a Terrence Malick movie and the rumor that she's Ron Howard's illegitimate daughter. Although we'll wait until George Maharis to make the final assessment.
  • Old Recurring Jokes: Oscar's Buster's father, Oscar's album, Bees?, Buster's cartography, Steve Holt, "No Hugging!"
  • New Recurring Jokes: CW Swappigans, ostriches, Orange County Imaging, Halliburton, Put Up This Wall, hiding Buster's hand (you'll see), tipping black men.
  • Guest Star Tally: Terry Crews, John Slattery, Isla Fisher, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Liza Minelli, Henry Winkler
  • Best Line:

    Quote:

    "I thought you were a successful republican strategist, I'm so sorry." Waiter: "Why, because I'm black?"

    Although credit where credit is due, John Slattery was on the roll to end all rolls during his consultation with George Sr.:

    • "Any earthquakes in a Chinese restaurant while you're trying to prove something to your mother?"
    • "Any wishes you didn't phrase properly, or while a child was blowing out his candles?"
    • "Have you played any games, board or carnival-based, against the wishes of your best friend?"
    • "I'd like you to get on an MRI machine, and ride it to climax."
    • "What do I look like, Carl Weathers to you?"
    • Obama: "It's a crazytown name."
    • "No, I mean it's good to be out of that sweaty old hotbox at the compound"
    • "And that's when George Sr. finally tipped a black man."
    • "All you need is smiles. Lots and lots of smiley smiles!"
    • "That's my penis." "Oh you don't have to tell me."
    • "I've made love with treason charges over me before."
    • Mike's Hard Lemonade: "Lindsay... no... maybe Tobias?"
    • "Ron Howard directed Apollo 13. You're thinking of Moe Howard the stooge. He's been dead for half a century."
    • "You've given me a new sense of purpose." "Did you actually have an old one?"
    • "I have to see if I can pass this testosterone test." "I do too."