Previously, on my top ten Arrested Development episode list, I figured out the blue blobs on maps aren’t land. Weird. As a recap, here are episodes 5-10. Click on them to read more of my cultish rambling.
- #10: Pilot
- #9: Development Arrested
- #8: The Ocean Walker
- #7: The Immaculate Election
- #6: S.O.B.’s
- #5: Best Man for the Gob
#4. Key Decisions
The inclusion of “Key Decisions” on this list is likely a bit of a head scratcher for most Arrested Development enthusiasts. Comparatively speaking, it’s not the funniest episode in the show’s run. Don’t get me wrong, it has some excellent laughs, Buster falling in love with Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli), aka the brown pointy thing, comes to mind. The real reason why it ranks so highly on my list is because it cements the boiling competition between Michael and Gob, while delivering a great deal of empathy towards both of the characters. The episode begins with Gob feeling overshadowed by his girlfriend Marta, who has just been nominated for a Daytime Latin soap award. Having little sense of self-worth, Gob decides to upstage Marta during an interview, claiming he can break out of the same prison that holds his father. So, after haphazardly swallowing a key, Gob resides in the same cell as George Sr. With Gob locked in, he leaves Michael to do his dirty work, namely taking Marta to her awards show. In the process of being Marta’s surrogate date, Michael falls for her. Seeing Marta as an enchanting creature, and the first thing he has wanted since his wife’s death, Michael waffles back and forth between giving into this newfound desire or betraying his brother.
The writing in this episode, as far as character development goes, is fantastic, especially when it comes to excavating the pain found within Michael and Gob. Perhaps, I’m giving the episode more credit than it deserves, but very few episodes of Arrested Development are as sincere as Key Decisions”. On one hand, Michael, morally responsible to a righteous degree, struggles to understand his loyalty to a brother that perpetually ruins his life. Even more to the point, he can’t fathom how someone as perfect as Marta can love someone as emotionally vacant as Gob. Ironically, you have Gob showing the depths of his persona while in prison, as his maddening need to impress his father comes to light. Watching Michael and Gob actively yearn for a missing piece of their lives makes for an emotionally engaging episode. The episode gains more traction when John Hiatt’s “Cry Love” plays over Gob receiving his father’s attention, while Michael watches his dream girl slip away. Not many sitcoms take the time to expose their characters in this fashion, and it’s one of the major reasons why I love Arrested Development.
Favorite Quote:Michael: A family. Nothing else matters. Lucille: Michael? Michael: It’s Mom. Hide
#3. Altar Egos/Justice is Blind
All right, I’m cheating here by selecting two episodes for one spot, but both forge an excellent arc. The fun begins when most of the characters assume another identity. For instance, in an attempt to be spontaneous and increase the number of women he has slept with, Michael hits the town looking for a one night stand. At Gob’s behest Michael creates a fake persona to make a clean break away from his one night of shameful sex. Unfortunately for Michael, he doesn’t entirely create an airtight story. He says his name is Chareth Cutestory, and claims he is a maritime lawyer. In the process, Michael inadvertently woos blind attorney Maggie Lizer (Julia Louis Dreyfus). To make matters worse, Maggie is the prosecutor looking to put George Sr. behind bars. It’s a fun cat and mouse game being played out for much of the episode as Michael tries to mask his identity. But the stakes peak when the Bluth’s find out that Michael and the prosecution are bedding one another. Per usual, the Bluths try their hand at corrupting Michael’s sound heart.
To no one’s surprise, Michael rebukes his family’s calloused urgings, only to find his good faith stricken down by Maggie herself, who actually isn’t blind, and is a bit of a sociopath. For as great as the main cast is, Arrested Development is a show that has always signed on a collection of great guest stars. Julia Louis Dreyfus is arguably the best guest star, as she concocts a character that’s just as depraved as the Bluth’s. There’s little trust in Maggie Lizer, but Dreyfus gives her an infectious quality that’s easy to drift towards. That quality would certainly explain Michael’s insistent need to have sex with her, treating her almost as if she’s a dirty secret. And being that the episode resides a great deal in a courtroom, we’re treated to the antics of Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler), the Bluth’s dimwitted lawyer. Whenever he shows up, Winkler is always a fascinating watch, but this especially holds true for “Altar Egos/Justice is Blind” , where Winkler delivers some of the episodes’most distasteful and hilarious lines. All of the ingredients are present for a classic Arrested Development episode: Characters viciously use one another for their own gain, Tobias can’t help but paint himself as a closeted homosexual, and zany twists unfurl at an excessive rate.
Favorite Quote:Gob: Michael, you can save this family. Please, do the right thing here. String this blind girl along so that Dad doesn’t have to pay his debt to society Barry: The solution to all our problems is staring you right in the face, and it can’t even see you.