The Blog Formerly Known as Rebel Prince

Cult TV, Gen Y rants, and endless opera.

Arrested Development: 4.08 “Red Hairing”

Posted by therebelprince on June 6, 2013

Ron HowardWelcome back to my Arrested Development season four reviews, as I tackle the climax of Lindsay Bluth’s storyline, and we say a brief “Hel-loh!” to an old favourite. Also, some serious progress in the season’s overarching mystery, and my crackpot theory on Lindsay’s true parentage.

“I’m for Lucille 2 4 Congress” — Banner

Please note this review contains spoilers for the entire fourth season of the series.

4.08 Red Hairing

written by Caroline Williams & Richard Rosenstock

directed by Mitch Hurwitz & Troy Williams

With Red Hairing, the season’s complexity steps up a notch after the reasonably isolated tales of Tobias and GOB thus far. It helps that the timeline brings us forward to the weeks leading up to Cinco de Cuatro, and we now have a clear enough view of where all this is heading to really weight the stakes. At the same time, this is Lindsay Bluth Fünke’s “arrested development”, and she becomes the fifth regular character to choose ignorance bliss over reality and growth. It’s a delicate balancing act that I think the script pulls off.

After news of her mother’s conviction reaches the Bark family estate, Lindsay grows tired of her rugged nomad lifestyle and convinces Marky Bark that they can change the world “from within”. It’s a classic Lindsay sentiment that sees her moving houses (like Michael and GOB before her), only this time she’s scurrying back to her mother’s penthouse. One year later, she and Marky Bark are living in a house that would make Grey Gardens look like the Hilton. Marky is Oscar to Lindsay’s Lucille, and she’s beginning to realise that this isn’t the life she was born to (“You’re looking at Lindsay. Still Lindsay”).  Once it becomes clear that Marky’s plan involves such subtle details as a two-part horse costume and a large amount of blue paint, Lindsay has her moment of revelation. Oh, perhaps not the way you’d think. She’s not getting away from her lifestyle, she’s retreating back into it through the open arms of one Herbert Love. At lunch at Lucille’s country club prison, Lindsay is reminded by her mother that she’s still a Bluth and the script goes to pains to point this out. By the episode’s end, when a short-haired Lindsay is leading a bunch of privileged Americans in a riot against their brown neighbours, the narrator reminds us that “it was originally her mother’s idea… Who she really was.”

Red Hairing 1It’s interesting, then, to note the lunch sequence which uses a fair bit of ADR. (Additional dialogue recording is very common on TV to re-record dialogue missed by the mics on set, to clarify details that producers worry won’t be obvious after they put together the first edit, or just to make things work when an episode has to be shortened in the editing suite.) With this show’s unusual filming schedule, I’d expect there was more cause for ADR than usual, but these moments seem particularly telling. First, Lucille calls her daughter by the nickname “nosey”, suggesting this little flashback – “you looked like a can opener” – was a last-minute decision. (Indeed, it’s one of the weaker moments of the episode, since we’ve known about Lindsay’s nose job for some time now.) Then, there’s a seemingly needless moment when Lindsay reminds Lucille that she’s not even her real mother. I’m beginning to wonder if Lucille 2 doesn’t play a part in this, since the script also suggests that Lindsay sees Lucille 2 as a much better mother figure than the original. (Although, as Ms. Austero points out, she doesn’t really like to use the “2” when referring to herself.) Could Ms. Austero be Lindsay’s true mother? Lucille 1 makes a crack at the trial that her rival has had a room for her “imaginary boy” for many years. Since we know she didn’t adopt Perfecto until closer to the present day, it seems possible that Lucille’s pining for a child (and even the reason she’s so affectionate toward young Buster) is that she once had a child and gave it up. Lucille 2 and Stan Sitwell seem to have a past, so perhaps they’re the parents of the child, who would grow up to be Sally Sitwell”s rival – and also her sister. Crazy? Phenomenal? You be the judge.

There’s another, much more deliberate scene between Lindsay and Maeby where they interact on the same level for the first time in their entire lives. Lindsay reiterates that she’s not a whore (well, technically at that point she isn’t), while Maeby tries to be open and honest with her mother by confessing that she’s in the next room at the Opies, but ultimately rejects Lindsay completely. While the adult Bluths rejecting their parents is usually solid comic ground, the juvenile Bluths estranging themselves from their elders holds some poignancy to it, and it’s pretty clear that this is a turning point in the relationship. When Lindsay shows up in the hopes of living at the model home, Maeby’s attitude toward her is much more direct than ever before. But the idea of the family unit reconnecting and sharing in the simple joys of getting a live duck into the oven are shortlived: the lure of money and power is all Lindsay needs to direct her to Herbert Love’s campaign, or so she thinks.

Love taps into Lindsay’s desire for power and the same daddy issues that caused so much trouble when she routinely visited her father in prison back in season 1. As Michael puts it, he’s “a guy who represents pretty much everything you pretend to hate”. Moreso, he’s yet another reminder of complete Bluth obliviousness. Lindsay wants to be his advisor despite having no awareness of the Wall project until Michael – following George’s lead – tries to get her to turn the politician against it, but she’s unaware that she’s actually his whore. (And after all, why shouldn’t she think so? They work so well together, they finish each other’s sandwiches.) Lindsay’s dinner with Michael is a central setpiece of the episode, with all four of the characters confused about their relationships with each other. Rebel perhaps gets the worst of it, since Love is against her and Michael is throwing cheap potshots at Ron Howard the whole time. It’s very funny stuff, particularly the deliberately drawn-out hug between Michael and Lindsay as they work out their identities. (It reminds me somewhat of the middle years of Frasier, when the characters were self-referentially aware of how often they got into farces that they just sighed resignedly whenever they walked into a room and were greeted with a different name.)

Red Hairing

At 37 minutes, Red Hairing is the longest episode of the season but for the life of me, I wouldn’t have it any shorter. There are certainly some obvious scenes to trim in a sitcom that was working on a set episode length – the young Lucille flashback, the sequence at the prison (am I the only one who thinks Lindsay would’ve just dropped Marky completely after she met Love?) – but overall, I think it’s a stellar culmination for the Lindsay character. Unfortunately, as with George, Sr., this is the culmination. On the night of Cinco de Cuatro, Lindsay is abandoned by Love but manages to find a way to address his adoring masses. Despite her attempts to turn the crowd against him, they’re delighted by the notion of a wall and she’s quickly turned by the roar of the crowd. Lindsay’s storyline ends atop a dais, as she accepts a political challenge (well, okay, technically we find out that the next day – or something like it – she goes to Orange County Imagine for a smear). Perhaps with time, the fact that Lindsay exits season four with seven episodes left won’t feel like as much of a loss. After all, we’re gradually building the clues as to what happened that night, and it’s good to know that it’s Lindsay up there on the podium. And I feel a bit churlish deriding the series for doing the best it could with challenging circumstances. Perhaps I should take my own advice on not being so dogmatic about what constitutes a main character, and just enjoy the rest of the season with the foreknowledge that this installments have given me.

Thoughts and musings:

  • Portia de Rossi gets the best line reading this week for her line at dinner, “Don’t you have to have power to abuse power?”
  • We finally see Annyong Bluth for all of five seconds, as an attempt to stooge the Bluths out of some money gets him deported. The nonchalant attitude in Ron Howard’s voice (“Goodbye, Annyong!”) is quite funny, with the scene rather openly acknowledging that they had nothing to add to the character, and they were only including him to appease fans. I’m not sure whether Justin Lee can act (it’s always the trouble with kid actors: would he be strong enough to pull off a villain?) but I’m sure we can expect another return from an aggrieved Annyong should the series show signs of anything like longevity.
  • Mrs. Bark also suffers from face blindness.
  • Some other pretty clear ADR when Michael tells Lindsay he has a script meeting with the Warden on Tuesday. The whole notion that Lindsay cares enough to get Marky out of jail smells a little fishy, like the writers just wanted to make it that bit harder for Michael to get Lindsay’s signature, and to find some excuse to get him out of jail for the climax.
  • Dr. Norman appears to have a side business in sedating iguanas.
  • “Let’s put some newspaper on these windows.” — Marky Bark
  • “I’ll be out on parole by the time you work up a tear.”
  • Michael gets Lindsay’s rights, meaning he’s 2-for-2 so far (in episode running order, that is). Before Lindsay knows, she’ll be out of the movie again!
  • Marky is charged with “non-Arab terrorism”: “turns out the glitter was shrapnel grade”.
  • Props to guest star Jill Donnelly, as the hostess at the Ealing club, in a small role that manages to stand out.
  • George Michael’s absence in the season has been profoundly felt, particularly since it’s not just the actor but the character who’s been estranged from the action. The exchange of phone lies is an amusing gag here, but one that will develop much further as the season goes on.
  • Love doesn’t believe in paying for a woman’s contraception “but, to be fair, he does pay for the room”.
  • Lindsay’s rivalry with Sally Sitwell was a pretty tiny part of the original series, but it’s considerably beefed up here. Which is just as well: Christine Taylor rarely gets to play villainous characters, but she’s doing stellar work in this role.
  • You know, South Park already did the Mongols building a wall storyline, and they did it better, but I appreciate the sentiment. “PUT UP THIS WALL!”
  • Lindsay doesn’t have the muscle memory to throw money away. Cue tiny strategist David: “She’s keeping it”.
  • Tony Hale sits this one out.

Red Hairing 3Callbacks-=and-forwards

  • Lucille 2 obtains the red wig for Lindsay, although she was hoping to use it for Perfecto Telles.
  • Our first banner!
  • Lindsay: “you figured it out, Gene Parmesan”.
  • Just so we’re clear: Cindy escapes from the penthouse on the night of the Opies (caused by Maeby, we’ll later learn), attacks Lucille 2, and then presumably finds her way on to the freeway where she’s the inadvertant cause of GOB’s bees getting loose. I’m still voting for her as Lucille 2’s killer. Those things hold grudges.
  • Maeby was at the Opies in the next room, but clearly couldn’t resist stealing the coconut shrimp from the Herbert Love fundraiser.
  • George obtains the cheque from Lindsay, which she inadvertently stole from Maeby after thinking it was from Lucille. Got that? He’ll later pass it to Love, who’ll give it to David, who’ll use his coffers to fund Maeby pimping out Lucille to Love as they support George building the wall. Let’s all take a breath now.
  • Cindy Featherbottom is a great name, ain’t it?
  • Maeby: “Well, you certainly have a type.”
  • Portia puts on her “Shemale” voice to avoid Marky Bark’s attentions.
  • One of the doors at the model home needs fixing after John Beard’s team trashed the place. On the plus side, they’re never gonna run out of lemonade.
  • Michael: “You really want to blow him… away.”
  • Marky’s bomb is again in the same luggage as previously used by Tobias and Lindsay.
  • Lucille 2 comments on Sally’s long hair, prefiguring an upcoming alopecia joke that may just be the funniest moment of the season.
  • Herbert’s coma recalls Buster’s: “He may come out of in a week to ten years”. de Rossi does the “I want to be… an actor!” face when asked if she wants to run in his place.
  • Lindsay and Love had sex in a photobooth, as Rebel does with two Bluth men this season.

Who killed Lucille 2?

* I should point out at this juncture that we can’t 100% assume Lucille 2 is dead. Still, I’m assuming the writers are implying something pretty big with this twist. Some new suspects this week, as we’ll see below.

#1. Michael Bluth – owed Lucille 2 $700,000. Despite his implication that he [bleeped] his way out of it, that doesn’t really seem to fit with the timeline. So what exactly did Michael do to sort out the problem?
#2. Stan Sitwell – sold his shares to Lucille 2 and has a lot at stake against both the Wall, and the Austero-Bluth company.
#3. Lucille Bluth – leading proponent of the wall Lucille 2 is fighting against and who blatantly suggests in Double Crossers that something might just happen to her rival. Also seems mighty convinced Lindsay really is a Bluth after all.
#4. George Bluth, Sr. – puppet of #3.
#5. Heartfire – potential puppet of #4.
#6. Oscar Bluth – had an affair with Lucille and clearly wanted to keep it quiet.
#7. China Garden – slept with Oscar, and seems like the possessive type.
#8. Tobias Fünke – [previous reasons negated]
#9. DeBrie Bardeaux – a meth addict who we know will end up at Cinco de Cuatro.
#10. Cindy the Ostrich – Newport Beach isn’t big enough for two feathered old birds.
#11. Byron “Buster” Bluth – clearly susceptible to his mother’s wishes, one of which primarily includes defeating Lucille 2. (He’s also a guy with some serious issues controlling his appendages.)
#12. George Oscar “GOB” Bluth II – the new President of the Bluth Company, destined now to share his parents’ rivals.
#13. Marky Bark – sure, his main beef is with Herbert Love (and the guy has face blindness, not colour blindness), but Marky insists Lucille Austero is part of the problem as well.
#14. Herbert Love – clearly has no morals, may know about the compromising photographs, and will do anything to win. He went missing on the same night as Lucille. (cue Indian singing voice) Coincidence?
#15. Lindsay Bluth Fünkenow aware that Lucille has compromising photos of her, and needs to do anything she can to sabotage a rival. And is Lucille 2 her real mother?
#16. David the campaign strategist – would presumably do anything for his boss, as evidenced by his “giant!” snipe.

On the next Arrested Development: “Fantastic Three and Lousy One”

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