Arrested Development: 4.11 “A New Attitude”
Posted by therebelprince on June 7, 2013
Today, we’re catching up with the eldest Bluth brother for the season’s most erotic episode, A New Attitude, which delivers my favourite laugh of the season in revealing a well-kept family secret. I’ll also ponder exactly who locked GOB in that tomb…
“You know if tomorrow you won’t open up and let someone else in, then the treasures you have inside may never come out.” — Storage Dave / Bobblehead Ostrich
Please note this review contains spoilers for the entire fourth season of the series.
4.11 A New Attitude
written by Jim Vallely & Mitch Hurwitz
directed by Mitch Hurwitz & Troy Miller
When I think of my favourite episodes from season 4, they fall distinctly into two camps: those featuring the characters who are too smart for this shit (Lucille and Maeby) and those featuring the characters who lack even an ounce of introspection (Tobias and GOB). A New Attitude is a comparatively light episode in the overall scheme of things, probably because GOB’s first installment, Colony Collapse, covered almost the entire timeline of that character, leaving us with very little left to explore. Instead, although several plots get furthered or wrapped up in the background, A New Attitude plunges us into the dark, empty recesses of GOB Bluth’s mind, culminating in the first ever instance of a Christian straight-to-gay conversion. Should Arrested Development get a fifth season (which is seeming increasingly likely, if one can say such a thing only two weeks after the episode’s premiere), I expect we’ll get more episodes like this one, particularly if the series is still required to shuffle around its regular cast. Oh, and did I mention that the entire episode is one long, teasing build-up to the moment when GOB Bluth has sex with another man because of his pride? Yes, it’s amazing.
A New Attitude opens about a week before Cinco, when most of the Bluth family are fighting each other politically or personally. Kept aside from this (at least, when he’s not being used as a pawn by one or more members of said family), GOB has decided he’s going to bring down his nemesis Tony Wonder, after having failed to do so on the night of the Opies. All he needs is a man to pose as his gay lover and it seems logical (right?) to get a family member to sub in. Steve Holt isn’t in to it, and neither is Michael (despite being asked over a refreshing glass of John Beard’s “hard lemonade”), so the task falls to George Michael (himself in the throes of becoming famous as internet guru George Maharis). The gay subculture jokes are great (particularly GOB’s inability to distinguish between a gay sauna and a children’s ball pit), with such delicious moments as GOB sucking on George Michael’s pinky (he’s not homophobic, he’s just uncomfortable) and the surprise reappearance of Officer Taylor (Jay Johnston, one half of the fathers of Loretta’s surrogate child), who is moonlighting in the role of an oppressive bigoted cop in Tony Wonder’s current show. Despite his best efforts, GOB fails for a second time by locking down everything except the beanbag Tony was hiding in, but the night takes an odd turn when the two magicians bond, and GOB – not wanting to be honest about why he’s at the Gothic Asshole – pretends he’s gay.
The extended riff on two characters pretending to be something they aren’t is by no means new to Arrested Development, and with the exception of the occasional foray into GOB’s surprisingly successful real estate dealings, the episode stays focused on its central plot. Thankfully, if you’re a fan of Will Arnett’s misplaced sexual advances and people in masks having sex with the wrong person, this is the episode for you. (For the record, I fall into all of the above categories.) Ben Stiller and Arnett go for broke in an episode that dials the ridiculous and meta references up to eleven, for instance when the pair whisper their secrets to each other loudly enough that we can hear (the secret to keeping the beanbag free is a sign saying “don’t sit on the beanbag”). There’s ostensibly a plot here, in that Tony is looking to hack into GOB’s phone to get George Maharis’ phone number, but it’s mostly an excuse for the two hopeless men to mistake their first every friendship for a gay love affair. Ann’s cruel manipulations are fitting karmic justice, even if I’m not sure how two men can realistically have “serious secular intercourse” with each other without realising their partner isn’t a woman. I mean… come on!
There are a few little plot additions to be thrown in. Most notably, Ann slept with Tony during GOB’s cavebound absence, and she now has a 5-year-old son. This is an interesting detail to me, and I don’t think we should overlook it. For one thing, season 4 takes place 5 years (almost exactly) after GOB’s wedding. For Ann to be calling her son “5 years old”, it’s being quite charitable to assume that includes a full nine-months after her affair with Tony. It seems far more likely, to me, that GOB actually is the father from their initial night of passion on the yacht – and some odd detail about the Veal family’s Christian sect has led her to believe pregnancy doesn’t last that long. Beyond which, the reveal of Ann’s child is so inconsequential to the season – Ann sleeping with Tony is enough of a shock without the child thrown in – that there’s clearly a payoff being designed for down the track. In short, I think GOB will turn out to be the father of Ann’s child, which would be in keeping with his known ability to father illegitimate children. (He’s much more like Franklin than he realises.)
In other news, the dead dove in Rebel’s refrigerator comes not from some illicit affair but is a remnant from her alcoholic past and the brief moment she spent with GOB and Mark Cherry. There’s apparently a heterosexual plot behind the production of Dreamgirls. And Sally Sitwell of all people gets my biggest laugh of the season with the sneaky reveal that she, too, suffers from alopecia. Tony not realising her eyebrows are fake is funny enough, but the confused silence after Sally explains that she’s never shaved her legs before is pure ecstasy. The pair (played by real-life married couple Stiller and Christine Taylor) are clearly up to something; Sally has stolen $100,000 from Lucille 2 to rebrand Tony as the gay magician, and it would appear to be just the first step on Sally’s journey into politics. I hope that we get to see ramifications of this in season 5, particularly if it brings more of Ed Begley, Jr. into the fold.
Elsewhere, Michael finally agrees to his dad’s request to get GOB gainful employment: he’s gonna be selling the Sudden Valley homes somehow. Despite making the “woops” column in POOF, GOB does something incredibly rare by managing to sell all of Sudden Valley… by placing the sex-offender friendly advertisement “We have no schools! Kid-free! Great pool!” (The fact that the sex offender map is a live map is phenomenal.) Now working with the approval of his parents, an emotional GOB runs into China Garden out on the border where he gets the idea to hire the Chinese to build the wall. As it turns out, the Bluths will end up with a Mongol horde but from here, it’s no surprise that GOB will end the season as President rather than Michael. The brotherly rivalry has been the most vital thread of the series since the pilot, with this episode’s ball-pit brawl providing a visual flashback to the climax of the Marta storyline in season one (complete with the ironically apt tune from that era, “keep those balls in the air!”). The season is about to veer away from the GOB character, making this his last particularly prominent appearance, so it’s worth remembering the brothers’ feud, given how the season will end for them both.
Thoughts and musings:
- So, who did lock GOB in his trick? Given the “t” necklace that was found, Ann surely seems a likely suspect, but this episode suggests she was truly peeved that GOB didn’t come back (and possibly wanted to be married, if she was actually aware GOB was the father of her child). Then there’s Pastor Veal, but he seemed pretty certain the wedding would take place. Tony Wonder was apparently lurking around at the wedding, but could it have been Sally Sitwell in a Tony Wonder mask? Knock out the competition? Craig Renn over at Arrested Development Wikia suggests the following ingenious solution: Lucille 2 is the only other person we see wearing a “t” necklace – was she involved? (Photographic evidence on that page.)
- Season four’s biggest crime: No Franklin!
- GOB: “Well, that’s a funny way to phrase that.”
- “He got the last laugh which in this case turned out to be the first laugh. I don’t understand why you can’t follow me on this”.
- GOB’s attorney is Bob Loblaw.
- At the start of the episode, Michael has the film rights of Lucille, Lindsay, George, Tobias, and GOB. By episode’s end, he’s petulantly told three of those people, “You’re out of the movie!” It’s a very funny hissy fit on Jason Bateman’s part, but also a neat meta joke about the constant casting issues the series has faced since rumours first starting circulating of its GOB-like resurrection.
- Did you know Doogie Howser is the biggest fake gay there is?
- The episode throws us a “previously on” sequence as well as an “on the next”; how spoiled are we?
- The Tony Wonder mask joke is ridiculous. Which actually leads me to suggest it was Sally or Lucille 2 in a Tony mask who destroyed GOB’s trick. It’s the only possible explanation for the joke as a whole, right?
- Tony has been “overexplaining the shit out of everything lately”. (“I know that. Why are you telling me this?”)
- One of the newly-gay men in Tony’s magic show appears to have bandages on his head and a Tobias-like cardigan.
- GOB’s words of wisdom in the storage locker are, of course, not the words of a supernatural bobblehead ostrich, but those of TV’s Storage Dave standing on the other side of the wall.
- The candy beans remind both GOB and Tony Wonder of the former’s crooked smile.
- Maybe I’m immature, but that Sounds of Silence gags gets better with each passing occurrence.
- Michael: “If I wanna see bad acting, I’ll go and see Tobias in A Jew Comes to Dinner“.
- John Beard’s house cameras remain throughout the model home. It’s, again, a cleverly constructed notion, but it’s also a good way for the writers to resolve any future issues, as they can return to the period when the house was bugged.
- Lindsay, George, Maeby, and Buster all sit out the episode.
- As we see at episode’s end, George Michael continues the Bluth men’s trend of appearing in ladies’ nightgowns.
Who killed Lucille 2?
Another tangible thread pops up this week and, while it’s probably too blatant to be the solution, I have no doubt they’re involved somehow.
#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 blatantly suggests in Double Crossers that something might just happen to her rival. Also seems mighty convinced Lindsay really is a Bluth after all. Realised her second love, Oscar, had been stolen by her rival, and pledged to “pay [Lucille 2] back once and for all”.
#4. George Bluth, Sr. – puppet of #3.
#5. Heartfire – potential puppet of #4.
#6. Oscar Bluth – had an affair with Lucille 2 and clearly wanted to keep it quiet. He also spent part of the night making out with her by the staircar.
#7. China Garden – slept with Oscar, and seems like the possessive type.
#8. Tobias Fünke – only has til Monday to come up with the funds for his musical extravaganza. He can’t go back to prison.
#9. DeBrie Bardeaux – a meth addict who we know will end up at Cinco de Cuatro, and whose current state has received no kind words from Lucille 2.
#10. Cindy the Ostrich – that second-layer of makeup can’t hold out forever.
#11. Byron “Buster” Bluth – clearly susceptible to his mother’s wishes, one of which primarily includes defeating Lucille 2. (And 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. He may have suspected Lucille 2 of sabotaging his Christian illusion.
#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 Fünke – now 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.
#17. Argyle Austero – no clear motivation, except Lucille may have blamed him for the failure of Fantastic Four: The Musical. But we’ve seen him kick, and it looks dangerous.
#18. Sally Sitwell – stole $100,000 from Lucille 2. Wanted to run for politics herself.
#19. Tony Wonder – he’ll do anything to save his career, and he and Sally have a lot of dark deeds going on.
#20. Pastor and Mrs. Veal – may have suspected that someone in the Austero camp ruined their daughter’s wedding, leaving her pregnant and unmarried.
On the next Arrested Development: Maeby is a high school senior. Again and again and again…