Much has been made of Arrested Development trying to weave the narratives of each character’s individual episodes into a larger framework. If it doesn’t fry your brain, binge watching all seven and a half hours in one day might give you the chance to put the performances of this talented ensemble cast in a better context. But this isn’t a ridiculously long movie. Arrested Development is still a television show, no matter if streaming has eliminated commercials, Blockbuster Video and the tiresome dance of worrying about a contract renewal.
The first three episodes run like the weekly release format for a reason. A lot of the jokes that we are told will make sense later on aren’t sorted out between the Michael, George Sr. and Lindsay’s episodes, respectively. That isn’t a knock on these episodes.
In catching up the viewers over the happenings of the Bluth family over the last seven years, it could be done the fastest through these characters. The family goes as Michael goes. The business lives or dies with George Sr. and Tobias, Lindsay and Maeby, as unenthusiastic as they are toward one another, are inseparable. They have the most intricate stories to be told, not only because these plotlines revolve around them, but also because they exemplify different ways a person’s life can be measure over an extended period of time.
In “Flight of the Phoenix”, Michael regresses. He was less of a father, trading his dignity for top bunk of his son’s college dorm room. He was less of a businessman, constructing Sudden Valley, only to realize that if you build it that doesn’t guarantee anyone will come. He was even less of a man, sacrificing his tastes in some of the babes he hooked up with in seasons past for a filthy fling with Lucille 2, in order to save some financial face. For George Sr., his episode “Father B”, was about a man of many faces caught up in another corporate charade. You can make the case that George Sr. is constantly changing his outward appearance, but deep down he is as consistently seedy as it gets.
And then we get to Lindsay’s episode, “Indian Takers”. Lindsay, rightfully upset after finding out she was adopted, realizes it was a blessing in disguise. She now had a way out of the family. She goes to India for this big spiritual renaissance, only to come back when Lucille buys her loyalty. Lindsay is a character capable of making a big change in her life because she’ll perpetually want what she can’t have. In the episode she gets the big mansion she can’t afford and the sex she desperately wants and we don’t have to go out on a limb to guess that those life choices won’t work out for her.
Her story is complex because of her relationships with her (adopted) family, her boneheaded husband and her sometimes forgotten daughter. But “Indian Takers” thrives where the Michael and George Sr. episodes struggle. That’s the danger of having two key characters start the season, as they had to live up to insurmountable expectations. As key as Lindsay is to catching viewers up on her family, her trials don’t need this long running narrative to make sense of it all. “Indian Takers” gets back to being quirky, light and unpredictable, with Lindsay hooking up with a man with face blindness and Tobias becoming a regular at a “method one” clinic. You would never have pegged Lindsay to be the one to get the Bluth’s back on track but now that enough of the story is explained, Arrested Development can build off the momentum of episode three and get back to the punchy, fast paced humor we are used to.
Den Of Geek Score: 3.5 Out Of 5 Stars