Season 1, Episode 15: Staff Infection

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Original airdate March 14, 2004
Written by Brad Copeland
Directed by John Fortenberry
Production Code #1AJD14

BlueDot2 DECONSTRUCTION
BlueDot2 
HIGHLIGHTS
BlueDot2 NITPICKS/GAFFES
BlueDot2 EPISODE NOTES/TRIVIA
BlueDot2 HIDDEN DETAILS
BlueDot2 DELETED/EXTENDED SCENES

“After discovering most of the family is on the company payroll, Michael puts his siblings to work at the Bluth Company, just as issues arise with the construction of Sudden Valley, making it difficult for Michael to spend time with his son. While Gob and Buster engage in fowl play at the construction site, Lindsay finds herself in charge of the employees, and subsequently loses the flock. Meanwhile, Tobias becomes the newest inmate at Orange County Prison. as research for the role of Frightened Inmate #2.”

NOTE: Deconstructing Arrested Development openly discusses spoilers when relevant (which can include episodes that come later in the series). Readers who have not seen the series in its entirety are advised to proceed at their own discretion.

DECONSTRUCTION

There have been several Arrested Development episodes now about the Bluth family being made to work (namely Top Banana and Public Relations). But when hearing that premise laid out to them, Staff Infection would probably be the episode most Arrested Development fans immediately recall. At the episode’s core is a pretty straightforward premise: Michael discovers most of the family is on the Bluth Company payroll, and puts them to work for their money, as the company’s overworked and underpaid employees desperately need assistance. Many storylines on the show see Michael learning of other Bluths’ lies, but it’s less common to see almost everyone in on the lie (other examples that spring to mind would be the family’s use of George Sr’s car in Charity Drive, Gob’s Card Sharks win mentioned in Queen for a Day, or the beach cottage Michael discovers in An Old Start). The family receiving under-the-table checks for doing nothing is classic Arrested Development through and through; if anything, it’s strange that it took the show 15 episodes to deploy this idea. It’s a premise that splits off into several subplots, with various members of the family shifting between several locations, as the plot threads eventually intertwine and rejoin at the end; precisely the kind of plotting this show does best.

The most memorable of these subplots is that of Buster and Gob, who are tasked with construction work at Sudden Valley, where the crew have been asked to work without pay. Despite the Bluth Company operating in the construction industry, this is one of only two episodes to actually feature a Bluth construction site (the other being The One Where They Build a House). It makes for a change of pace visually, as a large portion of the episode takes place out in the open; perhaps a contributing factor in what makes the Buster/Gob scenes stand out. The two brothers’ screentime together has been limited thus far, and while they never become a particularly prominent pairing, their relationship does yield a lot of very funny material in the future (season 2’s Sword of Destiny perhaps being the duo’s stand-out episode). At this point in the series though, the writers are still clearly finding these characters’ dynamics together; Gob has been largely antagonistic towards his baby brother so far, the one exception being their scene sleuthing together in Beef Consommé. Pier Pressure depicted a particularly hostile relationship between the two as children (which is revisited next season in Sad Sack), while other episodes have shown Gob being dismissive of Buster in general. And Staff Infection is an episode that very clearly casts Gob in the role of Buster’s bully, building to an outlandish showdown between the two (in addition to the introduction of the show’s beloved chicken dances, though more on that in the episode notes).

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Prior to this, Buster has the time of his life on the construction site, genuinely enjoying the novelty of manual labor while giggling relentlessly at the mild profanity he overhears from the other workers. But Buster is, in fact, a dangerous hindrance, causing all sorts of mayhem on the job while fully believing he’s of help to the others. Gob doesn’t fare much better; after doing the bare minimum of work required, he eventually leads a revolt among the unpaid construction workers, motivated purely by spite towards Michael for making him work in the first place. Gob’s pettiness often has catastrophic effects on those around him; as is typically the case, Michael makes a pretty reasonable request of Gob, only to get screwed over by Gob in response. In a functional family, being offered a job (for which you are woefully unqualified) by your brother might be seen as a nice gesture, but Gob resents everything about the idea of working for his paycheck. Granted, Michael isn’t doing this to “help Gob help himself” – he needs as many hands on deck as possible – but regardless of his motivations, his plan proves to be disastrously ill-conceived; Buster and Gob really are the worst thing that could’ve happened to that construction site. By the time the aforementioned showdown begins, construction has been completely halted, and Buster’s pleas to resume (“Come on, you douchebags, we’re all on the same team!”) only rile up his coworkers further when they learn the two most useless crew members have gotten their paychecks.

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While Michael’s brothers are shutting down things at the construction site, his sister winds up doing an equal amount of damage at the Bluth Company office. After initially undermining Michael’s leadership in front of his employees and making it clear she doesn’t want to work, Lindsay finds herself temporarily in charge of the office, and attempts to bring some of her new age ideology to the role. At this point, Lindsay has already lost all the workers by sending them out to lunch without a destination (where a clever plot turn sees them boarding a bus that was waiting there to pick up Lupe’s family, established in an earlier scene). But her next idea – replacing the focus-retaining florescent lights with sleep-inducing dimmers – winds up being more ill-advised, as it invites a team of undercover feds right into the building. Lindsay, Buster and Gob are all equally disruptive presences for the business, but to her credit, Lindsay is the only one who takes charge when learning of the construction site shutdown. Granted, the tactics she employs are deplorable for a number of reasons – but it’s a wonderful moment of coalescence as Lupe’s family are unexpectedly brought back into the narrative again. Staff Infection has numerous points of narrative dovetailing, but this may very well be the most satisfying. Lindsay even grows little in this episode, at least in that she overcomes her own laziness.

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The theme of work continues into Tobias’s subplot, as he researches for the acting gig he landed back in Marta Complex. He does so by checking himself into prison and bunking with his father-in-law – an idea he presumably got from Gob – kicking off a minor story arc that concludes in the next episode, Missing Kitty. Tobias/George Sr. is an even rarer character pairing than Buster/Gob (their only other notable one-on-one scenes being in season 2’s Motherboy XXX and Sword of Destiny). Even without the obvious factor of George Sr’s narrative isolation, it makes sense that these two don’t spend much time together, for reasons that become clearer in this arc’s second part. Nevertheless, it proves to be a comical character pairing, as a blissfully ignorant Tobias recklessly endangers himself for the very minor role of “Frightened Inmate #2.” He shows up after a legitimately shocking moment of brutality in the prison yard, soon refers to a white supremacist as a “shiny building of a man,” and then assumes George Sr. is giving him acting pointers when uttering “I’m very scared right now.” Tobias just does not absorb the reality of his surroundings at all. The Tobias/George Sr. scenes are pretty much gold from the get-go, and it’s honestly a shame the show didn’t utilize this pairing more often, given the strong comedic rhythm they immediately forge here. Though it’s also not surprising this character combination works so well; many comedy writers will tell you a sure-fire way to generate laughs is to put two polar opposites together, and Tobias/George Sr. very much fit the (White Power) Bill.

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Unfortunately, Maeby and Lucille aren’t given a great deal to do in this episode. The former gets a brief but amusing scene in the banana stand with George Michael and Annyong, but doesn’t have anything in the way of a storyline here. Lucille also shares a very funny scene with several family members, which initiates several storylines, though Lucille’s mostly there to deliver punchlines. Jessica Walter makes the most out of this material (her pitch perfect delivery of “My hero” when Michael grants Lupe the day off is a particular stand-out), but from this point on, she’s lumped with a throwaway and mostly off-screen subplot: Lucille returns home from grocery shopping to find no one’s home, and spends the rest of the episode trying to find someone to unload her car, eventually driving to the construction site in search of laborers. As stubborn as Lucille may be, she’s anything but helpless, and this storyline admittedly verges on the preposterous. It’s saved mostly by how well it ties the other plot threads together at the end; indeed, Lucille shows up with a car full of booze just as Michael promises the workers a party, seemingly appeasing them. It puts a satisfying bow on the story, though may very well be the broadest plotting in the whole first season.

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On the note of broad material, Staff Infection also features an unusually large amount of physical comedy. Arrested Development has dabbled in the form before – ie. Lucille 2’s vertigo episodes – though it’s rare to see so much of it concentrated into a single installment (other examples that spring to mind are season 2’s Ready, Aim, Marry Me!, season 4’s Off the Hook and the Buster/Oscar scenes in season 5’s Unexpected Company). It’s easy to write off slapstick as a more low-brow form of comedy; the kind of thing that would be beneath Arrested Development. But really, there’s a good way and a bad way to do slapstick, and the show’s forays into the style land firmly in the former camp. Much of this comes down to the sporadic nature of these bits, and the cast’s commitment to them (after all, it’d be foolish not to utilize the talents of a performer as physically-inclined as Tony Hale). The scenes at the Sudden Valley construction site are particularly heavy on physical comedy, yielding some of the show’s broadest material to date, such as Buster nailing himself to a wall, Gob attempting to ride his segway in the dirt, and of course, the ludicrous showdown between the two brothers. While not necessarily clever, these bits are all skillfully executed, and the results are genuinely funny; there isn’t really any style of comedy Arrested Development shies away from, and when the show does operate outside of its wheelhouse, it usually nails it.

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It’s this broadness that makes Staff Infection feel a little out of place in the first season. Stylistically, Staff Infection bears more resemblance to a season 2 or 3 episode, as the show embraces its more ostentatious and cartoony leanings here. The narrative doesn’t rely all that much on the show’s trademark misunderstandings, either; aside from the office workers’ misadventures, the only real breakdown in communication here is between Michael and George Michael. The latter finds himself questioning his father’s lack of availability after Michael bails on their traditional Saturday father/son bike ride; largely the result of Maeby messing with him. It doesn’t help that Michael almost hits him with the staircar, and while he thankfully misses him, he spends the rest of the episode missing him too, largely the result of sheer bad timing. There’s one token element of the first season that’s very much present here, and that is the show’s heart; it’s a genuinely sweet moment when George Michael finds his father’s archive of his childhood craft projects (even if it’s immediately undercut by one of the darkest jokes in the series, as one of the undercover feds remarks that he has a clean shot of the boy). Michael may not be the best father, but he genuinely values the time he spends with his son. In the Bluth family, that’s probably the best anyone can hope for.

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All in all, Staff Infection isn’t quite a stone-cold classic, but there are many parts of the episode that are quintessential Arrested Development. It’s less grounded in reality than most of season 1, but in turn, boasts the more audacious storytelling of subsequent seasons. While each storyline is given mere minutes to play out, they feature fully-formed character arcs; Tobias goes from researching fear to being in a genuinely scary situation, Gob comes to gain a modicum of respect for Buster after taunting him repeatedly, and the ever tightly-wound Michael learns the value of relaxation – and finally gets to spend some time with his son in the process. But while Staff Infection is considerably well-plotted, it definitely prioritizes laughs above all else; this episode isn’t a study into the characters by any means, but simply a way to generate jokes by putting them in unfamiliar scenarios. To that end, it’s practically Arrested Development’s own equivalent of a day at the beach. But of course, a day at the beach for this show still results in the construction of something elaborate.

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 HIGHLIGHTS

BlueDot2 Tobias saves himself some with a shortened version of his name:

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(Also note the multiple corrections to the letterhead)

BlueDot2 TOBIAS: (practicing his lines) I ain’t going to squeal, man. I ain’t going to sq… Oh, I’m not frightened! God… Lindsay, say something to scare me.
LINDSAY: *beep* me.
TOBIAS: …Nope. Nothing. Thanks for trying, though.

BlueDot2 There are just so many poorly chosen words in this sentence:

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BlueDot2 BUSTER: You got a job, Annyong?
ANNYONG: Annyong.
BUSTER: Annyong.
ANNYONG: Annyong.

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BlueDot2 LUCILLE: His work ethic is unbelievable… Unlike some sons I know.
BUSTER: I’m a scholar. I enjoy scholarly pursuits. (storms off)
LUCILLE: (sighs) Suddenly, playing with yourself is a scholarly pursuit.

BlueDot2 “Buster had an unfortunate encounter in a photo booth on the wildlife-populated island of Catalina.”

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The gag is then mirrored later in the scene, when Lucille applies for a membership card at Quantity Plus:

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BlueDot2 LUCILLE: They’ve got a bus, and they want to use the parking lot to this building as a meeting place. I mean, for god’s sake, it’s not a hardware store. We can’t have them hanging around like a bunch of freeloaders looking for an easy buck.
MICHAEL: What’s the emergency, mom?
LUCILLE: I need money.

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: You enjoy that paycheck when you get it. It will be the last one I ever send here.
BUSTER: Uh, does that mean I have to go to your office to get mine, too, or… how’s that work?
MICHAEL: You gotta be kidding me… Alright, you know what, Buster? Bob in the copy room, he quit today. If you want your money, you’re gonna have to work for it.
BUSTER: …Okay, I accept. I’ll take that job. (looks at Lucille) I will work in the copy room.

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“I wouldn’t go in there without knocking, Michael.”

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: Lindsay, how can you just come in here and ask me for a paycheck?
LINDSAY: Well, I usually ask Kitty, but she’s not around, and you’re the only one here that I’ve ever seen before.
MICHAEL: How long has this been going on?
LINDSAY: Dad hired me out of college.
MICHAEL: You quit college.
LINDSAY: Yeah, well, I had a job, what was the point?

BlueDot2 “You and I have different management styles. I believe work should be fun and you try to crush people’s spirits. What’s next, Michael? Are you going to make dancing illegal? Is this the tiny town from Footloose?”

BlueDot2 Buster grows anxious in the confined space of the copy room, as the flashing lights and the staff’s repeated calls of “Bob” bring back memories of his traumatic experience in Catalina:

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BUSTER: I need a different job. I’m having real trouble in a confined, indoor space. (briefly massages a staff member passing by) Oh! Hey, coworker.
MICHAEL: How do you feel about working outdoors?
BUSTER: Uhhh… What else do you have?

BlueDot2 MAEBY: I thought your dad worked last weekend.
GEORGE MICHAEL: No, last week he had to finish planning the new subdivision.
MAEBY: Oh… So did he finish it?
GEORGE MICHAEL: No… Hey, are you trying to make me feel bad?
MAEBY: Yeah, I guess. Sorry, I’m just bored.
GEORGE MICHAEL: That’s okay.
MAEBY: I guess he just likes work more than he likes you.

BlueDot2 Gob is taken by a familiar voice:

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BlueDot2 MICHAEL: He’s not a chicken. He just doesn’t like confined spaces, that’s all.
GOB: I thought it was open spaces.
BUSTER: No, it’s both.

BlueDot2 Buster is having the time of his life at the construction site:

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(Shortly after, we see Buster chuckling upon being called “candy ass”)

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: You’re in charge. Try not to bring the whole company down.
LINDSAY: Like that’s even possible.
NARRATOR: So the Bluth employees headed off to Catalina, providing the surveillance team that had installed the lighting with the opportunity they needed.

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BlueDot2 WHITE POWER BILL: No more teaching from you.
GEORGE SR: No teaching, no teaching…
NARRATOR: It was at that moment that George Sr. reunited with his son-in-law.
GEORGE SR: Tobias, what the hell are you doing here?
TOBIAS: I’m here to study with you. To learn from you… Teach me. (embraces George Sr.)
GEORGE SR: (looking in fear at White Power Bill) There’s no teaching. There’s no teaching…

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BlueDot2 MAEBY: Annyong and I are fine here. I mean, you don’t have to wor…
ANNYONG: Annyong.
MAEBY: (pauses to look at Annyong) …You don’t have to worry so much. I mean, obviously your dad doesn’t wanna spend time with you, but, y’know, go to the beach or whatever.
GEORGE MICHAEL: He-he’s just not around, okay?
ANNYONG: He no have father? Old lady adopt him, too?
MAEBY: No, he have father. Father no love him.
GEORGE MICHAEL: No, he love me! Um, loves me. He… loves me.

BlueDot2 “Hey, what’s happening? Why are we stopping? This is fun! We should do this just for the fun.”

BlueDot2  “He’s a chicken. A chicken. Coka, coka, coka, coh!”

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“Coka, coka, coka, coh!”

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“That is not how a chicken sounds. Chickens don’t clap!”

BlueDot2 GOB: I hope you’re up to this, Buster! This is a game of courage! A game for men!
BUSTER: Yeah, well, it’s a game I’m ready for! …Uh-oh, my seat doesn’t have a cushion.

BlueDot2 “Everything’s fine. I mean, if he asks, everything’s fine. My style works. This place is humming along.”

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BlueDot2 MICHAEL: (hears phone ringing) Oh, no. Where is… where’s my phone?
BOY: I used it to dig the “B” unit.
MICHAEL: You what?
BOY: I’ll get it. (starts digging into sandcastle)
MICHAEL: No, no! You’re gonna ruin it! …What am I doing?

BlueDot2 Buster and Gob’s showdown reaches a dramatic conclusion:

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“Wow… Who won?”

BlueDot2 “Get the proof! He’s got the evidence file!”

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“I told you to find a stud!”

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: Sometimes you have to reward hard work. Maybe reward it with a party. (the workers cheer) …I, I-I didn’t mean tonight. Just sometime in the future when we have some extra food and liquor.
(Lucille pulls up in an overpacked car)
LUCILLE: Lupe! Lupe, I need help with the groceries!
LINDSAY: How about just liquor?

BlueDot2 GEORGE MICHAEL: I know how much you care about me. Unfortunately, so does the federal government. Want more punch?
Michael: Sure. (George Michael walks off with Michael’s cup) …Wait, the feds?

NITPICKS/GAFFES

BlueDot2 The gag with Michael narrowly missing George Michael in the staircar (“Nice instincts, son! Good reflexes!”) largely falls flat; partly because Michael seems a little too careless about the whole thing, but largely because the skidding sound effect sampled is so unconvincing.

BlueDot2 A boom mic very clearly drops into shot during the staff meeting, when Lindsay asks who else is bothered by the lights:

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BlueDot2 Lindsay says “Doesn’t this just want to make you curl up and forget about the world,” instead of “Doesn’t this just make you want to.”

EPISODE NOTES/TRIVIA

BlueDot2 The episode’s title is a play on the term “staph infection,” and refers to the episode’s running theme of work.

BlueDot2 This is the first of three episodes directed by A Night at the Roxbury director John Fortenberry (the other two being For British Eyes Only and Development Arrested). His resume is absolutely enormous, particularly when it comes to tv comedy, having directed far too many shows to name extensively. Notable entries on the long list include The Ben Stiller Show, Black-ish, Blue Mountain State, The Dana Carvey Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, Instant Mom, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Just Shoot Me!, Rhett and Link’s Buddy System, and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. He’s also ventured into other genres, having directed multiple episodes of Galavant and Rescue Me (the latter is actually the show he’s directed the most episodes of, with a whopping total of 26), among others. Fortenberry would come to work with Mitch Hurwitz again in 2010, directing three episodes of the short-lived Running Wilde (which also starred Will Arnett and David Cross). At the time of writing this, he is currently working on the Netflix series Trinkets.

BlueDot2 This is James Lipton’s first appearance as the new prison warden Stefan Gentles, having replaced the previous warden James Buck for unknown reasons (possibly due to the events of Visiting Ours). Mitch Hurwitz has said that he was thinking about getting Lipton to guest star on the show as far back as the Pilot, and he would go on to do the show several more times; appearing later this season in Missing Kitty and Altar Egos, then returning again in season 3’s Prison Break-In, season 4’s The B. Team and season 5’s Courting Disasters. Lipton’s best known as the host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, a fact that receives a sly nod with the narrator’s introduction: “The new warden was an appreciator of the arts.”

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Supposedly, there was initially some tension between David Cross and James Lipton (the former having mocked Lipton and Inside the Actor’s Studio in both his stand-up act and on Mr. Show With Bob & David). Word has it that there was some considerable awkwardness during their first scene together – particularly on Cross’s part – but Cross was quickly won over by Lipton’s comic chops, and after a complementary comment made its way back to Lipton, the two were on friendly terms with one another (though Cross maintained his criticism of Inside the Actor’s Studio). Sadly, James Lipton passed away on March 2, 2020, at the age of 93.

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This episode also marks the first appearance of the Bluth Company employee Ted – one of the regular faces around the office during the Fox run. Ted is portrayed by Charlie Hartsock, who played many small parts across different shows (and occasionally films) between 1996 and 2013; his credits include According to Jim, Curb Your Enthsuiasm, Freaks and Geeks, The Office, Spin City and Superbad. More recently, he worked as an executive producer for the interview series Inside Comedy. Ted also appears in Whistler’s Mother, Not Without My Daughter, Afternoon Delight, Sword of Destiny, Family Ties and Development Arrested.

As for the rest of the recurring cast, we have Justin Lee (Annyong Bluth), BW Gonzalez (Lupe), David Reynolds (White Power Bill), Alden Villaverde (Little Justice), in addition to the second and final appearances of Michael Blieden (Agent Cummings) and Matt Price (Agent Freely), introduced in the previous episode. As for other minor roles, we have Brant Van Hoffman as the foreman, Teddy Lane Jr. as a construction worker, Connor Matheus as the boy at the beach, Victor Campos as Lupe’s uncle, and Newell Alexander as the shepherd.

BlueDot2 During the father/son bike ride in the opening scene, Michael can be seen eating cornballs. The Bluth-manufactured Cornballer was first introduced in Bringing Up Buster, an episode that also saw Michael struggling to get a bike ride in with his son.

BlueDot2 While not acknowledged in the dialogue, a recent flashback scene shows Lindsay and Tobias back to sharing a bedroom, after temporarily switching to a different arrangement in Marta Complex and Beef Consommé.

BlueDot2 Michael utters a variation on Gob’s first line in the Pilot:

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BlueDot2 Warden Gentles makes the first mention of his screenplay, “New Warden,” which we would later see enacted by children in season 3’s Prison Break-In:

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Warden Gentles’ screenwriting aspirations also prove a major catalyst for his appearances in seasons 4 and 5.

BlueDot2 Lupe’s family attends the Church of the Good Shepherd. This returns in season 2, when George Michael is dating the religious Ann Veal. Not only does her family attend the same church, but her father Terry also works there as a pastor. The church name can be seen on a pamphlet in The Immaculate Election, before the church itself serves as a setting in Meat the Veals. The Veal family eventually move to the Church of Holy Eternal Rapture at some point between that episode and season 4’s Colony Collapse (assuming the church hasn’t just undergone a change in name and appearance since then).

BlueDot2 Lindsay likens Michael’s management style to that of the tiny town from Footloose. The film is referenced again later in the episode, with Gob and Buster’s game of bulldozer chicken (Footloose features a scene where two characters play chicken with tractors).

BlueDot2 Buster utters another variation on his signature greeting. This time, “Hey, coworker.” He also attempts to give said coworker a backrub (both character traits were established in Buster’s first scene in the Pilot).

BlueDot2 Lucille can be heard trying to get in touch with her former housekeeper Rosa, who would later appear in several flashbacks in season 2’s Good Grief. She is also mentioned in Sad Sack, S.O.B.s and Flight of the Phoenix.

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BlueDot2 This episode contains the show’s very first chicken dance: Gob’s signature move of clapping, kicking his legs back in the air and yelling “Coka, coka, coka!” While it’s the only instance in the first season, Gob’s chicken dance becomes a running gag in season 2, returning in ¡Amigos!, Switch Hitter and Burning Love, before the runner starts expanding to other characters. Lindsay’s chicken dance is introduced in Ready, Aim, Marry Me!, while Lucille’s is revealed in Spring Breakout. George Sr’s comes the following season in For British Eyes Only, which features the most chicken dances in any episode of the show (and also has Michael doing a verbal impression of  a chicken). Season 4 only teases a chicken dance, briefly giving us a glimpse at what George Michael’s looks like in It Gets Better. We then get one last chicken dance in the closing episode of season 5 – and the series – and it’s that of Michael Bluth.

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Mitch Hurwitz has stated that Buster doesn’t have a chicken dance, as “he has too much respect for chickens.”

BlueDot2 Although it’s presented as a solution to a problem here, the communal pool Michael conceives later turns out to be one of Sudden Valley’s biggest undoings. In the season 4 premiere, Flight of the Phoenix, the narrator explains “the main internet and information cable had been severed when the community pool was installed,” leaving the completed estate without a digital connection to the outside world.

BlueDot2 This is one of the few instances where footage from the “On the next” actually does appear in the next episode While the scene in question is presented as a flashback, the transaction George Sr. makes with White Power Bill does indeed become a significant plot point in Missing Kitty (unfortunately, the erroneous broadcast order inserts the Altar Egos/Justice is Blind two-parter between these episodes, disrupting Tobias’s story arc and creating several continuity issues).

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BlueDot2 Staff Infection has a total runtime of 21 minutes and 54 seconds, and is rated TV-PG-DLV.

HIDDEN DETAILS

BlueDot2 In the Bluth Company meeting at the start of the episode, Michael can be heard saying “I know we’ve been putting in a lot of hours, but we’ve got to keep our heads down and power through, you know, and sacrifice.” Later, George Michael uses a lot of the same language when giving his pep talk to Maeby and Annyong: “I know that that’s nobody’s favorite Saturday night, but I think if we just power through and keep our heads down, you know, we might be able to…”

BlueDot2 Warden Gentles’ desk has figurines of Gilligan and the Skipper. There would be more references to Gilligan’s Island a few episodes later, in Best Man for the Gob.

BlueDot2 Warden Gentles tells Tobias “187 won’t be free till Tuesday… at midnight,” implying the current occupant of the cell is scheduled for execution. In California, “1-8-7” is the code law officers use for murder.

BlueDot2 The exchange about Buster’s “scholarly pursuits” and knocking before entering the room receives an easy-to-miss callback later in the episode, when Michael calls a brief break in the employee meeting, and everyone lines up to use the bathroom. Nobody winds up using it, though, as it’s occupied by a certain scholar:

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BlueDot2 Sheep are a recurring motif in this episode, established early on in the form of Buster’s photo booth montage. The sheep imagery becomes linked with the Bluth Company employees when Lindsay sends them out to lunch, and Michael says “I told you, these people are sheep, and they’ll wander off and you’ll lose the sheep. You’ve lost the sheep!” The episode then continues to build on the motif, first with the name of Lupe’s church, seen on the bus the employees board:

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Each time we cut back to the lost staff, we can see a lone employee in a black shirt trailing behind everyone else – the “black sheep” of the flock.

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The employees are eventually rounded up and transported home by a farmer in a sheep trailer, after winding up on Catalina Island (the original source of the aforementioned photo montage).

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In addition to this, a cotton ball sheep can be seen in the stack of young George Michael’s artwork:

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Get along, little sheep.

BlueDot2 When threatened by White Power Bill, George Sr. says “no teaching” in the same manner he’s previously said “no touching.”

BlueDot2 The uncover feds don the “Blendin” guise again while operating undercover (a running gag introduced in Shock and Aww):

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BlueDot2 We learn Annyong can actually understand and speak English in this episode, implying there’s more to him than we realize (something that pays off in the season 3 finale, Development Arrested).

BlueDot2 A very small “hello” caption can be seen next to Annyong when Michael approaches the banana stand looking for George Michael:

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DELETED/EXTENDED SCENES

BlueDot2 There’s a deleted scene from when Michael first arrives at the office, which serves to explain Kitty’s absence:

(Michael and Buster are riding in the elevator)
MICHAEL: I don’t know if we have a candy draw, Buster.
(the elevator doors open)
BUSTER: I’m sorry, I thought you worked here.
(the brothers exit the elevator and Michael examines Kitty’s empty desk)
NARRATOR: Michael arrived at work to find his assistant Kitty missing. She left a note saying she was feeling fluish, and that she wouldn’t be coming in to work from the 5th through the 7th. Michael, annoyed, glanced down at her desk calendar, on which she had written “Burning Man, 5th – 7th.”

If anything, it actually works better without this detail; this way, one can assume Kitty is off work getting to the cosmetic surgery she reveals in the following episode.

BlueDot2 There is also a small extension of the scene in the prison yard, as White Power Bill proceeds to move in on George Sr. after Tobias’s remarks:

GEORGE SR: Now, I’m merely a prophet with nothing to offer but, well, a path, to en- to enlightenment…
TOBIAS: (scoffs) Oh please, come on, old moneybags here? He’s probably got a baggie full of cash up his can right now. (chuckles)
(White Power Bill glares at George Sr, who turns around to glare at Tobias)

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Deconstructing Arrested Development is in no way affiliated with Imagine Entertainment, The Hurwitz Company, Netflix, 21st Century Fox, Disney or any subsidiaries thereof. It is a completely unofficial fan-made project.

3 thoughts on “Season 1, Episode 15: Staff Infection

  1. I agree that the Buster stuff was probably my favorite of the episode, but what got the biggest laugh from me was the guy riding up top of the stair car (which is really more of a truck, but anyway) getting knocked down (more slapstick!) but the “drive carefully” sign.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The running gag about sheep in this episode is pretty great, especially when its tied into the actions of the various Bluth Company employees. The highlight for me though is definitely the construction yard scenes. GOB and Buster’s differing forms of disruption are hilarious. Additionally, Michael going to the beach and enlisting kids there to build models of the houses is a great little gag; though it did make me wonder (looks around at various boxes in the room), where were the parents while Michael was having these kids do some work for him?

    Liked by 1 person

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