Season 1, Episode 21: Not Without My Daughter

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Original airdate April 25, 2004
Written by Mitchell Hurwitz & Richard Rosenstock
Directed by Lee Shallat-Chemel
Production Code #1AJD20

BlueDot2 DECONSTRUCTION
BlueDot2 
HIGHLIGHTS
BlueDot2 NITPICKS/GAFFES
BlueDot2 EPISODE NOTES/TRIVIA
BlueDot2 HIDDEN DETAILS

“It’s Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, and Michael decides to take Maeby with him in an effort to give her a better role model. But a mutual bet between the two to tell the truth proves troublesome for Michael when he finds himself at the center of a police investigation. Meanwhile, George Michael, Gob and Tobias each have a crisis of masculinity, leading them to the mall where Lindsay has secretly started working as a checkout girl, while Buster also finds his place in the family threatened when Lucille invites Oscar to accompany her to Annyong’s soccer game.”

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

Maeby may very well be Arrested Development’s secret weapon. Arrested Development’s main cast of nine characters is brimming with big personalities that practically demand your attention – hell, Gob is a scene-stealing character from the ground up, and Lucille’s delivered countless memorable quotes and reaction shots that continue to thrive in the form of internet memes. But poor Maeby can sometimes go as overlooked by viewers as she does by her parents on the show. Even after later seasons of Arrested Development gifted us with a long-form story arc for the character – and her own central episode with season 4’s Señoritis – it isn’t until the show’s fifth and final season when it really feels like Maeby gets the same amount of screentime as the other Bluths (and even then, her increased presence could likely be attributed to Lindsay’s reduced role in said season). This isn’t to say there isn’t any love for Maeby from the fanbase – quite the contrary, as she tends to be one of the more revered characters among devotees. But Maeby definitely has the most under-the-radar status of anyone in the Bluth family in terms of where the show sets its focus, at least at this point in Arrested Development’s run. And as the series hurtles towards the end of its first season, Not Without My Daughter finally allows Maeby to take center stage, demonstrating exactly why she’s earned that “secret weapon” title.

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Maeby rarely ever finds herself involved in the A plot, largely for logistical reasons. After all, Michael pretty much always gets the A plot for any given episode (at least during the Fox run), and the two characters just don’t have much reason to involve themselves in each other’s affairs. Sure, they live under the same roof and share the same DNA, but there are so many more ways in which these two characters’ lives are worlds apart. Up until this episode, the only time we’d seen Maeby set foot in the Bluth Company offices was Missing Kitty, and that was pretty much just to provide George Michael motivation for his subplot. There are some episodes where Maeby largely floats by unnoticed in the background – an apt analogy for her relationship with the family, save from George Michael, the character with whom she’s paired up most frequently. It makes sense, seeing as they’re the only two Bluths of their generation (not including supporting characters like Annyong and Steve Holt), and it would be fair to cite Maeby/George Michael as one of the show’s most important relationships. These two help each other get through the craziness of being in the Bluth family, even if they, of course, are no more immune to said craziness themselves than any other Bluth.

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Casting child actors is always a gamble, but Alia Shawkat and Michael Cera – respectively aged 14 and 15 while filming most of the first season – possessed an undeniable level of talent for their age. It’s talent that’s only grown over time, with each going on to find further success in the years that followed (and in their final return to the roles, the pair – Shawkat in particular – were invariably cited as the main highlight of season 5, even by many of its harshest critics; the natural screen chemistry they shared from the get-go only growing stronger over time). Later output, such as the outstanding Search Party, would cement Alia Shawkat as one of the most captivating screen performers around today, and it’s clear from this episode that her gifts have always been present. She consistently holds her own among actors that are older more experienced by a considerable margin, and ultimately proves Maeby is more than capable of anchoring an A plot.

In order to team Maeby up with Michael, the writers utilize Bring Your Daughter to Work Day as a plot device, while simultaneously deploying it as a running joke that peppers quite a few scenes throughout the episode; in the heightened universe of Arrested Development, absolutely everyone participates in this day, no matter how practical/suitable their profession may be for children. As we learn, in lieu of a daughter, Michael once decided to have a laugh and take his six-year-old son to work with him instead. The joke became an annual tradition with diminishing returns, leading present-day Michael to insist George Michael finally put it to rest (“I cannot kill this joke”). Michael then learns how Maeby is spending the day: Watching tv with Tobias (which seems like a missed opportunity for the writers to confirm Tobias was fired from his role as Frightened Inmate #2). Things only become more troubling for Michael when Lindsay (falsely) tells him she shoplifted an outfit – more on that later – prompting Michael to bring his niece to work with him rather than his son. Maeby agrees solely as an act of rebellion to Lindsay, thinking she’ll be able to easily get out of it once she’s no longer in her parents’ sight, but Michael is determined to give Maeby some hands-on parenting, even in the face of multiple escape attempts (like grandfather, like granddaughter).

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As Michael proceeds to spend the day with Maeby, it’s clear that the two share a very different dynamic to what Michael has with his son. The Michael/George Michael relationship is intricate and has genuine stakes, while ostensibly functioning as the beating heart of the show. Maeby, conversely, doesn’t care if she lets Michael down. She simply doesn’t see him as an authority figure the way George Michael does, largely because Maeby’s never really had an authority figure in her life. It’s that very lack of authority that motivates Michael in the first place – the stakes here aren’t really about Michael’s relationship with his niece so much as they are Maeby’s future, or at least that’s what Michael claims. These concerns aren’t entirely unfounded, but they’re also not without some hypocrisy on behalf of Michael, who really just wants to teach Lindsay and Tobias a lesson. When Michael tries to force some honesty onto Maeby by making a bet that she can’t go the day without lying, she agrees on the condition that he participates as well. This puts Michael in a tough bind when the police show up to investigate the recent disappearance of Kitty (or so they claim), and Michael comes to learn of information he doesn’t believe they know: That she boarded the family yacht shortly before Gob blew it up a few episodes earlier in Missing Kitty.

Not Without My Daughter actually works as a follow-up episode to Missing Kitty in several ways, with the link between these two episodes being established in the opening scene. The aforementioned yacht explosion was, of course, part of a magic trick Gob was filming for Girls With Low Self Esteem: Newport Beach, part of a series of videos also established in the aforementioned episode. Gob now has the tape in hand, and is eager to see his performance, only to discover the editors opted to leave his successful stunt on the cutting room floor in favor of a more embarrassing mishap; the video’s narrator remarking, “If you like magic, look away. The only thing this guy could make fly away was the crowd.” This simultaneously sets up Gob’s subplot for this episode, while putting the events of Missing Kitty back in viewer’s minds for the A plot. For those who recall said events, it’s clear why Michael is reluctant to reveal the truth when he arrives at the police station with Maeby, in spite of the bet they made: Kitty may have been trespassing on the family yacht, but it was in search of potentially damning evidence against George Sr. Similarly, while the Bluths were unaware of Kitty’s presence on the yacht during the explosion, Kitty’s last interaction with any member of the family entailed Michael being caught on tape publicly threatening her. And unsurprisingly, the only guidance he receives from the family lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn? “Lie.”

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Despite being the catalyst for the A plot, Kitty doesn’t actually have a starring role in Not Without My Daughter. While this may have just boiled down to Judy Greer’s availability, it’s nonetheless a smart decision, creating a little sense of mystery as to what’s transpired since the last time we saw her. The audience is only slightly less in the dark than Michael, in that we know little more than the fact that Kitty’s still alive. It’s hardly your standard sit-com fodder, making a main character a suspect in an attempted murder investigation for someone who is now missing (a premise Arrested Development would actually deploy more than once – with a far darker ending the second time around), but by going into Not Without My Daughter with this information, the stakes are set to a more appropriate standard for the genre. This isn’t to say there are no stakes at all, however. On initial viewing, it really isn’t clear where the writers are going with the investigation, and this being the season’s penultimate episode, there’s a sense that a game-changing development could be around the corner. Michael may have initially been concerned over where Maeby is heading in life, but he spends most of the episode worrying about where he might be heading.

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George Michael, meanwhile, is devastated to discover his father left without him and took Maeby to work instead. Kicking off a series of intertwining subplots, he proceeds to wallow with Tobias and Gob in a shared crisis of masculinity (keeping with the episode’s theme of gender roles). While the former believes he’ll never earn his daughter’s respect without a job,  the latter’s self esteem is at an all-time low due to the combination of his public shaming on the tape and being bested at sleight-of-hand by his sister. This leads all three of them to the mall, where Tobias gets a job as a security guard while George Michael spends the day with his uncle, who’s determined to one-up Lindsay’s purported thievery. Amusingly, Michael’s efforts to steer his niece away from criminal behavior (“Shoplifting? Cool! Can you take me?”) actually wind up causing his son to engage in it instead. As it turns out, however, Lindsay hasn’t been shoplifting after all (keeping with the episode’s other theme of honesty – which is a major recurring theme for Arrested Development in general), but rather, has been working at an upscale fashion store in the very same mall, and is too ashamed to admit it.

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Lindsay’s mentality here actually makes sense, seeing as we’ve caught a couple of glimpses of Lucille mistreating service staff this season (the country club waiter in Visiting Ours, and the Klimpy’s waitress in Public Relations) – behavior Lindsay would’ve witnessed throughout her entire upbringing. As such, she’s internalized the idea that anyone who works such a profession is a lesser person, going as far as to don a disguise so nobody will recognize her. She continues to double down on her lie to Michael because these inclinations are so deeply embedded into her psyche, even though the truth would actually make him respect her more.  Tobias’s turn as a security guard, meanwhile, seems less logical on the surface, especially for a man who’s stubbornly refused to pursue any career path that doesn’t involve acting. However, it becomes clear during Tobias’s interview that he really just views the job as another acting opportunity (“I do know stage combat if the partner is willing and a bit more petite than I”), even when it – terrifyingly – puts him in possession of an active loaded gun. Just about everyone is assuming a role in this episode, be it Tobias and George Michael trying to convince their family they’re “butch,” or Michael acting like an honest man to Maeby while simultaneously lying through his teeth to the police, and it’s all motivated by how these characters are perceived by others.

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These elements carry over into the episode’s C-plot, which sees Lucille looking for someone to pose as her husband at Annyong’s soccer game. Unable to use Buster in the role of her faux suitor (as she previously tried to do in Charity Drive) because the other soccer moms already know him, Lucille decides the most ideal candidate to look like her husband is the man who quite literally meets that description: His twin brother, Oscar. As the narrator explains, “Although she knew it was wrong to play with his heart… she really didn’t want to go to the soccer game alone.” This subplot follows on from the previous episode, where George Sr’s twin brother Oscar was introduced, and later reconnected with his lost “lady love,” who turned out to be Lucille. But while Whistler’s Mother kept Oscar’s scene partners limited to Michael and Lucille, this time Buster is also thrown into the mix, adding a whole new dynamic to this blossoming relationship. Buster’s clearly harboring a lot of jealousy over Annyong, on account of the fact that his parents never enrolled him in sports, and this same jealousy comes out when Oscar is brought into fold (“I guess I’m not good enough to be her husband”). With no one else to turn to, Buster makes his first solo trip to Orange County Prison to pay a visit to George Sr. Naturally furious over this news, George Sr. promptly instructs Buster to get rid of Oscar.

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Later at the soccer game, we see an elated Oscar attempt to get amorous with Lucille in public (though his initial advances here are rebuffed), while Buster is sidelined, not even getting to sit with his mother. Buster, visibly unhappy with yet another unwelcome development, puts George Sr’s words into action as soon as he gets a moment alone with Oscar. In a rare confrontational moment for Buster, he tells (the man he believes to be) his uncle, “You do not belong here. My mother’s been spoken for. You know, I may never have played organized sports, but I am a man, and I’m afraid I’m gonna have to ask you to leave.” This subplot is mostly detached from everything else happening on a narrative level (beyond the establishing scene where Michael and Maeby are briefly drawn into the drama at the penthouse), but it’s here where it ties together in a more thematic way, reinforcing the Bluth males’ attempts to assert their masculinity – or, at least, their individual versions of what they believe masculinity to be. And as ever, George Sr’s influence looms over this concept for all the second-generation Bluths (it’s quite telling that the turning point in Michael taking his son to Bring Your Daughter to Work Day comes after a disapproving remark from his father – not to mention how amusing it is that Gob’s abilities as a magician are tied up in his warped definition of masculinity, which itself stems from him emulating George Sr’s penchant for pageantry).

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Unfortunately, Buster then takes his “newfound sense of manliness” too far when he is inadvertently made part of Annyong’s soccer game, and aggressively takes to the field, making up for multiple decades of being forbidden to participate in sports. It’s one of the most memorable sequences in the episode, making great use of Tony Hale’s physical comedy gifts as a frenzied Buster leaves a trail of injured children in his wake (one of the very rare times we see Buster’s violent side come out without the aid of juice), culminating in Annyong being knocked to the ground by a particularly powerful kick of the soccer ball. Lucille is left more humiliated than she would have been had she just gone to the game alone, but it’s nothing compared to the slow clap Oscar delivers before he gets in his trailer and drives right back out of Buster and Lucille’s lives. To quote the narrator, “Buster realized he may have just scared away a man who supported him in the way he’d always hoped his own father would.” Seasoned viewers will know, of course, that the saga of Oscar, Buster and Lucille is far from over – but in a (very sad) alternate universe where Arrested Development only got one season, this would’ve made for a gut punch of an ending to this arc. The moment’s so well-executed on every level, it still carries poignancy no matter how many times one rewatches the show.

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Back at the mall, Gob’s attempt at shoplifting goes equally as awry as Annyong’s soccer game. The only person Gob successfully manages to deceive is George Michael, who doesn’t realize he’s participating in an act of theft until it’s already in progress, and the pair end up being caught red-handed by the head security guard’s 13-year-old daughter. Tobias doesn’t fare any better at his mall mission, failing to prevent said act of shoplifting, and instead tackling his incognito wife after overhearing her reiterating her lie, as she proclaims to Michael over the phone, “I’m a shoplifter. I’ve got a whole bag of clothes I shoplifted!” The sequence showcases Arrested Development doing what it does best: Knocking over the dominos it’s been setting up the entire episode for a hilarious, chaotic series of pay-offs. It’s at this point when this collection of B plots finally merge back with the A plot, forcing Michael to take a break from his interrogation, leaving Maeby alone at the police station to bring the storyline home. Unsurprisingly, Maeby’s deceitful habits quickly return without Michael around to enforce the bet they made, as she effortlessly coins a lie convincing enough to gain her access to the evidence room. It’s here where she discovers the real liars have been the police this whole time: Kitty is alive and well, and being kept hidden in the very police station where Michael has spent most of his day getting interrogated over her potential murder.

With this revelation, Maeby finally does what Michael’s been hypocritically trying to instill in her the whole day, and tells the police everything the Bluths know about Kitty’s disappearance. Michael shows up just in time to learn of Maeby’s confession, reluctantly backing up her story as he believes the jig is finally up. But Michael’s fears immediately turn to relief when the police inform him he’s free to leave; as it turns out, the whole thing was a ploy to try and get Michael to turn on his father (a tactic that would be deployed again by the prosecution in several episodes’ time with season 2’s Sad Sack). It’s another example of one of Arrested Development’s most subtle recurring elements: Virtually the only time anything good happens to the Bluths is in the rare moments where they’re actually honest. The Bluths spend most of their time being untruthful, and it almost never works out for them, as they end up digging themselves deeper and deeper into increasingly unfavorable situations at their own expense. The truth quite literally sets Michael free here, and yet no one in the family ever seems to learn that being honest pretty much always works to their benefit.

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There’s no denying Not Without My Daughter is a plot-heavy installment of Arrested Development. There’s a lot happening in the course of 21-22 minutes, and that’s before we even touch on the higher-stakes A plot. Any episode focusing on the Bluth family’s legal battle automatically feels more “important” in the show’s chronology, even if there really aren’t any skippable episodes in the series. The overarching story begins with George Sr’s arrest, and for much of the Fox run, the cooler of evidence is the one tangible plot device we have pertaining to his possible guilt/innocence – just as Kitty is consistently the biggest threat (or at least disruption) to the Bluth family. The episodes where these things come up automatically feel more “lore-heavy” as a result. Not to mention we’re following on from something of a cliffhanger ending as to when we last saw Kitty – the very thing being investigated here.

This isn’t to say Not Without My Daughter is light on laughs, however; quite the contrary. It’s perhaps not as frequently-quoted as other episodes from the Fox run, though this is only because most of its funniest moments require a fair amount of context to land. It’s an episode that places a little more emphasis on the larger, show-stopping laughs than your more meme-worthy quips, but even then, the joke-per-minute ratio here is still far greater than that of most of Arrested Development’s contemporaries. The constant presence of children in inappropriate situations, for example, is a reliable running gag that grows more amusing over time, being deployed with just enough frequency to retain an element of surprise each time (and also helps keep the A plot from ever feeling too serious). And as far as the more understated runners go, Tobias’s repeated use of the phrase “douche chill” proves similarly comical, with David Cross’s impeccable delivery turning a throwaway line into an all-timer – it’s a real shame the term never caught on beyond this episode. Possibly the only joke that falls flat here is the running gag of Annyong (and later, another kid at the soccer game) calling Buster “fatty,” which, frankly, is a head-scratcher.

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In many ways, Not Without My Daughter feels like a season 2 episode slid a little earlier into the series. The Oscar/Lucille/Buster dynamic is definitely a precursor for what’s to come, but it’s also the way all nine cast members get a storyline (Michael and Maeby technically share the A plot, but the bet and the interrogation are still two reasonably distinct plot points and any other sit-com would treat them as such). Gob’s is the least substantial, but it gives the episode some of its most hilarious material, and Gob/George Michael scenes are always a delight – Gob’s swagger and inherent inappropriateness plays beautifully off the naivety of the ever-nervous George Michael. The other subplots, meanwhile, could easily function as a full-fledged B plot of a more traditional sit-com (pretty much everything at the mall ties together as a single B plot here, but it’s really four much smaller stories in one). The way these storylines all coalesce in the final act is particularly indicative of the direction the show would take next season. Sure, Arrested Development’s done this kind of narrative dovetailing plenty of times over already, but season 2 sees an increasingly larger number of storylines being woven into the tapestry, while the (also increasingly) elaborate pay-offs become more cartoony; already-funny moments being made even funnier by the sheer convolution and unlikelihood of how they all collide. The Altar Egos/Justice is Blind two-parter may be the only other entry in season 1 to top Not Without My Daughter in this regard.

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Not Without My Daughter is an expertly-plotted and well-structured episode that embodies classic Arrested Development in just about every conceivable way, and it’s likely only overlooked due to the fact that it’s followed by one of the all-time best episodes, Let Them Eat Cake. It’s actually the case for all three seasons of the Fox run, where a genuinely great penultimate episode gets overshadowed by a truly outstanding finale. Not Without My Daughter also succeeds at giving Maeby her long-overdue time in the spotlight, providing her a prominent role in the A plot in a way that feels perfectly organic and unforced. Even more impressive is that this doesn’t come at the expense of any of the other Bluths; every main cast member has scenes and storylines that showcase their characters’ most defining traits (George Sr. gets the short end of the stick by only appearing a single scene, but Oscar’s role in the C plot actually gives Jeffrey Tambor a little more screentime than he typically receives in season 1). But after 20+ episodes of habitual dishonesty from the Bluths, perhaps the best twist of all here is the fact that a rare act of integrity from Maeby – arguably the most compulsive liar in the family – ends up being Michael’s saving grace (even if he subsequently fails to follow her sage advice of getting a better attorney). We should all be grateful that Michael chose to bring her along for the day, as she proves to be a “secret weapon” in many different ways.

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HIGHLIGHTS

BlueDot2 GEORGE MICHAEL: It’s Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. Unless you had a daughter I don’t know about, I’m your girl!
NARRATOR: Michael had first made this joke when George Michael was six…

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“It was a joke Michael was starting to grow concerned about, as it had not worn well with age.”

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BlueDot2 PATIENT: There’s like this longing… this pull. I mean, does that make me, you know, like, some kind of…?
YOUNG MAEBY: (in a singsong tone) Homosexual.
TOBIAS: Maeby, please… (turns back to patient) She’s right, though, you probably are a homosexual.

BlueDot2 “So, Maeby, this is what you’re gonna do this year? You’re gonna watch him watch tv?”

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“Oh, bless her. It’s like she knew what I was going to do next.”

(This gag receives two callbacks later in the episode; first with Tobias making good on his remark by falling asleep himself later in the scene, and another towards the end of act 1, when Maeby pretends to be asleep in Michael’s office)

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: Gob, you’re not going to put that in. There’s nudity on that! Maeby, why don’t you go upstairs and get dressed?
TOBIAS: I must warn you, Michael, she doesn’t respond well to strict directives.
MAEBY: Alright. (gets up and heads upstairs)
TOBIAS: That was odd.
MICHAEL: Not really, kids love boundaries. I mean, look at these girls (in reference to the Girls With Low Self Esteem tape). Is this what you want?
TOBIAS: Oh, god, no.
MICHAEL: This could be where your daughter is headed.
TOBIAS: Oh, no, no, I don’t want this for Maeby either.

(Tobias’s remark of “That was odd” is repeated by Lindsay at the end of the scene, after Michael tells Maeby she’s spending the day with him at work, and Lindsay insists “She’s not going to go with you” before Maeby once again complies with Michael’s instructions.)

BlueDot2 GOB: I can’t believe they used that part, the one part that I screwed up! It’s not like they used the part where I made the yacht disappear.
MICHAEL: Sunk the yacht… Blew it up. Sunk it.
GOB: We sure did.
MICHAEL: We? No. I gave you permission to use the yacht, you blew it up.
GOB: Yeah, well, if you give someone permission to use a tissue, you can’t be upset if they blow their nose!

(Gob’s line about it being “the one part” he screwed up takes on a different context after Spring Breakout, where the narrator confirms that Gob’s performance, in fact, contained “seven flubs.”)

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: Lindsay, new outfit?
LINDSAY: This? No, I’ve had this for years. I think it’s a hand-me-down from mom.
MICHAEL: You got a price tag. Right there.
LINDSAY: Is there? I guess she wanted me to have something new. Sweet old thing.
MICHAEL: Only two of those words describe mom, so I know you’re lying to me.

When Michael then asks Lindsay about the outfit she wore yesterday, Lindsay responds “Old thing gave it to me.”

BlueDot2 “They expect a certain amount of theft, Michael. It’s built into the price. If I didn’t take it, then people would be overpaying for nothing.”

BlueDot2 GOB: So you’re saying you walked in and, without anyone noticing, took an entire outfit? There’s no way that you can do sleight-of-hand that well. I don’t even think that I could do it.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I’ve seen your tape.

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: You’re gonna take that back.
LINDSAY: No, I’m not! This has nothing to do with you, you’re not my father.
MICHAEL: No, our father is in prison for stealing, remember? Which might not be a bad place for you to get used to.
LINDSAY: Michael, it was shoplifting, and I’m white. I think I’m going to be okay.

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: (as he leaves with Maeby) I’m going to teach you two a little something about hands-on parenting.
GEORGE MICHAEL: (coming downstairs) Hey dad, do you think this purse goes with this outfit?

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GEORGE MICHAEL: …Where’d my dad go?
TOBIAS: Douche chill!

BlueDot2 “We’re family. What is better than hanging out with family, hmm? (pulls out his ringing phone and checks caller ID) Ah *beep*, it’s my mother.”

BlueDot2 “Hey mom, why can’t Buster pretend to be your escort? That’s the way he’s got in all his cartoons.”

BlueDot2 BUSTER: Why should I have to sit and cheer Annyong? Annyong never cheers me.
ANNYONG: Go fatty.
(Buster picks up Annyong, throws him down on the couch and starts wrestling him)
LUCILLE: Stop it! He’s your little brother.
BUSTER: No he’s not! I came out of you, he didn’t!

BlueDot2 GEORGE MICHAEL: I make these jokes about being a daughter for my dad. I know I’m a man. It’s his insecurity, not mine.
GOB: There’s no security at that store, that’s how she was able to shoplift! Probably don’t even have a regular security guard.
TOBIAS: Well, of course I could get a job as a security guard. I mean, if I have to have a job to impress my daughter. If she needs something that butch.
GEORGE MICHAEL: Yeah, I can hang out with my uncles. I mean, three men, what’s butcher than that?
GOB: I’m going to the mall. (gets up and leaves)
TOBIAS: Me too. (follows Gob out)
GEORGE MICHAEL: (following his uncles) Yeah, maybe a new pair of shoes’ll cheer me up.

(If you pay attention to the flow of the dialogue, each character here zones in on a word/phrase uttered in the previous remark – “insecurity,” “security guard,” “butch” – and applies it to their own scenario)

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: I’d like to see if you can go one day without telling a lie. Just one whole day without being like your mom.
MAEBY: What’s in it for me if I do?
MICHAEL: You’ll win my respect.
MAEBY: Good night.
MICHAEL: And 50 bucks.
MAEBY: Fine. I’ll do it if you do it.
MICHAEL: Atta-girl! This is gonna be fun.
MAEBY: …I win.

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BlueDot2 “We’re here investigating the disappearance of Kitty Sanchez. Apparently, you’re the last person to see her. Alive… Or around town or whatever.”

(Shortly after this, Michael remarks that Kitty must’ve been seen since Spring Break, to which Officer Taylor responds “Not alive… Or dead or whatever.”)

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: I- I- I’m happy to cooperate, but I really don’t know anything more than you know. I certainly didn’t, didn’t kill her and drop her in the Back Bay… Boy, I hope that’s not what happened to her.
OFFICER TAYLOR: I’m sure it isn’t. (into police radio) Please send Officer Davis and little Hannah to the Back Bay.

BlueDot2 MAEBY: So, you killed Kitty, huh?
MICHAEL: No, I didn’t kill Kitty, but I will go down to the station and answer those nice men’s questions. You know why? ’Cause I have no secrets to hide, because I’m an honest man… (hears laughter and music from elsewhere in the office) And apparently a fun one. Let’s go see what’s going on in the back room.
MAEBY: Those the last words Kitty ever heard?

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: (sees Girls With Low Self Esteem being played on the Bluth Company projector) Hey, hey! Guys, what are you doing? It- it’s Bring Your Daughter to Work Day!
TED: Yeah, (points at projection) that’s my Caitlin.
MICHAEL: Okay, there is work to be done. Can we get back to it? Thank you. Oh, and, has anybody seen or heard from Kitty lately?

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TED: (points at projection again) I think that’s her right behind you there.
MICHAEL: (turns around to look at projection) Oh my god, that is Kitty.
MAEBY: And that’s the boat uncle Gob blew up… Hey, now you have something to tell them at the station!

BlueDot2 SUPERVISOR: Well, it’s going to be a couple days before we can get you a gun license, so… you’ll have to use mine. (removes his gun from its holster and hands it to Tobias)
TOBIAS: Wow!

BlueDot2 GEORGE MICHAEL: You know, it’s so great to be hanging out with you. There are certain things that I can talk to you about that I can’t really with my dad, like, uh… Were- were you ever awkward around girls?
GOB: What do you mean? Like if there were three of us and I didn’t know where to start? No, I think I did pretty well. Not a lot of complaints, if you know what I mean. At least, not from the girl.
GEORGE MICHAEL: You’re saying I should just be myself?
GOB: And he had to drive her home, so I think I did pretty good. Pretty damn good…

BlueDot2 BUSTER: I wanted to check in and make sure you’re aware that your ban on organized sports in this family has been violated.
GEORGE SR: Ban on organized sports?
BUSTER: You know, how you wouldn’t let me sign up for anything when I was a kid.
GEORGE SR: Is that what you’ve been thinking all these years? No, no, you were- you were just a turd out there, you know? You couldn’t kick, and you couldn’t run, you know? You were just a- a turd.
BUSTER: Prison has destroyed the way you talk! If that’s what it takes to impress these guys around here, then they are not your friends.

BlueDot2 GEORGE SR: Oscar’s been coming around? (stands up and goes to grab Buster)
GUARD’S DAUGHTER: No touching!
GEORGE SR: (raises his hand) No touching. No touching… (sits back down) Now, you listen to me, you gotta take care of this Oscar situation. You get him out of there, alright? You make him wish he never showed that ludicrous head of hair and that… nice face of his!
BUSTER: I will do it, dad.
GEORGE SR: Good. Put her there…

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GUARD’S DAUGHTER: No touching!
GUARD: …Her self-esteem is through the roof.

BlueDot2 Barry appears to have made another trip to the City of Industry following his less successful attempt to do so in Altar Egos:

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BlueDot2 MICHAEL: Gob sunk the yacht. Last time Kitty was seen, she was getting onto it. It’s on tape.
BARRY: Oooh! (to Maeby) Did you see this?
MAEBY: Yup.
BARRY: Oooh! Chills… (inspects his wrist)  …Why do I keep getting these bruises?

BlueDot2 BARRY: Until we get all the facts, don’t say anything that can incriminate you. Or me. Just try to keep me out of this. Lie. Both of you.
MICHAEL: No. What are you talking- we don’t lie in this family. Maeby, why don’t you get a soda? (quietly to Barry) If I lie in front of her, it costs me $50. I do think that we should lie.

BlueDot2 GEORGE MICHAEL: So what are the mice for?
GOB: Oh, no, that’s just for misdirection. We’ll see who’s the sleight-of-hand artist is in this family… Okay, now, when I yell “mice,” I want you to open this box, and I’m gonna start stuffing some shirts down your pants.
GEORGE MICHAEL: Shirts? Gob, are we shoplifting?
GOB: Miiice!!

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(Following this, a woman in the background can be heard yelling, “Ahhh, mice! Call security!”)

BlueDot2 A subtle gag that’s easy to miss in the midst of all the chaos happening around it:

MICHAEL: (on the phone) You’re a criminal, Lindsay, what kind of message does that send?
DETECTIVE FELLOWS: Bluth, we’re ready to question you now.

BlueDot2 In a callback to both the Pilot and the previous episode (and a subtle piece of foreshadowing about their relation), Buster and Oscar each attempt to give the other one of their trademark backrubs in the latter’s cramped trailer:

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BlueDot2 OSCAR: I never meant to break up your family. Your mom called me for a reason. I- I don’t think she’s happy.
BUSTER: No, she’s happy. She’s just mean all the time.

BlueDot2 DETECTIVE FELLOWS: You haven’t seen any evidence of Ms. Sanchez or where she might have gone?
MICHAEL: I have, uh, no idea. None.
DETECTIVE FELLOWS: Are you willing to take a polygraph to that effect?
BARRY: (leaning in to Michael’s ear, but speaking at full volume) Are you nuts?!
MICHAEL: …Not without a better lawyer.

BlueDot2 “What, I give you evidence against my father and you pretend that I didn’t kill Kitty? I mean, I- I didn’t kill Kitty.”

BlueDot2 MICHAEL: Shoplifting? What’s the matter with you, Gob?
GOB: What’s the matter with me? She’s the shoplifter. (points to Lindsay)
LINDSAY: I wasn’t shoplifting, you twit.
TOBIAS: Yes, thanks to me.
LINDSAY: No. I work here! (everyone gasps) …At least, I used to. They fired me because they thought I was helping this idiot shoplift. Also, they said I wasn’t a very good salesgirl.

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(Amusingly, Lindsay’s confession about being employed elicits far more shock from the family than when they thought she was shoplifting.)

BlueDot2 Maeby’s instincts to lie return:

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BlueDot2 Tobias becomes the latest Bluth to get lose their job, after he attempts to solve the mice problem Gob created…

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…And once again fails to catch a shoplifter (as the narrator explains, “Lindsay, now without a job, goes with her initial instinct”).

NITPICKS/GAFFES

BlueDot2 The footage of Gob’s Spring Break performance contains some continuity errors. There are a couple of shots where the curtain hangs much lower in the background and doesn’t blow with the wind the same way it does in all the other shots, while the sign is much closer to center stage.

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Pretty much all the other footage is reused from Missing Kitty, so these shots must have been filmed separately.

BlueDot2 Once again, the footage in the staircar is exceptionally grainy – particularly when the camera’s pointed at Michael:

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BlueDot2 During the scene at Lucille’s penthouse, a boom mic operator makes it into the right edge of the frame when Michael walks into the dining area:

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BlueDot2 Officers Taylor and Carter both have daughters in this episode, but in season 2, a major plot point revolves around the two being in a relationship together and eagerly hoping to adopt a baby. There are possible explanations for this, of course (ie. their daughters could be from previous relationships, making this adopted baby the first child they have together), but nonetheless, their existing children are never mentioned again outside of this episode.

BlueDot2 Reflections of the crew (including a camera operator, and director Lee Shallat-Chemel) can be seen in the interrogation room window behind Maeby while Michael is on the phone to Lindsay at the police station:

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BlueDot2 During Buster’s storming of the children’s soccer game, the ball at one point falls behind him, then reappears in front of him in the next shot:

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BlueDot2 When Tobias is firing his gun at the mice in the “On the next,” we can see flashes and hear gunshot sounds. Both of these were added in post-production, and there are noticeable synchronization issues with the footage/audio: We don’t see a flash for every gunshot sound – just the first three – and David Cross continues to mime the firing of the gun after the sounds stop.

EPISODE NOTES/TRIVIA

BlueDot2 Not Without My Daughter shares its title with the 1987 autobiographical book by Betty Mahmoody, detailing her escape from her abusive husband in Iran with her daughter (later adapted for cinema in 1991 under the same title). Unlike My Mother, the Car – its title an allusion to the 1965 sit-com My Mother the Car – there are no alterations to the punctuation to differentiate this episode’s title from its original source. While the Middle East connection is likely subtle foreshadowing for the next episode, there don’t appear to be any further references to Not Without My Daughter here; The next closest allusion would be Michael’s use of the phrase “not without a better lawyer.” It’s the rare Arrested Development episode title to not contain a play on words (I mean, “Law and Daughter” was right there!).

BlueDot2 This episode has a considerably large guest cast, largely thanks to its unusually busy settings, such as the police precinct and the mall, all of which contain a few new faces. It marks the first appearance of Officer David Carter, played by Jerry Minor (credited here as “Jerry C. Minor,” which is amended for all his subsequent appearances). He played various characters across 12 episodes of his HBO sketch series Mr. Show with Bob and David, connecting him not just to main cast member David Cross, but also his on-screen partner, Jay Johnston (another Mr. Show regular, making his second appearance here as Officer Taylor, following his introduction in Missing Kitty). He was also part of the Saturday Night Live cast from 2000-2001, and has since gone on have starring roles in Brickleberry, Carpoolers, Delocated, The Hotwives of Orlando, and Lucky Louie. Other notable credits in his extensive resume include Comedy Bang! Bang!, Community, Dr. Ken, Eastbound and Down, SuperNews! and Those Who Can’t. Officer Carter would appear again in season 2’s Out on a Limb and Hand to God, and season 4’s A New Start and Señoritis.

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Jerry Minor and Jay Johnston aren’t the only cast members here to have previously worked on Mr. Show with Bob and David, either. Tobias’s supervisor at the mall is played by John Ennis, who – like Johnston – starred in every single episode of the sketch show, and its 2015 revival series W/Bob and David). John Ennis’s extensive resume includes Malcolm in the Middle, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Twin Peaks, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Zodiac. His character is one of several one-offs for this episode, with a couple more such characters being introduced at the precinct – Detectives Fellows and Streudler, who interrogate Michael. Fellows (the detective who tries to push the polygraph on Michael) is played by actor/screenwriter Jonathan Penner, best known for The Bye Bye Man, The Last Supper and Let the Devil Wear Black – all of which he both starred in and produced – in addition to notable roles in Down Periscope, The Naked Truth and Rude Awakening. His partner, Streudler (the detective who gives Maeby the access code), is played by comedy actor/writer Kevin McDonald, best known from The Kids in the Hall. His other notable acting credits include Delmer & Marta, Epic Studios, Papillon, The Plateaus and That ’70s Show. He has also done a fair bit of voice-over work, such as The Bagel and Becky Show, Catscratch, Invader Zim and Lilo & Stitch, in addition to being a writer on Carpoolers (which, as mentioned above, stars another actor from this episode, Jerry Minor), and The Martin Short Show. One of his co-stars from The Kids in the Hall, Bruce McCulloch, would later have a recurring role on the show as Father Marsala in seasons 4 and 5.

Recurring cast members Henry Winkler (Barry Zuckerkorn) and Justin Lee (Annyong) both appear in this episode too, as does Charlie Hartsock (Bluth Company employee Ted, making his last appearance of the season). Christian Lavery also makes his second appearance as a young George Michael, after first depicting him in Visiting Ours, with Danielle Cipolla likewise appearing for the second time as a young Maeby, following her first appearance in Best Man for the Gob. They would each go on to play the role one more time (Danielle Cipolla returns next season in Switch Hitter, while Christian Lavery isn’t seen again until season 3’s Notapusy, where the role of young Maeby is recast). This episode’s extended cast also features Paul Makkos as the patient in Tobias’s therapy flashback, Regi Davis as the prison guard, Mia Angel Nuñez as his daughter (credited here as Mia A. Nunez), Jordan-Claire Green as the mall security supervisor’s daughter, and Cara Auerbach as Charlotte (Detective Fellows’ daughter). Jamie Bullock also makes an uncredited appearance as Barry’s date, according to IMDB. Lastly, Judy Greer can be seen in reused footage from Missing Kitty, though she is not credited for her appearance.

BlueDot2 As mentioned, this episode largely functions as a follow-up to Missing Kitty, the 16th episode of the season. Broadcast order actually places these two episodes closer together (leaving just two episodes between them as opposed to four), though the reshuffling comes at the expense of the season’s continuity. The gap between the two episodes actually makes sense – after all, enough time needed to pass between the initial filming of the Girls With Low Self Esteem video and the finished product being delivered.

This is one of two episodes that could be considered sequels to Missing Kitty, the other being season 2’s Spring Breakout. Both episodes pick up multiple plot points from Missing Kitty – namely the ongoing saga of Kitty and the Bluth Company, and Gob’s involvement in Girls With Low Self Esteem (with Spring Breakout also making the cooler of evidence a major plot point, in addition to being set on the following year’s Spring Break).

BlueDot2 Bring Your Daughter to Work Day is a thinly-veiled reference to Take Our Daughters to Work Day, a real-life program in the US where participating businesses would encourage employees to bring their daughters to work for the day. It falls on the fourth Thursday of every April, which would have been April 22 in 2004 – three days before this episode’s airdate (in this sense, you could classify it as something of a holiday episode alongside In God We Trust, Marta Complex, Missing Kitty, Afternoon Delight, Ready, Aim, Marry Me! and Spring Breakout).

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Take Our Daughters To Work Day was eventually expanded to include boys, and renamed Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day in 2003 (though many participating businesses already allowed sons to attend, referring to it as “Take Our Children to Work Day” or something similar instead). This could be considered a gaffe, though I’d say the writers have enough creative leeway here, seeing as Arrested Development’s version of the day is quite detached from the real-world equivalent.

BlueDot2 Gob’s Spring Break performance isn’t the only footage from Missing Kitty that gets re-used here – some more also makes it in when the narrator recaps Gob’s storyline from the episode and re-establishes the Girls With Low Self Esteem videos. In addition to this, a short clip from Whistler’s Mother is also replayed here when Lucille decides to call Oscar – specifically, the shot where Lucille first sees Oscar emerge from his trailer. The signature white border the show typically applies for flashbacks is not used here.

BlueDot2 Gob’s flub with the dead bird is a callback to Top Banana.

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BlueDot2 Annyong would call Buster “fatty” once more in the next episode, Let Them Eat Cake.

BlueDot2 This is one of two episodes to use a mall as a prominent setting. Season 5’s Chain Migration also spends a significant portion of its runtime at a mall (almost eight minutes – more than double the accumulative time of Not Without My Daughter’s mall scenes), albeit a different mall to the one pictured here.

Similarly, season 5’s Sinking Feelings and The Untethered Sole also have a fair amount of screentime utilizing a police station as a setting. Like with the two malls, the station interior is visibly different next time around, and a whole other exterior shot is used. This episode marks the second time the Bluths have wound up at a police station; the first being the Pilot (which was also a different location to this one).

BlueDot2 The narrator describes Tobias as “a surprisingly cat-like” guard – a callback to Justice is Blind, where Tobias’s “cat-like agility” was first established.

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BlueDot2 Detective Fellows makes reference to the character Grover from the long-running educational children’s Sesame Street, and the show’s off-shoot storybooks:

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While there isn’t actually a Grover book under this name, there is indeed a toilet-training book in the series with a similar title, I Have to Go, released in 1990. It’s unclear whether this is a coincidence, or a conscious reference to this specific book (be it a case of the writers changing the title for legal/creative purposes, or simply misremembering it). Sesame Street would be referenced again in season 2’s The Righteous Brothers and season 3’s Notapusy.

BlueDot2 Not Without My Daughter has a total runtime of 21 minutes and 54 seconds, and is rated TV-PG-DLSV.

BlueDot2 There are no deleted/extended scenes for this episode.

HIDDEN DETAILS

BlueDot2 Tobias can be seen wearing a pair of red slippers in the opening scene – a nod to his being dubbed “Dorothy” (in reference to The Wizard of Oz) several episodes earlier in Missing Kitty. It’s an extension of the multiple callbacks the episode receives throughout the scene.

BlueDot2 The flashback to Tobias’s days as a therapist contains several callbacks. Firstly, there’s Tobias’s diagnosis of his patient, which hearkens back to Maeby’s line from Bringing Up Buster, “Oh, he thinks everyone’s gay.” Following this, Tobias does a very Lucille-esque wink (a reference to the Pilot), during which we can see a photo on his desk of Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution, established two episodes earlier:

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The photo appears to have been taken during the filming of Best Man for the Gob, as the backdrop/costumes/stage positions are identical to the flashback seen in that episode.

BlueDot2 The bet Michael makes with Maeby is foreshadowed in the first scene, with Michael’s line: “You’re gonna have a role model in your life who is honest, who doesn’t steal, doesn’t lie and, I don’t know, watch entertainment news.”

BlueDot2 When Tobias is interviewing for the security guard job, one of his head shots from Visiting Ours can be seen briefly on the back of his resume:

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BlueDot2 Gob’s exchange with George Michael in the pet store serves as an early hint that his sexual orientation is far more fluid than he lets on (or likely even realizes himself) – having previously expressed a similar willingness to engage in a male/male/female threesome in My Mother, the Car. Gob’s homosexuality would be explored in far greater depth in the Netflix run.

BlueDot2 The “M. Sabino” uniform makes its third and final appearance on yet another guard at Orange County Prison, having previously shown up on different guards in Key Decisions and In God We Trust:

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This guard’s daughter is the girl who aggressively slams the club on the table to enforce the prison’s “no touching” policy, prompting her father to remark, “Her self esteem is through the roof” – a subtle nod to the Girls With Low Self Esteem videos.

BlueDot2 The following exchange happens between George Michael and Gob at the mall:

GEORGE MICHAEL: Say what you will about America, 13 bucks still gets you a hell of a lot of mice.
GOB: Who said anything bad about America?

The joke is actually a sly nod to the fact that Michael Cera and Will Arnett are both Canadian.

BlueDot2 Oscar is wearing a tour jacket that says “David Cassidy Live!” His professional relationship with David Cassidy had been mentioned in the previous episode, with Oscar writing at least one song for him decades earlier.

BlueDot2 Oscar mentions that his camper only has a hanger for a lock. We later receive visual confirmation of this when Buster first approaches Oscar’s trailer. Immediately after, we cut to the trailer’s interior, and several cut-up lemons can be seen in the kitchen area – a callback to Oscar’s lemon grove from Whistler’s Mother (in fact, during said episode’s brief glimpse inside Oscar’s trailer, a similar number of lemons could be seen in the same spot, unsliced).

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BlueDot2 In the mall security office, George Michael says to Gob, “You got caught by a 13-year-old girl,” and shares a flirtatious chuckle with the security guard’s daughter. However, after George Michael says “I’m not daughter enough for you” to Michael, she clears her throat and uncomfortably turns away. George Michael can then be heard muttering “Oh” as he realizes he’s just blown his chance with her (this gag also plays into the episode’s theme of characters struggling with their perceived masculinity).

BlueDot2 In the “On the next,” Lindsay is seen shoplifting from the exact same stack of clothes Gob was stealing from earlier in the episode. The shots actually mirror each other (in both scenes, other characters are present in the foreground, while those doing the shoplifting are visible in the background to the left of frame, until the camera zooms in and centers the shot on them).

BlueDot2 Also in the “On the next,” it appears from the way Buster is dressed that he’s finally been permitted to sign up for organized sports:

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2 thoughts on “Season 1, Episode 21: Not Without My Daughter

  1. I feel like the Annyong calling Buster “Fatty” gag probably could be seen as almost a light commentary on bullying? Buster as a character certainly wasn’t a stranger to being on the receiving end of that behavior, and Annyong was certainly smart enough to pick up on Buster’s weakness and just drive it into him.

    Totally with your commentary on Alia Shawkat’s abilities as an actor! I don’t even think it leapt out to me during the show’s original run, I think the 2nd time through her talent and role as the secret comedy weapon really jumped at me. And like you said her star has really continued to rise since then. Excellent write-up my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right on the money with the Annyong comment, it just strikes me as odd that he’d go with the insult “fatty” – which doesn’t really apply to Buster at all – when there are so many other viable traits to mock.

      Then again, I could definitely envision an off-camera screen shortly before this episode where, say, Buster returns home from his trip to Canada in the previous episode and Lucille makes a remark about him putting on weight or something to that effect, and Annyong just gloms onto it from there. And maybe the other kid at the soccer game just heard Annyong calling Buster that at some other point too.

      Liked by 1 person

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