Season 5 General Discussion

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Welcome to the general discussion space for season 5.

As with the Season 5B Predictions page, this is a section of the site completely separate to the deconstructions (which will resume season 1 coverage in the coming weeks; in the meantime, you can check out the latest installment here).

With the release of season 5’s second half today (almost 10 months after the first half came out), this will serve as a venue for readers to converse about the show’s most recent (and very likely last) batch of new episodes – and season 5 as a whole.

NOTE: There will very likely be spoilers in the discussion below. It is recommended that you do not proceed further unless you have seen season 5 in its entirety.

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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.

23 thoughts on “Season 5 General Discussion

  1. I’ve since rewatched season 5B another couple of times (once on its own, the other time with 5A in a “complete season 5” binge watch), and my appreciation has only increased with each additional viewing. There’s so much great material in here once one looks past the obvious flaws.

    While The Fallout is nowhere near as satisfying a finale as Development Arrested, there are some clever ways the Netflix run comes full circle. In both cuts of season 4, the season premiere establishes several things that eventually return in the series finale (Michael’s aspirations as a lawyer, the forget-me-now Gob gave him, and the visual of a completed Sudden Valley). Also, in both the Fox and Netflix runs, the final four episodes serve as the “winding down” part of the story, and are linked together by specific plot threads/story arcs (in the case of the Fox run, the final four episodes cover Buster’s coma arc, all the stuff with Nellie Bluth and the model home’s secret room, while the Netflix run reserves its final four episodes for Buster’s trial and the childhood flashbacks).

    I’ve grown fonder of Chain Migration with these recent rewatches (it’s still a weak episode, but I enjoy how the mall functions as a framing device for all the intertwining narratives, and there are a few great lines – ie. “I’m a wanted man!” “That’s impossible, you weren’t even a wanted child.”). I may actually call Saving for Arraignment Day my least-favourite episode of 5B now. There’s a downright obscene amount of unnecessary narration/recapping, and while a *lot* of this season feels like it was written in the editing room, it’s perhaps most noticeable in this episode (though I have come around on that long split-screen shot of Michael in the car with glare on the window and the exterior of Orange County Prison, having since realised it was a Making a Murder parody).

    Having said that, I’m starting to prefer 5B over 5A now. 5A is more well-made on a technical level, but it’s a lot less structured and the story lacks urgency. I think 5B needed some more time to marinate with me – there’s some great dialogue (awful ADR aside) and a lot of wonderful little jokes I missed, and the trial remains one of the most fun things of the whole Netflix run. Though I’d say 5A has a little more heart (upon rewatching it, I was surprised just how deeply the show examined its characters’ feelings, particularly the Michael/George Michael stuff), and Rom-Traum remains my favourite episode of the season.

    Some other miscellaneous notes (and things I noticed in my rewatches):

    * There are a few clever instances of foreshadowing in 5A, such as Lucille saying her mother died at the beach cottage, Murphy-Brown mentioning to Tobias that he’s good with computers, or George Sr’s comment about how he wishes Lucille’s new love interest was Buster (“Him, I could fight.”), and Buster later expressing concern that he is being replaced by Dusty.

    * In the flashbacks, Lindsay is singing Edge of Seventeen. It is mentioned that her and Michael believe they are turning 14 – which would mean Lindsay is literally on the edge of 17, as we know she’s actually 3 years older.

    * In the intro for the final episode, Lindsay’s caption actually reads “His AUNT.”

    * There actually *is* more dialogue about Lindsay’s adoption than I initially recalled. I’m not sure it holds up under scrutiny, but hey, at least it was addressed. So, I withdraw my complaint there…

    * … And instead submit a new complaint: In Missing Kitty, Lindsay and Maeby visit a woman they believe to be Lindsay’s “Nana,” who turns out to be a complete stranger. When Lucille later tries to pretend “Nana” was on the yacht when it exploded, the narrator clarifies that Lucille mother died 6 months earlier. Granted, the Bluth family tree is complicated and convoluted enough that it wouldn’t be too hard to manufacture an explanation, but it’s definitely an uncharacteristically egregious oversight on Hurwitz’s part.

    * A clever little joke I missed in Courting Disasters: Michael says “I told Gob, when it comes to the foot, mum’s the word.” Gob later claims that “mum” is the Chinese word for “severed human foot,” implying he took Michael’s statement literally.

    * After Gob is threatened by the gay mafia in his office in The Fallout, he says “nice guys,” not realising until much later that they were actually tough guys. This links directly with George Michael’s “tough guy, nice job / nice guy, tough job” exchange from Sinking Feelings.

    * I didn’t initially notice that the portrait of Gob in the Fakeblock offices mimicks the box from the magic kit in the flashbacks – AND has a sly callback to Missing Kitty:

    * And another brilliant detail I missed, in the name of John Beard’s last place of employment:

    One last thing that’s bugging the crap out of me, though: At the end of Saving for Arraignment Day, Maeby finds a document belonging to Stan Sitwell – a map of the nursing home, with images of corresponding residents (many of which have red Xs over them) and Lucille 2 circled. It’s never explained further or mentioned again. Anyone have any ideas as to what the hell that was all about? Is Stan looking for a place of residence? A potential romantic partner? In either case, why is he specifically doing so at the nursing home? There are *so* many unanswered questions about the Sitwells (especially when you consider that the series basically ends with him missing without explanation).

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    1. The Stan Sitwell stuff is a really good catch, and as far as AD goes seems like a really strange oversight in terms of dropped plots. My own theory is that Stan had some sort of real estate scam in mind with the home itself. Maybe buying his way into every home in the community before taking the whole thing over for himself? Or buying out the land to knock down everything for his own development? That’s my best thought.

      Damn dude you’ve got a hell of a good eye at catching these little things! The GOB stuff, Lindsay’s music selection (hilariously, I walked into a room with the radio on earlier today and hey, “Edge of Seventeen” was playing! My brain tends to go right to School of Rock though when I hear it), mum’s the word, etc.

      The Nana/flashback thing not adding up is another hard oversight to see them making. Its a little frustrating to think about (given that the whole Lindsay/Maebe visit is a REALLY funny scene). The only explanation I can think of (and its absurdly convoluted) that after hypnotizing the hell out of Buster they hired an actress to be Nana. Which given GOB, Lindsay, and Michael’s ages probably wouldn’t work.

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      1. Another possible theory is that Lucille herself is adopted (which may be why she made a point of raising Lindsay as her own), and tracked down her real mother after Mimi’s death, who would be the “Nana” we’d heard about.

        And yeah, the Sitwell stuff is frustrating, especially when you consider how much ADR there was. They couldn’t have recorded one extra line of dialogue to make his story arc more conclusive? Hell, even just one little line from Ron and a Photoshopped still image would’ve been sufficient.

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        1. Hmm, I can see that Lucille being adopted idea. It would definitely add an interesting look into her mindset.

          Have they announced any DVD release plans? If there’s deleted scenes maybe that’ll make the Sitwell plot direction more clear.

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          1. Unfortunately, no news on any physical release yet. Season 4 didn’t come to dvd until over a year after its Netflix release, and it’s not like the format (or the show) has gained any popularity since then, so it’s sadly possible we may not *ever* get an official season 5 dvd. I sincerely hope that’s not the case.

            But even then, a dvd release wouldn’t guarantee any deleted scenes – season 4 didn’t have any. The only reason they ever cut stuff was for time, and that was no longer an issue on Netflix, where the episodes could run as long as Hurwitz wanted.

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  2. I recently finished viewing #3 of season 5B, and I actually really loved it this time around. I think part of the reason is that I had a lot more awareness (and acceptance) of the season’s flaws this time around, and really just went in with the mindset of enjoying it for what it is. I may have even laughed more than I did the first time around!

    I think more than anything this viewing, I found myself particularly admiring the Dusty/Lottie Dottie story, and how its various twists and turns played out. The more I think about it, the more I love all the parallels between the Rattlers and the Bluths (their excessive wealth, the tradition of naming children after the parents, etc.), and the way the storyline slowly transformed from “Lucille has a new love interest” into the glorious absurdity it became. And Dusty even sounds like “Busty,” Buster’s nickname!

    There were also some other more subtle callbacks/references that I missed the first couple of times, such as Murphy-Brown’s line about eating a hamburger underwater and how it links with George Michael’s hamburger quote during the diving flashbacks in Family Leave. But, more importantly, I went back and checked season 4’s Off the Hook, and there are indeed 5 minutes missing on the timestamp when it cuts back to the security camera footage. I take back my comments about the solution not aligning with what we saw!

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    1. Pretty amazing that Hurwitz never lost his eye for the small details throughout the shows run! The security footage and the hamburger lines coming around (GREAT catches by you!), feel like perfect indicators for that.

      I do love the Dusty/Lottie story as well. Part of me wants to see that get expanded. Feels like we’ve got more comedic ground that can be exploited!!

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  3. I’ve completed my first rewatch of season 5B. Unexpected Company is a really good opener – it may actually have the most rapid-fire joke rate of the entire Netflix run (not all the jokes land, and there’s some obvious cast scheduling issues they struggled to work around in the model home scenes, but there are also some huge laughs, namely “click” and the joke that closes the “On the next”). Then there’s a slump beginning towards the end of Taste Makers, an episode that starts out really solid but winds up leaving a bad taste in one’s mouth thanks to that painful scene with the gay mafia. It’s horribly shot, runs way too long, and Tommy Tune’s uncharacteristically wooden performance doesn’t help either.

    I’d said elsewhere in the comments that Emotional Baggage was my least-favourite episode of the show to date, but I think I may like Chain Migration even less. At least Emotional Baggage had *some* good material, such as George Sr. teaching Buster how to survive prison, and pretty much all of Maeby’s scenes. Chain Migration is just a slog, almost entirely devoid of laughs and downright shoddily-made. So many of the season’s worst scenes make it into this episode, like the “waiting for the printer” montage, the Tent City scenes, and the George Sr/Oscar scene in the changing booths (I’m usually willing to grant the show some slack when it comes to its production values, since the more poor-looking scenes aren’t totally at odds with the verité style, and most instances are brief enough to be quickly forgotten – but this was virtually unwatchable).

    Thankfully, things pick up again with Check Mates, which steadily builds momentum after a bumpy first act and leads to an absolute show-stopping last few minutes. The reveal that Michael has bought FakeBlock with the Chinese mafia’s “face-saving” money is the most “vintage Arrested Development” setup of the entire fifth season (I think the one other time the show put such a delighted grin on my face this season was when the Bluth family pursued itself around the border in Rom-Traum).

    From here, the last four episodes ostensibly serve as the season’s final act – tied together by the coalescence of the FakeBlock/border wall/Chinese mafia storylines, Buster’s trial, and the flashback sequences. I’m inclined to say these final four episodes get better and better as they go, with Courting Disasters and The Fallout both among the best episodes of the season (especially the latter, which is tied with Unexpected Company as my favourite episode of 5B – and probably just behind Rom-Traum and An Old Start as my favourite of the whole season).

    Even if one overlooks the glaring technical/production issues, these episodes still aren’t without their flaws. While it’s great that the show is able to tie up most of its loose ends by the season finale, not all the endings are earned (such as Lindsay’s hasty reunion with the Bluth family, the George Michael/Maeby kiss which appeared to be done by stunt doubles, the lack of a clear resolution to George Sr and Lucille’s marriage woes, etc.). The same structural issues present in 5A return here too, though the back half of the story is admittedly much more focussed than the first.

    Some random notes & observations:

    * I like how the running jokes are all executed a little differently. Some slowly build over 2-3 consecutive episodes, others begin in 5A and carry into 5B, some are specific to certain segments of the season, etc. Much like with season 5A, I noticed a lot more subtle running gags the second time around – there were set-ups to pay-offs that I missed, and the show would occasionally deploy recurring key words/phrases in a manner so sly, it went easily unnoticed. As different as every season of the show is, they all have one thing in common: They all necessitate multiple viewings to be fully appreciated.

    * What the hell’s with the flashback footage from the Fox run being all stretched out? It was shot in the same damn aspect ratio!

    * Maeby slowly having more family members learn about her secret hide-out very much echoes how the “George Sr. in the attic” arc played out over season 2.

    * Dusty is basically a combination of Buster and Oscar.

    * Poor Will Arnett, he really did get saddled with so much of this season’s weakest material. His scenes with Kitty in Emotional Baggage, the whole gay mafia arc, and perhaps the most cringe-inducing scene of all where he’s speaking to Mrs. Veal in Chain Migration’s “On the next.” Which is a shame, since Gob’s arc wasn’t without its highlights (the more genuinely dramatic beats were played really well, and the closet store arc was hilarious, as were most of his scenes in the Bluth Company), but they just failed to harness the premise’s potential.

    * This season also had the weakest Oscar material to date, and I say this as someone who actually loved how he was used in season 4. I did enjoy a lot of the physical comedy in the early 5B scenes with him and Buster (“It wasn’t a good system”), but his involvement in the story – much less his relationships with Lucilles 1 and 2 – ultimately added up to nothing. They haven’t misused the character this badly since Prison Break-In.

    * Rebel’s break-up with George Michael was pretty unceremonious for a narrative that’s dominated so much of the Netflix run.

    * The other worst-looking footage this season would have to be that split-screen shot in Saving for Arraingment Day, with an exterior shot of the prison on top and Michael driving behind a glare-filled windscreen. Did they *really* have nothing else to work with there? And if not, why wouldn’t they have trimmed the scene? It runs for so long, just lingering on those vexing visuals.

    * While Gene Parmesan was obviously the funniest surprise witness at the trial, I really loved how Warden Gentles was used (especially since it managed to weave together his romantic history with Lucille, his involvement in the Ron Howard Bluth project *and* Buster’s appearance in the parade).

    * You know who else I’m bummed didn’t return for season 5B? Lt. Toddler. Her interactions with Michael made for some of the funniest scenes of season 5A, largely thanks to how well Rebecca Drysdale and Jason Bateman played off each other. Their deliveries and comedic rythyms gelled together so well, so it’s disappointing she just kinda disappeared after those first few episodes.

    * While not familiar with Cobie Smulders or Taran Killam, I felt the former did an excellent Lucille (I probably prefer her take on the character to Kristen Wiig’s, to be honest). Killam’s impression felt like he was playing the character more like Seth Rogen than anything, though.
    * The hypnotherapy footage raises some serious questions about Tobias’s age.

    * While the series is no longer bookended by boat parties, there are a few ways in which things come full circle here. ie. John Beard, whose first scene was in the Pilot, finally sharing a scene with Michael after all these years of reporting on the Bluths (and the scene itself provides a great payoff to something established in the season premiere). I also really like that Michael and George Michael ultimately leave without saying a word, after Michael having always made a point of announcing it. Maybe there is hope for them getting out, after all!

    * There is one aspect of the show that I feel was actually better than ever this season, and that’s the score. David Schwartz’s unique soundtrack is an integral part of the show’s DNA, and the new compositions for season 5 are his best work yet. I *really* hope they release a second volume of the OST.

    * I also really, really hope this season gets a dvd release. I need to complete my collection, damnit!

    I think my preference of 5A over 5B stems almost entirely from the problems I’ve highlighted above. The cast scheduling conflicts, for instance, didn’t pose much of a problem in 5A save from the obvious green-screening of Portia de Rossi (and I’m fairly certain Ben Stiller, which would also explain that extended shot of a suitcase, though at least that was kinda funny). But there’s so much ADR in 5B, and it results in an unacceptably large portion of the show consisting of obviously overdubbed lines playing over the back of people’s heads, not to mention the haphazard ways they try to hide it, like Tobias being entirely out of frame aside from his hands while talking to the family in the model home living room in Unexpected Company. I can suspend a lot of disbelief for Arrested Development, but these technical/production issues were so prominent in 5B, it just kept completely taking me out of the show. I know the disorganisation on set (which has admittedly been an issue since the first season – scripts have *always* been turned over at the last minute on this show) reached a level so bad the cast had to give Mitch Hurwitz a “showrunner’s intervention” of sorts, and I’m confident betting it happened during one of the 5B episodes I ranted about here.

    I know most of my notes and observations have come off as negative, and I should clarify that this is still, by far, my favourite tv release of the year to date, and I can’t imagine loving anything else in 2019 as much as this (though I should clarify that being “my favourite” show and being “the best” are two different things, and I just can’t apply the latter label to this season). I’m already looking forward to revisiting this season many more times in the near future, and cannot wait to get to know this last batch of episodes better.

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    1. The Tobias/age thing occurred to me while watching. If anything I feel like that maybe plays in a little more with the “is Tobias secretly black?” idea since he would seem to have aged remarkably well. But in a way it makes Lindsay’s marriage to him make more sense. If he’s Buster’s hypnotherapist, that would seem to give Lucille and George more reason to have a disdain for him and their clearly dislike would’ve certainly made him more attractive to a rebellious Lindsay!
      Lt. Toddler is a good call for MIA recurring cast member. She was investigating the missing Lucille 2 case and then…she wasn’t? If the episodes for season 5 were all filmed together (which I assume they were) then her being dropped is really odd.
      I feel like Netflix cut their budget which explains some of the shoddy overdubbing and why scenes like the aforementioned George Sr./Oscar scene didn’t look so good. Having rewatched season 4 before the new episode drops there’s a noticeable difference in quality.
      I also loved Warden Gentles appearance in the trial (though I think that it was also green-screened)! James Lipton is something else, 93 years old this year.
      On a John Beard note, he is a legitimate newscaster. When I’ve been watching the show and he appears my wife always does double takes because she remembers watching him on the news back when she lived in California. She finds AD in general not really to her taste but the Beard stuff really makes her laugh.
      Also Michael and George-Michael leaving silently this time was great. It felt like a great culmination to the family shrugging off Michael’s threats of leaving with “Michael always comes back” jokes. In some ways its one of the biggest steps of character growth I think we’ve seen from Michael in the show. He always announced it because he wanted to be needed and come back as a hero. Now, he’s just going. Will he still come back? Maybe. But I liked the feeling of permanence they portrayed it with this time.

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      1. The thought about it being another “Tobias is black” hint did occur to me, but you’d think the visible signs of aging would be relative to skin pigmentation. I guess they’re just playing his whole backstory with mystery though, especially since it seems Murphy-Brown really was his long lost son.

        Lt. Toddler’s disappearance could be attributed to the case being reassigned now that it was a murder investigation rather than an evidence-tampering one… Though at least the evidence guy came back!

        The technical/production issues are nothing I can’t tolerate, but there’s another reason it’s irksome: Back when the show was first cancelled, they tried shopping it to other networks (namely Showtime and HBO, even referencing these efforts in S.O.B.s). Supposedly, the Showtime talks actually had some legs, but Hurwitz refused to make the show on the smaller budget they were offering (the show’s budget on Fox was roughly $3 mil per episode, which was unusually large at the time, though obviously the average costs and standards of tv production have changed a lot since then). So that definitely makes the Netflix seasons’ poor production values a lot more frustrating.

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    2. Regarding Lt. Toddler, I had even forgotten about her until I started rewatching 5A and yeah, she should have been back. And speaking of 5A, it’s delivered on the subtle call-forwards more times than I would have thought, because I’m a bad fan who didn’t trust the show to be all great like that. Case in point, when Michael is talking to Buster about turning himself in, the subject of police psych tests comes up and Buster says “those are so easy to game” so casually.

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  4. Well hell, that was fun. It had some problems, but it felt like an ending that mostly did what it needed to do, and also left me just a bit sad that it was over. Being left with that sentiment is always a good thing, because it hadn’t worn out its welcome yet.
    I agree that it really took off during the last four episodes. The way it wove everything together with the Chinese investors, Michael finding the money and buying FakeBlock, and everything else that came of that was a perfect storm of lies, ineptitude and ego that we’ve come to expect from the Bluths. In some ways it may have benefited from the first half being so loose to suddenly see at these threads suddenly knot in in such a thorny fashion, that really helped put some zing into it.
    Which is probably my biggest critique of, I suppose, lots of the new AD, it felt like a hell of a lot of thought was put into plotting out the pointedly ridiculous shenanigans, much of which was certainly amusing and apt for the family, but somewhere in the mix the moment-to-moment funny just didn’t arrive like it used to. I can sit back and enjoy on something of a theoretical basis how in the space of one episode we saw two characters actually -gasp!- tell the truth for once, and then see George Michael suddenly up-end all that by still lying about FakeBlock, and yet at the same time note that the dialogue there was working more just to get the story across without being as funny as it perhaps might have been. Some things just didn’t land the way I think they might have in the past. It was still worth climbing that stair-car again though.
    Other stray thoughts (I will also probably come up with more later]:
    – The characters seemed to gel (or re-gel) better and they all had great moments, although maybe not Lindsey as she just wasn’t here enough for this half, which was too bad.
    – This set of episodes really went much darker than the show has before, but I’m not complaining as I don’t feel it came across as either tone-deaf to what’s gone before or some kind of desperate grasp for … I dunno, “relevance” or “hey look, we’re no longer on network TV!” or something..
    – The flashbacks were great because I got suckered at one point thinking “man this was badly shot, I can see the backdrop of the beach is just a backdrop.” Turns out there was a reason for that!
    – Ron Howard didn’t bother me so much in this set, not that he ever got much on my nerves (except maybe that one he and his entire family had an appearance in). I even got a good laugh from that one bit of narration somewhere in this back half that I can’t recall exactly, but he was answering something someone on screen had just said with an exasperated “Oh, he didn’t say that” or something.
    – Seeing Michael finally doing a chicken after all this time and then pay for it was a great flourish.
    – Some of the extraneous characters like Tobias’ son and Debrie, Dusty the not-really-a-lawyer, etc. did sort of get short shrift. I kind of feel that they were used here and there to give our mains people and storylines to spin off into when when they couldn’t be available at the same time as other mains. These things happen, I don’t hate the show for working with what they had, and it is nice that so many of the mains have (or, uh, “had” in Tambor’s case) careers that were already keeping them busy.
    – Based on that final scene with the body falling out of the concrete, I know feel somewhat vindicated in my recent comment I made here about Liza Minnelli appearing to me to be more of clone than daughter to Judy Garland. I was sad Minnelli couldn’t make it to be in this series though. Has the series ever so definitely written out someone before?
    – George Michael fired his dad pretty much the same way he did Maebe in series four, and Cera sold the desperate nature of it well both times.
    – If the show is well and truly done now, I’m OK with that, this felt right enough. Knowing all the troubles that have been going on behind the scenes it probably will be, but I read somewhere recently that Will Arnett was saying something along the lines of Hurwitz has said he’d happily keep it going even as cast members dropped out, and that he intended to be the last Bluth standing. So hey, maybe there might be more but with an adjusted cast, who knows? If there is some day, I’ll be there to check it out.

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    1. I loved how it all came together too, I just question whether it warranted so much screentime. It feels like the kind of story arc the original run would’ve breezed through in about 3 episodes, and while season 5 does a good job at tying up season 4’s loose ends, I’m not sure it needed to be 16 episodes long. Not that I’m complaining about getting 8 additional hours with the Bluths, but I do wish the season had tried to tell more new stories rather than mainly just concluding its existing ones.

      Emotional Baggage (the episode with Ron Howard’s family) has probably overthrown Burning Love as my least-favourite episode of the series. And I actually didn’t mind Ron’s appearances in season 4! They were self-indulgent, but at least there was some funny stuff in there, like the story behind the LEM, or the “hat haircut.” This time around, it just felt like the scenes were written purely with the intention of making the boss laugh, and the whole thing fell flat. And the horrible misuse of Judy Greer in that episode didn’t help, either.

      I’m with you on most of the side characters (though I’ll never turn down more Maria Bamford). Having said that, I actually really came to love Dusty as the season progressed. I wasn’t totally sold on him at first – or Lottie Dottie, for that matter – but once we learned that Lucille had attracted another motherboy, that whole storyline became a lot more entertaining. Still kinda disappointed we didn’t get any more Steve Holt, though maybe his happy ending is him finally accepting that no good comes from being in the Bluth family’s orbit. It also feels kinda criminal that we didn’t get an appearance from Ann this season (much less that other members of the Veal family *did* appear, and the show still didn’t resolve the mystery of who locked Gob in his trick, since I’m still pretty much positive Terry did it).

      As for the show writing out a character in such a dark/definitive manner, we did have the suicide of James Carr last season (the realtor Lindsay flirted with in season 2, who later sold her and Tobias the mansion they couldn’t afford, and also briefly worked as the latter’s agent), and Uncle Jack was confirmed dead in season 5B (which I loved; not only was that scene hilarious, but it also answered the question “Why don’t the Bluths just go to him to help with their debt?”). It was also strongly implied Earl Milford died under Gob’s care in Public Relations, and we had that racist old lady who choked on Buster’s thumb in S.O.B.s.

      I thought I’d always be game for more Arrested Development, but at this point, I’d actually prefer the show just end here. It’s about as conclusive a post-Development Arrested ending we’re ever going to get, and there aren’t really enough lingering threads to warrant another season. MAYBE a movie or movie-length special that serves as an epilogue of sorts, but even then, it doesn’t sound all that appealing with neither Alia Shawkat nor Portia de Rossi up for returning. Let alone the whole Jeffrey Tambor situation (I can accept his presence in season 5 since it was filmed *before* the allegations happened, but willingly choosing to rehire him for a new installment now? That’s a very different situation, and not one I think I’d be on board with). At the end of the day, this was a good ending, and I am very, very happy for the show to leave things here.

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  5. So I finished, a few thoughts I have in the immediate aftermath.

    – I’m not super-satisfied with the conclusion of the Lucille 2 mystery. Buster doing it feels plausible but I do agree that based on what we saw of Cinco it doesn’t all feel like it adds up. I wasn’t aware of Minnelli having mobility issues so maybe that’s why we don’t flash back to the deed itself? Also the final shot we got of the family felt a lot like the end of Se7en in some ways with the camera slowly drawing back as the shock sets in.
    – I loved the flashback structure. I’m wondering if they weren’t able to get Rogen/Wiig to return so Hurwitz maybe rescripted that to be the actual production of the true crime series? Or it could’ve been the plan the whole time, Smulders, Killam, and Smart are hugely inspired pieces of casting! Loved each of them.
    – The Guilty Guys reveal? Awesome. I’m a little surprised we didn’t get a couple cameos there (there’s certainly no shortage of actors who’ve played lawyers in various shows/films).
    – Some of the stuff from your predictions thread, particularly regarding Tracy and Tobias’ family, it really felt like plot threads that were set up without dropping a payoff ultimately.
    – Allll though…. remember you did see elements of George-Michael and Michael being siblings rather than father/son. We did get a version of that with the Lucille/Lindsay payoff (which I guess means Maeby and George-Michael are nephew/aunt PLUS are actually blood related).
    – I feel like Jessica Walter might have been the MVP of 5B. Her performance as Lucille has always been brilliantly sharp but they gave her a lot of heavy lifting to close the show out.
    – Overall I think I’d put this just behind 5A but I’ll definitely continue to digest it all. I agree with your final assessment though that if this is the end of the Netflix run it feels right. But I’ll definitely be back for more if they change their minds on that!

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    1. Yeah, I love the twist in theory, but it just doesn’t align with what we saw transpire that night. I guess I could buy that we were only seeing Buster’s flashes of lucidity during the murder, but that explanation still feels like something of a cop-out. It’s not dissimilar from how I feel about Lindsay’s reveal; I’m totally on board with her (and Maeby) actually being related to the family by blood, but it’d already been established that Sitwell tried to adopt her before the Bluths did, and I just don’t see how those fit together.

      I never expected Rogen and Wiig to reprise their roles as young George Sr and Lucille – it always felt like a single season runner to me (especially seeing as they just used to stick wigs on Tambor & Walter in the Fox run, let alone the fact that we’ve had multiple actors play young Michael & Lindsay). So the “flashbacks” totally worked for me – I particularly felt like the casting of young Gob was inspired as hell.

      As for the lack of pay-offs with many of the supposed hints I highlighted in the Season 5B Predictions write-up, it’s entirely possible some of those “hints” were unintentional, or merely groundwork being laid for season 6. But I get the impression that a lot of the footage shot for this season was born out of circumstance, and the season probably would’ve looked a lot different had Hurwtiz not had to work around cast availability and the like.

      I’m still inclined to call Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat the MVPs of season 5 – it was great to see them finally stop being written as “kids,” and the quality material they were given was absolutely matched by their performances. Though I will never not love it when Jason Bateman leans into Michael’s more reprehensible qualities. The only performance that felt kind of “off” to me was Will Arnett. I think Gob was intentionally being written/played more brain-dead this season due to all the forget-me-nows he took in S4 (his first scene in the season premiere suggests as such), but it led to a lot of hit-and-miss moments for what’s usually the show’s most reliably entertaining character. I’m not *thrilled* about him returning to the closet in the end, though the method in which he does so is very much in character (and really, it was foolish to expect growth from a character who intentionally erases any life-altering moments from his memory).

      There were definitely some missed opportunities for cameos as you said, though I didn’t personally mind, especially after season 4’s cavalcade of celebrity cameos (which worked well given what a sprawling epic season 4 was, while I think of season 5 as a more intimate, small-scale experience). That is an interesting question, though: Which performer(s) do you wish had made an appearance on the show but never did?

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      1. Theory: Did the Sitwell’s try to adopt Lindsay because maybe she was actually the product of Stan having an affair with Lucille’s mother? It would’ve added an interesting dynamic (more for the future than anything) to additional interactions between Lindsay and Sally.
        I’m with you in that Cera and Shawkat definitely were great in this half-season (as they were in 5A). The GOB arc felt empty (though Arnett was as committed as ever to the material), more than anyone else I feel like they had plans for him in potential future seasons.
        I really loved when Michael came right out and said “I’m the worst Bluth” even if it was a little on the nose.
        The cameo question is a great discussion question! Part of me would’ve liked to see Howard reach back into the Happy Days well again and find parts for Don Most, Erin Moran (who I believe tragically died between seasons 4 and 5), or Anson Williams at some point in the show’s run (especially if they could’ve been worked into a scene with Howard or Winkler) . Also for the Guilty Guys, Michael Kelly would’ve been a phenomenal actor to put on the team given his natural intensity as an actor.

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        1. I LOVE the Sitwell theory! It contextualises the Bluth/Sitwell relationship so well. It still doesn’t totally fit (after all, why would he have not said anything about it when he told Lindsay she was adopted?), but at this point, I don’t think it’d possible to come up with a theory without any holes.

          As for Gob’s storyline, I think a part of the issue was that Tony Wonder was such a central element of it, but Ben Stiller’s availability this season appeared to be a lot more limited (maybe he was busy with Escape at Dannemora?).

          And there are a LOT of regulars on the tv comedy circuit who would be great fits for the show. Just off the top of my head, I think Patton Oswalt, Kristen Schaal and Nick Offerman all could’ve brought something special to the show, but we’d be here all day if I tried to name everyone.

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  6. I was hoping to rewatch season 5B at least once before I gathered my thoughts, but it’ll be several more days before I get the opportunity to do so. As such, this should be considered a preliminary verdict, as I find my appreciation of the show always increases upon repeat viewings.

    First impressions, I’m inclined to say the ending wasn’t *quite* as satisfying as I’d have liked it to be (though, granted, anyone who read my Season 5B Predictions write-up would know I was probably expecting a bit too much from the show’s final 4 hours). But it certainly wasn’t dissatisfying, either. I’m VERY happy this season didn’t end on a series of cliffhangers again, especially given what a long shot any future installments are at this point.

    Looking at season 5 as a whole, 5A made me laugh more than 5B (at least the first time around), though I definitely feel 5B picked up a LOT in the last four episodes. While episodes 9-11 came off as mostly meandering, the season was invigorated by the twist at the end of Check Mates (with Michael buying Fakeblock using the money George Sr. and Lucille were intending to pay back to the Chinese), not to mention Buster’s trial; this show really does have an amazing track record when it comes to writing attorneys. I loved the flashback device used by the final episodes – especially when it’s revealed precisely *what* we’re watching – and while I wasn’t laughing quite as frequently as usual (there were definitely some jokes far hammier than what I expect from Arrested Development, especially in the first few episodes of 5B), the show did manage to deliver some genuinely hilarious “all-timers.” For example, the reveal with The Guilty Guys may be the hardest I’ve laughed at Arrested since I first saw the duck scene in season 4.

    As for the ending itself, I have mixed feelings. I admire the “scorched earth” nature of the new finale, which really comes off as a glorious middle finger to all the critics of the Netflix run, and I love that the show went as dark as it did. The reveal that Buster did it, though? On one hand, it totally tracks with the character (we know Buster’s warped, and we’ve seen enough aggressive outbursts from him for this twist to land), and I love the idea of making the most seemingly innocent Bluth homicidal. What *doesn’t* track, however, is how this explanation fits with what we saw of Cinco de Cuatro (not to mention all the other unanswered questions from that night). Supposedly, Hurwitz wanted Liza Minnelli to return (as did Minnelli herself), but her real-life mobility issues prevented that from happening. It’s unclear if this impacted the ending (it’s entirely possible he just wanted to film some flashbacks with her), but I’d imagine the ending we saw wasn’t exactly what Hurwitz had planned when season 4 was written.

    Season 5B possesses the same loose structure and leisurely pace that personified season 5A, with much of the same flaws applying to both halves of the season. The narrator, while nowhere near as overbearing a presence as he was in the season 4 remix, still dominates the show a little too much at times, often providing context where it’s not necessary (ie. the callback with Maeby/Tobias/Debris/Murphy-Brown replicating the four person housing vote from season 4 would’ve made me laugh a lot more had the narrator NOT recapped that situation for the umpteenth time beforehand). There’s also some extremely noticeable ADR – which has admittedly been an issue since season 2 – and I *really* hate this new trend of filming interior shots with a fisheye lens from the corner of the room. The show’s new visual choices probably annoyed me a lot more than anything else, to be honest.

    Perhaps season 5’s biggest flaw is that it feels both overwritten AND underwritten. Overwritten in the sense that the dialogue is often too wordy and could benefit from trimming, and underwritten in the sense that it feels like we’re missing some of the key scenes that make this whole story coherent (it’s possible I missed something, but I still don’t seem to recall any elaboration on Murphy-Brown’s presence/relation to Tobias). I’m not thrilled about the retconning of some S4 events, much less the show’s complete disregard of its own timeline, but I’d gladly take a messy, imperfect conclusion over none whatsoever. Just as Development Arrested was the perfect conclusion to the Fox run, I’m inclined to say The Fallout is a fitting end to the Netflix run, embodying this era’s strengths and weaknesses all the same.

    I could go on, and I’m sure I’ll have much more to say as I better acquaint myself with these episodes, but for now, my opinion of season 5B could be summarised as “liked it a lot, not sure if I loved it.”

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