The first half of Arrested Development’s fifth season – unofficially dubbed “season 5A” – was released on May 29, 2018. After 8 months of radio silence regarding season 5B’s release, we finally have an official date, in the form of a low-key change to Arrested Development’s Netflix listing:
Yes, at long last, we now know that the remaining 8 episodes of the show’s fifth season have will be coming out on March 15 – just six weeks away!
While understandable, Netflix’s choice to release this information in such a discreet way doesn’t bode well for the show’s chances of returning beyond this. Not that anyone was particularly optimistic about that anyway (David Cross even said as much himself). Between the allegations against Jeffrey Tambor and the disastrous cast interview with the New York Times, it’s doubtful Netflix will risk any further negative publicity by commissioning more episodes beyond these (which likely wouldn’t have even gone ahead had filming not already wrapped on the season prior to these developments). Not to mention the mixed critical/fan responses to every release the show’s had since its revival (which have erred more towards negative, at least outside of the hardcore fan base), Portia de Rossi’s retirement from acting, and Alia Shawkat’s open disinterest in returning. As such, I’m operating under the mindset that these will be the last new episodes of Arrested Development we will ever get.
I’m a big defender of the Netflix seasons, though I can’t say I’m entirely saddened by the prospect of the show ending. I already went through that back in 2006! Considering many of the aforementioned points, much less the excruciating wait times between seasons, there’ll be some genuine comfort in finality. When Arrested Development’s run on Fox came to an end, I thought those 53 episodes were all I’d ever get, so I’m incredibly grateful to have gotten 31 more since then (53 more if we’re including the season 4 remix). Not everyone gets to say that about their favorite tv series.
As disappointing and frustrating as some of the recent behind-the-scenes events have been, the show itself continues to amuse, entertain, captivate, inspire, surprise, challenge and reward me. Often simultaneously. So, as I wait in anticipation for new Arrested Development episodes, very likely for the last time, I’m going to examine some of the show’s lingering mysteries, prevalent fan theories (and a few of my own), and the possible hints that pertain to them:
WHAT HAPPENED TO LUCILLE 2?
WILL WE SEE LINDSAY AGAIN?
WHAT HAS OSCAR BEEN UP TO?
WHAT HAPPENED TO TONY WONDER?
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH MURPHY-BROWN?
IS TRACEY BLUTH REALLY DEAD?
ARE REBEL ALLEY AND GEORGE MICHAEL RELATED?
ARE MICHAEL AND GEORGE MICHAEL REALLY FATHER AND SON?
OTHER LOOSE ENDS
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
WHAT HAPPENED TO LUCILLE 2?
At the end of season 4, we were left with several mysteries, the key one being what happened to Lucille Austero, A.K.A. Lucille 2. On the night of Cinco de Cuatro, her body was seen sprawled across the staircar, beneath a trail of what appeared to be blood. While we don’t get a clear enough look at the body to verify it as Lucille 2’s, it certainly looks like her, and the clothing matches what she was wearing earlier that night.
A few moments after Buster encountered the body, she vanished without a trace, leaving us with minimal evidence, and a whole lot of questions: Is Lucille 2 dead, or just unconscious? Did Lucille 2 fall, or was she pushed? Did somebody move her? If so, is that person also responsible for her injuries?
Season 5A still hasn’t explicitly answered any of these questions, save from some dialogue from Lucille in the final two episodes. The former instance occurs in Rom-Traum, when Barry Zuckerkorn shows Lucille the photo of the staircar, containing “Two heads – one spiky, one bald.” Lucille makes a remark indicating that she knows what happened to Lucille 2, and is in cahoots with Oscar (and quite possibly Lucille 2 herself):
And the latter is in Premature Independence, when Lucille visits Buster in prison, who is under the impression his mother has yet to visit him because she believes he killed Lucille 2:
LUCILLE: I happen to know for a fact you’re not a murderer.
LUCILLE: Lucille 2’s fine. But she can’t come back right now.
BUSTER: You know where she is?
LUCILLE: I know who she’s with. And that’s all I can say.
But we need to remember that this is Arrested Development. In this show, the actual truth frequently deviates from what characters believe to be the truth. And what appears to be confirmation of X can often be misdirection from Y.
While Lucille tells Buster that Lucille 2 is alive, her long history of coddling and manipulating him immediately calls that into question. Her interaction with Barry makes it evident that Lucille genuinely believes she knows what’s happened to Lucille 2, but we don’t know if she’s had any contact with either Lucille 2 or Oscar since Cinco. She may have plotted something with Oscar, but whether or not the plan was pulled off is a different story altogether. Until we get definitive proof that Lucille 2 is alive, much less hiding out with Oscar, we should take both of these lines with a grain of salt. Especially seeing as the full story of what happened on Cinco de Cuatro appears to be a season-long mystery.
Personally speaking, I believe Lucille 2 is alive, but nonetheless, I’m going to examine this from every angle. Before anything else, we first have to consider whether or not the show actually would kill her off. Arrested Development can definitely be dark at times, and there have been some deaths on the show over the years. But they’ve all been very minor characters (Earl Milford, Pete the mailman, James Carr, etc.). They happened off-screen more often than not, and the ones we saw were generally comical in nature (ie. the racist old lady who choked on Buster’s severed thumb in S.O.B.s).
Tonally, Lucille 2 dying doesn’t seem like Arrested Development’s usual style. Though granted, there have been some major stylistic shifts since the show’s revival. It also bears worth mentioning that this isn’t just a throwaway plot – it’s a very prominent story arc. If the writers ever were to kill off a character as significant as Lucille 2, I don’t think they’d do so flippantly, and this plot point has undeniably played a big part in the narrative for the Netflix seasons (plus, let’s not forget this is the same show that permanently amputated a main character’s hand).
Having said that, I highly doubt that Lucille 2 was the victim of an premeditated assault, regardless of whether or not she lived through Cinco de Cuatro. It seems far more in line with Arrested Development’s style for Lucille 2’s fate to be the result of collusion, coincidences and/or misunderstandings.
A key to the mystery may be in the cold opening for the season 4 premiere, Flight of the Phoenix. Lucille 2 is standing atop of the staircar when Michael confronts her. As the scene progresses, Lucille 2’s vertigo begins to act up, causing her to lose balance more than once. Could her fall simply be the result of her longtime medical condition? It would seem like the most logical explanation. Though whether or not she survived is a different question altogether. It’s also possible that the red streaks are something other than blood (ie. the juice she’d been giving to Buster).
Lucille 2 was quite the prolific entity in season 4, serving as a key plot point in most of the characters’ storylines. By the end of the season, almost every member of the Bluth family had motive to do her wrong. But before we examine the Bluths, let’s take a step back and look at the other two family empires in the show’s universe. The first being the Austeros themselves. Season 4 made a point of introducing a couple more members of Lucille 2’s family: Her brother, Argyle Austero, and her adopted son, Perfecto Telles. Neither one has much in the way of motivation, though we’ve yet to see either of them since Cinco de Cuatro. And season 5A has numerous mentions of a relative we’ve yet to meet: Annette, Lucille 2’s sister.
The Sitwells are the other family embroiled in all this. I’ll get Stan Sitwell out of the way first, as he seems unlikely. He’s one of the more ethical characters on the show, and has a romantic history with Lucille 2 which seems to have ended on amicable terms (as evidenced by Lucille 2 taking the Bluth Company off Stan Sitwell’s hands after the Queen Mary catastrophe). The only thing that makes me second-guess this is the fact that Stan Sitwell shows up at Lucille Austero’s condo at the retirement villa. Expecting the place to be empty, he encounters Maeby instead and tells her:
“Our agreement was that this place would revert back to me once Lucille…”
“…Gave up her interest.”
I don’t think Stan’s pause is a sign of guilt, but rather, uncertainty on how to end the sentence, since he believes he’s talking to Annette at the time. Or does he? When the two first cross paths, the narrator says that Maeby “came across a stranger, who longtime viewers will be mildly surprised to recognize is Stan Sitwell. But who Maeby did not.” The narrator doesn’t mention whether or not the same applies to Stan, and while it’s later confirmed that Stan doesn’t know Maeby is a Bluth, he does seem suspicious upon meeting her.
It’s also worth noting that Stan says the name “Annette” first, and Lucille 2’s sister hasn’t been mentioned by anybody else. There may not even be an Austero sister – Stan knows Lucille 2 well enough to possess this information, and could have thrown out a fake name as a test when Maeby claimed to be her sibling (though this seems less likely, as the narrator says in Rom-Traum that Stan is postponing intimacy with “Annette” to avoid a scandal, which would mean he does believe her to be an Austero). Either way, I think Stan Sitwell has some kind of scheme going on, as his scene with Sally in Rom-Traum indicates he’s nowhere near as senile as he behaves in Maeby’s presence:
The same scene makes a point of reminding us that the border wall was originally Stan’s idea, which he brings up again at the end of the episode after Oscar puts him in the hospital. This means the border wall will likely be a major plot point in season 5B, but more on that later. For now, let’s move on to Sally Sitwell. Michael’s long-time crush and short-time girlfriend, Lindsay’s high-school rival, and now, Lucille 2’s political campaign manager. Our first scene with Sally in season 4 shows us a much nastier side of her than we’d previously seen, while simultaneously establishing her new link to Lucille 2:
In Señoritis, Sally jumps at the chance to take Lucille 2’s ticket on the election ballot after Cinco de Cuatro. Barely able to feign sadness as reporters ask if she’ll be running in her place, she tells reporters “We are all still holding out hope that she is indeed out” as the staircar is repainted with “Vote for Sitwell.” And in the previous episode, A New Attitude, we learned quite a few other things Sally was keeping under wraps, during a post-coital conversation with her on and off-screen partner:
TONY WONDER: We’re on.
SALLY SITWELL: And he definitely thinks you’re gay, right?
TONY WONDER: Don’t worry, the only thing I’m better at than *beep*ing women is pretending I’m gay. Trust me, I am all man. Give me a little leg shave?
SALLY SITWELL: All right, well, you have to be careful. If Gob finds out you’re straight, he’ll use it to ruin you. And I’ll lose the hundred grand I stole from Lucille Austero to re-brand you as the gay magician.
NARRATOR: It seemed Sally Sitwell had a secret also.
TONY WONDER: I know that. Why are you telling me all this?
SALLY SITWELL: ‘Cause if she finds out, we both go down. And I don’t want to have to sell that closet as a sweat sauna on Craigslist.
Though it is still unclear how Sally Sitwell and Tony Wonder got together, much less the legitimacy of their relationship. Also unclear is just why the already-successful magician needed to rebrand himself as gay in the first place.
I don’t believe either of the Sitwells are involved in the murder/disappearance of Lucille 2, but the evidence suggests they are up to something. They’ve definitely proven far less scrupulous than they initially seemed, though I think a big part of that is the Bluth influence finally rubbing off on them (not to mention their desire for revenge, which would have undoubtedly grown stronger over the years given how many times the Bluths have screwed them over). I’m betting the Sitwells will play a significant part in season 5B, whatever that may be.
Now the examination of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no way to get his memories back together.
There are already some members of the Bluth family we can rule out: George Michael is the first name we can check off, since he has no idea who Lucille 2 is (as stated in Señoritis, and reiterated in Family Leave). Buster is the second, as he encountered Lucille 2 when she was already sprawled over the staircar, and was genuinely surprised when the body vanished.
I’d also say we can cross Lindsay off the list, as she had little in the way of motivation. Lindsay was more upset at Sally Sitwell than Lucille 2, and appeared to have moved on from it by the end of the night, essentially getting even by campaigning for the other side. It wouldn’t make sense for her to do something rash on top that, especially after having ditched Marky Bark just a little earlier because she disapproved of his radical tactics. And, from a behind-the-scenes perspective, Portia de Rossi only returned to the show in a limited capacity in season 5, so I highly doubt they’d saddle her character with a plot point as major as this.
And lastly, I think we can eliminate Tobias as a suspect. He may have had strong motivation, seeing as he’d be sent back to prison if Lucille 2 fired him from Austerity, but he spent most of the night preparing for his Fantastic Four musical (which was happening when her body was found). Not to mention what a half-assed job he did covering up a barely-conscious DeBrie, and the complete lack of urgency with which he approached anything other than his (equally half-assed) musical.
This leaves us with a suspect list containing five of the show’s nine main characters, along with one other Bluth: Oscar. His heightened testosterone levels from the Maca root led to him sleeping with both Lucilles for some time, and he was rejected by at least one of them that night. Might he have been seeking vengeance for his broken heart in a testosterone-fuelled rage? Or was he looking to impress Lucille after she dumped him? The scene where Lucille dumps Oscar at Cinco de Cuatro wouldn’t have been the last time they spoke (see the earlier-cited scene with Barry Zuckerkorn from Rom-Traum), suggesting the two collaborated on a plan later in the night. Oscar has also been absent for most of season 5A, something I will elaborate on further down the page.
Oscar brings us to George Sr. He seems unlikely given how sensitive the estrogen was making him at the time, choosing to deal with pretty much all his other problems that night by either running or hiding. Lucille 2 was upset with George Sr. when she found out about the US/Mexico border wall, but I think she knows the Bluth family well enough to realize who really masterminded that plan…
Yes, Lucille is undoubtedly the most vindictive Bluth. If asked to rank the family by who’s most capable of committing murder, I think she’d unequivocally top most viewers’ lists. Not to mention Lucille has a great deal of motivation, having just found out Lucille 2 was sleeping with Oscar, and still very much blaming Lucille 2 for her incarceration. In that sense, Lucille getting revenge on her rival seems too obvious a route for this story to take. This is Arrested Development, a show that actively tries to surprise its audience.
Gob is the wildcard on the list. He’s not really had any interaction with Lucille 2 since their brief relationship in season 2, but there is a moment in the season 4 finale, Blockheads, that’s highly suspicious. Gob starts talking to George Sr. about the border wall, and George Sr. shushes him, pointing out that Lucille 2 is around (she had been completely unaware of the family’s border wall scheme prior to that night). Gob then says “Don’t worry about Lucille 2. I’ll handle her.”
We still do not know exactly what Gob meant by that. I certainly don’t think he meant he was going to kill her – Gob is far too squeamish to commit a premeditated murder, and far too incompetent to cover up an accidental murder. Nor would Gob have had the time to hide a body, given his normal sex date with Tony Wonder. If he did anything to Lucille 2 that night, he probably slipped her a Forget-Me-Now. He is down to just one when he encounters Michael afterwards, and he said himself:
Lastly, we have Michael, who owed Lucille Austero $700,000. The opening scene in Flight of the Phoenix gives us our first glimpse at Michael’s “lowest point”: Fueled by alcohol and desperation, he attempts to seduce Lucille 2 in the hopes she’ll grant him an extension on the loan. The scene is elaborated on towards the end of Blockheads, where Michael takes on a more menacing tone:
Later that night, Michael returns to the model home, wearing a different set of clothes: The spare uniform from the banana stand (which was in close proximity to the staircar). The narrator explains that “Michael did something unthinkable.”
The fact that so many signs point to Michael probably indicates that he’s not actually responsible. In a murder mystery, the perpetrator is never the most obvious suspect. Which is why, if they do decide to subvert expectations and actually reveal that a member of Bluth did indeed kill and/or hide Lucille 2, I’m personally inclined to say Maeby seems like the most likely candidate:
The narrator began season 4 by saying “It was May…” before clearing his throat, then restarting with “It was May 4th.” It plays as a meta joke about the length of time the series had been gone, implying narrator needs a few seconds to get back into the swing of things, but could it have a double meaning? The joke could also work as the Narrator saying “It was Mae…” then cutting himself off before revealing the perpetrator’s name right at the beginning of the new saga.
At the end of Señoritis, Maeby finds out that her most recent sexual partner, Perfecto Telles, is underage. Upon remembering Lucille 2 had witnessed her romantic encounter with Perfecto, Maeby seems worried… for a few moments. Then she immediately brushes off her impending legal danger with her usual nonchalant confidence:
It plays as a joke about Maeby not having learned her lesson, but could it also indicate Maeby has a plan to silence Lucille 2?
Maeby spends most of her time in season 5A posing as other people, often wearing elaborate disguises. She claims to be laying low until “the Perfecto thing” blows over, though we don’t know exactly how extensive her “clean-up” was.
Her brief foray into charity work in Self-Deportation may also be a short-lived attempt at self-atonement.
And in Emotional Baggage, Gob tells Kitty that Buster is in jail “for maybe killing this woman my family owes money to.” Which can also play as “for Maeby killing this woman…”
While it’s generally played for laughs, a lot of Maeby’s behavior over the years could be seen as sociopathic; ie. posing as her own dying twin sister, spending 5 extra years in high school just to teach her parents a lesson, pimping out her mother without her knowledge, the deliberate bad advice she routinely gives George Michael, etc.
Committing the crime at hand would be out-of-character for many members of the Bluth family, but it’s a lot harder to determine where Maeby’s moral line is. I’m not sure how far the writers would want to take Maeby in that direction, but there’s plenty of ground to build on should they choose to do so (and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that they’ve been leaning further and further into Maeby’s dark side this season). Could the ruination of Maeby’s life have finally pushed her over the line?
But ultimately, if I had to bet, my money would be on Lucille 2 being alive, having faked her death and fled the country…
…Possibly with Oscar, embarking on a plan masterminded by Lucille (who may be sincerely paying Lucille 2 back after all). This would explain the previously-quoted dialogue from season 5 indicating Lucille knows what’s happened to Lucille 2. Lucille clearly has her own long-term plans, seeing as she had already started grooming Gob to be the new Bluth Company president back in season 4’s Double Crossers:
Let’s not forget that Lucille 2 is running a political campaign, owns a rehab facing possible legal woes (thanks to the Bluths), and is at least $800,000 out of pocket (thanks to the $700,000 Michael borrowed, and the $100,000 Sally stole). She may very well be in even more debt than this, seeing as she owned the Bluth-Austero Company during the collapse of the housing market. It’s not unfeasible the two Lucilles may have struck some kind of mutually beneficial deal where the Bluths helped Lucille 2 disappear (a perfect job for a magician, I might add), in exchange for getting back control of the Bluth Company.
Though the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that the real explanation will be infinitely more convoluted and surprising, possibly incorporating narratives I haven’t yet connected to this mystery, or a combination of these theories. There’s no way all of these details can be right, but it’s possible some could be. I do, however, believe that Michael’s missing memories will be the key to unlocking the entire story. I can absolutely imagine him blowing the mystery wide open after finally recalling his lost memories towards the end of the season.
WILL WE SEE LINDSAY AGAIN?
As much as I loved season 5A, Lindsay’s limited – and (almost?) entirely greenscreened – appearances were undeniably a drawback. It appeared to be born out of compromise, as Portia de Rossi had already retired from acting at the time season 5 was written. She agreed to return for a reduced role, and it’s likely the greenscreening was done so she could shoot all her appearances in one hit.
Lindsay’s character arc is largely complete at this stage, with most of her loose ends now either tied up, or passed on to other characters. Her minor role in season 5A actually does play well into the show’s running themes: She is only able to move on from the Bluths due a to a misunderstanding (falsely believing she’s received her parents’ approval), and her absence forces the family to run a nonexistent candidate for office, not unlike the plan they concocted in The One Where They Build a House.
Portia de Rossi is quoted as saying she appears in 5 episodes this season. Assuming this information is correct, this means we still have one more appearance in the pipeline (Lindsay was only present in episodes 1, 2, 3 and 5). It’s entirely possible that Lindsay’s exit in Sinking Feelings really is her final appearance chronologically, and the next time she appears may just be in an extension of her scene in the Mexican bar, for reasons I’ll get into in the next section. I hope she at least returns in some capacity beyond that, even if it’s just for a brief cameo in an “On the next.”
This is about as big a long shot as they come, but I would love a scene in the final episode where Lindsay finally tracks down her real family, only to discover they’re exactly like the Bluths. Imagine a Better Off Ted reunion, where Jay Harrington is the Michael counterpart, Jonathan Slavin is the Buster counterpart, Andrea Anders is the Lindsay counterpart and Malcolm Barrett plays her Tobias-esque husband. And Lindsay, realising she’d have to be the Gob of her new family, decides to return to the Bluths instead.
WHAT HAS OSCAR BEEN UP TO?
During her brief visit to Mexico which plays out in episodes 2 and 3, Lindsay encounters a familiar face in the bar, who the narrator says looks “like a Mexican version of her father.” As the scene continues, the man (who appears to be high) gives some very positive and encouraging advice to Lindsay, which doesn’t sound like anything George Sr. would ever say. While the differences between the twin brothers were blurred significantly last season, having it be Oscar here would provide far more narrative unity with the scene in Sinking Feelings where Lucille reads the wrong speech (with the validation Lindsay falsely believes she’s received from both parents finally prompting her to leave the family).
It makes sense Oscar would be in Mexico seeing as he lives there, and George Sr. would be off with Gob during this encounter anyway (and dressed completely differently). Oscar drinking at a bar alone may also signify that he isn’t with Lucille 2 – or, if they did leave for Mexico as a pair, they are no longer together. Seeing as Oscar shows up right at the end of season 5A, I imagine we will probably get some flashback scenes quite early into season 5B, explaining what he’s been up to since Cinco de Cuatro (which, in turn, may fill in some other blanks in the story, too).
WHAT HAPPENED TO TONY WONDER?
In Premature Independence, Gob is finally reunited with his rival/friend/lover Tony Wonder, as the two perform a double-closet sexuality switch two-hander float illusion planned out by Gob. That is, until this happens:
Suffice it to say, a lot of people are still confused over what the hell happened. Did they just kill off Tony Wonder? We still don’t know for sure, but personally, I don’t think the show would actually kill off a beloved recurring character in such a horrifying way (much for the same reasons I expressed doubts about Lucille 2’s possible death earlier). Let’s try to find some concrete evidence…
Tony Wonder says aloud that there is no trap door in his closet. If he’s telling the truth, what exactly was he planning on doing in lieu of the closet-switching illusion? Or is this simply patter for the crowd?
If so, this would mean that Tony is fully aware his microphone is on during the performance. Is it possible Tony’s “private” on-stage conversation with Gob was all a ploy to get Gob to out himself? It would certainly add a poetic layer to Gob’s inability to get back in the closet afterwards, and it is something Tony Wonder sought to do in season 4.
Before the cement is released, the narrator says “Another twist had been planned, that Gob knew nothing about,” indicating the same may not apply to Tony.
Someone is visible through Tony’s closet window when the cement starts pouring in. Is it actually him, or could it be a stunt double or a dummy? This is Tony Wonder we’re talking about, after all.
The cement dries impossibly fast. Is this something that can be attributed to the cartoonish logic of the Arrested Development universe, or is it evidence of an illusion?
Still, let’s keep an open mind here and entertain the notion that Tony Wonder really didn’t have anything to do with the cement. Who else might be behind it? Maybe a party unrelated to Tony Wonder was consciously trying to sabotage Gob’s trick, or possibly even kill Gob, thinking he was going to be in Tony’s closet.
One must wonder if there’s any significance to the choice of cement. Somebody trying to exact revenge for something construction-related? The obvious thing that springs to mind here would be the US/Mexico border wall. The shady scheme was repeatedly hampered by unforseen circumstances, putting the Bluth Company at least $15 million in debt in the process. And as the family tried to navigate their way out of the mess they’d gotten themselves into, they wound up colluding with multiple dangerous parties.
The most dangerous party of all would be the Jade Dragon Triad, the Chinese gang Lucille briefly joined during her stint in prison. In Queen B, Lucille convinced them to invest in the wall, in an attempt to jump-start the project after its development was halted by the economic crisis. But the wall was never completed, despite the money having been paid. The fallout from this has already resulted in the Jade Dragon Triad attempting to kill one Bluth…
So, how does Gob fit in to this? You may remember Gob became embroiled in the conspiracy – and involved with the Jade Dragon Triad – in A New Attitude. Lucille outsourced construction to Gob after being let down by George Sr, with the new plan being to build just enough of the wall to trigger a government payout. This led to Gob meeting Oscar’s friend, China Garden (the niece of Olive Garden), who offered up her connections for the project.
… Which leads us to the other group who may still want revenge against Gob, as revealed in Blockheads:
GOB: I need to pay the Chinese.
GEORGE SR: Wait, wait, you… you hired Chinese?
GOB: Well, I figured, who better than the Chinese to build a wall? But no, I couldn’t afford them, So I, I hired, um… they’re technically Mongols, I guess. They’re, they’re the people that they built the wall to try to keep out.
GEORGE SR: How, how many did you hire?
GOB: A horde. That’s the minimum, they don’t come in anything less than a horde.
GEORGE SR: So you hired a Mongol horde?
GOB: Look dad, I just… If they don’t get their money soon, they’re gonna be really mad, and then they’re gonna have a major Mongolian beef with us. There they are.
GEORGE SR: Uh… We don’t have any m-money. *runs away*
GOB: …Well, he says that we don’t have any money.
(Alternatively, Gob could’ve just been targeted because he’s currently president of the Bluth Company)
There are other people the Bluths screwed over in some capacity as part of this scheme, such as Oscar, Stan Sitwell and Herbert Love, but none of them have displayed the same violent tendencies. Between the Chinese and the Mongolians, I believe the former is the more likely culprit (they had a much larger role in the story, are owed far more money, and have actively conspired to commit murder).
… But again, I really don’t think Tony Wonder’s dead.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH MURPHY-BROWN?
In Self-Deportation, most of the individual character scenes end with the characters still in Mexico. That is, until Michael is unexpectedly greeted by (most of) his family upon returning to the penthouse. The next episode, Everyone Gets Atrophy, is predominantly a bottle episode set in Balboa Towers, intercut with flashback scenes explaining how everyone wound up back in Orange County. Joining the family for their reunion are some new faces, most notably Murphy-Brown. We’re initially led to believe that Murphy-Brown is some sort of acting protégé Tobias is mentoring. That is, until Tobias reveals this in Sinking Feelings:
So, how did Murphy-Brown come into Tobias’s life? We’ve still yet to see footage of their reunion. Given what a key moment it should logically be in Tobias’s story arc, I believe there’s a reason the show hasn’t yet shown us how they met: The scene must contain information that recontextualizes the story. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The following exchanges (from Sinking Feelings and Premature Independence, respectively) confirm that father and son have only met for the first time very recently, and that Murphy-Brown is completely unfamiliar with any of Tobias’s relatives:
TOBIAS: Oh, uh, before I forget, this is your half-sister, Maeby.
MURPHY-BROWN: Ohh! Close one, because I actually think she’s rather very hot.
MURPHY-BROWN: Is she okay?
TOBIAS: Oh, she’ll be fine. I was here for her entire childhood.
TOBIAS: You said you could unicycle and juggle.
MURPHY-BROWN: Oh! That’s because my uncle, he taught me that stuff, when he used to come over to cheer me up on Father’s Day.
TOBIAS: Robbie knows how to juggle?
MURPHY-BROWN: Who’s Robbie?
TOBIAS: *laughs* Oh, yes, of course. You wouldn’t know my brother.
The second quote is also quite curious, as Tobias doesn’t ever talk about his own family. Did Tobias become estranged from them at some point? It would explain why Tobias is so determined to remain a Bluth despite the dissolution of his marriage to Lindsay. The show is making us question Tobias’s relationship with his family in a number of different ways this season.
Given season 5’s recurring theme of history repeating itself, the logical point of reference here would be the last bastard father-son reunion. Let’s go back to season 3’s The Cabin Show, when Gob and Steve Holt met under some… misguided pretenses:
Much like these two G-O-Beads, neither Tobias nor Murphy-Brown are particularly bright. A similar misunderstanding occurring between the two is well within the realm of possibility. The two may have even met at a Sons and Dads reunion themselves, where Tobias’s father was the one trying to locate him. Assuming I’m correct about Tobias’s estrangement from his family, there are a number of reasons they may be trying to seek him out: They could’ve heard about his divorce, they could’ve caught his episode of John Beard’s To Entrap a Local Predator or any one of the concerning tv appearances he made in season 4. Hell, they could’ve even seen his Fantastic Four musical – there’s no lack of explanations here.
So, is it possible Murphy-Brown and Tobias aren’t actually related at all? And is this all leading up to the show revealing one of its biggest mysteries by finally showing us Tobias’s family? If so, Arrested Development would be paying off one of its longest-running and most covertly deployed jokes: Tobias is actually an albino black man. It’s a running gag so subtle that it’s entirely possible to watch the whole series without ever picking up on it, but there are quite a few hints about Tobias’s heritage sprinkled throughout the show’s run:
Tobias is wearing a dashiki in the show’s early promotional images (including the family photo seen at the end of the Fox-era intro).
When auditioning for the part of Frightened Inmate #2 in Marta Complex, we see a waiting room full of Tobias doppelgängers, one of whom is black.
The cover of Tobias’s book, The Man Inside Me (first mentioned in Let ‘Em Eat Cake) depicts a white man covering up a black man:
In Good Grief, Maeby asks Tobias if he’s bothered by Lindsay flirting with Ice the bounty hunter. Tobias responds “Hmm? Oh. No. I am surprised, though, that she’s going after somebody so similar to my own type.”
The following exchange occurs in Afternoon Delight:
LINDSAY: People hear the name Tobias, they think “big black guy.”
TOBIAS: Well, obviously, I’m not a big guy.
Later in the same episode, Lucille refers to Tobias as a “colored man” (the joke being that he was painted blue at the time, but that certainly doesn’t rule out an alternate meaning).
The show calls attention to the origin of Maeby’s frizzy hair in Notapusy, with Lindsay remarking “I don’t know where that hair of yours came from.”
When Hebert Love initially hits on Lindsay in Red Hairing, the narrator says “Perhaps it was because he reminded her so much of Tobias when they first started dating that Lindsay flirted back.”
In Smashed, we learn Tobias’s middle name is Onyango, a name of Kenyan-Ugandan origin (and the middle name of Barrack Obama’s grandfather).
Apparently, the writers were hoping to reveal Tobias’s family before the show’s initial cancellation, but didn’t get the opportunity. The fact that they carried this runner into season 4 suggests the idea has not been abandoned. I believe it’s very likely that Murphy-Brown is just misdirection, and the show’s planning to finally pay off something it’s been setting up for 15 years (not to mention how well this would parallel the plot point of Lindsay searching for her biological family, and tie in with many of season 5’s other common themes, such as family secrets and returning to one’s roots/revisiting the past).
IS TRACEY BLUTH REALLY DEAD?
This is one of those mysteries I have conflicted feelings about, as there have been multiple hints this season that Tracey may actually be alive. It’d be a risky, potentially show-ruining move, but at the same time, it’s exactly the kind of outlandish soap opera-inspired storytelling Arrested Development traffics in (Oscar being Buster’s real father, Lindsay discovering she’s adopted, etc.).
We know that Michael and George Michael definitely believe Tracey died of ovarian cancer, and that the rest of the family has been backing up this story. But Tracey has become a far less enigmatic character in the Netflix seasons, appearing on-screen for the first time in season 4’s It Gets Better. And the amount of times she’s mentioned in season 5A suggests there may be a big reveal about her on the cards. So, let’s examine the clues:
In Family Leave, Michael says “I’ve seen one person die, a postman,” which indicates he was not present for Tracey’s death.
In An Old Start, Tobias acts out the following bit in character as both George Michael and Tracey:
Tobias has acknowledged Tracey as being dead before, but his use of the word “leave” here (and how it plays with the title of Family Leave) is curious. Especially in light of Tobias’s tendency to fumble his lines when “acting.”
Later in that same episode, Michael returns to the beach cottage for the first time in many years. He encounters a red haired woman on the beach with her daughter, and the following exchange occurs:
RED HAIRED WOMAN: I love that house.
MICHAEL: Yeah, uh, my family used to own it back in the 80s.
RED HAIRED WOMAN: Too bad they sold it, it’s worth a fortune now.
MICHAEL: My wife died there. Ovarian cancer, actually.
It’s at this point when the woman whisks her daughter away, saying “No, it’s not true. He’s a liar. He shouldn’t have said that. Ignore the man.” It’s an odd moment, and we’re led to assume her reaction was due to the subject matter Michael brought up, but could there be more to it? Is she is somehow related to Tracey? Furthermore, as she’s walking away, Michael says “Good to see you” rather than “Good to meet you” – does he subconsciously recognize her?
Rule #2 is supposedly in reference to the family keeping their continued ownership of the cottage under wraps, but could it have a double meaning?
One of the first visuals in season 5 is of Michael landing head-first in the sand playing beach volleyball at
Goog , err, work:
It’s an extension of the ostrich runner from season 4. The clumsy flightless birds were repeatedly used to symbolize the Bluth family’s inability to take flight upon leaving the nest (a metaphor that took root in season 1’s Bringing Up Buster).
The idiom about burying one’s head in the sand originates from a myth about ostriches engaging in such behavior. And the show doesn’t just deploy it in season 5’s opening minutes, either. In season 4’s The B Team, we heard Michael’s new employer refer to the Street View car the “Ostrich” – which certainly adds another layer to this shot from An Old Start, where Michael uses the same tool underwater:
(And there’s an additional layer here, since Michael is circumvrenting his responsibilities to persue the charting of uncharted territories – something he berated Buster for in the latter’s very first scene. Buster being the original source of the aforementioned “bird unable to leave the nest” metaphor.)
The gag of Michael burying his head in the sand may not necessarily refer to his ignorance regarding Tracey’s fate. But considering how it’s been played thus far, I’d say it’s more than just a throwaway gag. Yes, there are plenty of ugly truths Michael’s avoiding, but that’s an overarching premise in general this season – likewise for revisiting the past. It’s difficult to imagine these themes coalescing in a way that carries any more weight than Michael thinking Tracey is dead when she’s not. And let’s not forget that Michael has a habit of not realising key things about his romantic interests.
If the writers are planning on going this route, the obvious questions are how are why. The latter doesn’t require much explanation, since I doubt any viewers are asking why somebody would want to get away from the Bluth family. It’s the details other than Tracey’s motivation where a wider array of hypotheticals start to present themselves; Maybe Tracey faked her death, maybe the rest of the family were in on the lie with her, maybe she just abandoned them all one day and the Bluths made up the story of her death as a cover to spare Michael’s feelings, etc.
As for how this could be possible, the most likely explanation would involve Michael taking a Forget-Me-Now. Whether or not he took it willingly is unclear (for all we know, Tracey might’ve left in a manner so painful that Michael asked his family to do this for him), but I believe that the Bluths are hiding more from Michael than just the beach cottage. One more piece of evidence to support the Forget-Me-Now theory comes from the same Tobias/Michael scene cited earlier:
MICHAEL: I’m not confused at all about what happened to Tracey.
TOBIAS: Really? Because you certainly never talk about it.
MICHAEL: I was raising a son. You think I want to burden him with memories that are gonna make him feel even worse?
TOBIAS: Please. What about Michael’s memories?
If Michael finds a way to recollect the events of Cinco de Cuatro – also wiped from his mind by a Forget-Me-Now – perhaps he’ll dredge up some long-forgotten truths about Tracey in the process.
ARE REBEL ALLEY AND GEORGE MICHAEL RELATED?
This theory’s been floating around since season 4, and it would certainly tie in with the show’s running theme of incest. So, let’s look at what we know: Rebel Alley is Ron Howard’s illegitimate daughter. The identity of her mother is unknown.
This leads us into the theory is that Rebel Alley’s biological mother is Tracey Bluth. The facts: Tracey and Michael got married in 1989, and had George Michael in November the following year. Michael and Tracey were in their early 20s at the time. We don’t know exactly when Michael and Tracey first started dating. A flashback in Whistler’s Mother showed a middle-school-aged Michael mentioning his desire to marry someone named Tracey, but there’s really not much else to go on. Also unclear is Rebel’s age, though she has a five-year-old son, Lem. Is it possible Tracey had a fling with Ron Howard before settling down with Michael? Or that she was simply unfaithful to him?
Let’s look at the instances that appear to support the theory that Rebel is George Michael’s half-sister:
Back in season 1’s Altar Egos/Justice is Blind two-parter, Maeby is posing as her own fictional twin sister, Surely. As part of the ruse, she writes either “M. Fünke” or “S. Fünke” on her tests while getting tutoring from George Michael. Rebel Alley’s, when written this way, becomes “R. Alley,” which resembles the word “Really.” Just as Maeby was maybe related to him before Lindsay’s adoption was revealed in Development Arrested, could Rebel really be his blood relative?
In Double Crossers, the narrator says Rebel is “A woman who, like Bryce Dallas and Paige Carlyle, was named after where she was conceived,” indicating Alley is not her mother’s surname.
(Side note: Ron’s ownership of the Apollo Lunar Module become even more amusing when you consider that Rebel named her son Lem.)
Rebel’s film credits include the American remake of Dangerous Cousins. Additionally, in the montage of her acting roles in Double Crossers includes a clip from a Terrence Malick film where she says the line “Are we the same?”
In Red Hairing, George Sr. asks Michael if he really likes Rebel, to which Michael responds “She’s Tracey.”
The narrator says of Rebel in Family Leave: “She was raised by a different mother than Ron’s other kids.” This doesn’t necessarily mean Rebel was raised by the same woman who gave birth to her.
There are also multiple points this season where they highlight Rebel Alley’s hair color. The first in Family Leave:
LT. TODDLER: You don’t know anyone with red hair?
MICHAEL: No, I don’t know anyone. Well, I know – I’m just ending something right now with a woman who has red hair, Rebel Alley.
LT. TODDLER: Oh, Ron Howard’s daughter.
MICHAEL: That’s the one. And Ron’s got red hair. So, I guess that’s two people I know with red hair.
Several episodes later, in Emotional Baggage, we get the Howard family barbecue. Attention is called to their hair color many times throughout the episode.
Red hair has been something of a recurring element of the Netflix seasons. Is there a reason the show keeps bringing it up? Or are these all just Red Hairings?
ARE MICHAEL AND GEORGE MICHAEL REALLY FATHER AND SON?
This is another fan theory that plays on the idea that Tracey isn’t the saintly person Michael remembers her being. The prevailing explanation is that Tracey was secretly having an affair with George Sr, was impregnated by him, and gave birth to George Michael. Meaning that George Michael and Michael are not father and son, but rather, brothers. Let’s look at the purported hints:
The twins who assigned the dorms in Flight of the Phoenix mistook George Michael as a set of twins named “George” and “Michael.” There are also multiple times throughout season 4 when Michael says that he and George Michael are “just like twins.”
There are two other sets of twins in the family: George and Oscar (actually related, but one twin raised the other’s son thinking it was his own), and Michael and Lindsay (not actually related, but one twin was raised by a family she believed to be her own, not knowing she was adopted). The common elements here are deception among family members (that theme again), and bastard children. Are George Michael and Michael “like twins” in the sense that their relationship also shares these common elements?
And, in the vein of the “Arm Off” and “Wee Brain” hints from the Fox run, we have another possible hint where covered-up letters change how the text reads. Doesn’t George Michael’s “U.C. Irvine” shirt look like it reads “2 Twins” when he’s walking through campus with Michael?
Back in season 2’s Hand to God, the narrator told us “Michael had always thought of himself as that great a guy. The kind of guy who could raise someone else’s baby.”
In Flight of the Phoenix, Michael explains to George Michael “it was your mother’s idea to call you George Michael, and I think it was just so that we didn’t confuse you with your uncle George, or your grandfather George.” It’s certainly curious that he wasn’t named Michael George, and if Tracey was having an affair with George Sr. then it’s possible the name was at his request.
Later in the same episode, when Michael is plotting the pack-first, no-talking-after four-person housing vote scheme, he uses the expression “Adiós, brothiero.” On the surface, it plays as a continuation of the joke of Michael not knowing the word “hermano,” but could there be more to the association of that phrase and the fact that it’s Michael who has to leave? Goodbye, brother?
The BabyTock commercial in It Gets Better features Tracey Bluth alongside George Michael and George Sr. Could this be a sign the three are connected? Let’s not forget George Sr. was also wearing Tracey’s perfume and maternity clothes while hiding in the attic back in Sad Sack.
One of the running themes of season 4 is the characters becoming like their parents. And, by the end of Michael’s season 4 arc, he is knowingly lying to his son about sleeping with his partner. We may not have confirmation yet that George Sr. has done this as well, but we do know that he has no qualms about adultery, so it’d hardly be out of character for him.
Considering the other theme of history repeating itself, it bears worth mentioning that Michael’s found himself on the receiving end of a brother’s fist over a shared romantic interest more than once in the past.
In An Old Start, we learn two things about the beach cottage: Tracey spent her final months there, and it also served as George Sr’s *beep*-pad. Could these be connected?
And lastly, the most meta story in season 4 may have also been hiding the most meta hints. Ron Howard – series developer, producer and narrator – appears as himself, repeatedly telling Michael that he is most interested in the story of the father-son relationship.
Could this be a meta hint that the overseers of the show are predominantly looking to tell a story about Michael and George Michael’s father-son relationship? It has been an enormous focal point in seasons 4 and 5A, it just might not be the exact story we think we’re being told right now.
One last thing to bear in mind that the “Michael and George Michael are brothers” theory doesn’t necessarily require infidelity on Tracey’s part. Rather, she could have simply found out that Michael was infertile, concealed the information from him, and gotten artificially inseminated via sperm donation. We know from season 2’s Spring Breakout that George Sr. has frozen his semen in the past, so it’d be an interesting alternative route to take – one that recontextualizes the past without sullying it.
OTHER LOOSE ENDS
Season 5 has yet to follow up on a few things from season 4. Firstly, the mysterious masked group who threatened George Michael at Cinco de Cuatro in an attempt to bring down FakeBlock.
Has the plot point been abandoned, or are the writers playing a longer game with this one? George Michael has been looking for an opportunity to come clean about FakeBlock, but has still yet to do so – and that’s to say nothing of the money that went into the project. Nor is this the only unresolved plot point about George Michael from season 4…
A major catalyst for the Gob/Tony Wonder storyline is the fact that Gob believes Tony sabotaged his wedding illusion: A secret compartment inside the fake cave was wedged shut by a gold cross, which Gob interprets as “T” for “Tony Wonder.” A more logical culprit would be Terry Veal, who we saw enter the cave unsupervised during Gob’s patter. Being a pastor, he’d likely have a cross to spare. There’s also some nice narrative mirroring there, seeing as Gob’s season 4 arc also ends with a deceitful Veal causing another huge shift in dynamic between him and Tony Wonder. Will the show finally follow up on this in season 5B?
Another thing the show’s not really addressed this season is the fact that Tobias is only out of prison on a release program. Meaning he is, presumably, still required to be at Austerity on some basis (not that we don’t know for sure he hasn’t returned there since Cinco). I’m fairly certain that Lucille’s sentence is up at this point, as Tobias said in Self-Deportation that she was only legally required to attend 2 more sessions with him, though hopefully we’ll get some greater clarity on that at some point.
Season 5 has, annoyingly, retconned a few events from season 4 that took place after Cinco de Cuatro (albeit exclusively from “On the Next” segments). Specifically, Maeby and Buster’s arrests. It’s not unfeasible that the show may actually work this footage into season 5B somehow, but for now, I guess we’re just going along with the new version of events, much like how the timeline has slid forward from 2012 to 2015 (though the show’s timeline in general is pretty messed up at this point – season 5A, logically, covers everything from May 4 to July 2 in the same year, seeing as those dates are explicitly mentioned, yet months appear to pass over the first 2 episodes).
Season 5 at least seems to be keeping the night of Cinco de Cuatro itself canon, so I imagine it’ll address quite a few of the unanswered questions those scenes raised. After all, the show needs to revisit that night in order to resolve the Lucille 2 mystery. And as mentioned earlier, there’s good reason to believe that the Jade Dragon Triad and the border wall will be revisited in season 5B, since they were mentioned towards the end of season 5A.
There are some minor characters introduced in season 5A who I think will definitely return in season 5B, as their first scenes all suggest the beginning of an arc: Adhir (the Austero Company’s compliance officer, introduced in An Old Start), Dusty (Lucille’s new romantic interest, also introduced in An Old Start) and Lottie Dottie (first seen on a campaign sign in Emotional Baggage, while Barry called her a “killer,” then appearing in person in Premature Independence).
And the fact that the Bluth Company offices have again be re-established as a setting following their absence from season 4 should hopefully mean we’ll be getting some more scenes there in season 5B, too.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
On January 23, 2019, Ron Howard mentioned on social media that he was narrating the final episode of season 5B. This means that these episodes have been in post-production long since the release of season 5A (I had initially assumed the entire season was already fully complete at the time of 5A’s release).
Despite the extensive time that’s been put into editing, season 5 actually wrapped up filming in November 2017, though it is unclear whether or not this included reshoots. Given the unlikelihood of any future Arrested Development beyond this, it’s also possible that Mitch Hurwitz and co. have been recutting/reworking the remaining episodes to give season 5 a more conclusive ending (Hurwitz had originally stated that he had a 3-act story in mind, with seasons 4 and 5 respectively making up the first two acts, though this was quite a long time ago, so the plan may have very well changed since then).
While details on the final episodes are scarce, IMDB has some (highly incomplete) listings for them.
Before I proceed, I feel obliged to point out that it is possible – and shockingly easy – for anyone to add unverified data to IMDB. Which means that the information I’m about to relay could very well be B.S. But, it is also common for actors and/or their representatives to add acting credits to their online profiles before the film/show is released. After all, you’re building a résumé, and it can often be a long time between filming something and having that footage seen by the public. It would explain why the only information we have on these episodes pertains to minor credits.
It doesn’t appear to be a prank, as none of the credits are remotely outlandish, and some even check out to some extent. Firstly, Exie Booker was credited as playing “Larry” in Premature Independence. He’s the guard who informs Buster that he’s on the Keystone Cop float (while also providing an extension to season 1’s running gag of the Orange County Prison prison guards having mismatched name badges):
IMDB credits the character as returning in episode 9, which would make sense seeing as episode 8 ended on Buster’s escape. Likewise for Eduardo Lezcano, who was credited as “Campaign Staff” in Premature Independence – he is also credited as “Campaign Staff / Bluth Office Worker” in episode 9, and “Bluth Employee Worker” in episode 11. In addition to this, Thomas Barbusca and Steele Stebbins are credited as playing “Young GOB” and “Young Michael Bluth” in episode 13, and Savannah Kennick is credited as “Young Lindsay” in episode 14. Hurwitz had previously stated that season 5 would be part flashback, so this is presumably what he was referring to there.
More vague credits include Kevyn Bashore as “Uncle Sam” (episode 9), Arvin Lee as “Orderley” (episode 10), Emerson Brooks as “Douglas” (episodes 11 and 14), Lee Chen as “Xiang Wu” (episode 11), Nico Evers-Swindell as “Officer Howell” (episode 12), Hayden Szeto as “Jeremy” (episode 14), and Melissa Bickerton as “Wall Protestor” (episode 16). The “Xiang Wu” character might be indication that the Jade Dragon Triad are returning after all, and that last credit suggests that the border wall plays a part in the finale.
Again, I have to make it very clear that IMDB is not a reliable source when it comes to incomplete projects. Just do a Something search to the affect of “IMDB fake information” to see what I’m talking about. While I see no reason to question any of these credits, I am also unable to verify them through any other means, so interpret this information through your own lens.
Across several interviews since the release of season 4, Mitch Hurwitz named a few specific things he planned on bringing back in season 5. This included the chicken dances, Franklin Delano Bluth, Cindy the ostrich, Dr. Norman, and “Love Each Other,” none of which resurfaced in season 5A. Have plans changed, or can we expect to see these in 5B?
One thing I’ve been wondering, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one: Is there a season 5 recut in the pipeline?
When Netflix replaced season 4 with the “remixed” cut, Fateful Consequences (while moving the original – and, in my opinion, far superior – cut off to the Special Features section), I thought they might have done so because the episode runtimes were closer to that of the original run. Season 5 had long been promised as a “return to form,” which I assumed meant the tight and consistent runtimes and the more episodic structure. So, I was quite surprised to see that season 5A had episodes clocking in at anything between 26 and 37 minutes long, let alone that it managed to get even further away from being written as an episodic series.
While most episodes are generally built around a setpiece of sorts, there were definitely some that made me go “Wait, the episode’s over?” when the credits started rolling. This season has a much looser structure than others, which might mean it was written and shot in a way that would be friendlier for multiple cuts to be made (I believe the season 4 remix would’ve already been in the can before season 5 was scripted – Ron Howard mentioned back in 2014 that he was recording new narration for a season 4 recut, so I think Netflix decided to sit on it for a while, with the intention of releasing it alongside season 5).
Hurwitz has been quite up-front about having put the season 4 remix together with syndication in mind (which makes sense; the constant recapping makes it feel like a cut designed to be watched one episode at a time, rather than binge-viewed). So it’s entirely possible that he intends to put together a syndicated cut for season 5 as well.
(Mr. Hurwitz, on the off-chance that you’re reading this, I don’t believe you should compromise on your art, but if you are indeed remixing another season, please go easier on the narration this time.)
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
What I’m mainly hoping for at this point is a satisfying conclusion. Season 4 took a huge risk by continuing a story that had ended pretty much perfectly, only to end its new chapter on a series of cliffhangers. These are almost certainly the last Arrested Development episodes that will ever be produced, so I think, perhaps more than anything, what I want from these final 8 installments is closure.
I already know the show’s going to deliver the laughs – it’s never failed me there. What I’m not entirely confident about is that season 5B will provide a fulfilling ending to the Netflix run, much less the series as a whole (especially given that Arrested Development had a greater likelihood of returning back when these episodes were written and filmed).
So, while a satisfying conclusion is the only thing I’m really hoping for, here’s a few more specific entries on the wishlist:
Some sort of underwater setpiece that ties together George Michael’s fear of the ocean with all the hand signals him and Michael learned in the flashback in Family Leave (and possibly also their family self-defense moves) in a clever way.
More dovetailing of all the plot threads as the season winds down. There are still a lot of balls in the air at the moment, and the overarching story would benefit from being streamlined. Seeing as season 5A did tie up a few loose ends from season 4, it seems likely that more narrative coalescence will happen from here on out.
I would find it hilarious if, after years of being used as an empty, throwaway slogan by Gob, the phrase “Love Each Other” wound up playing an important part in finally unifying the Bluth family together.
Gob’s storyline can really only go one of two ways at this point (a series of words I’m sure Tobias has uttered in his lifetime): Either he doubles down on his faux masculinity in a desperate attempt to get back in the closet, or he goes the opposite route and embraces his newfound homosexuality. The show’s been handling this narrative really well so far, so I’m hoping they decide take things in the latter direction. Just imagine all the comic potential of Gob, not just living out-and-proud, but embracing his idea of what LGBT culture is (that is, provided he doesn’t just think it stands for “Lindsay Gob Buster Tobias”).
I’d love to see some appearances from the more long-term recurring characters who haven’t popped up this season yet (ie. Lupe, Wayne Jarvis, J. Walter Weatherman, Carl Weathers, Stefan Gentles, Officers Taylor & Carter, Dr. Fishman, Ann and the extended Veal family, Mort Meyers, the Richters, or the former Bluth Company office staff). Some of these seem like long shots, but I’m hopeful the show still has some more cameos up its sleeve.
And lastly, it would be great to see the show address some of the unfinished narratives from the Fox run, such as the fact that Kitty is still in possession of George Sr’s frozen semen, Maggie Lizer was last seen pregnant with Michael’s child, or that George Michael and Maeby are legally married.