Wednesday, March 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'Arrested Development' - Michael Inserts Himself Into Buster's Trial and the Wall Unveiling in 'The Fallout'

Netflix's Arrested Development - Episode 5.16 "The Fallout"

As the Bluths come together to unveil a wall, they once again discover that they deserve nothing more than to be saddled with each other forever.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Arrested Development.

"The Fallout" was written by Mitchell Hurwitz and directed by Troy Miller

Back when Arrested Development was first on the air, it was the funniest comedy on television. It even won the Emmy for Best Comedy Series. Granted, that awards body doesn't always represent the pulse of the industry. It nevertheless got things right with this show even though it never had the viewership to last long during its broadcast network run. The two Netflix revival seasons have been complicated in their own run. They have added to the legacy of this show. It gives television viewers the hope that any of their favorite shows can come back to tell more stories if they were unjustly cancelled or are simply missed. It's clear that everyone associated with the show wanted to do more and had a platform that was willing to pay for all of it. However, it has really limped across the finish line. The show itself seems to be overall lost in what it's grand message is suppose to be. It prided itself on being a meta comedy that used real-life politics and entertainment companies to accentuate its comedy. It has offered many delightfully insane insights on the world at large. And yet, this fifth season has been so jumbled in what it was trying to say about the current political climate, the status of the wealthy, expressing one's sexual identity as well as the criminal justice system. The viewer can't say that there was nothing going on this season. But one can also claim that too much was going on and all of it seemed to complicate the situation more than enhance it. That is a significant problem when it comes to comedy. This season made it all seem as if the stories were about advancing the plot dynamics instead of telling the funniest joke in any given situation with these characters. As such, there was the ongoing investigation as to what happened to Lucille 2. Did she disappear for some reason? Or was she murdered by someone? Buster went on trial for her disappearance with Lottie Dottie presenting a damning case against him. And yet, it's difficult to get a strong sense on what exactly happened there. Sure, the show provides some answers in Michael finally learning that he had his own confrontation with Lucille 2 and that Gob drugged him. He could have been guilty of her grim fate. And yet, his version of the chicken dance is all that moment is revealed to be. That is mildly amusing because that's one of the show's long-running jokes amongst the family. But it also feels a bit of a let down in the stakes of this overall story. It makes it so that the charges against Buster are dropped. But the confusion still lingers as to what actually happened that night to Lucille 2. It's an answer that doesn't come until the very final moment in which she appears to be the body double that Buster uses to help Gob's latest illusion. And then, it's mostly just a throwaway line where he admits to killing her. That too is very weird and shows that the season never really had its priorities in the right places.

Meanwhile, Lindsay's absence was a further complication that really didn't add anything to the proceedings. It was forced into the narrative because Portia de Rossi has mostly retired from acting to run her own business. But the way the show handled it was way too vague and non-committal. It wanted Lindsay to be gone and for some in the family to be worried about where she was. Her reappearance here is meaningful. However, the lessons she has learned on her journey offscreen are mostly just summed up here with the revelation that Mimi was her actual mother. But again, that reveal doesn't really mean anything because it's wrapped up in the mystery of who pushed Mimi down the stairs. Was it Lucille? Was it Buster? It was Lucille. It was Buster. This finale keeps going back-and-forth to the point that the audience is so confused that it doesn't ultimately matter who killed Mimi. That too is a significant plot point of this overall season. It made the audience understand that many things were going on with all of the characters. And yet, the priorities are mostly on Michael, Lucille, Gob and Buster in this finale. The rest of the ensemble mostly have their stories wrapped up in dialogue that just waves away any sense of lingering consequences. As such, Tobias explains that Murphy-Brown and DeBrie left him to be with each other. Maeby was following in her mother's footsteps of fighting for just causes. She could organize a protest even though she hired people to be there to speak out against the family. Meanwhile, George Sr. just appears to be along for the journey. There is no update as to whether or not he and Lucille are getting back together as a couple. It's just significant that Dusty can call Lucille his mother now as well. That's the love he clearly wanted from all of this. But it's so apparent that the show drops these stories completely just to keep things busy with the characters who actually matter to the end game of the story. That's a little lame. It's a neat ending. George-Michael sells Fake Block to the Chinese even though Murphy-Brown's programming didn't actually work at all. Michael saves the family while also realizing that he is the worst because he is always pushing himself into the business of everyone else. They leave potentially for good. Gob finds freedom in being able to publicly turn back to a straight man while also keeping his bound with Tony Wonder alive - who also magically reappears here. And Buster reveals himself to be a monster who keeps putting his foot in his mouth. It's a lot to handle. It is an ending. It may not be satisfying to some - especially those who saw this show as being so inventive in the early years. It's probably enough to definitively say that everyone shouldn't be looking for yet another season. It works as a series finale even though it means the show ends on a low note.