Note: This analysis and discussion reflects on episodes from a full season perspective. It is not intended to be spoiler-heavy, but there will be some spoilers throughout. Previously: Flight of the Phoenix.
As promised — with my full season thoughts out of the way — we’ll get to the goodness much faster in this second installment of Beyond the Binge. While “Borderline Personalities” isn’t the strongest episode of Arrested Development Season 4 by any stretch, it is quite delightful on second watch thanks to several jokes and themes that aren’t present until you’ve watched the rest of the season. It’s really a testament to S4 being a product for fans and not critics rushing to get out their reviews. No one was ever going to appreciate the deep intricacies of this one in a single viewing.
The guests make for a nice addition. John Slattery is welcome to show up on any program any time, including my cable access show. The biggest critiques are “not enough jokes” and shoddy green screen usage. The former I’ve touched on, and the latter really isn’t something that irks me, as I always assume AD does this sort of thing knowingly. This is a meta comedy, not a historical biopic. But leaving some low-hanging fruit out there when people are just salivating to criticize was probably a bad idea. As far as I’m concerned all of that is forgiven because…
MAX WINKLER, ladies and gentlemen. I know 99% of you are aware, but for the 1% who aren’t (and to share “Take to the sea!”), the flashback stealing Young Barry Zuckerkorn is portrayed by Henry Winkler’s son, Max.
“We have the best f*cking attorneys.” And to add to that, one of my absolute favorite parts of “Borderline Personalities” came early in the episode with this callback via flashback, perfectly portrayed in this side-by-side:
“Look at what the homosexuals have done to me!” Lucille’s shotgun defense for commandeering the Queen Mary was an echo of her complaint from the pilot episode of the show.
Halliburton Teen’s denim shorts. The Halliburton Teen bit intros a fun running gag about Halliburton re-branding (see also: Hal & Burton’s Frozen Goat Cream) but if you paid close enough attention to the best sellers you noticed a familiar looking pair of shorts.
“I’m going to sit opposite you so it won’t look bad.” — George Sr. prior to sitting down at Oscar’s table. Not only a fun nod to Jeffery Tambor playing both parts, but I’d also like to think a self-deprecating shot at the show’s dodgy green screen capabilities.
China Garden. “I know the downtown one,” kicks off a running gag of people referring to which China Garden restaurant they’re familiar with whenever her name comes up. Their are even a few physical shots of China Garden locations down the road.
“I don’t want these.” As also uttered by George’s eldest son later in the season when he’s surrounded by loving people he thinks he can do better than.
Heartfire’s non-conversation with the bartender. Mary Lynn Rajskub’s running thought communication gag got a background joke during Oscar and George Sr.’s conversation. Also, I choose to believe Heartfire is how Gail the Snail reinvented herself after one-too-many saltings.
Good News O.C. with John, Joan, and Jackie. One of the many new gigs John Beard quits throughout the season. This one comes before we actually see John Beard quit his long-running local anchor gig earlier in the timeline.
Buster’s pastrami shortcake order. I didn’t catch the almost inaudible complaining during my first watch, but I feel everyone should know it involves pastrami shortcake, which sounds delicious.
“Dr. Norman, we have a hot mess.” — Oscar shouts out the second “hot mess” of the season from the inside of the terriblly greenscreen’d mini-hut. Double meaning?
The Sweat Cave’s Craigslist Listing. After Heartfire does a “something” search she comes across this “ONLY USED ONCE” mud cave listed for sale in magic > christian/prehistoric/fairytale. Obviously, a lot more fun on second watch.
What is Science? George Sr.’s online ministry course also gives a shout out to his eldest son, who is in the midst of getting more religious.
George’s we12 Article. An episode after Michael is featured in the coach in-flight magazine we find George Sr. was featured in a first class-only publication, doing the same pose with a bit more context. The “Father B. Colony” name continues the Bluth name shame that’s a constant throughout the season, along with hinting at a different sort of colony to come.
A “Perfecto” Foster Mom. We get our unknowing first look at the maybe undercover cop/maybe underage high school student, Perfecto, made up in a manner we know the hispanic community can’t get enough of.
we12’s Retraction. A close up look reveals no one peed their pants. It was just sweat! And they couldn’t even spring for hay? C’MON! Bonus letters to the editor from the likes of Fat in Ohio and DJ Super Market.
Back soon with “Indian Takers.”