I'm reviewing every episode of Arrested Development season 4 immediately after I see it for the first time -- so if you haven't seen the rest of the season yet, don't worry! You can check out my other episode reviews here.
The third episode of Arrested Development's fourth season, "Indian Takers," finally caught us up with Lindsay and Tobias, two characters who had been noticably absent from the season's first two episodes. This was really Lindsay's episode, riffing on 'Eat, Pray, Love' (a bit of an outdated reference, but still a funny one), and providing some of the season's first satire of the rich.
Arrested Development was never a series with a real message (other than telling us that family and breakfast are the most important things), but its parody of the Bluths was always a larger parody of the self-absorbed rich socialites that permeate our culture. Lindsay was always the perfect example of this, with her shallow dedication to fundraising and incessant spending habits. "Indian Takers" kicked that up a notch with Lindsay's soul-searching trip to India, which doubled as a trip to "find something cute."
Of course, it became clear throughout the episode that both Tobias and Maeby had come along with her; We could get a glimpse of Tobias sitting behind her on the plane, that was his pirate blouse that Lindsay got mixed up with, and judging his past, I'm pretty sure that was Tobias who got hit by the bus. But that was also Maeby dressed up as the "Four Seasons Shaman" -- a hilarious poke at the commercialization of spiritual discovery that George Sr. seems to specialize in -- telling Lindsay that she was "full of [bleep]." Of course, that revelation really didn't have much impact on Lindsay. She did return to the states hoping to make it work with Tobias, but instead roped him in as an accessory to her money-spending extravagance.
Ed Helms returned as that real estate agent from the season 2 premiere; this time, he goaded Lindsay and Tobias into buying a massive McMansion that they could never be able to afford (here, of course, the show lambasts the 2008 housing crisis in the only way it can -- by displaying its richer victims as greedy victims of their own extravagance. But, hey, if you have it, then you'll have it. (Of course, that purchase rewarded us with a rather fantastic sequence in which Tobias and Lindsay have a conversation throughout all of their massive house.)
But that conversation ended with Lindsay agreeing to go to an acting clinic with Tobias -- but what he thought was a "Method One Clinic" turned out to be a "Methadone Clinic" (classic Tobias). There, he met addict Debrie (the fantastic comedian Maria Bamford) -- who he thought was an improv actor -- while Lindsay met (and subsequently fell for) Debrie's boyfriend, Marky Bark (Chris Diamantopolous), the son of season one's hippie-activist Johnny Bark (Clint Howard), who was killed by some bees. (Gob?) Johnny apparently has a real disability where he can't recognize facial features, and while that's mined for comedy throughout the episode, I couldn't help but find him a bit unfunny.
The episode overall, though, seemed to be fairly tight, thematically. It was all about Lindsay's constant search for true happiness, and the fact that she's too shallow to obtain it. Johnny Bark served as the complete opposite of Lindsay, but as it turns out, she doesn't want his brand of true happiness -- she might take one of his ostriches, though.
On to the next episode, "The B. Team" -- but first, some quick thoughts:
-- Maeby was hardly in this episode, interesting (other than a pretty hilarious scene where they shepherded a duck into an oven). What is she up to? And what was she writing on the marker board while her parents bought that unnecessary house?
-- Buster's home camping experience was fantastic. That kid they got to play Buster just nailed Tony Hale's mannerisms.
-- Portia de Rossi looks way different. I think it's her eyebrows. She's quite noticably different, probably second only to the much-aged Alia Shawkat (Maeby).
-- I was interested by Tobias's line that everything the would turn out to be skilled in places the family thought he was oblivious. I really hope we see more of that. (He remains, to my mind, the show's funniest character.)