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.
If I'm being honest with Arrested Development season 4, some episodes are just working far better than others. As I've said in previous reviews, the joy of Arrested Development's first three seasons was in seeing the ensemble cast interact; remove these characters from the ensemble and place them in an episode by themselves, and sometimes they just don't work. Michael works best as a foil for more outrageous characters; Lindsay works best when someone's there to point out when she's being airheaded.
Gob, on the other hand, is absolutely [bleep]ing hilarous on his own. Maybe it's just the fact that Will Arnett is an absolutely brilliant comic actor, but "Colony Collapse," his character's episode, was the strongest stand-alone episode of the season so far (and it had close competition from "A New Start"). But, from start to finish, "Colony Collapse" was a rewarding return for Gob, who had been relegated to a peripheral role for much of the season's early episodes.
Of course, that's not to say that everything worked here -- Gob's stammering conversations with Ann became tiresome way too quickly, for example -- but the episode gave me more laughs than pretty much any episode so far this season. Tony Wonder's "I'm here, I'm queer, now I'm over here," for instance, was a clever twist (and the sparing use of Ben Stiller was an interesting, though not unwelcome choice).
And the Entourage parody, while a few years late, was well done as well -- having a nightclub named "And Jeremy Piven" (after the HBO's show's title sequence) was worth a good laugh. And seeing Gob's bees flood into the limosine was one of the best laughs the season has given us so far.
The Forget-Me-Nows came back in a big way, though their self-reflexive use, communicated through Ron Howard's narration, was far too intentionally confusing to be very funny, especially considering there wasn't much of a payoff there.
What was funny (and kind of heartbreaking), though, was the return of Steve Holt. While most of the cast has stayed exactly the same (minus Lindsay's eyebrows), it was fascinating to see how much Steve Holt had changed from the handsome-ish high school jock to an almost unrecognizable adult. His desire to be accepted and loved by his father, however, hadn't changed. Unfortunately, neither had Gob's unreliability, and it was the Bluth family fishing trip all over again when Gob abandoned his son for the less-fulfilling entourage life. That storyline had a fantastic payoff, though, as, after realizing the error of his ways, Gob screened his son's phone call. "The boss is on my ass again," he said, refusing to acknowledge that someone in his life truly loves him. It was kind of sad, but when has Gob been anything but hilariously, hilariously sad?
Overall, "Colony Collapse" worked on the merits of both Arnett's acting ability and the capability of Gob to stand alone as a character. I'm not as optimistic about the Lindsay-centric next episode. But before we get to that, some stray thoughts!
-- Tobias as Roman Centurion #2 for Gob's wedding illusion was rather hilarious -- his improvised lines were a nice addtion to an already hilarious scene in which Gob unwittingly insulted the beliefs of an entire room of evangelicals.
-- Ben Schwartz was pretty underused in this episode, but he's way better underused than overused (Am I right, Showtime's House of Lies?).
-- The big visual gag of the church spelling out 'HER?' was nice, but the episode spent far too much time with Ann jokes. It's not like we haven't heard them all before.
-- Did we really need the introduction of each entourage member? That seemed like a huge waste of time, and there really didn't appear to be any real jokes there.
-- The best part of the episode, by far, was the close-up on Gob's face, set to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence." Every time it showed up was absolutely riotous; just the idea that "Hello darkness, my old friend..." was going through Gob's mind was absolutely a stroke of genius.