When you reach the end of Arrested Development's season 4 finale, there's a certain feeling of, "Wow, that's it?"
It's a frustrating ending for many reasons. There's no resolution to the George Michael/Michael estrangement that's been a centerpiece of the season. The Lucille Austero mystery, late-arriving as it was, doesn't get solved. And hell, it doesn't feel like much of an ending at all -- it's like the season just stops. There's a lack of resolution that kind of makes the whole thing empty.
But, those reasonable criticisms aside, it's also kind of a bold move. When you think about it, Arrested Development's fourth season could have been a hug-filled nostalgia fest with a happy ending and a message about family. But then, I suppose, what would the Bluths have left to learn? "Blockheads" was an episode that promises -- swears, even -- that there's going to be a follow-up, whether it's in the form of fifth season or a movie. But to end the episode in that way, with a rather heartbreaking punch in the face, is a rather courageous move.
Think about it this way: if this had been the cliffhanger for the show's second season, I wouldn't have been that mad. The only way to approach "Blockheads" is to assume that there's going to be more Arrested Development. It's still not entirely satisfying even then, but it at least takes away some of the bitter aftertaste.
I'll have a review of the entire season up tomorrow, but it's that cliffhanger that's going to have people talking. In the meanwhile, disregarding the episode's final five minutes, "Blockheads" actually showed some real character growth from George Michael -- though, again, with no real ending point. Though he had fallen into his family's ways of lying -- and lying surprisingly well, in a well-done voicemail war with his father that we'd glimpsed earlier (though sometimes it takes him a hilariously long time to generate lies) -- he finally made the decision to man up and take responsibility. That wasn't fully realized -- yes, he made a commitment to Rebel, but she still thinks he's George Maharis -- yes, he admitted to being George Maharis, but is continuing with the Faceblock lie. He's making progress into becoming a responsible, respectable human being, but he's not there yet.
Michael Cera was great in this episode, though. It's kind of gratifying to see George Michael as autonomous, but still with some of his childhood characteristics (his debates with himself over grammar were hilarious). Accidentally slapping the picture off the wall was another piece of well-choreographed slapstick.
And, you know what? I'll go ahead and say it: Michael had that punch coming. He deserved it; maybe it'll knock some sense into him.
I'll have my full thoughts up about the season tomorrow, but some final words about "Blockhead:"
-- The Anonymous joke just wasn't done well. For the first time this season, the setup didn't match the payoff (though both weren't great).
-- John Beard even had an arc this season -- now we know why he was declaring "I quit!" He works for Ron Howard now!
-- I did like the bit where Ron Howard congratulates Rebel on knowing the Wright Brothers had a bike shop.
-- The recurring joke using "The Sound of Silence" surprisingly didn't get old -- I laughed both times it was used in the episode. It's so perfectly melodramatic, and fits Gob just too well. One of the best new gags introduced this season, I think.