Arrested Development "Borderline Personalities" Review: Pop Pop Gets a (Re)Treat

By Nick Campbell

May 27, 2013

Arrested Development S04E02: "Borderline Personalities"

A common refrain during the press push around relaunch of Arrested Development suggested that by the second episode, you'd know "how to watch" the new season, and I think I concur with that idea.

Whereas Michael's episode was laden with easter eggs for the upcoming season, George Sr.'s episode seemed to tell a story more than it set one up. And while there were a few examples of seed-planting (like Gob painfully moaning on the couch while George and Lucille explained/didn't explain their divorce), it was generally a story about George Sr. and his descent into tomfoolery.

By the end of Season 3, we'd been disabused of the notion that George Sr. could mastermind anything beyond getting Kitty to lift her shirt (a notably easy task), as he took all his marching orders from Lucille. In an extension of that, George Sr. is still hapless and still powerless against the matriarch. While he's still able to scheme and scam (like with the Sweat and Squeeze), he's also still kind of a putz.

With Michael's episode providing the setup for so many of the other characters, we also got an indication of the kind of unveilings we'll be able to see going forward, thanks to one of the more mundane setups from "Flight of the Phoenix." George and Lucille announcing they're getting a divorce/not getting a divorce didn't exactly stand out compared to all the George Michael story or even against the ostrich, but the explanation did give us that brief reveal. You wondered why they were getting a divorce (although two older people with money getting a divorce sounds downright quotidian) and finding out there's a sneaky plan behind it, more than meets the eye, is how all these setups are meant to be executed.

So the way to watch the new episodes is basically to keep track of the hooks within each one, those little things that pique your interest by blow by so fast they don't get explained, and wait for the corresponding reveals to open themselves up later on down the road. It's not complicated or even untrodden territory. But it'll be fun to watch all these things unfold as the season progresses amidst so much sharp comedy.

"Borderline Personalities" felt much more in-line with the series we all remember, as the episode was able to break away from constantly setting up new material and comfortably tell its story. Here's hoping we get more of these episodes and fewer ones piled with easter egg distractions.


– "I don't want these." George Sr. telling Oscar that he didn't want Oscar's weirdo friends is probably my favorite line of the new season so far.

– Speaking of Oscar's friends, JOHN SLATTERY. He was amazing, as per usual. Also, a guest appearance by Dan Harmon in the tent? I like to think that high-profile showrunners of series that get screwed by the industry all have a weekly poker game or a night at Six Flags together or something so they're old friends. Shawn Ryan should appear in an episode soon.

– Another great guest appearance: Mary Lynn Rajskub as Heartfire. She said nothing and we only saw facial expressions but with her, the method of conveying thoughts was introduced. With so much voiceover in this series (and a really loose mockumentary premise), it would've been ridiculous to put thoughts into the audio track. Instead, pin the graphics to the characters' chests like wordy Shirt Tales. Approved. Rajskub nailed the part, as usual, because she's an underrated treasure.

– Max Winkler as Young Barry Zuckercorn! The root of "a husband and wife cannot be tried for the same crime" and maritime law confusion! The history is unfolding before our eyes!

– The Buster/Lucille scene with the cigarette smoke might be one of the most revolting things the series has done.

– John Beard with Busy Phillips and Natasha Leggero poking fun at Good Day LA felt slightly dated, didn't it?

– Wait, I take back the "I don't want these" comment and replace it with, "Sorry I gave you the old noodle stab."

–Mysteriously, I'm really thirsty now.

What'd you think of "Borderline Personalities"?

PREVIOUSLY: Arrested Development Season 4 Premiere Review: Huge Mistakes Were Made (But I Still Have Hope)

Note: We're gonna review each new episode of AD individually, so even if you've already binged and watched all 15 of 'em, keep checking back to discuss them one by one (and please, be mindful of spoilers!).

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  • Neomancernz May 29, 2013

    Did anyone else notice what seemed like a terrible green screen when Lucille and Oscar are talking to Barry at the police station? It looked like Henry Winkler had been CGI'ed into the scene.

  • tv_gonzo May 29, 2013

    Before everything, this season is impressive. An amazing feat of storytelling and (editing). Secondly, it's funny. To be honest after the first episode i had my doubts if this season will continue the glory that is Arrested Development. After watching the finale the doubts have vanished and all i am left with is a warm cozy feeling.
    Does anybody know if they shot the episode in order or not? I can't help thinking that it took Jason Bateman an episode or two to get into Michael Bluth while GOB apparently is a character Will Arnett can just put on and take of like a suit.

  • Neomancernz May 29, 2013

    It definitely wasn't shot in order. From what they have said they shot all the scenes whenever they could. So all of Will Arnett's scenes were filmed in a short period of time, regardless of where they would end up.

  • AllisonFrank May 28, 2013

    I didn't think of Gob's painful moaning as seed-planting but more as a callback to the original series and the way he reacted whenever hearing about his parents having sex since it followed the line, "you whispered don't pull out." I liked the moment irregardless, and if it does lead to a payoff I look forward to it.

  • JohnnyCage30 Jun 01, 2013

    that's what i was thinking

  • dh4645 May 28, 2013

    i think the wife & I are on ep 9 or 10. it's funny and i like how all the storylines are tying together, but we don't laugh like we did when we saw the first 3 seasons...which was just in the last 2 months.

  • Tjsmooth0 May 28, 2013

    Slight (very very minor) spoiler here, but I originally voted for the ostrich one, but after watching Gob's episode, seeing the "I don't want these" recalled, now I want to vote for that.

  • Fire_Nation May 27, 2013

    Judging from most of the reviews and friends comments, this season is designed to be watched in large chunks. Most of my friends say it really starts coming together around episode 4 and as soon as the different pieces come together, it gets amazing.

    I read somewhere: "Watching this season is like putting together the pieces of a funny puzzle"

  • MaKTaiL May 27, 2013

    You couldn't have said it better. :)

  • slayme3 May 27, 2013

    No spoilers - but I'm on 4x07 now - and it just keeps getting funnier and funnier - with 4x05-4x07 being the best so far. Extremely impressive. It's almost impossible to judge season 4 based on just one episode - but as whole I am loving it. 9/10.

  • kevekev302 May 28, 2013

    loved 4x05, best line of the season so far: "Daddy's home to get his rocks off"

  • dh4645 May 28, 2013

    i still dont know whey they were filming there/set a trap. i guess we'll see later. think the wife & i are on ep 9 or 10

  • torque_smacky May 27, 2013

    "John Beard with Busy Phillips and Natasha Leggero poking fun at Good Day LA felt slightly dated, didn't it?"

    Oh, so it was an inside joke for LA residents? Now it makes sense....I think.....

  • NicholasCampb May 27, 2013

    Good Day LA is nationally syndicated but it's a morning program so it's easily missed for the 9-5ers. It's also heavily-featured on The Soup if you're into that sort of thing.

  • JT_Kirk May 27, 2013

    I wonder what the other writers on the site think of these episodes, think we could get alternate reviews or something bolted onto these? This isn't meant as a criticism of Nick's reviews, I'm just curious what more of the staff think as well.

    Not much of an actual review to this episode itself, that's surprising. As a more self-contained story staying on a single premise, I thought this episode would have gotten more review that way, instead it's being reviewed as a piece of a puzzle but not really touching on much that's actually in the episode. (*That* is a criticism of Nick's review technically ;-) )

    Anyway, this felt like a few episodes' worth of ideas crammed into one episode, and while I did like the characters and how they individually had their own reactions to the situations they were in, there weren't a lot of big laughs and the story petered out too early and left it feeling deflated.

    Oscar and George sr was frustrating because once again I feel like any scene with George acting weird in future episodes could be Oscar, and that's a drag on a scene if it's not Oscar and a cheat if it is. I watched episode 3 and 4 last night and had that happen more than once.

    Mary Lynn Rajskub's non-verbal acting was excellent, especially her frustration when people didn't understand what she was projecting, that was funny stuff right there.

    Max Winkler was fantastic as his dad's character, great casting, the face and voice really sell it.

    While I agree the cigarette smoking scene was revolting, you have to give mad props to Tony Hale, he committed wholeheartedly to that scene, stayed in character, did a crazy amount of physical comedy, home run.

    John Beard poking fun at Good Day LA was awesome, I loved Good Day LA in the Jillian - Dorothy - Steve era so having that openly mocked was hilarious, and keep in mind that these episodes are meant to take place in 2006 when shows like that were more popular. They were too funny there, and John Beard is a real pro for playing these scenes.

  • NicholasCampb May 28, 2013

    Wait, criticism of my criticism? That doesn't sound like you, JT_Kirk.

  • JT_Kirk May 28, 2013

    Hey now, I'm usually too self-involved to criticize you, Nick.

  • sleepy-sonic May 27, 2013

    Better than the first one but still not season 1-3 quality.

  • fmpic May 28, 2013

    It gets better, waaay better

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