Finally an episode we've all been waiting for. And it did not disappoint.
The better episodes of Season 4 so far have been the ones about characters who are already struggling to hold themselves together, like Lindsay and Tobias or, these days, Michael and George Sr., who are both much sadder characters than they used to be. Once you've finished the work of knocking them down a peg or two, you can focus on the absurdity of their lives.
G.O.B. is the quintessential version of that struggling, utterly absurd persona. Like Tobias, he's a wealth of one-liners. Like Lindsay, he's equally self-assured and pathetic—but he's also wholly ridiculous in a way that makes everything he does magical. Pun completely intended.
And "Colony Collapse" was certainly the best episode of the season thus far. I feel like I'm saying that for every episode as we progress, but now it feels almost silly to compare the others to this one. Maybe it's because I thought it felt the most like the old Arrested Development, or maybe I just really like G.O.B. But there was a lot to love here.
G.O.B.'s basic M.O. is to chase applause and, more importantly, to try to fill the bottomless pit within him that's reserved for validation. It's what makes him such a funny character—he's such a showman, but he doesn't know how to go out on top. Instead, he escalates things until they either become awkward or he turns people against him. It's so fitting that he would declare, in front of the cameras of a Christian show called And As It Is Such So Also As Such Is Unto You, that viewers would put him before their God. Being more popular than Jesus would be the only way that G.O.B.'s internal validation pit would feel even a percentage full.
But G.O.B. needs more than just quantity to have a chance at filling that hole, he also needs quality. He was very happy when he was accepted by Mark Cherry and his posse, a notoriously difficult sect to please. And he was thrilled that he reached the point of earning a nickname from the youths—"Getaway—partying every night, and, eventually becoming the subject of a song. It was everything he wanted, outside of actual worship.
But it also makes sense that, no matter how good things are for G.O.B., no matter how much attention is showered upon him or how willing a congregation is to play along with his failed illusions, no matter how loved he feels when a clique of kids welcomes an old man into their crew, that he's constantly facing the void, given a voice here in the form of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence." No amount of applause or laughter ("They're laughing with me, Michael!") will ever fill it; G.O.B. will forever take things too far or overstay his welcome, milking that validation until it's past dry, until it spits coarse dust. And that's why watching his life is hilarious.
What's more, everything in this episode was sharply written, deftly performed, and contributed to the installment's ability to stand alone. Of what we've seen so far, this is the closest we've come to a legendary episode of the series—one that, when we're bored and flipping around Netflix or feeling low and want to laugh, we'll seek out to watch. We're laughing, G.O.B. We're laughing.
– Any day when I see Ben Schwartz in something is a good day; at some point I'll have to dispense with the bad things I've heard about House of Lies and actually watch an episode. Schwartz's Jean Raphio-like characters are basically the prototype for disappointing sons, and I love that he's John Beard Jr.
– "You've got some mice to scoop out of the sea." Why is it one of G.O.B.'s illusions to pull mice from behind someone's ear? The mechanics alone are enough to make my skin crawl. It means he'd have to have a cache of mice in his sleeve.
– The wigs on this show are pretty atrocious.
– Mae Whitman, however, is a stellar actor. After watching her on Parenthood for so long, I wasn't sure she'd be able to find Ann again but, especially during the "morning after" scene, she was so very Egg that I couldn't even see a resemblance to Amber Braverman. It's like she never left Balboa Island and has been waiting for us these past seven years. Way to plant, Ann.
– I'd like for us to remember how sanctimonious Michael was about G.O.B. dating/marrying George Michael's ex for later in the season.
– What is it with this family and putting pictures on the chairs? Why do they insist on assigned seating?
– "Holy Eternal Rapture" doesn't make a lot of sense, but I was happy to see that, with the building element, it spelled out "HER?"
– WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO STEVE HOLT?
– The roofie circle felt like another example of a joke that might have been more ruthlessly cut down in a network setting. It just needed a trim.
– Maeby sighting! (As G.O.B. paced backstage, she ran through the scene with a statue and security chasing her.) We also heard the blast from the last George Sr. episode. Also, I'm glad Ben Stiller made an appearance, even if it seemed like his pacing at the wedding was completely CGI.
– Johnny Bark!
– How did a handcuffed G.O.B. write HELP on the tip of his finger?
– Feral Jesus: $0.
– I've been falsetto humming "Getaway" by Mark Cherry much to the chagrin of my coworkers, fellow bus passengers, friends, and family who collectively don't seem to understand what noises I'm making. Obviously, they've lost my respect.
– "You know not what you do." It should be noted that the two people most famous for uttering those words—Benvolio from Romeo and Juliet and Cassius from Julius Caesar—both say them when trying to prevent inevitable missteps that shape the rest of their respective plays. Had Tybalt stood down or Brutus not let Mark Antony speak at Caesar's funeral, would things had turned out as they did? So, basically, Tobias had to shove G.O.B. into a boulder so he could be found in a tomb covered in his own excrement and Twizzlers.