Blockheads. That’s the title of the finale of Arrested Development Season Four, which focuses mostly on George Michael’s life, as he is kicked out, not unlike his father, from the dorm, moves into Sudden Valley, where his father used to live, dates Rebel Alley, much like his father, and lies, bends the truth, and does everything to try to be more successful without hurting too many other people… you get the idea.
After firing Maeby from FakeBlock, George Michael spends this final half hour trying to compete with the unknown man that Rebel Alley is openly dating alongside George Maharis. Meanwhile, we see Michael find out about his son – and get jealous – and build up the confidence to do what he did to Lucille Austero. For a George Michael episode, there’s a lot more Michael than one would expect, but it’s when the focus shifts between characters that this feels the most like Arrested Development.
It’s not like everything that’s been built up in the season pays off in this episode, though. Unlike most of the show’s season finales, Blockheads continues to play puzzle master as viewers track through the labyrinth that Mitch Hurwitz has devised and as Cinco de Quatro rolls around yet again, we get George Michael’s perspective of it all.
There’s no doubt that the climax is very funny: a lot of jokes and call-backs land with the kind of stamina and enjoyability that Arrested Development is used to. Even worn-out Season Four runners find just that little bit more energy by the end.
And then comes the actual end. The final scene. The scene that, because of the way the show is presented, the past eight and three-quarter hours have been leading towards. In a way, it’s understandable; the core of the show has always been Michael and George Michael, Michael helping his son, trying to make his son better than the family he comes from, yet not wanting his son to overshadow him. But this end, the end of this season, after all the slogging through Lindsey and George Senior’s adventures, the weird turns with Buster and Maeby, GOB’s Mark Cherry adventures, it’s all led to this one scene – and it’s a real bummer. It’s a sour note to cap off a not-altogether-decent series of a show that was once the funniest thing ever committed to tape.
There’s no getting round it: it’s a shame that, after a pretty funny and entertaining penultimate episode, one that felt not too dissimilar to the broadcast seasons in its protagonist switching, we are left with just one horrible little moment. Hurwitz may want this story to continue into a film or a fifth season, but the audience deserve something more fitting – if not closure, then something funny, a kicker of a final scene. Not this.
Of course, there’s a post-credits epilogue that continues the overlapping Lucille Austero story, but even that, like many of Season Four’s jokes, goes too gleefully meta to be interesting, and doesn’t do enough to warrant viewers caring about the show’s future.
If those final five minutes were handled better, Blockheads would be a decent episode, but they kill off the fun of the prior 25 and really leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Unforgivably poor in conception and execution, Hurwitz seems to have a real middle-finger-the-audience attitude that hurts. If that part were carried out with any common sense, this episode would be more enjoyable and the season as a whole would be more recommendable to fans.
As it is? Sometimes things are just left better dead.