Queen B. finds us about two-thirds through the new season of Arrested Development and the focus is on Lucille, from her post-boat debacle to her court case and imprisonment in various locales as she finds ways to keep the company going. Lucille also finds a way to ruin Tobias, who is, in turn, ruining others in the rehab clinic.
Unlike other episodes in the season that try to make characters more unlikable, Queen B. piles on the mean, vile nature of Lucille more than ever. It works because Lucille is just so brilliantly evil, which means that any fleeting glimpses of humanity are surprising – and, more often than not, faked to hurt other people even more.
Although the show opens with a tedious Real Housewives spoof within a prison, featuring some more unfunny, uninteresting supporting characters in the form of three Chinese women in a prison gang, it finds its way to much more entertaining escapades when Lucille begins to manipulate Michael and GOB. Lucille playing Oscar and George Sr. off one another feels a little deflated by comparison, perhaps because of the 60 minutes we’ve already spent with those two characters, but thankfully the scenes she shares with Tobias are often very fun: Lucille hating every ounce of Tobias; Tobias trying to be professional despite being awful at that; it’s a good dynamic, one that creates a lot of awkward, humourous tension and builds to a strong climax for both the episode and Lucille as a character.
Some decent jokes play out, including Ron Howard’s Narrator now calling the Methadone clinic the Method One clinic and getting confused when explaining the dynamic shift between Oscar and George Sr. by Cynco de Quatro, while Lucille and Lucille 2’s back and forth is as biting and awkwardly hilarious as ever. The one scene they appear in together on screen, though, is horribly handled – Mitch Hurwitz has already apologised for that un-rendered version making it to Netflix.
A rocky start to the episode hurts the pacing a fair amount, but once Lucille makes it out of prison and into rehab, it becomes a much more interesting 35 minutes. While there’s a lot less Buster than any fan would expect, it’s made up for with some other character interactions that the show doesn’t show off enough.
Queen B. finds some really amusing elements in the season’s overall plot as it brings the puppet master down a few strings – the pay-off for the wall video, seen being filmed four episodes ago, is light but enjoyable. Jessica Walter is perfect in this role. Her episode reminds us just what a great comedic presence she is, from being so evil to delivering one-liners with scathing precision. It’s a shame there isn’t more of her in Season Four. This one episode heralds some cracking moments, even if the story itself isn’t as engaging as the character it’s focused on.
For more on the Bluth’s new outings, read our Arrested Development interview with the case, our chat with Annyong, or our other Arrested Development Season 4 reviews.