Well, the fifth season of Netflix’s Arrested Development revival wound its way to a conclusion this month, and if you haven’t seen it let me assure you that… well, it’s certainly a thing that happened. But what happened in that final run of episodes is something that I’m going to unpack for you, even as I try to make sense of it myself. So if you’re looking to get spoiled on all the plot developments so
you don’t have to watch it yourself you’re prepared, you came to the right place!
The Big One: What Happened To Lucille 2?
The disjointed season 4 was largely spent laying out reasons for almost anyone to want to see Lucille Austero (Liza Minelli) dead, and the events leading up to her disappearance on Cinco de Cuatro. But nothing on this show is ever straightforward, so season 5 continued to toy with the idea that maybe she didn’t disappear at all while also ratcheting up suspicions against our characters. Despite some red herrings pointing to her survival (Michael thinks that he keeps getting calls from her, but they are automated campaign messages), the police have been investigating the bloody stair car under the suspicion that it was the site of her murder, and Buster is their primary suspect. Amongst the damning evidence? Weather cam footage that shows Buster throwing a body off the stair car and into the ocean (it was a body that GOB was asked to dispose of by the Gay Mafia, and delegated), and footage from Ron Howard’s true-crime series about the Bluths that seems to reveal that Buster has a history of pushing old ladies down stairs (more on that in a bit). The case against Buster ends in a mistrial, however, when Michael decides to question his mother on the stand only to have flashbacks to the events of Cinco de Cuatro, and admit in front of the jury that he thinks he may actually be the murderer.
He, uh, wasn’t. His memory was all jumbled from that Forget-Me-Now GOB slipped him, and what actually happened was that he tried to kiss Lucille 2, and then HE fell down the stairs of the stair car.
Nope, in the end it turns out that it was Buster who killed Lucille 2 all along. The truth was only discovered after Buster used her body as a dummy in GOB’s magic trick, which involved miraculously escaping the cement being poured for the fake border wall. What Buster didn’t realize was that the fake wall would be demolished after the presentation, causing her body to come tumbling out in front of his entire family. Oopsies.
Though I’ll admit, I was so confused by this ending that I literally watched it twice, and still walked away thinking Lucille’s brother Argyle and his Gay Mafia cement-business cronies had killed her. This season had too many misdirections, spare bodies, and “revelations” to really work. The elaborate puzzle Arrested Development used to weave with its references and repetitions was pleasingly clever in the early seasons, when the stakes were low. But ramping that same style up into a murder mystery just wound up sloppy.
Oh Yeah, Ron Howard Made A Show About The Bluths
Remember when Michael sold Ron the rights to the Bluth family story? Well, the back half of season five is full of footage from the end product of that deal — a streaming true crime series starring Cobie Smulders as young Lucille, Taran Killam as young George Sr., and Jean Smart as Lucille’s mother, Mimi. What we learn from the footage is that Mimi had a strange connection with Lindsay, and that she wanted to take her away for some bonding time, which Lucille opposed. And during the argument, Buster came out to defend his mother and shoved his grandmother down the stairs, killing her.
Naturally, the truth on this show is a little more complicated. At first, it appears that in fact Lucille was the one who pushed Mimi down the stairs, and then coached Buster to lie about it to the cops since he was a child and would get away with it. That Motherboy would do anything for his mother, after all (including wearing a leash). But Lucille eventually reveals that, no, Buster DID kill Mimi, and though Lucille coached him to take the blame for it, it was only to make him believe that he was actually innocent and was lying to defending her. She basically brainwashed him.
And as for that big secret about Lindsay…
We’ve known for a while that Lindsay isn’t the age she thinks she is, and isn’t really Michael’s twin. Well, thanks to that same Ron Howard show we discover that Mimi was Lindsay’s real mother, which makes Lucille her half-sister. And I guess makes her Michael’s aunt? It’s sort of funny how the back half of season 5 actually had a substantial reveal about Lindsay, considering actress Portia de Rossi only appears at the very end of the last episode.
Tony Wonder Lives!
GOB is in a tailspin after his sorta gay love affair with his rival, Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller), ended in Wonder getting stuck in a cement-filled closet during a magic trick, courtesy of the Gay Mafia. GOB, who was unable to complete the trick and is now stuck in his “gay” persona, is called before the Gay Mafia honcho, Argyle Austero (Tommy Tune), who reveals that he sabotaged the trick because Wonder was faking being gay, and knows that GOB is too. He orders GOB to publicly undergo Christian conversion therapy and then to announce that it didn’t work, and also to dispose of a random body. A body that could have been Tony’s, or Lucille’s, or a dummy’s for all I know. I still couldn’t tell you. This show is a mess.
At any rate, Tony shows up in the last episode, as part of GOB’s big magic trick on at the fake wall, and he’s still got chemistry with GOB but he’s also still at Sally Sitwell’s beck and call so nothing has really changed I guess.
Mrs. Featherbottom Lives!
Whatever, I love Tobias’s fake Mrs. Doubtfire riff, and even though it was just a shoehorned callback, I was happy to see it this season. Basically, Tobias has formed a makeshift family unit with his son, Murphy Brown (Kyle Mooney) and his drug-addled Lindsay replacement, DeBrie (Maria Bamford), and together they keep moving from place to place as they can’t afford a home. Eventually, Tobias learns that Maeby has been living in an elderly community under a false identity, and they all arrive on her doorstep… dressed as old ladies. And from there it basically turns into a Golden Girls spoof, and if the entire back half of the season had just been that, I’d have been happy.
Fakeblock Is Fake
Ugh, Fakeblock. So George-Michael and Maeby are in debt on their tech start-up that isn’t real, and realize the only way to get out of it is the sell it before anyone realizes it isn’t real. Unfortunately, Michael — who has found some money that the Chinese gave to his parents for that damn wall — purchases it himself… and he needs a return on his investment fast. Eventually, the only way to get everyone out of hock is to say that Fakeblock is a part of the border wall project, and sell it to the Chinese.
Yes, The Wall Is Still A Thing
In case you’ve forgotten, the show is still set before the 2016 election, which is a joke that got old real fast. Like, on paper watching the Bluths talk about how “nobody wants a border wall” is funny, I guess, but it left a real sour taste in my mouth — especially since this plotline has dragged for two seasons. And because the back half of the season dropped almost a full year after the FIRST half of the season launched, I don’t even remember what all the fuss was about. I think George Sr. and Lucille got money from the Chinese to build this wall, it turned out that they didn’t own the land, and somehow they either did or did not what the government to sign off on it? Or… something? At any rate, that’s still going on and I honestly couldn’t follow it. It was all a set up for the Lucille 2 body reveal, as far as I’m concerned.
Will There Be A Season 6?
God, I hope not. In the end, Michael drove off into the sunset, abandoning his family to their devices, and it’s certainly seemed to imply that he wouldn’t come back to rescue them again… just as they found that body. However, Michael coming home to save his family is always a possibility, since that’s basically the premise of the whole show. Still, given the lack of hype and the fact that even the cast doesn’t seem particularly hopeful, I think this may be the end for the Bluths. Which is sad, given how good the show was, and appropriate, given what a mess it became.
Image sources (in order of posting): Netflix, Netflix