Revisiting Arrested Development – Season 1, Episode 21: Not Without My Daughter

You know what? Revisiting Arrested Development reader, you’re going to come with me to work today. You’re gonna be my daughter. You’re gonna have a role model in your life who is honest, who doesn’t steal, doesn’t lie and I don’t know, watch entertainment news.

It’s…

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SEASON 1, EPISODE 21: Not Without My Daughter
Written by Mitchell Hurwitz & Richard Rosenstock
Directed by Lee Shallat-Chemel
Original airdate April 25, 2004

I haven’t talked much about Maeby over the course of these so far, which is unfortunate, as Alia Shawkat’s perfect performance as the character often makes her the show’s secret weapon. The lack of Maeby discussion is not without reason though, as, much like her parents do, the show often has a bad habit of overlooking her completely – particularly in its first season. It’s easy to see why Maeby is often cited as the favourite character among many Arrested Development fans, though. She could’ve so easily been the generic “rebellious teenage daughter” (and, to an extent, she kind of was in the show’s early episodes), but instead the show turned her into something far more unique – someone who’s unable to pass basic high school tests, and yet is still able to pull off elaborate cons, such as convincing her entire school she’s a set of twins – one of whom is dying – or lying her way into a high-ranking film executive job and keeping it for over a year. Maeby might possess the universal Bluth penchant for deception, but the way she uses it is unlike any other character on the show, and when she’s deployed correctly, she can easily become the MVP of any episode.

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Not Without My Daughter almost consciously seeks to rectify the constant sidelining of Maeby over season 1 by putting her front and centre, using Bring Your Daughter to Work Day as the perfect device to provide some much-needed interaction between Maeby and Michael. We don’t often see Maeby share scenes with characters other than George Michael, Lindsay and Tobias (or Mort, in seasons 2 and 3), which is a shame, as Michael and Maeby’s relationship proves to be the undeniable highlight of this episode. In addition to finally giving Maeby the screentime she deserves, Not Without My Daughter also picks up several story threads left lingering earlier this season at the end of Missing Kitty – namely the destruction of the family yacht that left a lucky Kitty floating in the ocean with some crucial evidence against the Bluth family, along with Gob’s magic performance for the Girls With Low Self Esteem video. So, just how effectively is the story advanced/reintroduced as the season winds down in its penultimate episode? The answer is “somewhat.”

I know a lot of plot points in Arrested Development often fall apart under scrutiny (such as Maggie Lizer’s completely nonsensical motives in Altar Egos/Justice is Blind), but the logic behind some of the interactions between Michael and the police becomes a little muddied following the revelation that they’ve been bluffing the entire time (for example, “Please send Officer Davis and little Hannah to the Back Bay.”). And the interrogation scenes don’t quite pack the dramatic punch the writers were presumably hoping for, seeing as we already know Kitty survived the explosion, (and even then, she was trespassing on their property and no one knew she was aboard the yacht when Gob blew it up). But this is easy to overlook in an episode so rich with definitive character moments, as every member of the Bluth family is in perfect form here. It’s nothing short of delightful watching the rest of the family run amok in new environments – with Buster ruining Annyong’s soccer game in one of the season’s most memorable scenes, and Lindsay, Gob and George Michael all finding themselves under arrest at the mall, at the hands of Tobias.

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If there’s one element that really ties everything together in Not Without My Daughter, it’s the crisis of identity that its central characters go through. Gob, George Michael and Tobias are all questioning their manliness to different extents, which leads George Michael to stray from his moral compass (much in the same way his father does under the police interrogations), and Tobias to take on a job for which he’s severely ill-suited (much in the same way his wife does – at the same mall, no less). It’s quite telling that the closest thing this story has to a hero is Maeby, who saves the day only by returning to her true identity: A suave liar. Never change, Maeby.

MY FAVOURITE JOKES/MOMENTS

* I didn’t mention the Bring Your Daughter to Work flashbacks (both George Michael’s and Maeby’s), but they’re all great. I am possibly most partial to this one, though:

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* “Oh, bless her. It’s like she knew what I was going to do next.”

* MICHAEL: I mean, look at these girls. Is this what you want?
TOBIAS: Oh, god no.
MICHAEL: This could be where your daughter is headed.
TOBIAS: Oh, no no, I don’t want this for Maeby either.

MICHAEL: I gave you permission to use the yacht. You blew it up.
GOB: Yeah, well, if you give someone permission to use a tissue, you can’t be upset if they blow their nose, right?

MICHAEL: Lindsay, new outfit?
LINDSAY: This? No, I’ve had this for years. I think it’s a hand-me-down from Mom.
MICHAEL: You got a price tag. Right there.
LINDSAY: Is there? I guess she wanted me to have something new. Sweet old thing.
MICHAEL: Only two of those words describe Mom, so I know you’re lying to me.
LINDSAY: Fine. I bought it before we went broke, okay? I just haven’t worn it yet.
MICHAEL: What about the outfit yesterday?
LINDSAY: Old thing gave it to me.

* GOB: There’s no way that you can do sleight-of-hand that well. I don’t even think that I could do it.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I’ve seen your tape.

* “Michael, it was shoplifting, and I’m white. I think I’m going to be okay.”

(Additionally, I didn’t really have a logical place to fit it into my write-up above, but the fact that Lindsay would rather have Michael think she’s a shoplifter than a department store worker speaks volumes about her character)

* I’m kind of amazed “douche chill” didn’t become a catch phrase. It’s perfect.

* “What is better than hanging out with family, hmm? *picks up phone* Ah, *beep*, it’s my mother.”

* “I liked it better when he just said Annyong.”

* MICHAEL: I’d like to see if you can go one day without telling a lie. Just one whole day without being like your mom.
MAEBY: What’s in it for me if I do?
MICHAEL: You’ll win my respect.
MAEBY: Good night.
MICHAEL: And 50 bucks.
MAEBY: Fine. I’ll do it if you do it.
MICHAEL: That-a-girl. This is gonna be fun.
MAEBY: I win.

* “Apparently, you’re the last person to see her. Alive… Or around town or whatever.”

And later in the scene:

MICHAEL: Certainly she’s been seen since then?
OFFICER TAYLOR: Not alive… Or dead or whatever.

MICHAEL: Let’s go see what’s going on in the back room.
MAEBY: Were those the last words Kitty ever heard?

* “Well, it’s going to be a couple days before we can get you a gun license, so you’ll have to use mine.”

* GEORGE MICHAEL: You know, it’s so great to be hanging out with you. There are certain things that I can talk to you about that I can’t really with my dad, like, uh… were-were you ever awkward around girls?
GOB: What do you mean? Like if there were three of us and I didn’t know where to start? No, I think I did pretty well. Not a lot of complaints, if you know what I mean. At least not from the girl.

* This brief scene of Buster visiting George Sr. may be one of my favourite prison scenes the show ever did:

The clip cuts off Buster’s response, but I’ll quote it anyway because it’s also great: “Prison has destroyed the way you talk! If that’s what it takes to impress these guys around here, then they are not your friends.”

* “You make him wish he never showed that ludicrous head of hair and that nice face of his!”

* Barry Zuckerkorn’s screentime in this episode is limited, but damn is it memorable:

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See also: His immediate advice to Michael and Maeby is “Lie. Both of you.” And, during Michael’s interrogation, when Michael is asked if he’d be willing to take a polygraph, and Barry leans in and says “ARE YOU NUTS?!” loudly enough for everyone to hear. Pure comedy gold.

* “MICE!!!”

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Which is followed shortly by some more great physical comedy from… well, pretty much every cast member in this shot, actually:

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*” Oh, that was another era, huh? The music… and the pot… Will you excuse me? I’m need to go to my camper for just a quick sec.”

(I also love that Oscar’s camper only has a hanger for a lock.)

* OSCAR: I never meant to break up your family. Your mom called me for a reason. I-I don’t think she’s happy.
BUSTER: No, she’s happy. She’s just mean all the time.

* The soccer scene is a little too long for me to turn into a GIF and still capture all the hilarity of Tony Hale’s various facial expressions, so I’ll just summarise it with perhaps the funniest image of all:

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* And, of course, the deranged look on Tobias’s face during the “on the next”:

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MINOR NITPICKS

* A boom mic operator can be seen in frame when Michael and Maeby visit Lucille’s penthouse:

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* Officer Taylor and Officer Carter both have daughters in this episode, but in season 2, a major plot point revolves around the two being in a relationship together and desperately hoping to adopt a baby. There are possible explanations for this, of course (ie. their daughters might be from previous relationships, and the baby would’ve been their first together), but it seems worth noting here nonetheless.

* During Buster’s storming of the children’s soccer game, the ball at one point falls behind him, then reappears in front of him in the next shot.

* When Tobias is firing his gun at the mice in the “On the next,” the flashes and the gunshot sounds were both added in post but there isn’t a flash for every gunshot sound – just the first three. David Cross can still be seen in frame miming the firing of his gun after this.

EPISODE NOTES & TRIVIA

* The episode title is a reference to the book (and film) of the same name, though there doesn’t appear to be much of a connection between them beyond that.

* This episode largely serves as a follow-up to Missing Kitty, the 16th episode of the season (in production order, that is – broadcast order has them closer together, but at the expense of some serious continuity). The gap between the two episodes actually makes a lot of sense, as it would’ve presumably taken some time between the filming and release of the Girls With Low Self Esteem video, as would the police operation following the explosion of the yacht.

* This episode features several actors who appeared alongside David Cross in Mr. Show – Jay Johnston (Officer Taylor), Jerry Minor (Officer Carter), and John Ennis (the mall security guard).

* Although Kitty plays a central part of the episode’s plot, Judy Greer didn’t actually star in this episode. All Kitty’s appearances here are replayed footage from Missing Kitty.

* The narrator describes Tobias as “a surprisingly cat-like” guard – a callback to Justice is Blind.

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

* While Tobias gives a somewhat Lucille-esque wink during his flashback with Maeby, a photo of Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution (from Best Man for the Gob) can be seen on his desk:

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* While George Michael and Gob are at the mall, the following exchange happens:

GEORGE MICHAEL: Say what you will about America, 13 bucks still gets you a hell of a lot of mice.
GOB: Who said anything bad about America?

This is a sly reference to the fact that Michael Cera and Will Arnett are both Canadian.

* The “M. Sabino” uniform makes its third and final appearance on yet another guard:

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This guard also later says “Her self-esteem is through the roof” when his daughter ruthlessly enforces the “no touching” policy – a subtle reference to the Girls With Low Self Esteem videos.

* Oscar can be seen wearing a “David Cassidy Live!” jacket. In the previous episode, he mentioned David Cassidy was supposed to sing his song, All You Need is Smiles, on The Mike Douglas Show.

* In the mall security office, George Michael says to Gob “You got caught by a 13-year-old girl,” which prompts a laugh and a flirtatious moment between himself and the security guard’s daughter. However, after George Michael then says “I’m not daughter enough for you” to Michael, the security guard’s daughter awkwardly turns away, and George Michael can be heard muttering “oh” as he realises he’s just ruined his chances with her.

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THIS INSTALLMENT’S DISCUSSION QUESTION

I mentioned earlier that Maeby is often only paired up with one of four specific characters. Is there a character combination you wish the show explored more? Back when I signed up to an Arrested Development forum between seasons 2 and 3, I had expressed my desire to see a scene with just Buster and Lindsay – a wish that was later granted in season 3’s S.O.B.s.

LINK TO NEXT INSTALLMENT

LINK TO PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT

LINK TO ORIGINAL DISQUS THREAD