Spoilers ahead, boys!
For all of the Arrested Development I have watched, I could never put a word to why I found Lucille Bluth so enchanting. I could point out the things I loved about her, like her various elastic faces, her purse-lipped insults, and her fabulous makeup. I could never pair her with an adequate adjective until this episode, however. According to episode ten, Lucille Bluth has always been “terrifying.” I agree wholeheartedly and mean that in the best possible way. In real life this woman would be too much to handle, and I would be her bff even if it meant getting her cigarette smoke blown into my mouth.
For all of the character transformations in the season, so far Lucille’s is my favorite. This is not only due to the fact that she is one of my favorite members of the Bluth family, but because her change did not seem contrived. Slowly, but as surely as the Queen Mary sluggishly leaving her port, Lucille finds all the people in her life drifting away. With the unlikely (and mostly unwitting) help of Tobias, Lucille finds that she has been using the wrong tactics to protect herself from ever being hurt, in classic villainess fashion hurting everyone else in the process. It was hard to watch Lucille become more and more vulnerable until she had to look inward, but it was totally worth the wait.
The first two third’s of the episode chronicled her isolation, but relied much too heavily on exposition. With ten minutes to spare everything came to a head, and I found myself perk up at the prospect of Lucille getting involved in Tobias’s hijinks, confronting those who had wronged her, and revealing a different side of her character. The best moments thus far in season four are those in which the characters are actually doing things, when they’re making the stupid decisions that eventually require a lot of legal cover-up. Watching Lucille and George Senior talk about the wall and what they need to do about it simply uninteresting, but the wacky consequences of their convoluted schemes make for great payoff.
In order to handle such a change of heart and acting opposite Bobby Lee in drag one needs a top-notch talent, and that is definitely found in Jessica Walter. She seems to be an actress who has wonderful chemistry with everyone, and her interpretation of Lucille stays strong in season four. It was nice to have an episode focus that was less about world affairs and celebrity problems, one that was more along the lines of the Tobias/Debrie episodes. The real strength of this show is in its characters, scary or silly. By the end of this episode, however, I was no longer afraid.