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When we last left the Bluths, they were in a state of turmoil. Michael was struggling to keep the Bluth Company in business and himself out of prison while at the same time trying to stay sane dealing with his family. George Sr. faked a heart-attack and fled the country during the confusion, holing up in Mexico with his assistant Kitty. George Michael had just gotten a girlfriend and seemingly put his attraction to his cousin Maeby behind him. From here, things would only get weirder…
Michael has his hands full. Intending to take his son and move away from the family, he finds he’s legally unable to do so because of his father’s fugitive status and the government’s investigations into George Sr. building houses in Iraq. At the same time, he has to fend off the Bluth Company’s acquisition by rival entrepreneur Stan Sitwell (Ed Begley, Jr.). It’s soon believed that George Sr. dies in Mexico, but he actually faked his death and returns to the model home. There he hides in the attic, with Michael being the only one who knows of his whereabouts. Much to Michael’s frustration, George Michael is spending most of his time with his new girlfriend Ann Veal (Mae Whitman), a thoroughly bland girl. Lucille rekindles her affair with Oscar, who moves in and tries to become a father figure towards Buster. Lindsay and Tobias decide to try an open marriage in order to fix their problems, but Lindsay’s apparently lost all her flirting skills. Tobias finds solace when he discovers the Blue Man Group, taking it upon himself to become an understudy. Later kicked out of the house and fearing that Maeby is growing distant from him, he dons make-up, a wig and a fat suit to adopt the guise of Mrs. Featherbottom, an English nanny who moves in. Everyone immediately sees through his disguise, but allow him to continue because the house has never been cleaner. Maeby isn’t there much anyway, as she’s conned her way into a position as a film studio executive, despite the fact that she’s still in high school.
When most of the family sells off their stock in the company, it’s bought up by Lucille Two. Gob seduces her in order to keep an eye on her actions, only to end up actually caring about her. She names him as the new president, but it’s just a figurehead position and Michael is still running things. Buster has two large subplots throughout the season. First, he’s enlisted in the Army by Lucille at the goading of a Michael Moore lookalike. He starts out floundering, but eventually gains some much needed self confidence. Just when it looks like he’s going to be shipped out to Iraq, his left hand is bitten off by a loose seal released into the ocean by Gob after inadvertently giving the animal a taste for flesh. Now equipped with a claw, he frets about his new condition, often lamenting “I’m a monster!” Finally, the Bluths both lose and regain a family member. Annyong disappears from the show after Lucille sends him off to the Milford Academy to teach him a lesson, though she can’t remember what it was. Later Gob retrieves Franklin Delano Bluth, a jive-talking black puppet he used to spice up his act. (Gob: “Franklin said some things Whitey wasn’t ready to hear.” Michael: “Gob, weren’t you also mercilessly beaten outside of a club in Torrance for that act?” Gob: “He also said some things that African-Americany wasn’t ready to hear either.”) In addition, Ron Howard is still uncredited as the Narrator.
The Recurring Characters and Cameos
Henry Winkler, Liza Minnelli, Judy Greer, BW Gonzales, John Michael Higgins, Justin Grant Wade, Ian Roberts and John Beard all reprise their roles in several episodes and a few others return as well. Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as Maggie Lizer, now apparently very pregnant nine months after a fling with Michael. (“Could’ve sworn it’d been a year.”) Amy Poehler comes back as Gob’s wife to finalize their divorce, and Carl Weathers directs an episode of Scandalmakers starring Tobias as George Sr. and Dave Attell as Tobias. Speaking of guest-stars, some big names show up this season. After being mentioned and seen in a picture last year, Ben Stiller appears as magician Tony Wonder. Thomas Jane appears as himself, living as a homeless person in order to research his starring role in the movie Homless Dad. Zach Braff shows up as Phillip Litt, director of the Girls With Low Self-Esteem videos and a closet never-nude. Jeff Garlin has a recurring role as Maeby’s fellow studio executive Mort Meyers. Begley Jr. appears a few times as the hairless Sitwell, and Christine Taylor plays his daughter Sally, a long-time crush of Michael’s. When the family needs money they go to “Uncle” Jack Dorso, former radio star and current crippled fitness buff brought to over-the-top life by Martin Short. A number of other familiar faces are briefly seen, including Ed Helms, Martin Mull, J. K. Simmons, Rob Corddry, Dan Castellaneta, Alan Tudyk, Ione Skye, Dick Van Patten and Andy Richter. It’s also interesting to see a number of small parts played by actors who would go on to become famous later, like Jay Johnston, Jake Hoffman, Craig Robinson, Jack McBrayer, Armie Hammer, Simon Helberg and Andy Samberg. Special mention must also be given to Michael Cera’s future Scott Pilgrim co-star Mae Whitman as Ann, who has to endure being referred to as plain and bland all season when she’s really quite the cutie.
The Running Gags
Just like it’s first season, the show doesn’t let up on the running jokes. Lucille and Oscar’s arguments tend to always end the same way (“You’re high!” “You’re drunk!”) and Gob can never produce a fireball (“But where did the lighter fluid come from?”). Kitty keeps flashing Michael, who can’t even remember his son’s girlfriend, let alone her name. (“Her?”) Once Tobias blues himself, look for splotches of blue paint on his clothes, as well as blue hand prints all around the house. Franklin is treated like a real person by everyone, even the police. Several cast members sport cuts after Buster is equipped with his prosthetic hook, and just try to count the number of reference to him losing his hand before it actually happens. Maeby’s age-deflection response of “Marry me!” eventually backfires, and things like Girls With Low Self-Esteem, Les Cousins Dangereux, and “No touching!” all show up again.
On the Next TL;DW…
We wrap up by looking at Season Three, George Sr. comes home, Michael might get married, George Michael and Maeby have a secret, and there might be another Bluth sibling…