Arrested Development, “Borderline Personalities”

“Borderline Personalities” combines George and Oscar Bluth’s doings since the breakup of the family in 2006. The second of the new batch of episodes, it isn’t until later that you realize how much is packed into this thirty-minute segment.

“Borderline Personalities” begins with a sweat hut, where George, or “Father B.” is conning a bunch of businessmen. They’re looking for enlightenment, and George is looking for a way to get his hands on cold, hard cash, for reasons unknown.

Young Mr. Bluth and both ZuckercornsWe re-wind to the last episode of Arrested Development season three, where we find that Oscar was aboard the Queen Mary, looking strikingly similar to George, right down to the haircut. Once he realizes what’s going on, he says, “Of course…there’s no such thing as free shrimp!” and we see that George has stowed away with Michael and George Michael, prompting their return to the family.

Then “Borderline Personalities” goes way back and we see a young Barry Zuckercorn, fresh from law school, attempting to help his father while they meet with young Lucille (played by Kristen Wiig) and young George (played by Seth Rogen) Bluth. “Take to the seas!” he says. Apparently, anything can be done on the open sea. Also, “they can’t charge a man and wife for the same crime!” which we’ve heard before.

“Borderline Personalities” is where we begin to see why the brothers are so easy to mix up. While Oscar is laid back most of the time, and George is hellbent on taking money from everyone, they’re both in love with Lucille (at times) and are desperately needy for companionship. If they both love Lucille, what mStarfire, George Sr. and Doctorust their mother have been like?

While bargaining with Sitwell to raise some money for Lucille’s trial costs, George snaps a picture of a plan Stan is working on for the government. Lucille points out that it’s a wall and immediately tells George they should have the job. So off he goes in pursuit of a way to make it theirs. This results in finding Oscar at the Balboa Club, having been mistaken for his brother. While talking, George tries to make amends and says he wishes he had friends, as Oscar has several. Oscar reassures him that he can be friends with them, but George looks around and says, “I don’t want these.”

This is where “Borderline Personalities” gets complicated. Oscar lives on the Mexican border, and George wants to buy land there to build a wall. He tells Oscar he’ll buy the land but doesn’t mention why, which results in Oscar thinking George is doing it out of the kindness of his heart because Oscar was going to have to leave the land and his beloved macca root.

George moves down to the border with Oscar and cooks up the “Sweat and Squeeze” scheme to line his pockets with money from unsuspecting CEOs, pretending that he and Lucille are in the middle of a divorce, so that they won’t be suspected of working together on the wall. While George and Oscar eat some macca root together and share a hallucination of a native dressed as an ostrich, this isn’t enough to deter them from moving forward with their plans. George makes Oscar work the sweat hut while he’s the motivational speaker, but after a year, Oscar has had enough and begs to pretend to be George elsewhere.

George, Oscar, and the Ostrich BeingThis is a great time for a change, since George is supposed to go see Lucille but is having money difficulties and must somehow persuade a congressman to support the building of the wall. Oscar visits Lucille and George goes off to an awards ceremon to talk to Herbert Love, after getting the idea from Barry Zuckercorn, who reveals that he spent three years in the Virgin Islands to get his law degree and had a double take the California Bar Exam for him.

Everything’s going fine until Oscar realizes why George really bought the land, and firms up the info with Lucille. Which leads into the rest of the season.

There are so many more things I can’t even include in here because they pop up later; specific words or phrases, the identities of a few unknown characters, and of course, the link from the sweat hut to another Bluth family member. I’ve watched it three times and each time I’ve seen more of what’s really going on. This is Mitchell Hurwitz at his finest, having years to hone the brilliant formula that works so well for Arrested Development. While I didn’t particularly care for Kristen Wiig or Seth Rogen’s young Mrs. and Mr. Bluth, I think it must have been awkward for them to come in and work with the rest of the cast at this point, and it may simply take some getting used to for me to really enjoy them. “Borderline Personalities” is a fantastic example of what we love most about this show, and it only gets better each time it’s viewed.

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone is a story nerd, particularly for the episodic stories told via the medium of television. When not parked in front of the TV, K.M. Cone can be found writing kooky urban fantasy on her personal site, attempting to learn German, or making a huge pot of soup for her friends, who are probably coming over to join her in her latest TV or animated film obsession.
K.M. Cone

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