This Gob-centered episode takes places almost entirely outside the established, already loopy story lines of Season 4. Though it briefly swerves into Michael's mission, and gives some context for what we'll eventually discover about George Michael's situation, Gob is — as usual — operating at the fringe.
In high school, apparently, Gob was the cock of the walk, but as an adult he's a Segway-riding, garishly dressed, part-time illusionist whose primary skill appears to be seducing women who are very old or very ugly. Naturally, he still thinks he's better than everyone: He's the guy in the $6,000 pants, but metaphorically he's garbed in whatever you'd call the opposite of the emperor's new clothes. He thinks he's dressed to kill; everyone else can see right through him.
I think before this whole experiment in synchronized storytelling started, I would have said that Tobias was an ancillary character, that he was the source of the series' least-subtle jokes, and the most thinly sketched. But as Season 4 has twisted around and into itself, piling on story lines and coincidences, the Tobias episodes are the lightest in tone (despite the darkness of some of the subject matter), the least freighted with backstory — and the ones I find myself invested in. I want Tobias to succeed! I want him to get the girl, pull off the musical production, and not go back to prison!
My sympathies have to find somewhere to land, what with most of the Bluth family careering about the limited frame, propelled mostly by greed and always cushioned by overweening self-regard. Even Michael, the series' longtime straight man and moral center, has drifted id-ward.
But by the end of "Smashed," Tobias also performs (hammily) out of pure self-interest; much like Lindsay, he comes to be a Bluth because he acts like one, not because he was born one.
Thursday, 1 p.m., Bonnaroo Press Conference: a brief conversation between Matt & Kim and John Oates (but not, unfortunately, Daryl Hall)
Kim: [We're calling the tour] Twelve Weeks of Summer Raging. Twelve weeks is about as long as you can rage until you fucking die or pass out. Matt: Last time we played Bonnaroo, Kim’s top definitely came off. Kim: You have to understand, Bonnaroo is the festival with the most titties. You look out and you can't not see titties. But, look, my titties are so small you can't even see them in the back. Matt: You’re just like, "who is that 15-year-old boy?" Interviewer: There’s that feeling at Bonnaroo that anything goes ... Kim: Anal onstage, guys. I promise. Interviewer: [Laughs, attempts segue] But you can definitely feel that energy onstage ... Kim: Well, after years of anal you can't feel much anymore. Oates: I just ... I’m wondering ... are you a brother-and-sister anal act?
Before we dive into "A New Start," let's get some housekeeping out of the way. First: I have apparently been stubbornly mishearing the moniker of George Michael's privacy software (if that's what it really is). It is not "FaceBlock," but rather "FakeBlock." I still argue that the project fits in with the season's central theme, exploring the nature of identity: What is maintaining one's identity but to "block" what is "fake"? See also: this episode's running joke about copyright infringement and character rights.
And that little grad school semiotics flashback brings me to my next point: I hope this doesn't feel like homework for you guys, but watching the series on my own, constantly searching for hidden themes and self-aware references, largely fueled by coffee and popcorn and dressed in sweatpants — well, at least I'm not racking up any student loans.
This Tobias-centric episode actually leavened what has been becoming less of an Easter egg hunt and more of a forced march through hazily familiar territory. Tobias has always been something of a blank slate, both in terms of his character's background and his character's self-knowledge, and this episode was refreshingly whimsical and untethered in comparison to the freighted story lines we've seen so far. Yes, there were the required callbacks and Tobias's story intersected in the plots we're already aware of, but most of the humor was about Tobias, who really does live in his own little, even wee, world.
It’s Friday night, and we’re in a mansion high atop a mountain somewhere in nearby Deer Valley, the kind of place that doesn’t have an address. A cab driver takes me over. He reminisces about the old days at Sundance. “I’ve had some crazy times, man.” I ask him what he means. “Oh, you know: big parties, hot tubs, cougars.” He’s a local, remembers sending the yellow cabs that drive up from Salt Lake City during Sundance on wild goose chases around town. But GPS put an end to that, he says, sadly.
Which I’m grateful for tonight, actually: It’s all we can do to find the hotel at the base of the mountain, where in the lobby I give my name to a waiting factotum, who dispatches another factotum, who brings another car around. I get in and we drive for a while, heading up the hill. There is no address because this road is private: We pass through one gate manned by a security guard, and then another, pairs of leaping deer glinting off the ironwork. Up the mountain we go, making lefts and rights at seeming random, speeding up in the dark.
While I haven't seen Bret Ratner's movie about a group of small-time crooks and hotel employees planning a major heist (and have no particular plans to), the idiotic Tower Heist theme song gets stuck in my head a minimum of once a day. It's a tower heist!