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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Exit Strategy is the second last episode of the series, and the last to
be co-authored by the amazing duo of Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.
Those two have produced some of the greatest episodes (starting with
Pier Pressure), and this one is no exception. Exit Strategy wraps up
the Iraqi storyline, advances the George Michael-Maeby storyline and
burns George W. Bush in more ways than one.
Arrested Development's plot has always been tied in with the Iraq War, and in the climax this brings us to Iraq itself. It's fitting, though not entirely relatable since so few AD viewers have probably actually been there. GOB is performing in Iraq but is captured by American troops for apparently being an enemy combatant. Michael and Buster go to Iraq to get him free. The episode ultimately confirms what George has been saying since Spring Breakout- that when it comes to the light treason charges, he was set up. This brings me to a theory some friends and I developed relating Arrested Development to The Wizard of Oz. George is, essentially, the wizard. He seemed to be a powerful head of the family but as seen here and in the series finale, the image was stronger than the man. Lindsay is Dorothy- the female protagonist who came from far away (Boston), while her siblings are the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion for reasons we can see in this very episode. GOB is the Scarecrow because he feels intellectually inadequate. Here he's too stupid to escape from the Iraqi prison despite having some opportunities to do so. Michael is the Tin Man- GOB accuses him of having no feelings, but in the next episode Michael shows he does have feelings when he cries. Buster is the lion- whether Buster is a coward is discussed several times in this episode; in other episodes he's noted for his panic attacks. This leaves Lucille as the Wicked Witch- although we'll see that side of her more in the next episode than in this one.
The laughs in this episode are good. Putting Tobias in Maeby's suit is priceless though having him recite a Vagina Monologue is a bit too much. George Michael associating Maeby with secrets is brilliant. The torment Buster goes through in his coma is hilarious, and the nurse has a great line about vegetables. The episode also turns dark when the US government comes close to killing the Bluths.
But this episode has an emotional side in addition to its comedy. There's a scene with George Michael and Maeby drinking the fake wine before eventually making out. I agree with the show's conclusion that incest is wrong, even in cases of adoption, but hearing George Michael confess his love for Maeby is oddly sweet. It's kind of a testimony to the aches of love. The scene is helped with the You Here With Me theme, unheard since season 1, which showed how they really were in love. There's no show like AD.
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