Arrested Development (TV series)/Recap/S1/E02 Top Banana

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John Beard reports on the destruction of the Bluth Banana Stand, which has been mysteriously burnt down.

A week earlier, Michael visits his father in prison to find the Bluth Company‘s flight records, insisting he needs to clear some money in the company for the family’s usage, but George Sr. insists “there’s always money in the banana stand”. George Sr. introduced Michael to his “flamer” prison roommate T-Bone and pressed Michael to give him a job at the Bluth Company since he is being released that day. Michael refuses.

Meanwhile, George-Michael is struggling with his attraction to his cousin Maeby and asks his father for more hours working at the banana stand. Michael promotes him to manager and gives him permission to hire another employee.

Michael chastises Gob, Lindsay, and Tobias for their lack of motivation to find work, but Gob and Tobias defend their failing careers as a magician and actor respectively. Not wanting Maeby to end up like her mother, Michael orders Maeby to join her cousin as an employee at the banana stand, much to George-Michael’s chagrin.

Michael visits his mother, but she too denies to provide him with information about the company’s flight records. Lucille teases the fact that they are hidden in George Sr.’s storage unit, but will not tell Michael its location. Lucille also admonishes Michael and claims that she is excluding his brother Gob from the family business.

Michael devises a plan to locate the storage unit. Michael tells his mother that the IRS will be coming to her apartment to see if she has made any purchases with the company’s money. Lucille sends her house keeper Luce to hide the various fur coats she purchased fraudulently. Luce leads Michael to the storage unit, but finds it to be destroyed by the fire of an arsonist or “flamer”. Michael connects that the fire is his father’s doing.

Michael encounters Gob and feigns the importance of a particular letter being mailed. Michael passes responsibility to Gob. Later, Lucille warns Michael that Gob feels like Michael is patronizing him with meaningless work. At the beach, Gob tosses Michael’s letter into the ocean in an act of defiance.

Michael visits his father in jail and warns him that he will not tolerate his attempt to run the company from prison. George Sr. expresses concern when Michael informs him George-Michael is the new manager of the banana stand. Now employing the arsonist T-Bone, the banana stand continues to lose money as Maeby attempts to spend funds on personal expenses. When George-Michael realizes the severity of their actions and see’s Lindsay and Lucille dining in the same restaurant as them, George-Michael begins panicking. Michael sees T-Bone working at the banana stand and feels his father is undermining his authority even more.

At the beach, Gob and Michael argue about Gob’s lessened status within the family hierarchy, but he and Michael both agree their father treats both of them disrespectfully.

Michael receives a phone call from Maeby who warns him that George-Michael is attempting to burn down the banana stand. When Michael stops him, George-Michael claims that he is unable to handle the responsibility of being manager and needs direction from his father. However, not wanting to micromanage his son the way his father did to him, Michael and George-Michael rebel and burn down the banana stand together. Michael reveals the urgent letter that Gob threw into the ocean was the banana stand’s insurance off. When it becomes clear Gob did not mail the check, Michael chases him in a rage.

Michael visits the prison to inform George Sr. of the banana stand’s destruction and becomes enraged after reiterating that “there’s always money in the banana stand”: $250,000 in cash lining the walls, now destroyed. In the epilogue, Michael and George-Michael rebuild the banana stand.

Meanwhile. Tobias attends an audition for an acting role in a commercial, but mistakes the commercial’s subject as “a fire” instead of “a fire sale”. Lindsay, attending the audition to support her husband, discovers the casting director Roger Danish is her high school counterpart for superlative “Best Hair”. Lindsay receives the part in the commercial, leading her to celebrate her new “job” but devastating Tobias. Unfortunately. Lindsay sleeps through her commercial shoot and even her understudy Tobias misses his call to set.


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The Arrested Development episode "Top Banana" provides examples of:

  • Blatant Lies: Michael has returned from visiting George Sr. in jail, where he is clearly fond of the ice-cream sandwiches. He arrives at Lucille's apartment to find her screaming "Well why don't you marry an ice cream sandwich?" into the phone. She then tells Michael she was talking to GOB. Michael, naturally, doesn't buy it.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Michael finally takes a stand against his father’s controlling nature, only to find he’s destroyed a quarter million of the Bluth’s money.
  • Cargo Ship: George Sr seems to really enjoy ice cream sandwiches.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • Lindsay winning “Best Hair” in high school.
    • T-bone being a “flamer.”
    • Gob throwing things dramatically into the sea.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Roger Danish
  • Double Meaning Title: The episode centers around the Bluth banana stand, and Michael's struggle to assert his position as the head of the Bluth company.
    • Also, it's the first episode after the Pilot- the "top banana" of the list of series episodes.
  • Entendre Failure: "There's always money in the banana stand."
  • Foreshadowing: Michael needs to get his father's travel records.
  • How We Got Here: The episode starts by setting up a Foregone Conclusion that the banana stand burns down, then cuts to one week prior.
  • Insurance Fraud: Failed.
  • If You Know What I Mean: "There's always money in the banana stand." Unfortunately, Michael does not know what he means.
  • Large Ham: Tobias's performance at- well, anything, really, but the Fire Sale audition, here.

Tobias: OH MY GOD, IT'S A FIRE!!!! ...sale!

George-Michael: Wow! I'm Mr. Manager!

  • Non-Promotion: Michael promotes George-Michael to manager, but Michael, George Sr., and even Maeby go over his head to make important business decisions.
  • Playing with Fire: "He's a flamer."
  • Shower of Angst: Tobias after his audition fails and he loses the part. Then he loses the part again because of the shower.
  • The Other Darrin: T-Bone's gained some weight!