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Altar Egos

"Altar Egos"
Directors: Jay Chandrasekhar — Writer: Barbie Adler — Aired: March 17, 2004 — Icon-image      

"Altar Egos" is the sixteenth episode of Arrested Development's first season.

Michael attempts to have a one-night stand with an attorney whom he doesn't know is not only blind, but the prosecutor who is trying to put his father in jail. Also, G.O.B. gets married on a dare, Maeby pretends to be a girl with a made up disease, and George Sr.'s admirer turns out to be an undercover SEC agent who has truly fallen for him.


Michael hooks up[]

The Bluth family meets inside the courthouse with Barry Zuckerkorn to discuss a plea bargain that has been delivered from the prosecution. George enters, turning down the plea, claiming he knows for a fact he can win in court. (Cindi Lightballoon, an FBI mole sent to seduce George has actually fallen in love with him and told him she knows he can win—for a fact.) Michael is hesitant and decides to read the plea—something Barry didn't do due to his dating life.

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At a local bar, G.O.B. teases Michael for not having a personal life and urges him to have a one night stand. Michael gets distracted from reading the plea by Maggie Lizer, an attorney. They flirt and he gives her the false name "Chareth Cutestory". The two have several drinks and leave together. The next morning, Michael connects the dots and realizes he has just slept with a blind woman. Feeling bad, he agrees to see her again. They walk around the park and he tries to read the plea but makes no progress.

George tries to lure the "fact" of his innocence out of Cindi but is instead caught by Lucille who assumes he is having an affair. Both women storm off but Cindi later returns while he works for Stefan Gentles on a chain gang and he discovers that Cindi's "fact" was just her faith—poor guidance she gained from watching Caged Wisdom. At court Michael finds out Maggie is the prosecutor leading the trial against his father. Barry asks for an extension to read the plea, and Barry and G.O.B. urge Michael to abuse his relationship with Maggie to get information about the trial. At Maggie's house, she asks "Chareth" to read some notes from the Bluth case to her."

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G.O.B. hitches up[]

After urging Michael to live life and have a one night stand, G.O.B. attempts himself to do the same. Instead he meets a marine biologist and the two spend the evening in a series of escalating dares and end up marrying each other. Before consummating the marriage she runs off to sell sick seals to a third world country. G.O.B. continues to brag that they had sex, even though they did not. He tries to get Barry's help with an annulment.

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Maeby, Surely[]

Lindsay receives a note that Maeby will have to repeat the ninth grade if her grades don't approve. She and Tobias ask George Michael to tutor their daughter. He attempts to do so but she just gives him $120 cash to do the work for her. The next day at school, George Michael realizes Maeby is posing as a sick girl named Surely Fünke to receive donations.


  • Verda Bridges as Woman
  • Tim Starks as Bailiff
  • Angela Russo as Teacher

Recurring themes[]

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  • Happy Days - Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler, Fonzie on Happy Days) does the "Fonz" pose in the bathroom mirror.
  • Best in Show - Cindi Lightballoon (Jane Lynch) is seen in front of a fake pet grooming truck. In the movie Best In Show, she played a professional dog groomer.
  • Seinfeld - G.O.B.'s wife's plea for a maritime lawyer is reminiscent of a plea for a marine biologist in the Seinfeld episode "The Marine Biologist"; a series in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus starred.

Callbacks/running jokes[]

  • Affair - George Sr.'s habit of cheating on Lucille is once again apparent as he tweaks Cindi's nipples through a chain-link fence, an activity he did in "Shock and Aww".
    • Lucille also mentions that George Sr. had slept with her sister in the past, too, causing her to stop drinking.
  • Barry's secret life
    • Barry is looking for a transvestite prostitute.
    • Barry says to Michael, "I could kiss you on the [bleep]."
    • After Barry says he couldn't read the plea because he is trying to "get back in the dating game", G.O.B. says Barry is a man and needs a woman. After a short pause, Barry changes the subject.
  • Blendin - Cindi Lightballoon rides the "Blendin' Mobile Pet Grooming" van to the prison (a pun on blend in). This surveillance van was first used in "Shock and Aww".
  • Cornballer - A Cornballer appears on Maggie Lizer’s kitchen table.
  • Four women - G.O.B. often teases Michael for only having slept with four women. Michael says the tally is now up to 5 in this episode, as he slept with Beth in "Shock and Aww". It would then go up to 6 after he slept with Maggie.
  • Letter - Maeby's "failure of 9th grade" letter is shot exactly like Lucille's "you're an adoptive parent" letter from "Shock and Aww".
  • Maritime law - Michael tells Maggie he's a maritime lawyer.
  • Surely Fünke - Maeby's alter ego
    • An earlier reference is made to Maeby's alter ego Surely: In "Shock and Aww", the school has a sign, "Hold on, Surely Fünke. Surely Fünke: How we ♥ thee."
    • Maeby writes her name on her failed math test as S. Funke, claiming that the government wants to know if they are single or married, an S indicating Single.
  • Sweet Pink Mouth - Tobias bribes George Michael by offering to pack his "sweet pink mouth" full of ice cream. This phrase is later used in "Whistler's Mother", for the line "your sweet pink mouth goes north, not south" in "All You Need is Smiles."
  • Ice Cream - Tobias's offer is one of many references throughout the series to "ice" and "ice cream."
  • "We've got Ping" - Barry reacts to seeing who the judge is for George Sr.'s plea bargain court date. He reacted this same way earlier in "Marta Complex".
    • He reacts identically upon finding Maggie Lizer is the prosecuting attorney, stating her name instead.

Hidden/background jokes[]

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  • Republicans - The courtroom office and courtroom are decorated with portraits of Republican presidents.
  • Fonzie - At the end of the scene where Michael, Gob, and Barry are talking in the bathroom about Maggie Lizer, Barry reaches up to fix his hair with a comb, notices his reflection, and shrugs as if his hair is too perfect anyway. This is a reference to the opening credits of Happy Days, where Fonzie does exactly the same thing. Henry Winkler (Barry Zuckercorn) played Fonzie.
  • Maritime lawyer - When three of G.O.B.'s wife's seals die, she says she needs a maritime lawyer, the type of lawyer Michael pretended to be to Maggie.

Foreshadowing/Future References[]

Crook S1E16

You're a crook, Captain Hook!

  • The Trial of Captain Hook - This episode includes a flashback to Michael's performance in The Trial of Captain Hook - Michael plays Peter Pan in this, prosecuting Captain Hook. The scene is repeated in "Fakin' It", and the song "You're a crook, Captain Hook, Judge won't you throw the book, at the Pirate" is used again in this episode and others, when Michael acts like a lawyer. This is also a foreshadowing to Michael throwing the Bible at Maggie Lizer in "Justice Is Blind".
    • Also near the end of the flashback, Captain Hook's hook falls off his hand, possibly foreshadowing Buster's hook and how it frequently falls off.
  • In the "On the next" tease, it's revealed that Maggie Lizer is in fact, not blind at all. This is one of the rare occasions where the footage actually does foreshadow coming events.
  • Earlier in the episode, Maggie's dog Justice randomly runs around the park and causes a rollerblader to fall. The next episode will see Michael notice something is wrong with the dog and reveal the reason for its seemingly erratic behavior: while Maggie is not blind, Justice is.


→ See more quotes from "Altar Egos" at Transcript of Altar Egos.


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  • Episode 18, "Missing Kitty", was originally intended to come before this and the next episode.
  • This episode, and the following episode "Justice Is Blind" are regarded as a two-parter, as all the storylines directly continue on from each other and nothing is resolved in Part 1.
  • The title is a play on the term "alter ego". The word "altar" refers to the fact that G.O.B. gets married in this episode.
  • Proving his mettle as a Milford man, Buster is neither seen nor heard in this episode.
  • This episode is rated TV-PG-DLS.


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  • Lucille proclaims she could not breastfeed any of her children because of George Sr.'s tweaking, but later in "Spring Breakout", the narrator states "it was Buster's first taste of alcohol since he was nursing."
    • However, it is revealed in "Sad Sack" that Rosa breastfed Buster, so there is no discontinuity in the plot.
  • A continuity error occurs when Judge Ping does not forbid cameras in his courtroom, unlike in "Marta Complex" where the 4th wall was broken as he stated such directly at the camera, resulting in no interior footage.
  • The letter sent to Maeby's parents contains spelling mistakes.


→ See more images from "Altar Egos" at Category:Images from Altar Egos.

1. "Pilot"
2. "Top Banana"
3. "Bringing Up Buster"
4. "Key Decisions"
5. "Charity Drive"
6. "Visiting Ours"
7. "In God We Trust"
8. "My Mother, the Car"

  9. "Storming the Castle"
10. "Pier Pressure"
11. "Public Relations"
12. "Marta Complex"
13. "Beef Consommé"
14. "Shock and Aww"
15. "Staff Infection"
16. "Altar Egos"

17. "Justice Is Blind"
18. "Missing Kitty"
19. "Best Man for the Gob"
20. "Whistler's Mother"
21. "Not Without My Daughter"
22. "Let 'Em Eat Cake"

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