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Courting Disasters

"Courting Disasters"
Directors: Troy Miller — Writer: Mitchell Hurwitz & Jim Vallely — Aired: March 15, 2019 — Icon-image      

"Courting Disasters" is the fifteenth episode of Arrested Development's fifth season.


In 1982, young Lindsay rehearses for the talent portion of the family pageant; she sings a Stevie Nicks song and plays harp while wearing a white dress. Meanwhile, Michael is writing their names and talents on a poster. Gob is scheduled to do a "push up dance" while Michael is "Wonder Boy" as a magician. Lindsay's talents include "singing, harp, tap dancing, beauty" and something else. Buster's talent is obscured (but looks like "unleashed"). Lucille comes into the room to criticize Lindsay and kill her confidence; Lucille wants her not to win, so that she can't go on the cruise with Mimi. After Lucille leaves, Gob tells Michael that he really did let Buster off his leash to let him go swim in the ocean. Michael worries that Buster can't swim, so he runs off. Gob looks at the dove that Michael bought for his magic act, and it inspires him to steal Michael's talent for the pageant. He uses "Balls in the Air" for his music and accidentally kills the dove. Then Lindsay tap dances under a sheet due to Lucille's criticisms. Finally Michael returns with Buster from the ocean and resuscitates him on the floor. Lucille declares Michael and Buster the winners of the pageant.

In 2015, Dusty arrives at Buster's trial, still jittery and now upset about his father being in the hospital. When Lottie Dottie sees Dusty, she likes his haircut and is not upset at all. During her opening statement, she shows the video from Cinco of Buster finding Lucille 2's body on the staircar. Lottie points out the timecode, indicating missing footage, which she blames on Buster trying to use Fakeblock to tamper with evidence. She also shows the weather video of Buster tossing the body off the staircar into the ocean. Dusty flips out during his opening argument, but Lottie encourages him maternally.

Lucille confesses to George what she did last night at Dusty's house. She sneaked into a dark bedroom and thought she was having sex with Dusty, but instead she was with Dusty's sick and elderly father. Gob asks if Lottie is Dusty's ex-wife, but Lucille says she's actually his stepmother. In the hallway outside, Lucille confronts Dusty about not being clear about Lottie. Dusty is apparently a motherboy too, trying to make his stepmom jealous of Lucille. After Dusty leaves, Michael asks Lucille what happened, and she clarifies that the Dustin Radler who caused a mistrial was the elderly father, and Barry didn't realize that Lucille was dating Dustin Jr.

Michael suggests that they beg the judge for a mistrial, but Lucille now wants Buster's trial to go ahead while there's still no body found. Later, Dusty interviews Tobias to be a character witness for Buster. Tobias thinks he's going to play Buster as an actor, but Dusty explains that he just needs to testify on the witness stand. Tobias says that on the night of Cinco, Buster was playing the rock monster in the musical that night. Apparently Tobias is no longer at the Spotted Palm and needs a new place to live.

At the model home, Michael is in the attic looking for law books when George Michael comes in. Michael explains that he's trying to help out with the trial, since Dusty is rather incompetent. Michael thinks that maritime law should apply since Buster allegedly dumped her into the ocean. George Michael worries that Michael is trying to be the hero and is interfering too much. George Michael confesses that he knows about the foot, and "it's why I had to fire you" (but that's a lie, because George Michael fired his dad before he knew about the foot). George Michael almost confesses that Fakeblock isn't real, but just says it's not perfect. Michael has the Fakeblock app on his phone, and it's just a woodblock app, but Michael assumes that the app is just malfunctioning, stuck on the logo. Michael suggests again that George Michael sell the app to Rebel; "she's just using you for the software." George Michael confesses that Rebel dumped him, and that Fakeblock is not real. He worries that the Chinese will kill them, but Michael insists that he'll get them out of trouble.

Tobias doesn't show up to the trial, and Lottie calls Gene Parmesan to the witness stand. On Cinco, he says he was working undercover at the Donkey Punch stand. Gene did give Buster some Donkey Punch, but Buster knocked out Herbert Love and left the rock costume behind. Gene took the costume and performed in the musical. Therefore Buster has no alibi.

Tobias and his fake family visit George Michael, telling him that Murphybrown blew their cover at the retirement community, so they got evicted. Maeby also killed off her Annette persona. They all want to move into the office and even offer to do some work, but George Michael doubts they know anything about privacy software. But actually Murphybrown has programming experience and has coded privacy software. George Michael realizes that maybe he can actually create Fakeblock, so he asks to see the software.

Lottie Dottie's next witness is Warden Gentles, who knows a Bluth family secret, which he learned from Lucille. Recently, Lucille met with the Warden to get Buster released for the July 2nd parade, and she got so drunk, she confessed secrets. Gentles had also heard about Imagine Entertainment's streaming series about the Bluths, so he wanted to give that info to Ron Howard, and hopefully screenwrite for him. Ron heard all the secrets and used them in his show "Making of a Monster." Lottie plays a clip from the season finale, and we see that the childhood flashbacks were all episodes of Ron Howard's show. They filmed it when Michael rented out the beach cottage.

In 1982, Lucille Bluth goes upstairs and sees Mimi trying to take Lindsay on the cruise anyway. Lucille makes Lindsay go back into her room, then fights with Mimi in the hallway. Mimi is Lindsay's real mother; she put her three year old up for adoption, then Lucille swooped in before the Sitwells could get her. Mimi says there's some kind of endowment, and Lucille wanted it so she could have a cottage on the beach. Mimi says that Lindsay is about to turn 18 (but she thinks she's turning 14, and is really turning 17, so why are they doing math wrong?) and she wants to take her daughter back. Lucille continues fighting with Mimi, and Buster sees them. He misunderstands their words, thinking that Mimi is trying to steal Buster, not Lindsay, so he angrily pushes Mimi down the stairs.

Warden Gentles says this death is portrayed exactly as Lucille told him, so Lottie says Buster is obviously a murderer and must have killed Lucille Austero in the same way, by pushing her down the stairs. Lucille desperately calls for a mistrial, but Buster thinks she's just complaining again about Buster missing her maritime law trial. Buster yells at Lucille for selling him out to Warden Gentles, and he says she told him that he wouldn't get into trouble.

On the next AD, Murphybrown demonstrates his privacy software to George Michael.




  • P.L. Brown as Judge
  • Mike Still as Bailiff #2
  • Jordan Scovel as Juror

Recurring themes[]

On the next Arrested Development...[]

  • "George Michael discovers Murphybrown knows more about computers than he'd been letting on."


  • A Few Good Men - A copy of this is in Michael's box in the attic.
  • Brian Grazer - Ron Howard says he is still waiting for Brian's notes on the Bluth movie.
  • Cobie Smulders - Ron Howards compliments her work on the Bluth movie, where she plays young Lucille.
  • Fantastic Four - Tobias believes Buster couldn't have murdered Lucille Austero because he asked him to perform as The Thing in the musical.
  • Gone Girl - Murphybrown uses this film as part of an example of his blocking software.
  • Jean Smart - Ron Howard mentions that they need to put the actress' face onto the stunt double's face in the Bluth film. Jean Smart is playing Mimi.
  • Making a Murderer - Ron Howard's Making a Monster series is a parody of the Making a Murderer true crime series.
  • Netflix - Dusty's father gave up Netflix when the price went up by two dollars.
  • Harvey Weinstein - DeBrie mentions meeting him in the 80s when she had an audition with him. News of the producer's sexual abuse broke in October 2017.
  • Bojack Horseman - Lindsay at first thinks she's Lucille's daughter, but turns out to be her half sister. On Bojack, Hollyhock thinks she's Bojack's daughter, but is later revealed to be his half sister.

Callbacks/Running Jokes[]

  • Balls in the Air - This song plays while young G.O.B. performs his illusions.
  • Birds - A white dove is used in the talent show. G.O.B. accidentally kills the dove as he also does in "Top Banana". He then tries to use the dove's spirit to save Buster which may be a reference to the Ostrich Spirit in Season 4. There is also a white dove flying outside the courthouse.
  • [Bleep]ing baby - Buster calls Dusty this when he hugs Lottie Dottie. Buster also calls Michael this in "Development Arrested".
  • Climbing over desks - Tobias climbs over George Michael's desk to watch Gone Girl.
  • Dinner with Warden Gentles - Lucille asks Warden Gentles to have dinner with her in order to convince him to release Buster. They also had dinner together in "Prison Break-In", where she is trying to get George released from prison.
  • Fakeblock isn't...perfect yet - George Michael cannot initially admit to Michael that Fakeblock isn't real. In "Senoritis", he tells Maeby that Fakeblock isn't ready, although he almost says "isn't real".
  • Freebie - Gob tried to think of a way to get rid of Michael from the pageant. When Michael ran off to save Buster, Gob says "That was a freebie"
  • Gene Parmesan - Lucille screams his name when he reveals his disguise, as she does in "¡Amigos!" and "Queen B." However, Lucille later claims that she was only pretending to be surprised by him.
  • Juice - The donkey punch Buster drank at Cinco de Cuatro was mainly juice. In the Bluth film, a carton of juice can be seen on the floor as young Buster enters the corridor.
  • Illusions - Young G.O.B. summons a flower from nowhere and, in "Charity Drive", G.O.B summons a bunch of flowers.
  • "I've made a huge mistake" - Lucille thinks she's made "a terrible mistake" when she went to Dusty's house the night before the trial.
  • Juice - After Buster almost drowns, Lucille promises he can have as much juice as he wants.
  • Lucille's drunkeness - Lucille revealed the details of Mimi's murder to Warden Gentles while drunk. In "Fakin' It", it is revealed that Lucille tells Buster family secrets nearly every night while drunk.
  • Maritime law - Michael is trying to find his maritime law diploma in the attic.
  • Motherboy - Dusty is revealed to be one of these, thinking his relationship with Lucille was mother-son. Also, the Motherboy song plays towards the end of the episode when Lucille calls for a mistrial.
  • Never Nude - Tobias mentions that people don't want to be naked under their underwear and he mentions that he uses denim.
  • Recess - Dusty describes the break in court proceedings this while Buster incorrectly calls the prison yard "recess" in "Emotional Baggage".
  • Seal - Lottie mentions all the details of the previous case had been sealed but Warden Gentles believes "all seals can come loose".
  • Wearing a sheet - Young Lindsay wears a sheet over her head, much like adult Lindsay did at the Family of the year award. Debrie also wore a sheet while pretending to be Lindsay during the July 2nd parade.
  • Where did the confetti come from? - G.O.B. says this like he says "Where did the lighter fluid come from?" in "Burning Love".
  • Winking - Michael winks at George Michael when he talking about a "father-son psychic connection". Tobias also winks at George Michael when trying to convince him to let the family live in the Bluth offices.

Hidden/Background Jokes[]

  • Rattled - Dustin Ratler gest rattled in court
  • "Edge of Seventeen" - Young Lindsay sings Stevie Nicks's "Edge of Seventeen," a reference to her age. She thinks she will turn 14 soon, but she will actually turn 17.
    • The song contains lines about "the white winged dove" and Gob keeps staring at the white dove that Michael bought for the magic trick.
  • Gentleman's collar - In the film, young Buster promises to wear his "gentleman's collar" after he mishears Lucille saying Mimi only wants to take a child away since she no longer has a "gentleman caller".
  • Rabbit in a hat - When Young Michael runs out to save Buster, his magic equipment can be seen, inclusing a toy rabbit and a top hat. A rabbit in a top hat can be seen in G.O.B.'s office in "Saving for Arraignment Day".
  • Talent Contest - On the poster listing everybody's talents, G.O.B.'s talent is "push up dance", Michael's is "Wonder Boy", Lindsay's are "singing, harp, tap-dancing, beauty, please(?)" and, while Buster's can't be seen clearly, it looks like it says "unleashed".
  • Guys and Dolls - Tobias mentions that he missed the audition for this when he is talking to Buster and Dusty, although it is slightly hard to hear under the narration.
  • When Dusty asks Buster if he was playing The Thing in the musical, he only confirms that he was asked, not that he took part and he doesn't correct Tobias and Dusty's mistake.
  • Tobias steals pens and a coffee cup from the meeting room with Dusty and Buster when he leaves.
  • In the attic, Michael has a framed photo of George Michael in his suitcase and a framed photo of himself in the cardboard box.
  • Sitwells - In the Making of a Monster season finale, Mimi says "Standwells" rather than Sitwells, this might be a meta-joke about Ron Howard's series not getting every detail right, or that Ron Howard didn't have permission from the Sitwell family to mention them, so he fictionalized the name.

Foreshadowing/Future References[]

  • Buster says that Lucille made a promise that he wouldn't get in trouble for Mimi's murder. We see a video of this in "The Fallout".





  • Lindsay and Maeby do not appear in this episode
  • Lucille's mother Mimi dies in 1982, but in season 1, Lucille's mother (known as Nana) had died as recently as six months before Gob's Spring Break illusion. In "Missing Kitty" Lindsay had been getting Nana's check every year for Maeby's birthday, and 2004 was the first year it did not arrive. The narrator says Nana is Lucille's mother; he does not say stepmother or even suggest that Nana is George's mother. In a meta-sense, the narrator has been known to not be privy to every family secret in the past, so it's not even clear whether this is a genuine continuity error or an in-universe error or approximation made by the narrator in season 1 (in the same vein as only presenting Lindsay as Michael's biological sister before "Development Arrested"), which further complicates matters. Lucille did say "I just lost my mother" after she tried to claim that Nana was on the yacht when Gob sunk it, so even Lucille claimed that Nana was her mother.
    • In "The Fallout", Lucille mentions that she and Lindsay are half-sisters. Perhaps Nana is Lucille's biological mother but Mimi raised her. Then Lucille and Lindsay could share the same father but have Nana and Mimi as their biological mothers respectively. This could also explain Mimi's insults if she adopted Lucille because Lucille makes the same comments about her adopted daughter Lindsay.

Promotional Photos[]

→ See 12 pictures from Courting Disasters at Images from Courting Disasters.

External Links[]


1. "Family Leave"
2. "Self-Deportation"
3. "Everyone Gets Atrophy"
4. "An Old Start"
5. "Sinking Feelings"
6. "Emotional Baggage"

7. "Rom-Traum"
8. "Premature Independence"
9. "Unexpected Company"
10. "Taste Makers"
11. "Chain Migration"
12. "Check Mates"

13. "The Untethered Sole"
14. "Saving for Arraignment Day"
15. "Courting Disasters"
16. "The Fallout"

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