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Flight of the Phoenix

"Flight of the Phoenix"
Directors: Mitch Hurwitz & Troy Miller — Writer: Mitch Hurwitz — Aired: May 26, 2013 — Icon-image      

"Flight of the Phoenix" was the first episode of Arrested Development's fourth season. It premiered on Netflix on May 26, 2013 at 12:01 AM PDT.

Michael says goodbye to the family business and starts his own. And the life of the family is turned upside down when their mailman Pete dies.


May 5, 1982 — a young Lucille and George Bluth sit in their house upset with the absence of their cleaning woman Rosa. Lucille proposes a scenario where Cinco de Mayo never happens and thus Cinco de Cuatro was born.

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Lucille and George in 1982

May 4, 2012 — a drunk Michael Bluth approaches Lucille Austero atop her stair car and propositions her for sex to repay part of the $700,000 he owed her. Later that evening he returned to the Model Home, now wearing a shirt from the banana stand, where he ran into his brother G.O.B.. Michael began to tell G.O.B. about his mistake but G.O.B. began to tease him. Michael began to tease G.O.B. back about his past relationships when G.O.B.'s partner appeared from the upstairs bedroom, shocking Michael. G.O.B. then forced a forget-me-now down Michael's throat.

March 2012 — Michael had been living with his son George Michael in his dorm room at UC Irvine. George Michael was given an extra-large dorm room as the housing office thought he was two people. Michael moved in with him and stayed on the top bunk and attended the University of Phoenix. Michael's constant presence and neediness began to bother George Michael but Michael nearly had a nervous fit when his son suggested he move out. George Michael lied to his father that he needed some privacy so he could continue working on Fakeblock. Michael agreed to give him some hours occasionally and bragged to his son that the upcoming issue of Altitude would help the name of his real estate company so he could get back on his feet.

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The Michael B. Company flops

February 10, 2006 — At George Bluth's exoneration party Lucille, before being arrested, sold the Bluth Company to Stan Sitwell who immediately sold them to Lucille Austero at a loss.

May 2006 — Barry Zuckerkorn forgot about and missed Lucille's first hearing. Michael decided to stick with the family until Lucille's hearing but when he learned his parents received economic stimulus money but weren't investing in the Bluth Company, Michael sold the rest of his company stocks to Lucille Austero to complete the Sudden Valley subdivision. As soon as it was completed, the California real estate market bubble burst and he was in debt. Michael borrowed $700,000 from Lucille Austero to keep The Michael B. Company afloat but when that money ran out he decided to move into George Michael's dorm room.

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Michael and George Michael as roommates in 2012

April 2012 — Michael found his son tutoring Maeby at math. Later that day George Michael's roommate Paul 'P-Hound' Huan so finally suggested a vote to decide who would move out of the dorm room. Michael believed that everyone would vote out P-Hound so he voted for himself to make his son feel comfortable. Maeby egged Michael to eventually set a "pack first, no talking" voting scenario but when the four roommates voted — Michael, George Michael, Maeby, and P-Hound — all four votes were for Michael to leave.

Dejected, Michael tried to get a copy of his article in Altitude magazine but had to buy a plane ticket so he briefly visited Phoenix. He was humiliated by the photo they chose to use of him. After flying back to Newport Beach Michael decided to move into Balboa Towers but he found an ostrich was living in his mother's former apartment.


Each character has a specific instrument that plays along with the title music: Michael has a trumpet.


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Main Cast
4x01 P-hound
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  • William Baker as Pete the mailman
  • Brian Huskey as Chorizo salesman
  • Rudy Moreno as Mario
  • Amanda De Cadenet as Beatrix Hebberly-Sneed
  • Rodney J. Hobbs as Earl Samuels
  • Lamarcus Tinker as Earle Monroe
  • Joe Holt as Carpenter
  • Romel De Silva at Trang
  • Ken Takemoto as Trang's grandfather
  • Erik Griffin as Jaspar
  • Adam DeVine as Starsky
  • Blake Anderson as B. Lake
  • Anders Holm as Supervisor Spoon
  • Sam Richardson as TSA agent
  • Jordan Feldman as Flight attendant
  • Eugene Cordero as Cab driver

Recurring themes[]


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  • Phoenix
    • The episode title "Flight of the Phoenix" is a reference to the 1964 novel and 1965 film The Flight of the Phoenix.
    • Michael has always wanted to visit Phoenix, mentioned in "Pilot" and "The One Where Michael Leaves". He finally makes it there.
    • In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a bird that dies in a burst of fire at old age, and is reborn from the ashes. This is a nod to the 'rebirth' of Arrested Development.
    • Michael is enrolled at the University of Phoenix.
  • OutWest Airlines - This is the airline that publishes Altitude, the in-flight magazine. It is a pun on Southwest Airlines, and on the phrase "out of the closet," since the magazine gets confused with the gay magazine Attitude.
  • Seinfeld
    • Michael buys a plane ticket and boards a flight he didn't plan on taking, just to get a magazine that mentions him. Similarly, in the Seinfeld episode "The Airport," George buys a plane ticket and boards a flight he didn't plan on taking, right after buying a magazine with a blurb that mentions him.
    • The discussion about proper tipping practice is a reference to a common motif on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
  • Workaholics - The cast of the show Workaholics appear as flight attendants for OutWest
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas - During the scene when Young Lucille plots to disrupt Cinco de Mayo, her face cream gives her the appearance of being green-skinned, much like the Grinch in this Dr. Seuss classic.  Like the Grinch, she is plotting to upset a holiday for which she has a personal disdain. The narration also mimics the film, and again during the discussion of why Michael opened the fourth ballot. The film version of the Seuss book was produced by Imagine Entertainment and directed by the series' narrator Ron Howard.
  • Hanukkah - The Cinco de Cuatro boat parade is known as "The Festival of Lights".
  • Todd Akin/Legitimate rape controversy - One of the juice box flavors listed in Lucille Austero's checkbook is "legitimate grape". During the 2012 election, Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akin used the term "legitimate rape" in response to a question on abortion in cases of rape.

Callbacks/Running Jokes[]

  • Algebra - Explaining why voting against himself would be a good idea, Michael says "It's simple algebra."
  • Always Leave a Note - The whiteboard on George Michael's door says "You missed me! Leave a note!"
  • Background music
    • When Lucille begins to plot against Cinco de Mayo, the music playing in the background is the same as the music that plays when G.O.B. discusses tiny town with Larry Middleman in "Mr. F."
    • When Michael, George Michael, and Maeby discuss roommate voting, the music playing in the background is the same as the music that plays when Ira Gilligan complains about the contrasting temperatures at the Bluth Company office in "Best Man for the Gob."
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  • Prayer hands
    • As Michael leaves the dorm room, he puts his hands together as though begging or praying. This position is used several more times throughout season four.
    • Michael also appears with this pose in Altitude.
  • Big Bear - George, Sr. calls himself "Old Big Bear."
  • British magazine covers - The cover of the gay British magazine Attitude is shown. This is reminiscent of the covers for British magazines Bumpaddle and Real Cricket in "The Ocean Walker."
  • Chair lean - Michael leans back in his chair, seemingly about to topple over backwards, as he's done before.
  • Finger to lips - P-Hound puts his finger to his lip right after the vote, indicating they can't talk thanks to Michael's "no talking" rule.
  • "Gentlemen, start your engines" - Michael says this, not knowing he's referring to Lindsay. Later, George Michael says the same thing, making the same mistake.
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  • George Michael is two people - The twins in the housing office believe that George Michael is two people, and so they put him in a double room. In the next scene, George Michael brings up the fact that he shares a name with a singer-songwriter. 
  • "Get this - Beverly Hills" - Trisha Thoon says that singer George Michael was arrested in "get this - Beverly Hills."
  • Hermano - Michael says "it's adios, brothiero," showing he has since forgotten the Spanish word for "brother."
  • Hot Mess - Michael calls Lucille Austero a "hot mess."
  • "It Ain't Easy Being White" - After giving him a forget-me-now, G.O.B. sings to Michael, "It's so easy to forget."
  • Love Each Other - These are Pete the mailman's last words.
  • "Maybe you should be the lawyer" - Barry tells Michael he should be a maritime lawyer.
  • Maritime law
    • John Beard mentions that many of Lucille's charges will fall under "the dominion of the little understood maritime law."
    • Also, George, Sr. asks Michael if he would tip an African-American "on a train," implying that different standards of behavior apply on different modes of transportation.
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  • Michael loses an election, badly- Michael's getting voted out of the dorm room is reminiscent of his coming in last place when he ran for class president in high school, as revealed in "The Immaculate Election."
  • "Mother of God!" - Michael yells this when touching the hot door handle. He yelled the same thing when he touched the hot Cornballer. ("Bringing Up Buster")
  • "No touching!" - A variant on "No touching," Michael says to George Michael, "No talking." This is also reminiscent of the Milford Academy policy.
  • Peanuts - After Michael gets voted out of the dorm room, he hangs his head and walks off while the song "Christmas Time is Here" plays in the background, as has happened several times before.
  • Phone - Michael cannot use his cell phone, claiming the calendar is stuck in 2003. Based on George Michael's comments, it sounds like the phone is fine, but Michael's cell phone abilities are what's stuck in 2003. This hints at his current mindset, showing that Michael is still just as overbearing as he was when the show started in 2003, not acknowledging his own arrested development.
    • This could also be a reference to G.O.B.'s previously seen inability to use a phone properly, with George Michael now taking Michael's old place in trying to calmly explain how the phone functions. 
  • Seaward/C-Word - John Beard calls Lucille a "seaward matriarch."
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  • "Selfish Michael" - [G.O.B. calls Michael "stupid, forgetful Michael."
  • Banners - Sitwell Homesteads runs an airplane banner that reads, "16 Luxury Homes - We Have Cable / Paved Road Right To Your Door!" This competitive sign is reminiscent of the ones in "Making a Stand" that read "A frozen banana that won't make you sick and kill you." and "A Colombian cartel that won't kidnap and kill you."
  • Spanish
    • Lucille starts a new festival to pre-empt Cinco de Mayo, called Cinco de Cuatro. This translates, not to "Fourth of May," but rather to "Five of Four."
    • The mariachi band sings "La Cucaracha" in English during the Cinco de Cuatro festival.
  • "[synonym for arrested] Development"
    • The article about Michael in Altitude is titled "Discontinued Development".
    • In 2008, John Beard reports on the real estate market crash with the headline "Halted Development"
  • The most important thing - Michael says family. George Michael says privacy.
  • "Do a something search" - George Michael refers to doing "a something search," meaning "a Google search."
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  • Tony Wonder's legs - Tony Wonder's shaved legs and toenail polish can be seen when Michael finds G.O.B. in the model home.
  • Two Fingers - Michael holds up two fingers when telling George Michael that Altitude is "the number two most read in all of coach." He holds up two fingers again when saying that he and George Michael will together have "two businesses."
  • Wall - George Michael tells P-Hound, "I'm putting up a wall." This refers both to George Michael's fake software and to his need for privacy.
  • "Where the [bleep]" - In the flashback at the beginning, George, Sr. says, "Where the [bleep] are my socks?" This is a reference to Tobias shouting, "Where the [bleep] are my hard-boiled eggs?" ("Good Grief")
  • Birds - Michael is run over by an ostrich in Balboa Towers, a vulture haunts Sudden Valley, and Michael attends the University of Phoenix and visits the city of Phoenix.
  • The Great Dark Period - The time between 2006 and 2013 is referred to as "The Great Dark" period by the narrator and in text during the "rewind" animation.
  • Cinco de Cuatro - The holiday's origins are shown to be from May 5, 1982 when Lucille was upset her maid Rosa was on a holiday. It became a tradition in the Newport Beach area.
  • Austero Bluth Company - The Bluth Company has been renamed the Austero Bluth Company after Lucille Austero purchased the shares from Stan Sitwell
  • Showstealer Pro Trial Version - Scenes from "Development Arrested" are marked with a Scenestealer Pro watermark.
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  • FOX 6
    • Trisha Thoon reports on the arrest of singer George Michael.
    • John Beard reports on Lucille's arrest with the headline "Pursed Lips Sinks Ship"
    • In 2008, John Beard reports on the real estate market crash with the headline "Halted Development"
  • WeeBBC - Beatrix Hebberly-Sneed reports on Boy George's arrest on WeeBBC2 news.
  • The Trial of Captain Hook - A scene from Michael's childhood play is shown, with additional footage showing Michael's Peter Pan character attempting to fly.
  • "Loose seal" - During The Trial of Captain Hook, Michael crashed into the court's seal and it falls to the ground. A student yells "loose seal!" and Lucille believes they are calling her name. This was used previously in "Out on a Limb".
  • "X... no Y." "It was Z." - When Michael sees the destroyed penthouse he assumes it is Buster, and then changes his mind to G.O.B.. It was really Lindsay.
  • "You're out of the movie!" - After young Michael crashes into the seal, he is told "You're out of the play!".

Hidden/Background Jokes[]

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Attitude magazine

  • Reality shows - While Michael and George Michael walk outside UC Irvine, a camera crew behind them films The Real The Graduate.
  • Slogans - The slogan of the Michael B. Company is "Home is where the HOUSE is," referring to the fact that Michael lives in the model home after the family has left it.
  • Attitude - The cover of Attitude magazine includes:
    • The "Isues" Issue
    • We've Found the Secret to Being Gay & Happy
    • Boy George, George Michael - More Than a Name In Common
    • Danny Miller
    • A New Way of Texting That Could Change Your Life
    • Magic Man - Tony Wonder's Biggest Secret
  • Ballot - After reading the third ballot, Michael whispers to Maeby, "Did you mean to write "George Michael?"
  • Altitude - The magazine article about Michael has the title "Discontinued Development," and the subtitle "Michael Bluth Is Praying You'll Fix His Huge Mistake. (And Why His Prayers Won't Be Answered.)"
Ad mural pt 2
  • Mural - In the Phoenix airport, there's a mural depicting scenes from the first three seasons. They include:
  • Bob Hope Airport - As Michael leaves the airport, the Narrator says "Michael had hope." At the same time, a bus passes by outside with the words "Bob Hope Airport" on it. This shows where the scene was actually filmed, and is a reference to Tobias's allusion to John Wayne Airport ("Good Grief"), another L.A.-area airport named after an actor.

Foreshadowing/Future References[]

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  • "Bad Example" - G.O.B.'s not-so-fake hypothetical is his relationship with Tony Wonder.
  • Fakeblock - The Narrator says that George Michael "was writing code for a block software," making a pun on the word "block."
  • Undercover cop - Trisha Thoon says that singer George Michael was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover cop.


Main article: Mural

The mural that appears in the Phoenix airport that summarizes the first three seasons of Arrested Development was painted by artists Arthur LoftisMike Lockwood, and Kirk Shinmoto. The full mural is available on Loftis' website and on the Mural article.

In Comparison to the Remix[]

In the chronological re-cut of season 4, footage from Flight of the Phoenix is used in 11 different episodes. The original cut of Season 4 is slightly longer than the re-cut version. Because of this, various lines of dialogue and sometimes even scenes are cut. These changes, as well as which scenes appear in which remixed episode, are listed below:

  • A young Lucille and George create Cinco de Cuatro (4x1 Re Cap'n Bluth)
  • Michael and Lucille's conversation at Cinco de Cuatro (4x1 Re Cap'n Bluth)
    • The narration changes from "But seriously, she had gotten intimate with Buster and G.O.B.” to “But seriously, she [bleep]ed Buster and G.O.B." in the remix.
  • Michael and G.O.B. at the model home (4x1 Re Cap’n Bluth & 4x22 Cinco de Cuatro III)
    • G.O.B.’s line “Well, I’d be willing to let you having your apology back if you give me the chance to try” only appears in the 4x22 version of this scene, despite appearing twice in the original cut as part of this episode and 4x11 A New Attitude.
    • The following exchange is cut:
      • G.O.B.: Bad example, if you were ashamed of being in love with a man, suddenly discovered these new feelings, then I might say something like, “Homo much?”
      • Michael: It's not that.
      • G.O.B.: I said, "Bad example."
    • When G.O.B. is looking at his forget-me-nows, he no longer says “There’s only one left.”
  • Michael at George Michael’s dorm room (4x6 The Parent Traps, flashbacks to these scenes in 4x12 Moving Pictures, 4x17 Dire Straights, 4x19 Fast Company, and 4x22 Cinco de Cuatro III)
    • The caption “George Michael Bluth / a nice kid” no longer appears.
    • P-Hounds lines about the block software are cut down in the remix, the italics show cut lines: “Otherwise, people will be able to hack in through a mobile platform portal, and it won’t be a block on anything 3G.”
    • Michael and George Michael’s conversation about his phone being stuck in 2003 is cut short:
      • George Michael: There’s a button that says “today”.
      • Michael: There’s number of years. Yeah, this has no buttons. It’s a new kind.
    • In the college yard, Michael no longer says “She’d be cute for you.”
    • Michael also no longer says “But this is very, very, very exciting, you know” about Altitude magazine
  • Flashback to the boat party in the Season 3 finale (4x1 Re Cap’n Bluth)
    • In Development Arrested and this episode, Lucille says “…take the company for 20% above the market. 15 and I’ll throw in Nellie.” In the remix, she says “Would you take the company for 15 percent above market?”
    • Stan Sitwell no longer says “Lucille 2” when phoning her.
    • In the remixed flashback, Lucille doesn’t say “Well, I know it was someone in this family” and George Michael doesn’t say “I think we should go back.”
  • Family meeting at Lucille’s apartment (4x1 Re Cap’n Bluth, flashbacks in 4x2 Three Half Men, and 4x4 Just Deserters)
  • Michael trades his shares to Lucille 2 and is done with the family (4x1 Re Cap’n Bluth, flashbacks in 4x2 Three Half Men, 4x3 A Couple-A New Starts, 4x4 Just Deserters, 4x13 Get on Up, and 4x22 Cinco de Cuatro III)
  • Michael sends George Michael off to college in the stair car (4x1 Re Cap'n Bluth)
  • Michael tries to tip the construction workers (4x3 A Couple-A New Starts)
  • Something goes wrong for Michael (4x1 Re Cap'n Bluth)
    • In the original cut, it is the California housing market crash. In the remix, it is Lucille 2’s body on the stair car at Cinco de Cuatro
  • Michael living a ghost town he built (4x3 A Couple-A New Starts)
  • Michael gets a loan from Lucille 2, Pete dies, Michael arrives at George Michael’s dorm (4x6 The Parent Traps, flashback (about Altitude magazine) in 4x12 Moving Pictures)
    • The following exchange is cut:
      • Lucille 2: Gotcha!
      • Michael: You did.
    • This exchange at college is cut too:
      • Trang: Don’t go through my stuff, Granddad.
      • Trang’s grandfather: Hey, who do you think paid for your stuff?
      • Michael: Excuse me. Sorry. Do you know where George Michael is?
      • Twin №1: Um… He’s in the computer lab.
      • Michael: Great.
      • Twin's Granddad: There's a computer lab?
      • Michael: There's a computer lab? Huh.
  • Michael at the computer lab (4x6 The Parent Traps, flashback in 4x12 Moving Pictures)
    • This exchange is cut:
      • P-Hound: You’re in Attitude? That magazine is gay.
      • Narrator: Oh, he wasn’t being flip with the word “gay”. Attitude is a British magazine for homosexuals. (Front cover of Attitude Magazine is shown)
      • Michael: Altitude. It is OutWest Airlines' in-flight magazine.
  • Maeby at George Michael’s dorm, Michael’s vote plan, Michael gets voted out (4x6 The Parent Traps, flashbacks in 4x12 Moving Pictures, and 4x16 Mixed Messages)
  • Michael at the airport (4x12 Moving Pictures, 4x19 Fast Company)
    • Assorted lines where cut dialogue is in italics
    • Michael: […] I just wanted to get a copy. I’m not flying anywhere.
    • Michael: […] to spare my son the embarrassment of having to vote his own father out of his dorm. That’s all.
    • Michael: Yeah. Can I get a copy of the magazine, please?
    • Passenger: These guys are jerks. Take that, take that.
    • All these lines are cut:
      • Airline manager: You lucked out. Today, it’s Pittsburgh.
      • Airline employeee №2: He’s good.
      • Michael: What’s the second cheapest?
    • The following exchange is partially cut and only appears as a flashback in 4x19 Fast Company although it hadn't appeared in the remix previously. Cuts in italics.
      • TSA agent: But you’ve got nothing in your luggage.
      • Michael: I wasn’t supposed to be traveling today. I told you, it was a voting situation, there was a miscalculation.
      • TSA agent: Well, I mean, obviously P-Hound’s gonna vote against you. I’ve never seen nothing…
      • Michael: These three people with burqas just walked right by you.
  • Michael in the airplane, in Phoenix, and then in Lucille’s apartment (4x12 Moving Pictures, 4x16 Mixed Messages)
    • Michael saying “Gentlemen, start your engines” doesn’t appear in 4x12 Moving Pictures, but in 4x16 Mixed Messages instead


Narrator: You see the Hispanics of Newport liked Cinco a lot. But high up on Coast Highway, Lucille Bluth did not. [...] And then Lucille had a horrible thought. A thought that was thoughtless and better to not. "What if" she thought, with a sneering grin...

Lucille: year what if the party didn't even begin. 

Barry: They wanted me there at eight bells, you know I thought that was their 5 pm. By the time I got back the courtroom was reverted back to the crab restaurant.

Michael: Eight bells refers to a watch length. It's maritime law. You know, one bell is struck after thirty minutes, two bells after 60 minutes... ...that's why, at sea, a watch with no incidents is described as "eight bells and all is well."

Barry: Wow, maybe you should be the maritime lawyer.  

George Michael: Well I'll vote you out, would be happy to.

Michael: Well I wouldn't want you to do that. You know, then I fall down a flight of stairs, crack my head open, and you feel bad about yourself your whole life. 

Michael: I was mistakenly voted out of a four-person housing situation in a "pack first, no talking after" scenario. 
→ See more quotes from "Flight of the Phoenix" at Transcript of Flight of the Phoenix.



  • When Michael first walks out of George-Michael's room after being voted out, he is holding two suitcases and a leather satchel. When he picks them back up to walk out of the doorway the leather satchel is missing. It then reappears with the other two when he puts his luggage down at the airport.

Promotional Photos[]

→ See 168 pictures from Flight of the Phoenix at Images from Flight of the Phoenix.

Behind the Scenes Photos[]


1. "Flight of the Phoenix"
2. "Borderline Personalities"
3. "Indian Takers"
4. "The B. Team"
5. "A New Start"

6. "Double Crossers"
7. "Colony Collapse"
8. "Red Hairing"
9. "Smashed"
10. "Queen B."

11. "A New Attitude"
12. "Señoritis"
13. "It Gets Better"
14. "Off the Hook"
15. "Blockheads"

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