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The One Where They Build a House

"The One Where They Build a House"
Directors: Patty Jenkins — Writer: Mitchell Hurwitz & Jim Vallely — Aired: November 14, 2004 — Icon-image      

"The One Where They Build a House" is the second episode of Arrested Development's second season.

Michael is driven crazy by G.O.B. when he impresses the board as the new company figurehead due to Michael's legal troubles. Meanwhile, George Sr. is arrested in Mexico for a crime Oscar committed, and Buster witnesses something that utterly shocks him.


A second house[]

Although still acting as second in charge at the Bluth Company, Michael pitched an idea to Lindsay: ramp up excitement and funds by starting development on a second model home and a flashy ribbon-cutting ceremony. George Michael asks if his friend Ann can attend, but Michael seems less excited about Ann especially when his son explains that he wants to buy her a diamond.

Michael pitches his business model to G.O.B. who wants to take the spotlight for the board. Michael tells him he must find a business model of his own. G.O.B. also informs Michael that he has just purchased The Seaward to keep up appearances. G.O.B. shortly after received a phone call from George in Mexico expecting to reach Michael, which hurts G.O.B.'s feelings.

After Michael presents the idea of the second model home to the board, G.O.B. steals the spotlight by cutting the scope from two months to two weeks and using Starla and her "Solid as a Rock" tagline. He privately tells Michael they can build a fake home to trick the board. Michael employs Oscar, George Michael, Buster, and Tom Jane to build the home.

Michael and G.O.B. argue over who will cut the ribbon. G.O.B., wanting to impress Michael and his father, wins over Michael's generosity. At a flashy ribbon-cutting ceremony G.O.B. cuts the ribbon and the shell house falls to pieces. Michael and G.O.B. fight with the giant scissors and Starla's rock, creating a media frenzy. Back at the office they agree to not let their father put them at odds ever again.


At Balboa Towers Buster is still startled by "zoo noises" coming from his mother's room. He is startled by an inappropriate Oscar. The next day he visits the army doctor to attempt to prove he's too weak to serve. However, the army's recruitment is low so they accept him. He complains to his mother and Oscar, who were making out in the cabinet.

Hoping to get injured, Buster helps construct the second model home. Lucille attempts to kick Oscar out of the apartment but ends up making out with him at the beach, which is caught on tape and aired on FOX 6. At the ribbon cutting ceremony Buster attempts to get injured by the collapsing house but ends up seeing his mother and Oscar making out inside the home. He decides to go to army as an act of defiance.


Excited about her open relationship, Lindsay asks Michael to buy some diamond cream makeup. He refuses and patronizingly asks how their experiment is going. Both lying, they say they've already sealed the deal. In reality, Tobias has auditioned for the Blue Man Group and has been following Lindsay while wearing blue paint.

Lindsay, trying to meet someone down to earth approached a laid-back and scruffy guy. Realizing he was homeless, she grew disgusted and walked away. After second thoughts she tried to get him a job as a construction worker so he could get a life and date her. Turned out he was movie star Tom Jane researching a role on homelessness. She didn't get the clue and continued to ask him on a date. After he walked a way, a diamond-cream covered Tobias consoled her and asked her to take him to the hospital.


In Mexico, George Bluth waits in a hotel room with Kitty. Getting cabin fever, he leaves to call Michael but is apprehended by the Mexican police, believing he is Oscar Bluth. After explaining that he was George, he was arrested for a worse crime: selling The Cornballer in Mexico.

After failing to get money to pay off the police, George is listed as dead on Los Mas Buscados de Mexico.


  • Tom Jane as Himself
  • Zitto Kazann as Mexican Warden
  • Tom Konkle as Board Member #1
  • Christian Duguay as Actor #2
  • James Kayten as Army Doctor
  • Robb Skyler as Accountant
  • Kevin Mukherji as Foreign Cashier
  • Paco Vela as Federale

Recurring Themes[]


  • Blue Man Group - Tobias auditions for the Blue Man Group. He has yet to hear back from them.
    • Tobias is in blue makeup throughout the episode, using it to his advantage to hide in blue areas without being seen.
  • Buster Keaton - The house falling on Buster is an homage to Buster Keaton's films One Week and Steamboat Bill, Jr.
  • Friends - The title is a play on Friends-style episode titles, which usually begin with the phrase "The One Where."
  • Solid (as a rock) - The song from Ashford & Simpson is featured prominently in this episode.
  • The Big Lebowski - When G.O.B. charges at Michael with the over-sized scissors, it parallels the end of the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski.
  • Evelyn Beatrice Hall - Buster announces his intention to go to war, saying to Lucille and Oscar, "I don't agree with your dirty doings here, but I will defend with my life your right to do it." This parodies Voltaire's quotation, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
  • They Shoot Horses, Don't They? - A movie poster for Tom Jane's movie has the tagline "They Shoot Heroin, Don't They?", a play on the 1969 Sydney Pollack movie They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
  • Howard Dean - G.O.B. repeatedly performs Howard Dean's Infamous 'shout and punch' (that cost him the nomination for looking foolish) while celebrating misperceived accomplishments

Callbacks/running jokes[]

  • Audition - Tobias's audition scene for the Blue Man Group mirrors his audition scene from the Pilot. In both, he attempts to perform a song, but the scene is cut short just before he starts singing.
  • Blendin - A "Blendin Moving and Storage" truck appears in this episode. "Blendin" is the fake company name that the government goes by when surveilling the Bluths, seen in a previous episode as "Blendin Dog Grooming." Tobias can be seen in his blue body paint clinging to the side of the truck.
  • Blue dot - This is the first time that a blue dot is used to censor something; earlier episodes used a traditional blur, and some later episodes use a white patch. The blue dot was first mentioned by G.O.B. in "Missing Kitty", and appeared later in "Good Grief" and "Queen for a Day".
  • Buster's real father - Oscar suggestively says, "I know where the boy (Buster) came from," while overly dramatic music plays. Lucille then looks down at Oscar's erect penis.
  • Bluth Company board/workers are incompetent - The board chooses G.O.B.'s idea of building a house in two weeks (rather than Michael's, which was researched and well put together) after he performs a magic trick for them and brings in his business model Starla.
    • Starla herself continues the trend of incompetent Bluth Company employees when she makes Michael's photocopies on photo paper and later the picture of George Sr. on blueprint.
  • The Cornballer - The Cornballer, the dangerous device created by George Sr., appears in this episode. Introduced in "Bringing Up Buster", it has been banned due to the severe burns that it gives people, although it is still marketed successfully in Mexico. The Mexican warden and several prison guards have all fallen victim to the Cornballer.
  • Gahb Bluth - G.O.B.'s name is mispronounced as the way it is spelled, which happened previously in "Pilot" and "Storming the Castle". This time it is Starla, the business model.
  • Her? - This episode begins the running gag of jokes made at the expense of George Michael's girlfriend, Ann.
    • When Michael learns that George Michael is dating Ann, he says, "Her?"
    • Michael is disgusted by the mayonnaise/egg combination Ann that has invented, which she calls a "mayonegg."
    • Michael can't remember Ann's name, referring to her as "Egg."
    • Michael tries to talk George Michael out of buying Ann diamond dust to get her "all glittered up for Easter."
    • When Michael and G.O.B. are reading the newspaper at the end of the episode, G.O.B. mistakes Ann for a male in the picture.
  • Hermano - George Sr. doesn't know the Spanish word for brother, instead saying "brothero." This refers to the Season 1 episode "Marta Complex", in which G.O.B and Michael don't know that "hermano" is Spanish for "brother".
  • Hole in his heart - Buster says that he has a "hole in my heart" during the Army physical, a reference to Lucille's comment in "Storming the Castle".
  • I *bleeped* - G.O.B. says, "I bleeped the business model," to Michael, a continuation of him announcing he slept with someone in this way. This began with "I *bleeped* Kitty" in "Visiting Ours".
  • "I've made a huge mistake" - George Sr. utters, "I've made a huge mistake," regretting his affair with Kitty.
  • Lungs - Tobias gets diamond dust in his lungs. In the Season 3 episode "S.O.B.s", Maeby gets glitter in her lungs.
  • Mission Accomplished - This is the first use of the "Mission Accomplished" banner, which returns in "The Immaculate Election" and "The Cabin Show".
  • Mistaken Identity - George Sr. is arrested when the Mexican police think he is Oscar.
  • Mommy, What Will I Look Like? - A photograph of George Sr. and Kitty's possible baby is presented courtesy of Lindsay's photo manipulation business from "Let 'Em Eat Cake".
  • Moving out - When he's kicked out of Lucille's apartment, Oscar drags his belongings behind him wrapped in a bedsheet, just like Buster did in "Marta Complex".
  • Panic attacks - Buster says that he has his "panic attacks under control" during the Army physical, referring to the panic attacks that he frequently suffered from in the first season.
  • Phone - G.O.B.'s inability to use the company telephone system is displayed again. This time, he accidentally hangs up on George Sr.
  • Police brutality - When George is arrested by the Mexican police, he is beaten over the head with a baton after he is already on the ground, as in "The One Where Michael Leaves".
  • Portugal - G.O.B. believes that George Sr. is in Portugal, when he is in fact in Mexico. G.O.B. also mentions that Portugal is "down South America way." This is a callback to "In God We Trust", in which G.O.B. and Maeby both think that Portugal is in South America.
  • Rape horn - Lucille mentions her rape horn from "The One Where Michael Leaves", claiming that Oscar forced himself on her at the beach and that she didn't have it with her.
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors - This children's game is referenced multiple times as G.O.B. and Michael use it to settle differences, then in a combination visual and verbal pun at the end of the episode.
  • Taker - Michael says that Lindsay is a "taker", a callback to "Best Man for the Gob".
  • What's wrong with him? - When Lindsay says she's got a man interested in her, Michael asks "What's wrong with him?" She says "There's nothing wrong with him - he is homeless." This mirrors G.O.B. and Michael's conversation about blind attorney Maggie Lizer in Season 1.
  • "Who wants to go to the hospital?" - This episode ends with Lindsay taking Tobias to the hospital, a running gag in the first few episodes of Season 2.
  • "You're gross" - Lindsay tells Tom Jane, "You're gross." She first said this to Johnny Bark in "Key Decisions".

Hidden/background jokes[]

  • Vermouth - The title of the news segment that shows Lucille kissing Oscar on the beach says "Mouth to Vermouth". Vermouth is a type of wine and the title pokes fun at Lucille's drinking habit.
  • Blendin - A "Blendin Moving and Storage" truck rolls past Lindsay on the street. "Blendin" is the fake company name that the government goes by when attempting to bug the Bluth Company.
    • Tobias, who is painted blue, blends in with the "Blendin Moving and Storage" truck.
  • Blue paint - After he has removed his makeup, bits of blue paint remain on Tobias's face in the first scene of the episode.
  • Cloudmir
  • C-Word - Michael tells G.O.B., "Get rid of the Seaward," referring to the new boat; Lucille replies, "I'll leave when I'm good and ready."
  • Bruises? - It appears the "business model", Starla, that G.O.B. had hired to for the ribbon cutting ceremony has three finger shaped bruises on the underside of her right arm. (This can be seen in the scene where she waves while being brought into the board room). It is also possible  that they are birthmarks.
  • Hole in the wall - A patch of spackle can be seen covering the hole in the wall of G.O.B.'s office after he used a sledgehammer to destroy it and find the briefcase in "The One Where Michael Leaves".
  • Judaism - While a suntanned George Sr. talks to the Mexican police, a white spot from where his yarmulke sits can be seen.
  • Les Cousins Dangereux  - Tom Jane's movie poster for Junk says that it's "From the directors of Dangerous Cousins," the movie in "My Mother, The Car".
  • Lindsay's blouse - When Tobias disguises himself with the silver diamond cream he is wearing the same silver blouse that Linsay wore in the flashback scene at the beginning of the episode when she asked a man at a bar if she could buy him a drink. This is also a running joke where Tobias is often seen wearing Lindsay's or women's clothing.
  • Covered by the paper - After Michael and G.O.B.'s rock/scissors fight, the Narrator says, "Unfortunately, the whole incident was covered by the paper," continuing with the rock-scissors-paper gag.
  • Major Award - On the pool table/desk in G.O.B.'s office is a table lamp in the shape of a sexy woman's leg, just like the full-sized lamp the father won as a "Major Award" in the movie A Christmas Story.
  • Maybe tonight - A container of candy hearts appears in Lucille's pantry.
  • Mimicking - Michael's hand up gesture mimics his father's wave from the clip of George Sr. in the prison he built.
  • Señor Tadpole's - Kitty is wearing a Señor Tadpole's shirt. Señor Tadpole's is the restaurant that Kitty mentioned she went to in "Missing Kitty".
  • Sign - The DJ's sign reads: "Events / Let us handle your event. / D.J.'s, Live Music, Catering, Floral Arrangements, Valet Parking, Invitations, Un-Invitations, Gift Baskets, Basket Cases, Clean up Crews, Preparations Crew, Funeral Services, and what ever [sic] else will make your party a party to remember! / There is no event too small and no budget too.."
  • Sign - When Lindsey leaves the bar because of her loss of confidence, there are two doors with signs say "MEN" and "EXIT". She walks into the one marked "MEN", and Tobias follows.
  • President - When G.O.B. approaches the newly finished house he has the word "president" sewn onto the bag of his segway. However the "P" falls off and it just says resident, this is ironic considering G.O.B.'s fake position as president and that he really is just a resident at the company and house.
  • Sign - When G.O.B. is buying a boat, the sign behind him reads "Nothing creates the illusion of Success like a Boat."
  • Whisper - During the Army physical, Buster whispers that his "reproductive organ" is shaped like a "lobster tail, but without its shell". This is a callback to "Storming the Castle", in which it is mentioned that Lucille Austero changed Buster as a baby, and Buster whispers, "That's why she didn't look surprised..."
  • Kitty's lopsided breasts from "Missing Kitty" have been repaired.

Foreshadowing/future references[]

  • Buster refers to his genitals as "Charlie Browns," setting up "Good Grief", which was filled with Peanuts references, as well as setting up a later genitalia reference using "Linus," another Peanuts character.
  • Oscar mentions that he knows how to avoid combat duty, then goes to cut off Buster's pinky. This sets up the fact that Oscar was in the Army (which is revealed in "Switch Hitter") and hints that Buster can get out of the Army by losing a body part. This pays off in "Hand to God".
  • George Sr. is photographed at the opening of the frozen banana stand in 1963. In the "Pilot", it is stated that the banana stand opened in 1953. This foreshadows that the stand was opened by Annyong's grandfather. 
  • Solid As A Rock - G.O.B.'s new company slogan sounds like "Solid as Iraq", foreshadowing the Iraq plot developments to come.


→ See more quotes from "The One Where They Build a House" at Transcript of The One Where They Build a House.


  • Judy Greer makes her first appearance of the season in a brief scene with George Sr.
  • Mo Collins makes her first appearance as Starla, who later becomes a recurring character throughout Season 2.
  • Thomas Jane guest stars in this episode as himself.


  • The narrator says that the Bluth Company "prepared to unveil Phase Two," however, in "Staff Infection", the company was working on Phase Three.
  • Tobias, while talking to Lindsay and Michael, is seen holding a beer cozie in his right hand. In the next shot he is holding a wine glass in his left hand.


→ See 130 pictures from The One Where They Build a House at Images from The One Where They Build a House.

1. "The One Where Michael Leaves"
2. "The One Where They Build a House"
3. "¡Amigos!"
4. "Good Grief"
5. "Sad Sack"
6. "Afternoon Delight"

  7. "Switch Hitter"
  8. "Queen for a Day"
  9. "Burning Love"
10. "Ready, Aim, Marry Me"
11. "Out on a Limb"
12. "Hand to God"

13. "Motherboy XXX"
14. "The Immaculate Election"
15. "Sword of Destiny"
16. "Meat the Veals"
17. "Spring Breakout"
18. "Righteous Brothers"

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason Five