The fourth season of Arrested Development was an experiment in a lot of ways, including shifting perspective from episode to episode. The season also introduced this show's version of a murder mystery — but is Lucille 2 dead on Arrested Development, or is she hiding out somewhere?
The first episode of the fourth season suggested that something untoward occurred between Michael and Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli), the majority shareholder of the Austero Bluth company. By the end of the season, it was established that Lucille 2 was missing, and the show suggested that she may have been murdered. It's still not known what happened to Lucille 2, as one of the last people to see her alive — Michael — was force fed a forget-me-not by GOB the night of that encounter.
Fans turning to Season 5 of Arrested Development for an answer will notice that the family seems to be keeping an important secret from Michael – which one would presume is what really happened to Lucille Austero. Does the Bluth family know something about Lucille that they're refusing to tell Michael? Are the Bluths covering up their son's murder? Or are they just being weird about something else?
Spoilers For Arrested Development Season 5, Part 1. It turns out that the suspicious music cues that pop up whenever a member of the family indicates that they're keeping a secret from Michael have nothing to do with Lucille 2, but with another secret entirely. Michael Bluth has been living under the impression that after his wife died at the Bluth's beach cottage, his family sold it. But the family — unable to turn down an opportunity to keep something from the one son who always tries to keep them together — kept it instead.
So if the real secret the Bluths are holding onto is the existence of the beach cottage, what is happening with Lucille 2? Buster is arrested for his suspected involvement in Lucille's disappearance and possible death, which leads to Michael and family lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn concocting a scheme to find the supposed victim. Michael believes that his parents are hiding Lucille 2 somewhere in the desert, and so Barry tells Michael to tell his parents about a photo of the Austero Bluth Company stair car with two heads in the window — one bald and one "spiky." Michael hopes this evidence will send his father to pick Lucille 2 up from her hideout, and he ends up following his father to Mexico in hopes of finding her. Of course, he comes up empty-handed.
But while Michael fails to find Lucille 2 by following George Sr., a conversation with Barry and Lucille 1 reveals that the family does know where she is. Michael believes that Barry's stair car picture is a fake, but when the lawyer produces the real picture for Lucille 1, she recognizes the shapes in the car to be Lucille 2 and Oscar Bluth. "I told him to keep her out of sight," she complains, indicating that the Bluths know where Lucille 2 is.
While the picture seems to prove that Lucille 2 is alive and well, the image is just the most recent in a long history of miscommunications common to Arrested Development. After Michael, being convinced by the existence of the picture, uses the image as proof that Lucille is alive to get Buster out of jail, he learns the truth about the photo from his own son. George Michael reveals that it's not Lucille 2 and Oscar in the stair car on their way to Mexico in that image, but a picture of Maeby and George Michael (wearing wigs) heading to Mexico from the beginning of the season.
While the picture is not actually proof of Lucille 2's survival, the fact remains that Lucille Bluth ordered Oscar to "keep her out of sight." So it seems that Lucille Austero is not only alive, but that the Bluths are very aware of where she is and why she's being hidden. Did Lucille 1 manage to get her longtime frenemy to conspire with her for the sake of the Austero Bluth company? If so, what are the two Lucilles trying to accomplish? Will they there ever come a time when the Bluth family stops lying to each other? In all honestly, probably not, but fans of Arrested Development likely wouldn't have it any other way.
Editor's note: Season 5 is controversial due to the presence of Jeffrey Tambor, who was fired from Transparent after being accused of sexual harassment by two co-stars (he denies these claims); he also admitted to and apologized for verbally harassing Jessica Walter on the Arrested Development set in a recent New York Times piece. Co-stars Jason Bateman, David Cross, Will Arnett and Tony Hale were criticized for seeming to defend Tambor and minimize Walter's experience, in the same interview. Bateman, Cross, and Hale have since apologized.