Spoilers for Arrested Development Season 5 Part 1 follow. There are plenty of reasons for the corrupt Bluth family to want Lucille Austero out of the picture. And where Lucille 2 is during Arrested Development Season 5 is one of the major question marks of the new episodes.
Back in July 2017, Jason Bateman told Entertainment Weekly Radio of this new season, "The central spine of that story of is the death of Liza Minnelli's character, and a bit of whodunit, who may have done it, who had something to do with it." But no one confirms in Season 5 that Lucille 2 has actually died. So has a Bluth family member murdered her? Or is Minnelli's character hiding somewhere? It seems the latter is the case, but that doesn't mean that the Bluths aren't still a major part of this mystery.
The police's number one suspect when it comes to the disappearance of Lucille 2 is Buster. But the circumstances of Buster's arrest are different than how Season 4 teased in its "on the next Arrested Development" segment. Instead, Buster goes to the police on Michael's orders to say he's not a missing person. (It's Michael's attempt to teach his family a lesson.) But Buster gets arrested in the process when the police question him about Lucille 2. Buster tries to delete the security tape that shows him standing by the blood-stained stair car when Lucille's unconscious body disappeared on Cinco de Cuatro. He gets arrested for tampering with evidence and is stuck in jail for the majority of the first half of Season 5.
But Buster was too busy attacking Lucille 2's political opponent Herbert Love (Terry Crews) to have been the one to knock her unconscious. Another Bluth brother who is a more likely suspect is Michael himself. Since Gob forced Michael to take a roofie, he can't remember Cinco de Cuatro. And no one will tell Michael anything about that night or what happened to Lucille. Whenever Michael asks about her whereabouts, everyone around him gets extremely fishy, implying he is the one who made Lucille 2 disappear.
However, Michael suspects his parents have something to do with the fact that Lucille 2 has gone missing. After all, Lucille 2 opposed the building of their border wall and owned the majority of their company. And it sure seems like Lucille (the original) has some intel on the status of her nemesis. Lucille tells Lindsay that Lucille 2 won't be a problem in the political race for the congressional seat. And later Lucille says, "Believe me, she's somewhere with a new chin sipping steak through a straw."
As usual, it turns out that Michael is right to be suspicious of his parents. In Episode 7, the Bluth family's ridiculously inept lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler) reveals that the DA has photos of the stair car. And in them, it appears that Lucille 2 is alive and well in the passenger seat with George Sr.'s twin Oscar in the driver's seat. Lucille responds to the photos, "That idiot, I told him to keep her out of sight." So Lucille must have ordered Oscar to take Lucille 2 away. Or, perhaps, Lucille 2 went willingly — depending on what the Bluth matriarch offered her.
That doesn't clear up where Lucille 2 is, but it does confirm that she wasn't murdered, which is a major relief since losing Minnelli's hilarious character would have been unacceptable. It also doesn't explain who knocked Lucille 2 out and how they managed to move her body so swiftly from the bloody stair car scene. That's where Michael's missing memory would come in handy.
However, in the finale episode of this first part, it's revealed that the photo of the stair car does not feature Lucille 2 and Oscar, but George Michael and Maeby in their Ron Howard and Brian Grazer wigs. It still seems as though Lucille 2 is in Mexico somewhere, but she's hidden pretty well.
But perhaps the whole truth won't come out until Lucille 2 is retrieved. In the meantime, the Bluths will continue taking advantage of their neighbor just as they always have. And fans will just have to wait for Liza Minnelli's triumphant return.
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.