Throughout the first three seasons of Arrested Development, we were treated to some ridiculous attention to details, hidden clues, foreshadowing, Easter eggs, and in-jokes. For instance, ever wonder what was with the obsession with seals in the first few seasons? They were actually a metaphor for Lucille Bluth, the matriarch of the family, who kept poor baby Buster Bluth, a juice-loving man child, terrified of ever leaving the nest (or entering the ocean). As an act of defiance, Buster enters the ocean and gets his hand bitten off by a “loose seal.” Loose. Seal. “Lucille.” Do I need to add a “GET IT?!” there?
But that’s not even the crazy part. As we’ve talked about before, the hand being bitten off was foreshadowed throughout the entire season. In one episode in season three, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission attempts to persuade Tobias Funke, a struggling actor, into cooperating with them and becoming a mole in the Bluth family. He misunderstands the entire situation and inadvertently becomes a mole (in all senses of the word — by which I mean he fucking dresses like a mole.) But the real mole in the family was right under our noses all along since season one …
Look at his shirt.
However, all of this is just a teaser for the grandest mystery in Arrested Development: that of “Nichael Bluth.”
Who Is “Nichael Bluth?”
In the season three episode “Fakin’ It,” Michael finds a birth certificate for someone named “Nichael Bluth.”
The pragmatic Michael sees “Nichael” and assumes that it’s his, and that the name is just a spelling error. The problem is that he neglects to notice that the birth certificate also mentions that the child is female and that her birthday makes her 39 years old.
Three episodes later, in “Development Arrested”, Lindsay, Michael’s sister, discovers that she was adopted and that she is actually three years older than Michael, making her 39 years old. A regular show would’ve ended the connection there, but Arrested Development has enough weird lore to make J.R.R. Tolkien shake his fists at god. It is a bounty.
In “Family Ties,” Michael finds a photo album with pictures of a blonde little girl named “Nellie” (who appears to be approximately three years older than him). Lindsay, constantly unable to comprehend normal human compassion, comments about the girl’s nose.
Remember this. It’s pretty important important. It’s not just a throwaway insult, because the day that the AD writers start making shallow humor is the day that we rip the mask off of Mitchell Hurwitz and find the real Mitchell Hurwitz bound in his own cellar.
The birth certificate for Nichael Bluth states that her parents are George Bluth, Sr. and “Jessica Tamarisk.” So this is an illegitimate child born from one of George’s many love affairs. We can infer this because George was a sexual Tyrannosaur who would sleep with anything that brought him coffee. “Jessica Tamarisk” also has to be an alias name, because …
The Mystery Of Jessica Tamarisk, The Ostrich Woman
To understand how detailed and important this is, you first have to know what “Tamarisk” means. It’s a plant that is known for its “ostrich-like” plumes. “Jessica” is also a Hebrew name meaning “wealthy” or “rich.” So the name “Jessica Tamarisk” translates to “Rich Bird.”
The mystery of Jessica Tamarisk was ended when the show was cancelled prematurely in season three, leaving almost four people distraught over never getting the closure they desired. When the show started back up seven years later, it seemed as though they completely ignored this plot thread and dropped the ball. But this is Arrested Development we’re talking about. It doesn’t drop balls; it subtly chucks them at your head until you’re smart enough to get its shit.
Season four has a strange obsession with ostriches. Littered throughout are many references to this loud, obnoxious bird. But what could they possibly be a metaphor for? If the “loose seal” was about Lucille Bluth (aka Lucille 1), then I daresay that ostriches are a metaphor for Lucille Austero (aka Lucille 2) — the loud, obnoxious bird next door.
Let’s look at some of the clues, starting with the feathered scarf she wears around her neck. Also, her yells are referred to as “squawks” in the captions, which is going to seem like a really mean thing to do to an actress if this whole thing turns out to be bogus. Phonetically, “Austero” almost sounds like “ostrich.” And Lindsay’s boyfriend’s ostrich even mistakes Lucille 2 for one of its own and tries to mate with her.
You can’t get much more obvious than attempted bird sex.
Each family member seems to have a connection to an ostrich, and these connections seem to parallel their connection to Lucille 2. Michael is hit by an ostrich …
… Lindsay lives part-time with an ostrich (she stays with Lucille 2 the rest of the time) …
… Buster gets juice from a juice box with an ostrich on it (Lucille 2 gave it to him) …
… Lucille Bluth’s best friend used to be an ostrich, but it DIED (like her other best friend, Lucille 2, who apparently dies at the end of season four).
And in George’s focus episode in season four? The ostrich was heard and not seen. Hidden. Like his relationship to a certain “Jessica Tamarisk.”
“Key Decisions” (episode four of the very first season), contains the first appearance of Lucille Austero AND the first time ostriches are ever referenced on the show. Lindsay states that “she doesn’t care about ostriches.” When Buster first sees Lucille 2, he says that she looks like a “brown thing with points,” while his hand gestures simulate ostrich-like tail feathers.
The Secret Behind Lindsay Bluth
So how does all this connect to Lindsay and “Nichael?”
The first hard clue is in season four’s “Red Hairing,” in which Lindsay outright states: “You’re more of a mother than Lucille 1.” Too easy? Later in the conversation, Lucille 2’s pretend child is brought up. Apparently, she has an extra vacant bedroom for a “pretend child” she has said to have had for “all these years.” (according to Lucille 1 and Buster.) She does eventually adopt a guy named Perfecto Telles, and she forces him to wear a long red wig and stay in the suspiciously vacant room.
Could it be that Lucille 2 is filling a void left by the little girl she once had? Regardless, by the end of this scene, Lucille 2 gives the red wig to Lindsay so that she can disguise herself as “Cindy Featherbottom” — a name more suitable for an ostrich.
Hair and hair color seem to be another clue that is constantly being thrown at us. A few times throughout season four, we see that Lucille 2’s black hair dye comes off. Why is this important? Well, it seems to imply that black isn’t really Lucille 2’s natural hair color. Black hair is a dominant trait, and having black hair would negate Lindsay being Lucille 2’s daughter.
Going back to season three, Lindsay’s “beak-like” nose also seems to be a clue that this likeness to ostriches is hereditary. Just look at the way she looks at the ostrich in this scene …
She just stops and stares at it. This particular shot seems completely out of place if you watch the entire scene. But Portia de Rossi didn’t put “I need a dramatic pause for me and the bird” into her contract for no reason. It’s almost as if Lindsay’s looking in a mirror. Or sees something familiar. Funnily enough, Maeby (Lindsay’s daughter) and Lucille 2 both have similar visual stare-downs with the ostrich.
It is also shown that Maeby has a penchant for “squawking,” as her shrill cry is mistaken for Cindy the Ostrich’s — something she potentially inherited from her genetic grandmother. (And as George Michael found out, Maeby is definitely Lindsay’s daughter.)
One final clue is also found in Nichael’s birth certificate: the ages of the child’s parents, George Bluth and “Jessica Tamarisk” (a strange detail to include on a child’s birth certificate, unless there’s some significance to it). Jeffrey Tambor (the actor who plays George Bluth) is 71 years old. Liza Minnelli (Lucille 2’s actress) is a year younger. This matches the ages of the parents of Nichael Bluth!
How old is Jessica Walter (Lucille 1’s actress)? She’s 75, older than the mother of Nichael Bluth.
Buster Bluth, meanwhile, is an illegitimate child born from a love affair between Lucille 1 and George’s twin brother, Oscar. Buster’s conception could have been Lucille 1’s revenge for George knocking up her best friend / social rival.
The Truth About Nichael
My guess is that Lucille 2 couldn’t take care of a child on her own because she suffers from extreme vertigo, and had to give Nichael/Lindsay up for adoption. Lucille 1 was obviously upset by the betrayal, but was eventually guilted into adopting her (as explained in “Development Arrested,” George and Lucille adopted Lindsay “just to stick it to a competitor” — that competitor being Lucille 2). The name change, the birth date change, and the nose job could be Lucille 1’s way of trying to rid them of any memory of Lucille 2, or hide her away.
And with Lindsay turning out to be George’s daughter all along, this means Maeby and George Michael — “revealed” to be unrelated in the original series finale, easing some of their fears about their simmering incestuous attraction — really are cousins after all.
Lucille 2 is probably unsure as to who exactly her daughter is, but she appears to highly suspect it. This explains why Lucille 2 still loves and supports the Bluths and why Lucille 1 outright detests her. Sure, Lucille 1 detests everyone at least a little bit, but she has a special place in the dead husk of a scarab beetle that is her heart for Lucille 2.
Overall, this theory can be applied to one of the biggest themes of Arrested Development: Sometimes you care about your family, even when it’s the dumbest thing that you could do.
Check out why the events of Arrested Development might be a fantasy of George Bluth’s mind in The Terrifying Truth About Arrested Development, and find more hidden details in 6 Insane Easter Eggs Buried in Famous TV Shows.
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