Archer season 4 episode 5 review: Viscous Coupling
James bravely continues to chase Archer's fourth season around 5*'s erratic schedules. Here's his review of Viscous Coupling...
This review contains spoilers.
4.5 Viscous Coupling
In offices up and down the land, many workers engage in that time-honoured traditional of the end of the week, Friday night, post-work drink, but at ISIS Sterling Archer is having a bit of trouble finding someone to accompany him as his colleagues all seem to have dates. Vicious Coupling opens with Archer as the one no one wants to hang out with after hours... but with fire, courtesy of Cheryl setting the scene for her and Pam’s date with two firemen she met at a warehouse blaze… which she may or may not have started.
Sterling’s prospective loneliness is compounded when he discovers that Lana and Cyril have got back together, albeit under a strict set of carefully negotiated ground rules. Yet Lana is still willing to listen to the bruised ego of Archer when he tries to convince her that he has matured, with the argument that Cyril cheated on her just as many times as he did in the past. The love/hate relationship between Lana and Sterling can always be counted on to provide some quick-witted banter, though you do shake your head in dismay every time Lana lets herself in for what we know by now will be disappointment.
It doesn’t take long either as Sterling is lured away by a phone call from his now cyborg ex Katya, who is grieving for the loss of her new love, Barry, who's stuck in orbit. The episode takes a mad-cap, caper route from here on as Archer concocts a wild scheme to convince Katya that he is rescuing Barry, only to persuade her that he’s been cheating on her whilst being marooned in space, with the hope that she will come back to him. This involves promising Doctor Krieger that he will get to see two robots fight to the death.
There’s some good Krieger stuff in Vicious Coupling and we see the return of his holographic, Manga girlfriend for a very funny “ew” moment.
In typical Archer fashion, his master plan backfires on him in spectacular fashion. Archer is always very good when it comes to thinking up these wild schemes for its episodes. It’s times like these when you can see the influence of older British ensemble sitcoms on the show, which might be why it seems to connect with audiences on this side of the pond so well.
As far as laughs go, this isn’t perhaps the most plentiful episode and Cheryl steals the show, not for the first time, with her insistence that they’re all living in opposite world. It doesn't have much bearing on the story this week, but it’s still funny. Malory gets the line of the week when she spies Pam with a camcorder and fires off the ultimatum “Pam, you better not be making pornos!”, as if this is the most normal thing to happen in the organisation you run.
There’s a moment when Archer pushes the boundaries of bad taste a little too far this week with one joke and it’s the first time I’ve ever felt the show was trying a bit too hard to be risqué, just for the sake of it. Thankfully, it seems to be a one-off. Archer is smart enough without having to resort to stuff like this.
So, it’s not as good as episode three of this season Legs, but it’s better than the last episode Midnight Ron, an episode that takes the dysfunctional relationships of its cast to new levels with some decent chuckles along the way.
Read James' review of the previous episode, Midnight Ron, here.
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