This Archer review contains spoilers
Archer Season 7 Episode 9
Oh wow, we’re at the end of the season already!
If, like me, you had grown accustomed to Archer’s 13 episodes with a two-part season finale formatting, then seeing “Part 1” at the end of episode 9 must have been jarring. A two-part episode for 9 and 10? Are they still going to do a two-parter for episodes 12 and 13?
Well this year, there are no episodes 12 and 13. This week’s “Deadly Velvet: Part I” and next week’s “Deadly Velvet: Part II” represent Archer season 7’s finale. At first that seems like a disappointment. This new “Archer: P.I.” format has turned out to yield remarkable dramatic and comedic fruit for the show, just on paper it seems like there are so many noir West Coast storylines left on the table. We haven’t even done the “corrupt land developer screws over California community to make an airport/public transportation grab.” Terriers and True Detective got whole seasons out of that (with wildly varying levels of success).
But when you are absolutely on a roll like Archer has been this season, maybe it’s best to cut things short before they can get stale. Thankfully, of all the rich L.A. and entertainment industry plotlines the show has brought out this year, it saved the best for last: disaster on a film set.
Previous season finales of Archer have gone with larger-than-life disaster movie tropes: battles in space, battles underwater, battles within the human body, etc. Make no mistake, putting all the characters on a film set while mysterious disasters strike is continuing these finale tropes just within an appropriately P.I. context.
Film producer Ellis Crane comes to the Archer Agency (Cyril tries to point out that it’s technically called The Figgis Agency the same way he does everything: impotently) with a problem. Somebody is trying to sabotage his new picture that he and Lana, as his technical advisor, are working on: Deadly Velvet. He needs the Archer crew to go undercover on the set and uncover just who is trying to ruin production. Mallory tells him that he can “put your faith in us.” To which Ellis responds “I’m afraid we must.”
Conveniently for season finale purposes, film sets are so large that while Mallory hates to do this, everyone at the Figgis Agency must be involved in going undercover. Pam and Cheryl (now Carol again seemingly) will be in Craft Services, Cyril is in accounting, Ray will be a grip (and not in his beloved hair and makeup), Mallory will be posing as an exec producer, Archer will be Veronica Dean’s bodyguard and Krieger…well he can just sort of skulk around.
“Deadly Velvet: Part I” runs into many of the same issues that “Bel Panto: Part I” did in being fundamentally an incomplete half hour of television without an ending. The potential of Kireger skulking around a film set is exciting and will undoubtedly be witnessed in “Part II” but we don’t get to see it here. Ray is also similarly wasted though we are entreated to his defying his key grip marching orders as he brushes a mannequin’s wig instead. Still, I’m willing to give “Deadly Velvet: Part I” as it’s part of a finale and at times just downright funnier.
The reveal that Archer has been driven around in his broken down Ferrari by a tow truck is marvelous. As is the fact that Pam gets to drive the truck next to drive Luigi because she has her CDL (commercial driver’s license and also apparently something unspeakable on television. To Urban Dictionary we go!). Shapiro makes a comeback and by admitting his feelings for Veronica Dean to Pam and Cheryl, gives them something fun to do.
But even beyond the pure comedy, “Deadly Velvet: Part I” continues season 7’s tradition of delighting us in formatting alone. In previous seasons, the larger than life season finales were enjoyable because they broke format. The fact that “Deadly Velvet: Part I” is a natural, still fittingly large, end for the group’s P.I. activity’s is equally as satisfying. The Phantom of the Opera-style sabotaging of a film leads to some genuinely fun mystery. It’s cool when Cyril figures out that Ellis Crane is likely trying to sabotage production so that his absurd levels of insurance will pay out. It’s even cooler when despite that knowledge, the gang still finds Crane dead at the end of the episode, with his watch conveniently stopped at 2:14 p.m.
Structurally and conceptually, “Deadly Velvet: Part I” pays off nicely for the struggling relationship between Lana and Archer. Here’s a prime example of where the 10 episode season order pays dividends. At the end of last week’s episode, Lana tells Archer that they are on a break. In the past, this particular plot would have had time to simmer in the background before Archer and Lana make amends. In previous seasons that exact plot has happened to a T. But in “Deadly Velvet: Part I” Archer finally sleeps with Veronica Dean and the effect is all the more hilarious because it’s only been two days. Or as Lana puts it “And two days later your cock’s wet!” Oh and also: “Whose cobwebby old snootch I can smell from here.”
We still have yet to see how Archer ends up face down in a pool with Detectives Dietrich and Harris looking over him but with how many people are currently mad at him the suspect list could be endless. “Deadly Velvet: Part I” sets up that inevitable moment marvelously and all but assures season 7 will have a befittingly satisfying sendoff next week.