This Archer review contains spoilers
Archer Season 7 Episode 10
As soon as Archer season 7 introduced Dr. Krieger’s robo-clones of everyone in The Figgis Agency, I should have worked out that it would be Sterling Archer’s deus ex machina for surviving being a corpse, face down in Veronica Dean’s pool in the first scene of the season.
I didn’t make that connection and never actually realized it was a possibility until about halfway through this finale, “Deadly Velvet: Part II.” If I had made that connection, I would have owed myself a pat on the back. Then I should have taken that pat on the back, spit on it, shoved it and then presented a new pat on the back for Adam Reed and the rest of the creative team at Archer for immediately subverting that ending in a hilariously satisfying way.
As critics, we rarely like to say that the ending of a season or an episode is the best part because in some ways it invalidates the effort put forth by the rest of the episode or season. The ending of a TV episode is about one minute or so. The rest of it can constitute 21 to 60-ish minutes depending on the format. Overpraising an ending can feel like discounting the work put in by those other 21-60ish minutes.
Having said that: the ending is absolutely the best part of “Deadly Velvet: Part II” and maybe Archer’s whole season. Archer finally decides to do the right thing and use his new clone buddy (with an assist from Luigi the two truck driver) to confront Veronica Dean and save Lana from going to prison. His reward for doing the right thing is three bullets to the gut and an extended stay as a corpse in a rich actress’ pool.
Does this mean this is the last season of Archer? Almost certainly not. FX hasn’t officially picked up season 8 yet though that’s not unusual. And in pre-season seven interviews, creator Adam Reed said he sees the show continuing for a long time and that the P.I. focus of the show will continue after season 7. Does this mean Archer is really dead? Who knows! And in some respects: who cares! I don’t envy Adam Reed and his writers’ jobs in crafting a satisfying and believable way for Archer to return/survive to season 8 but that’s the glorious thing about watching television: all you have to do is watch. Some other poor schmuck has to write it.
So, while it’s unclear where Archer will go in future seasons, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting, hilariously bleak ending to this one and for now that’s all that matters.
Archer has never attempted a season-long cliffhanger before and that inexperience shows here and there. The smooth, quippy conversation between Dietrich and Harris at the end of the episode and beginning of the season in no way matches the frazzled, trigger-happy weirdos they’ve become. Dietrich even acknowledges as much when Harris’ pre-prescribed lines from the beginning of the season don’t match his familiarity with the Veronica Dean case nor his enthusiasm to meet her earlier.
That’s fine, however, as the intellectual and comedic payoff of Archer actually ending up dead in a pool despite the presence of a perfectly fine expendable doppelgänger shows that the Archer team know exactly what they’re doing with extended mysteries.
But to give some credit to the other 22-ish minutes of “Deadly Velvet: Part II,” it’s a pretty stellar episode of Archer even prior to the final reveal. Right from the beginning, the establishment of hand-washing to clear off gun powder as a joke pay dividends in terms of humor and plot. Archer witnessing Veronica Dean washing her hands is a strong indication that she murdered Ellis Crane and it creates a moral quandary for Archer as he just jokingly sold out the mother of his child to the cops. It also creates an amazing comedic universe where almost every time we cut to a new scene one of the Archer crew is selfishly washing their hands.
“I have diarrhea!” Archer tells Dietrich to get out of Veronica’s room. “You better not wash your hands!” he responds. Then Archer goes into the bathroom, where his mother is obviously washing her hands. Then Pam walks out of the stall with a newspaper under her arm and laments “Ahhh man! We have to wash our hands?” Cheryl later turns up at Krieger’s “Milkley” clone murder scene, having just showered for no apparent reason.
The main dilemma of the episode for Archer: turn Veronica in or run to Mexico with her to throw coconuts at John Huston’s house, isn’t much of a dilemma at all because asshole that he is, Archer wouldn’t let Lana go to jail for murder. But the fact that the dilemma is even there at all ramps up the plot and the comedic chops of the episode as watching one of the world’s douchiest, most self-involved men stumbling through to doing the right thing is always a gas.
The ultimate reveal of Veronica’s plot is also quite perfunctory – something about Sandpiper Crane with the help of Stratton Whitney coming up with an insurance scam called Longwater. Most of the names and words involved are merely macguffins, still I’m so delighted that Archer provided a whole season leading up to a villain monologue explanation in the first place that I can’t come down too hard on it, much like the moral inconsequentialness of Archer’s decision to go after Veronica Dean.
“Deadly Velvet: Part II” is not always perfect, nor was season 7. But even at the points I wanted to be overly critical of some of season 7’s execution, I couldn’t help but instead marvel at the effort being put forth. Truthfully, watching parts of season 5 and 6 of Archer felt like an obligation and not a treat. If nothing else, the P.I. format and dedication to a season-long mystery made Archer feel like its old creative self.