“Can you seriously not grasp the concept of your own mortality?” Lana asks Archer midway through “Drastic Voyage: Part I”. “Lana, nobody can. Except maybe bears,” Archer responds.
That right there is Archer, the man and Archer, the show in a nutshell. Archer is a fun show because the main character is fundamentally incapable of contemplating his own death. Part of this is due to the cartoon universe Archer occupies. The sheer amount of bullets he’s taken to his body is reminiscent of the many ACME rockets to the face of Wile. E Coyote. But one gets the sense that even in a live-action universe, Archer would still stubbornly ignore his mortality as much as he ignores Woodhouse’s feelings.
That’s why it’s both admirable and scary that season 6 of Archer has seemed so deadset on breaking that one character trait of Archer’s. Throughout the season, the introduction of Baby Abbajean has threatened to change Archer and he has mostly resisted, save for a “Terms of Enrampagement” against a supposed Pakistani spy here or there. Now that we’re nearing the end, the show is undoubtedly setting up a moment where Archer will finally have to value his own safety to be around for his child*. Lana is right. If something happens to them, they can’t even risk for a moment that Abbajean would end up with the second-hand smoke allowing, infant-body-shaming Mallory.
*Much like FX’s other ne’er-do-well Raylan Givens
That moment of maturity is certainly coming but first: another finale adventure. Archer has been wonderfully consistent with saving the best for last in its season finales. Previously the ISIS-turned-CIA crew has been launched into space and sent deep under the ocean on missions with tremendously satisfying results. Now they’re being sent into another, final-er frontier: a human body. It’s unfair to grade a two-parter based on one half but early results indicate that this will stand toe to toe with those other finale odysseys.
One of the C.I.A.’s top scientists, Dr. Zoltan Kovacs, was knocked into a coma during a suspected kidnapping attempt by the Russians. The C.I.A. approaches the Archer team with one last chance to redeem themselves: use the shrinking technology Kovacs was developing to shrink down and enter his brain and remove a bloodcot. Should they accept the mission, they’ll all get a million dollars, should they turn it down they’ll never receive another government contract again. “Drastic Voyage: Part I” is great in how little time it wastes in establishing the stakes or addressing lapses in logic.
Slater and his boss, Special Agent Hawley (Gary Cole) are at their wit’s end with Archer and just about ready to rid of them so explanations are at a premium. Archer asks why the non-secret agent office workers like Pam are invited to join the mission and Hawley responds with “Because she always finds a way to stowaway anyway, just like Julia Glue-y Dreyfuss (Cheryl, natch) over there.” Cyril asks why they can’t just perform regular brain surgery on Kovacs and Hawley just rejects his question out of hand immediately as nonsense. Even when Kovacs assistant, Dr. Skodowska (a very deadpan Carrie Brownstein), is introduced she is far more interested in over-explaining her relationship with Kovacs than getting the team prepared for their mission.
The brevity is all for the better as it gets Archer, Lana, Skowdowska, Cyril, Pam, Ray (as captain, which infuriates Archer) and Cheryl in the submarine as soon as possible. Even more importantly it gives Krieger his moment to shine. Krieger is just a sheer force of nature in “Drastic Voyage: Part I.” He isn’t invited to go along with the miniaturization team and takes the news very, very hard. Instead, he’s invited into the O.R. with the medical team as they mistakenly believe the “Dr.” in front of his name will be of absolutely any use. It isn’t. Krieger throws a massive hissy fit and being disrespected and thrown out of the O.R. He returns in a golf cart to give an impassioned speech about the ways he’s been mistreated, including this delectable fan-service-y nugget: “If I was a clone of Adolf goddamn Hitler, wouldn’t I look like Adolf goddamn Hitler?” To which Mallory replies “Huh, I never thought of that.” Everyone else had, Mallory.
There’s little sense in grading “Drastic Voyage: Part I” too favorably or harshly as it is only one half of a story. That first half, however, is perfectly satisfying. One day soon Archer will have at least a moment where’s he’s forced to contemplate his own mortality and address his responsibilities as a father. For one episode at least, he can pretend he’s blowing away womprats with a giant laser.
Ray identifying as Black due to his new hand is funny but Lana’s exasperatedly saying they’ll have to have a talk about that when this is all said and done is even funnier.
No, I had no idea that TV’s Michael Gray was a real person but I trust the people who understood this reference found it to be truly great.
Since Cyril hasn’t had much to do this season, I wouldn’t mind a sideplot where he pitches his script for the psychological-thriller “The Freshmaker”
“We are ready for miniaturization process.”“Said your dick.”“That means it is too big, dummy.”