The experience of reviewing Archer can be frustrating. Not because it’s not fun but rather the one-liners are coming so quickly it can be hard to keep up. You want to write them down, get them on all electronic ink so you can at least savor them later. To borrow a metaphor from “Drastic Voyage Part II’s” brain setting: Archer is all left-brain. It loves to hear itself talk. This is certainly not a problem because it is so, so good at it. But at times, it can rely on that dialoging as a crutch in place of good storytelling or escalation.
As fun as it must be to read an Archer script, television is a visual medium and the show’s animation has truly improved with time and FX’s increased investment so you always want to see the team behind it do more with it, or at least invest its plots with a sense of escalation. “Drastic Voyage: Part II” is an example of Archer gone right. There is a mission at hand and it escalates beautifully to the point where the dialogue serves it instead of being the main feature.
Witness where our characters go geographically in just the span of an hour. Using the inside of a human body as a road map, the miniaturized Archer crews begin in the foot and make a harrowing journey through blood vessels all the way to the heart, then the brain before culminating in a grand finale of de-miniaturizing and exploding said human body all over an operating room in a New Mexican C.I.A. black site. That’s not a half-hour comedy that’s a Lord of the Rings journey by way of Cronenberg. The best part is that through the cracks and breathing rooms of this journey the characters get to be their own selfish and bizarre selves.
Archer proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that parenthood has not and will not change him. He combines rubbing alcohol and Tang (much like his mother did in outer space) to generate enough liquid courage to step outside the submarine and manually blast white blood cells with a laser. Pam, ever his trusty lieutenant wastes 15 precious minutes fitting into a wet suit and then eight more minutes depressuring the cabin and trying to drink human blood for sustenance. Ray… well Ray gets paralyzed again in an effort to prove that he’s not racist.
One of my favorite episodes this season of Archer was “Vision Quest” in which Archer, Lana, Cyril, Cheryl, Pam, Krieger and Ray were trapped in an elevator and helpless to escape it due to their own dysfunction. The strength of these characters is as such that they can be locked in an enclosed area for a brief amount of time and will still generate plenty of laughs. But after “Drastic Voyage: Part II” it’s clear that this other, more kinetic version of Archer is when the show is at its best. The bickering among the characters or Cheryl’s fondness of sharp, tungsten objects doesn’t change but the circumstances around them are more dire and the team’s refusal to acknowledge them therefore all the funnier.
It’s even better when they’re surrounded by characters who outright hate them. Slater’s exasperated disbelief that he’s trapped in a submarine with these people is great. As is Dr. Skodowska’s weird sexual proclivities. She’s a character that was clearly introduced just to know facts like it takes one minute for blood to travel through the body but she’s also not above cuckolding her lover inside his own body. Then you throw in a 1970’s TV star deciding he needs to stowaway on this voyage and it’s comedy gold. Slater turning down Skodowska’s sexual advances because it’s A. weird and B. TV’s Michael Gray is watching is one of the season’s biggest laughs.
Archer Vice had its up and down moments but its clear that the Adam Reed and company came away with some important lessons from it. Archer doesn’t need to change constantly – so much of the show’s charm is derived from repetition and inside humor. It does, however, need to continually move forward. Season six didn’t always follow this lesson to a “T” but “Drastic Voyage: Part II” nails the dismount. And by Archer’s ominous words that he knows how they can now make some money, it seems like season seven will keep the momentum going.
– Malory: “She’s about to pop out of that onesie.”Agent Hawley: “She seems to be normal babyweight.”Malory: “Oh yes and everyone deserves a trophy just for showing up and every Kickstarter has merit.” Malory and Jessica Walter were kind of a non-factor for most of this season but I’m glad she saved up so much fabulousness for the end.
– “Gillete, slip it in nice and easy.” “Ughhh can we even do ‘that’s what she said?’” One day soon, Archer
– I’m sure some people are getting sick of Ray getting crippled but I am not one of those people.
– “Shrinky-dink that! Krieger out!” I would not have minded if this were the last line of the season.