Barry Dylan couldn’t be a more perfect Archer villain if he were built in a lab…which, wait: he was.
He began as a natural foil to Archer: generally rule abiding, capable, precise and baffled that anyone could stand the brash Archer. He was like Frank Grimes on The Simpsons – in complete disbelief as to how anyone could love someone so crass and incompetent. And like Frank Grimes, he suffers dearly for not realizing that in a TV universe, crass and incompetent means funny and charming.
Barry has lost one fiancée to Archer, lost another one to Archer, then lost that same fiancée to the dumbest man in Russia*. In the process he also lost use of his legs and later use of everything else so he was turned into a cyborg. Subsequently, he lost his sanity as well. Barry is the perfect Archer villain and Sterling Archer’s best foil because he represents what happens to a sane person when they suffer prolonged Archer exposure: complete and utter insanity. Or Pam puts it: “So you’re just bugnuts crazy now, huh?”
*Who want waffle? I forget to make waffle.”
So with that in mind, it’s important that Archer the show never waste a Barry appearance. “Edie’s Wedding” comes dangerously close to doing so.
Barry, great as he is, does not quite fit into “Edie’s Wedding.” Barry is haphazardly inserted into the plot as he comes across Pam and Archer in the airport* on their way to Pam’s sister Edie’s wedding. Barry was already on his way to New York to kill Archer and notices Archer heading to Green Bay as a happy coincidence. Sure, re-routing Barry to Illinois to interrupt a wedding is more interesting than a New York confrontration would have been but that doesn’t make it any less random. A Barry appearance should be special, not just mandated because the “episodes without Barry” tally-mark counter got too high.
*The airport is one of the most overtly 60s locations the animators have ever rendered.
As it turns out, the Illinois of the Archer universe is not much different from the West Virginia of the Archer universe, which is kind of hilariously indicative of Archer’s coast-centric worldview (he even takes time out from a vicious cyborg fight to tell Edie she can just say “New York” instead of “New York City.”) The people are dim and backwards, there’s a TV famous guest star (Allison Tolman as Pam’s sister Edie in this one effectively replaces Jack MacBrayer as Ray’s brother in West Virginia) and all the grain elevators are great places for some underage sexcapades.
Pam and Edie’s initial meeting goes about as well as a Poovey family reunion can go with plenty of fist-thrown and teeth spit out. That’s what happens when your older sister dumps calf’s blood on you at prom for retribution for the grain elevator incident. Pam runs away from her sister and is quickly abducted by a heavy-Chicago-clothing-wearing Barry. The fact that Barry cannot remember her name is fairly indicative oh how little he belongs in this plotline.
Regardless of whether he belongs or not, Barry and Archer’s showdown in the grain mill is one of their better battles, which is saying a lot as Archer almost battled Barry in a mechanical suit in outer space. Archer, dressed like a maitre d’ on a cruise for gay Republicans, brought explosive ammo, thank God. Pam is the one who delivers the (almost) killing blow but Archer, Pam and Edie share the task of burying Barry in grain then blowing up the mill.
There’s been a lot of growing up on Archer this season. Baby A.J. is practically a making-amends tool for each character, as evidenced by Lana letting Cyril take her and A.J. upstate to babysit while she does some spy training. “Edie’s Wedding” refreshingly bucks this trend. Some growth is nice but not always necessary on this show. At the end of the day, Pam is just happy that she ruined her sister’s life. The only progress that we’ll need is some upgraded machinery for Barry the next time he and Archer meet.
- Why is Cheryl eating a plant? Don’t worry about it.
- Raise your hand if you also had to Google “Ike Turner.”
- Always happy for Fargo’s wonderful Allison Tolman to get some work but like Jack MacBrayer, playing the one-off family member of a main character doesn’t have a ton to offer.
- Add the poop-ray to the list of gadgets I want to see Krieger bring back later in the season. He’s building quite the arsenal.
- “Asimov’s Three Laws of…never mind, they don’t apply to Barry because he’s a cyborg.” How is Archer so well-read and so unfailingly stupid.