Six seasons in and Archer is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. It’s developed an impressive fanbase and tremendous amounts of critical good will by finding a hilarious premise and sticking to it. I joked about Archer Mad Libs earlier in the season but there’s some real truth to it. Pick a location that’s fun to animate, an action sub-genre to spoof, and figure out a surprising conclusion.
The show has made it to six seasons through ArcherMad Libs and could likely see several more through that alone. But writers get bored and even on an absurdist animated comedy someone, be it a writer, viewer, or critic, will eventually muse “maybe we should pair off our male and female leads or something?” Pairing off Archer and Lana in an honest-to-goodness relationship is an undeniable step forward but it’s risky. Why mess with the general construction of Archer? Undoubtedly, however, someone will be mad about bringing any “snoochie boochie” (as Archer and Lana would say) elements into what amounts to a pretty nihilistic show.
After “Reignition Sequence,” I am sad to report that I am that someone, and it makes me a hypocrite. I’ve applauded Archer’s previous attempts to grow i.e. introducing a baby but have also found myself just as relieved when they’ve abandoned those attempts altogether. It’s unfair to judge a plotline this early into its run, and for all we know, things might be back to normal by the end of the season. But when Archer and Lana rekindled their romance, I was hoping for a little bit more from the next episode than a Three’s Company romp where their co-workers try to break them up by reintroducing an old flame.
Maybe Cyril and company’s lame plot to break up the obnoxiously love-y couple was intended as an homage from the stunningly corny sitcom episodes of yore, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting than the stunningly corny sitcom episodes of yore. Archer and Lana are grossly in lust as evidenced by their breakfast burrito foreplay. Cyril is jealous while Pam, Cheryl, and Krieger are grossed out, and Ray is just mad at the world for taking away his wife.
Cyril and company devise a plot to bring Archer’s cyborg Russian girlfriend Katya into the fold to break them up. Archer proves strong enough to resist temptation. Boom. End of episode.
It’s pretty weak stuff but having said that, “Reignition Sequence” is still funnier than 98 percent of what appeared on television this week. In an effort to trot out a unique plot for the show, “Reignition Sequence” proves once again that the plot on Archer is just something that exists as breathing breaks between the dialogue.
The show may over-rely on grouping all the office weirdos together but with exchanges like “How do you not murder her every day?” “I do,” between Pam and Krieger, how could anyone possibly complain?*
*Pretend I didn’t complain for the first three paragraphs of this review
This leads me to a CONTROVERSIAL HOT TAKE ™: In its sixth season, Archerat times can just be a more high-brow Family Guy: a collection of jokes and a plot that only exists because television and storytelling conventions say it needs to. But as long as a mad German Hitler-clone scientist admits to murdering his Japanese hologram lover every day, then that should be just enough for us.
– I really can’t speak highly enough of that Krieger and Pam exchange. It might be my favorite spoken line on Archer since season one. (“’B’ as in ‘butthole’ and ‘M’ as in ‘mancy.’”)
– The School House Rock-style animation accompanying Cheryl’s baby-kidnapping plan was unnecessary but appreciated.
– Ray: “Our shitty insurance doesn’t cover prosthetic limbs.”Pam: “Really?”Ray: “You’re head of HR!”
– Archer’s done a lot of pretty low stuff over the years but stealing “Stir Fry-Day” from Cyril has to be the lowest.