Archer: Season 3, Episode 3
Heart of Archness: Part 3
There's a trend in great comedies over the past decade of being willing to go places that shows never would have in decades past. On Arrested Development, Buster Bluth lost his hand. On Its Always Sunny, Mac gained 50 pounds. And on Archer, characters really do get injured (Even if no one central ever seems to die). We've watched Barry slowly transform from a dark version of Felix Leiter into a dark version of the bionic man. And over the three part saga "Heart of Archness," we watched Gillette lose an eye and end up in a wheelchair. There's a standard convention in comedy that nothing can ever really change, and the shows that buck those trends tend to get the rest of the equation right as well.
Looking back on this whole epic, I don't think it will go down as one of my favorite stories in Archer history, but it certainly put good feet forward for the new viewers it was aimed at snagging. And as the concluding chapter in a three part story, "Heart of Archness, Part Three" was quite the capper, bringing back the best recurring gags that have developed (idiom jokes, Noah's Anthropology degree, Rip's sexual history with Malory), and giving us more time with the characters trapped in small quarters, just bickering while Archer is a dick. It might not have been a perfect episode, but it was a perfect example of what this show does well.
If "Part 1" was dedicated to watching Archer play off Rip, and "Part 2" was dedicated to watching Archer play off Noah, then tonight we finally brought it all home, as Archer was back exactly where he is at his best: pissing off Lana. I still think this three parter has put way too much emphasis on the Archer-Lana tension (which has always existed, but never felt nearly as forced as it does here), but if this ends up being a development for Lana when the show returns in January, and if she does start to realize that despite how much she hates Archer, she has real feelings for him, then I might retroactively enjoy that part of these episodes more.
These episodes were also more "field heavy" than most of my favorite episodes of the show, meaning we didn't get nearly as much gold from the office drones as I'm used to. We STILL got no Krieger (how did the show not think he was part of their "best foot forward"?), and the time we got with Cheryl, Pam, Cyril, and Malory was less well used than it might have been. Malory spent all three episodes just panicking, but Jessica Walter is such a pro she managed to wring every possible laugh from here scenes. Cyril's embezzlement plot line was a little lame, but he got black out drunk and banged Pam (who still has that sweet back tat) a few times, so I guess that's something. And Cheryl? Well, she was criminally underused, though she too made the most of what little time she had.
"Heart of Archness" wasn't always perfect, but it was always a blast to watch, which is all I can really ask from Archer (that isn't true, actually. I ask more from it, since it has proved so adept at mixing hilarity and pathos). As the first three episodes of season three, I might find this run a little disappointing, but as a fun Archer movie of sorts between the seasons, this whet my appetite for more to come, and gave us a fairly satisfying story of how Sterling Archer mourned for the loss of his wife, banged a bunch of newly weds, briefly became a Pirate King and then stumbled back into his old job. Not bad for a limited run to entice some new viewers.
-Every time Archer gets irrationally caught up in his own views of how the world works, I find it endlessly hilarious. His whole extended bit tonight about the Archers of Loaf-crosse, and how he built them from nothing and they could have won the South Pacific Lacrosse Championship (once he made that a thing) was probably my favorite part of tonight.
-"Men's pajamas? For God's sake, where is your pride?" "In my work?" "That may be the funniest thing you've ever said."
-"These crabs, this time, not my fault. This whole dungeon is..." "Were you gonna say lousy with them?" God this show is clever.
-"I'm kidding. Crab rangoon."
-Nice callback to Archer's fear of brain aneurysms, which we learned about down in the Bayou lat season (Archer also hates crocs).
-"Oh my God, be more chinese-y."
-"It's an idiom, you fool!"
-"Sterling get your things. He's gay." "You were in the army?" "Who remembers?"
-"They got old Ray this time..."
-"For shit's sake mother! How short is the list of guys you haven't screwed?"
-"Do you know what extant means?" "Do you know what license to kill means?"
-"Relax, Nick Furious!"
-"Ray is dying!" "Does that mean so must my dream?"
-"The crease, idiots! Guard the crease!"
-"Just screw already." "Seriously." "And then kill each other. Seriously."
-"Fairy tale? Uh, phrasing?"