Archer: Season 3, Episode 13
Space Race, Part 2
It would have been hard for Archer to top "Part 1," of "Space Race," and the show doesn't really accomplish that goal. But so much of "Part 2" is such an unrepentant blast, and the character moment that makes up the season's climax is so well earned that I can't help but praise the episode as a fitting end to a great season for the show. The show doesn't end in the explosive action set piece you might have expected (and, based on the show teasing a spacebot Archer v. Barry fight, the way the show probably thought you'd expect it to end), and in fact, the biggest "action" moment of the episode is probably the final showdown in which Pam puts a gun to Drake's head and Tony puts a gun to Archer's head. Malory, never one to evolve, is humorously ambivalent about Sterling's survival.
Bryan Cranston is, as always, deserving of very high praise. Ultimately, Drake's character arc was pretty cliche, as tonight just saw him descending further into madness until he killed himself, but damn it if Cranston didn't milk every line for each available drop of comedy. Closing him in a room with Cheryl and Pam for a while was like a comedic dream come true, and a perfect way to offset the more action-heavy early scenes where Archer, Cyril, Gillette and a nearly naked Lana fight their way back to the shuttle (the best moment of this was, of course, the great Star Wars joke, though the whole Animal Farm bit was one of those gleefully complex, fast paced banter scenes that just got funnier and funnier).
Perhaps the only downside of the episode is the relatively minor role Malory played in it. After building her character in "Lo Scandolo," one of the season's best episodes, she gets none of the pay off I had hoped to see this evening. It's a minor complaint though, in an episode that was so packed to the gills with jokes that I can see why she mostly slipped through the cracks.
The key moment in the episode is, of course, Archer's minor act of selflessness and humility, as he agrees to not go fight Barry while wearing a spacebot suit so that the ISIS gang can make it back to Earth. Of course, he almost immediately undoes it by insisting on landing the shuttle, which ends with everyone injured and Gillette back in a wheelchair. This was a solid capper to a season of the show that often seemed to be asking exactly how far Archer was willing to go into selfishness. The answer is still, unsurprisingly, really far, but there may be a limit to our hero's narcissism, and that is a solid character beat to end the season on.
Archer season three is an incredibly tight set of episodes. I am not sure it ever reaches the heights attained by season two's "Archer has cancer" arc, but it certainly has three or four of the best episodes the show has ever done, one of which may end up being my all time favorite episode of the series (and the fact that I'm still not sure whether it will be "The Limited," "Lo Scandolo," or "Crossing Over" that takes home that prize is a testament to the high level of quality the show maintained throughout the season). This silly little cartoon about spies and the office they work in has been consistently improving over its run, to the point that I would say Archer is in serious contention to be the best comedy on television in 2012. And in any case, it's a great show to sit down in front of for 22 minutes whenever you need an escape to the Danger Zone.
-"Archer broke both of Woo's arms while shouting 'woo!'" "Happy coincidence."
-"oh, Krieger-san, I never judge you." "Well your mother sure as hell does!"
-"You can kiss 3/5ths of my ass."
-"And the black guy is ok with that." "This is just a temporary measure." "What? I didn't even say anything."
-"It's like a vagina with a zipper." "Ew."
-"I'm almost certainly blind!"
-"And I'm telling you, I didn't sign up for Animal Farm in space." "Wait, there are animals?" I like that somehow, in spite of being familiar with Orwell's book, Archer still think that there is a menagerie somewhere on the space station and worries about the animals for the rest of the episode.
-"Oh please, you're not fit to be queen of...name a place." "Lidsville!"
-"A black astronaut, Cyril! That's like killing a unicorn!"
-"Where do you think you're going?" "Uh, this place called to kill Barry?"
-"Hey, did I tell you guys I got a goat?"