Three in a row! Archer Season 8 Episode 3 followed in the wake of the previous two outings in greatness, as Archer teamed up with the Dreamland jazz quartet to get out of jail.
I'm so glad we got some more Ray Gillette!
Ray is one of my favorite characters, and I'm glad we got to see more of him than the running punchline-rim-shot joke.
Detectives Figgis and Poovey, having caught Archer and the Vandertunt heiress (Charlotte, not Cheryl – these name changes are killing me), decided to book Charlotte as a Jane Doe, using her as leverage to square their debt with Len Trexler.
I have to say, that was a pretty genius plan. It was even more impressive how quickly Archer figured it out. Or should we call him Seamus?
Archer is incredibly efficient in his own mind. Three episodes in and most of Archer's sorry situations show him as a victim of circumstance not incompetence.
This isn't really surprising since there have always been hints throughout the series that Archer is brilliant and would be good at his job if he just cared more.
Archer: Did you say "a" change, or just change, as in spare change?
Figgis: Huh, what change? They'll be passing you around for half a pack of smokes.
Archer: Pfft, I'm worth at least two packs.
Archer: You know...
Also fascinating are the scenes that don't include Archer. I personally have dreams where I can be both a character in the dream or experience the dream like I'm watching a movie or screen.
If this is his dream, how is he seeing those scenes? Is he a spectator to parts of his own dream? Is he hearing Lana's stand-up comedy introduction as he surveils the carnage left after his fight with Poovey?
Man, I would have loved to see that fight. Though the juxtaposition of the blood-stained walls with Lana's voice talking about "painting the town red" was nothing short of brilliant.
The jazz quartet – Floyd, Cliff, Verl and Ray Gillette – was one of the most fun and useful set of side characters on Archer. The banter was fantastic, but they also provided an opportunity to point out the absurdities of the racial tensions of the vague time period in which this theme is set.
Having Archer and Charlotte team up with a predominantly African-American musical group provided a lot of fodder for race jokes that were simultaneously spot-on, uncomfortable and hilarious. Nothing was off-limits, and it was glorious.
Segregation in the armed service? Check. Drug use stereotyping? Check. Charlotte being so rich and privileged she's never even MET an African-American person before? Check. Archer with an "at least we didn't" response to something racist? Check.
Hell, there were so many African-American references that even Lana's preoccupation with syphilis reminded me of the Tuskegee experiment. This was the blackest episode of Archer ever.
Where Archer triumphed (where many shows fail) was by making these things part of a conversation among friends/allies. No heavy-handed accusations, no presumptuous political statements. Just conversations.
It also helped that these are characters whose integrity/insanity/inappropriateness was well established. I mean, Sterling Archer is clearly not racist (he just says dumb things sometimes). Mallory (Mother) Archer clearly is. Cheryl (Charlotte) has always been appropriate.
So these characters were the perfect vehicles to deliver a barrage of inappropriate race jokes that pointed out the basic absurdity of practices like segregation.
Archer: I realize that a segregated service is just crazy, especially given what we were fighting for over there, but -
Cliff: Oh now you got a "but."
Archer: ...if you think about it, the most racist thing would be, if, whenever there was a war, we only sent negroes.
Verl: Words fail me.
My only disappointment with this episode is that the preoccupation with the jail break meant that two of the more interesting plot points – Woodhouse's murder mystery and Archer's war flashbacks – weren't included.
There were more mentions of Archer's military past and a particularly interesting exchange with Verl the piano player regarding being rescued by their squad. I wonder if this will have some significance later.
Another thing I was hoping for was a visit back to present day to see how everyone else is coping with Archer's coma. What is Lana up to when she's not visiting Archer? Is Cyril rejoicing? Does Ray feel a little bad?
I'm enjoying the noir thoroughly, but I admit to curiosity about what's going on outside of Dreamland.
Running Jokes: SOOOO much joke continuity...
- How quasi?
- The answer to all statistics is 4. (Out of what?)
- MAWP! The tinnitus joke is back!
- Robert William Stewart was the first black police officer hired by the LAPD in 1886.
- Racial Segregation in the United States Armed Forces ended in 1948 after World War II.
- That said, African-American's weren't the only ones with prejudices in the military, as we're reminded of in this quote:
Ray: I failed my induction screening.
Verl: Well yeah.
Floyd: You put the "F" in 4F!
Ray: You know...
Your Mileage May Vary:
- Does Keegan Michael Key's character Floyd have some continuity with his character from Archer Season 7? Or do we just love having him?
- Poovey's flash forwards show her with a comb-over and receding hair line. Gender ambiguity for the win.
- I wonder how hard it was for Aisha Tyler to be bad at stand-up.
My quote of the week goes to this recurring joke with Ray: Adam Reed nailed this delivery so, so hard:
Goddammit! I insist you let me share your marijuana cigarette!Ray
So what did you think? Check out the Archer Quotes page for some more gems! Also, remember you can always watch Archer online.