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Archer continues its recent trend of backstory episodes by giving us the origin story of Woodhouse and even setup some interesting stuff with Malory. Couple that with the regular hilarity we’ve come to expect from Archer and we’ve got another killer episode. Not the best episode this season, but still good.
Kicking off this episode is the subplot of Archer discovering that he’s been dumped with the wee baby Shamus for the week while the mother is at the “Pimps and Hoes Ball”. Ultimately, Shamus is only there for the last joke before the credits role, but they still get some good mileage out of him by pairing him with Malory. Wow, we knew that she was a horrible mother… but goddamn! From this point, we discover that members of Woodhouse’s old team from the war are dying mysteriously. Archer agrees to let one of them come over for safety when he learns that the team was involved in a Tontine. I have to say, it’s pretty much a Simpsons rip off. It totally is, but that doesn’t diminish the episode itself. Also, we have a pointless, but somewhat entertaining subplot with Cyril, Cheryl, and Pam organizing their own Tontine (you can tell from the beginning of the episode that it’ll go nowhere). It’s pointless and not as funny as the main plot of the episode, but we still get some great Pam lines. The only thing these segments needed was Gillette and Krieger then it could have been some seriously hilarious stuff.
Let’s talk about the main player of the episode, Woodhouse. I have liked Woodhouse since back in season one, but now I love him. We find out that he raised Archer for the first five years of his life and that he has stood up to him on occasion and just covers it up when Archer comes out of his latest blackout. We see that Woodhouse has some genuine character and the flashbacks really helped with that, even if it did get a little dark towards the end… okay, really freaking dark, but we’ll get to that into a moment.
The flashbacks take us back to the war with Woodhouse acting as a servant to his commander who is essentially Archer but is prepared to treat Woodhouse with, you know, dignity. I doubt they’ll ever follow up on the whole tontine murder plot from this episode, but it was a cool little thing to see play out. The mass murder committed by Woodhouse at the end seemed way too over the top for me. There are so many other ways they could have wrapped that up, but they went with Woodhouse killing everyone he could see in the most violent way possible. This was the one thing about this episode's main plot that I couldn’t really get into, but the follow up made it worth it; when we see Woodhouse meet Malory for the first time and give birth to Archer in a bar. It’s fitting and disturbing enough to fit this show perfectly.
We also got the hint that Archer may have developed some sort of new respect for Woodhouse. We’ll probably never see him treated right, but at least Archer knows that this is the man that raised him. Archer season 2 is going the route of The Venture Brothers Season 3, by which I mean they’re going into the origin stories of all the characters and explains to the audience why they’re as horrible as they are, but also why we love them. Archer is quickly evolving from nonsequiter humour to genuine character humor that we would only see on Community or Arrested Development.