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Archer – Vicious Coupling Review: Archer Matures? Nope!

Oh poor Archer Sterling, just when he was starting to get somewhere with Lana, he gets completely sidetracked and manipulated by his once fiancé, now cyborg Katya. The last time we saw Katya she was driving off with Archer’s nemesis, Barry after realizing she was much more compatible with another cyborg-human hybrid than with Archer. Now she is back soliciting Archer’s help in the search for Barry, whom she hasn’t seen since he disappeared after spending a mere week together.

Archer, of course, sees this as an opportunity to win her back and goes through elaborate schemes to get Katya to fall back in love with him (can cyborgs even feel love, or anything for that matter?). Little did he know that Katya was pretty much playing him the entire time, and has positioned herself as the head of the KGB. This ending sets up interesting possibilities for conflict in the future. Will Katya be successful in taking down Barry and usurping his post entirely? Will she eventually aim her energies into bringing down ISIS? Given Archer’s weakness in all things Katya, it could be quite easy to manipulate him and use him in a hypothetical takeover.

While the episode focused on Archer’s plan to win back Katya, we got to see the rest of the ISIS team play their own little roles in Archer’s grand scheme. As I’ve stated before, the show is at its best when it utilizes all its eccentric characters and exploits its great ensemble. This week, the characters were better integrated into the main storyline and therefore the episode benefited from it. After Archer incapacitates the troublesome, “naysayers” who would not be encouraging of his master plan, he convinces Pam, Cheryl, and Dr. Krieger to help him in their own special ways.

In a departure from what we saw last week, this episode showed characters being semi supportive of Archer, sure they had their own weird reasons for helping him out, but there was a sense of camaraderie that was noticeable and fun to watch. Krieger was motivated solely by the possibility of the epic robot fight that would come if he were successful in bringing Barry back. His selfish desire to witness two robots “fight to the death” was far greater than any loyalty he had towards Archer and he ended up helping Barry make his way back. Pam didn’t seem to be motivated by anything specific, just Archer’s insistence that she help him and Cheryl’s giddy enthusiasm for opposite world made it so that she contributed to the group effort.

These three characters are probably the weirdest oddballs in the ensemble and it is always fun to see what bizarre quirks the writers come up with for them. Krieger’s wildly inappropriate, boner inducing reaction to Archer’s description of the epic robot fight (“My penis can only get so erect.”); Pam making tentacle porn with Cyril and Ray’s unconscious bodies; Cheryl’s childish and gleeful enjoyment of opposite world and masochism (it never gets old); are all great amusing character moments replete with appropriate nuttiness.

Archer’s bitter realization that everyone at ISIS has some kind of date for the night except him made for an apt impetus for his feeling of annoyance and frustration. Even Pam had a date for god sakes, and although Krieger’s date is a hologram he’d rather have his “smushi” night than go out with Archer. “How do these people all have dates? These aren’t people you date,” Archer observes with irritation, his later discovery of Lana and Cyril’s reunion drives him further down his shame spiral and serves as a catalyst for the episode’s subsequent events.

Of course Archer believes that Lana and Cyril are back together just to displease him, his ability to turn any situation into egotistical, self-centered ordeal is truly remarkable. His incredulity of this advancement propels him to question Lana and her reasons for getting back together with Cyril. After discovering that Lana has been through a particularly long dry spell he tries to convince her she doesn’t have to stoop so low and that he would readily take Cyril’s place.  Archer does a surprisingly decent attempt of convincing Lana that he has matured somewhat since the last time they were together and Lana almost falls for it. She briefly indulges in a hypothetical, what if situation just before Archer answers his phone and leaves her hanging.

Not all the jokes were 100% there. The opposite world gag, while Cheryl’s initial reaction was great, became somewhat stale after the third iteration, even though Archer’s frustrating reaction’s got more amusing each time that it happened, the writers didn’t change it up enough or exaggerate it enough for it to add to the comedy. Instead it just fell flat after a while and felt like they were just repeating the same joke over and over. The episode was fairly fast paced; there was a lot of material crammed into that half hour of television.

While there was just one main storyline, the addition of the various characters into the plot and the rapid-fire execution of gags made it so that the narrative didn’t lag or become tiresome. However, I do think the first half of the episode was more dynamic than the second, it seemed to have a stronger start. The first half seemed to have more character interaction and more of Lana and Malory, which I always welcome,. Even though the first half felt livelier, there was good material throughout the episode and it was fun to see the final revelation of Katya at the helm of the KGB. I enjoyed this episode more than last week’s “Midnight Ron” and look forward to seeing more of Barry and Katya.

Random Thoughts:
- Why is Barry all bushy bearded and hairy, even cyborgs have to do some grooming every once in a while?

- “Damn you, tinnitus! You’re a cruel mistress.”

- “Fisherman’s Wife and Fisherman’s Wife II: the Retentacling”

- Where’s Woodhouse, is he stuck in the dumbwaiter again? I miss him.

- Fort Kickass

- The revelation of the octopus in the toilet was great and sick.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson shoutout!

- Malory drinking out of the paper clip holder, just priceless



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