While I am behind a few episodes, Archer remains one of my all time favorite shows. It is hilarious, well paced, and somehow manages to jump the shark while never really jumping the shark. It’s the perfect blend of outrageous with just that splash of real character development needed to bring it back to Earth. I thought for this Impressions piece we would look at some of my personal favorite episodes. I am not saying these are the best, but they are the ones that I love the most. The current season is being left out as I am, as mentioned, behind.
Vision Quest, Season 6
Bottle episodes are incredibly easy to get wrong. Unless a show is made on mostly bottle episodes they can often feel empty and forced. The longer a show has gone on the harder bottle episodes can be, since the conventions explored in them are already well established. Yet despite this, Archer manages to bring one of the best (if not the best) bottle episodes I have ever seen. Each character is given a chance to shine in their own personal way. There is nothing unexpected in this episode, in fact it proudly embraces what you’ve come to expect from everyone. Yet the timing of the jokes is still so spot on, and it’s a good reminder that Archer doesn’t need larger than life plots to make us laugh.
Note for those that don’t know bottle episodes are episodes that largely take place in one location and focus on character development. It’s a convention that many tv shows use.
Bel Panto I and II, Season 7
First let me say I am really tired of the Archer Lana on again, off again. This episode has a lot of their petty bickering, and it’s more than a little soured at this point. So it speaks highly of this two parter that even with the annoying Lana Archer dynamic it still manages to be amazing. These episodes are farce to the max. The group ends up being hostages for jewelry thieves and try to get their way out of it. As the episode unfolds it plays with a lot tropes and is mildly predictable. Yet in spite of that it keeps the humor coming and plays with a few of fans favorite jokes. It also ends an amazing climax… physical humor in slow motion is just too amazing.
Honeypot, Season 1
Not all of the first season has aged that well in my opinion. It’s still solid, but the show has definitely grown and developed in solid ways. Yet this episode is one I find myself returning to often. Charles and Rudy are hilarious, and their dynamic with Woodhouse is solid. Archer manages to ride that line of offensive and hilarious that he does so well. It also shows a lot of the development of the office characters. It might not be one of the best episodes, but it always makes me laugh.
The Limited, Season 3
The return of Carol/Cheryl’s ocelot alone offers plenty of humor. The group is transporting a prisoner on a train, when the expected happens, they lose him. The rest of the episode plays various types of humor we’ve come to expect from the show. Archer is overly enthusiastic about the situation and his chance to live out another impractical fantasy. Mallory causes problems then blames everyone else, Lana is left to pick up the pieces without anyone listening. Top that off with Archer’s favorite ocelot making a major appearance and everything is the zany humor we love so much.
The Rules of Extraction, Season 5
I am hard pressed to separate this from the two episodes that make up this three part sandwich. It is not technically considered a three parter, though each episode leads into the next. Yet if forced to say, this is hands down the best of the three in my opinion. After the events of the last episode Archer, Ray, and Cyril are stuck in the jungle. The episode manages to balance action with character development. Ray and Cyril are forced to grudgingly admit that they need Archer in times like this. Ray is not content to just accept it and challenges Archer to admit his own issues with mortality and the terrible way in which he handles his affairs. The episode is hilarious, and it’s nice to see these three together again. The ladies’ side of things, while not as compelling, is pretty solid as well.