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February 3, 2012 - 7:01pm

'Archer' RECAP: ISIS goes to Canada

BY DAVID TAO AND KAYLA UPADHYAYA

FX

Now in its third season, FX's animated comedy “Archer” continues to follow the escapades of the worst best secret agent in the intelligence world: Sterling Malory Archer. Senior Arts Editors Kayla Upadhyaya and David Tao recap the third episode of the season.

David: Canada is always funny. Always. “Archer” in Canada? Even better.

Kayla: Canada is never not hilarious. My friends and I have a lot of Canada jokes, so we promptly freaked out when we discovered that this week's “Archer” was going to be all aboot (not a typo) our North American neighbors.
 
David: They didn't milk the Canada jokes as egregiously as, say, “How I Met Your Mother,” which was excellent. And they tied the episode back with a lot of hilarious references to the second season … my favorite of which was the ocelot, who turns out to be a giant piss-spraying asshole of an animal (with tufted ears).

Kayla: Which makes him the perfect best friend for Archer. “Lana! LANAAAA! HE REMEMBERS ME!!!!”
 
David: Yes. Also, Carol owns a railway, well, half of one. And she uses it to make Malory suffer!
 
Kayla: YES. I like that we've been slowly finding out over time that Carol is loaded. Of course her family consists of railroad tycoons. Of course. Back to the season two references, I particularly liked the ones to “Skytanic.” Todd VanDerWerff pointed out that “The Limited” almost acted as a sequel to “Skytanic.” And I can definitely see that.
 
David: Yes, the whole “traveling in luxury” thing, the saboteur in a closed environment … I can see the similarities.
 
Kayla: Both episodes have similar structure and payoff.
 
David: There were lots of references also to “classic” television. I personally saw more similarities to “Moonlighting” and “The Fugitive.” This episode is perhaps the most cinematic “Archer” episode that I've seen. A lot of the jokes, gimmicks and setups that the show employs only work because it’s a cartoon, but this episode would have worked really, really well as a live-action episode of television. It was still hilarious, but it was surprisingly well grounded and remarkably restrained.

Kayla: I agree. I loved Archer fulfilling his lifelong dream of chasing and fighting someone atop a train. His profound realization that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be was perfect. The whole top-of-a-train fight scene bit is so overused in action movies, and when you think about it, the Canadian terrorist is right: you're still just on the train … only now there’s dust cutting into your face and lights searing your retinas.

David: Very, very true … on a train, on the wing of a plane, on top of a skyscraper — there's this little thing called wind, kids. But building on that point, this whole episode involves Archer realizing that his lifelong dreams aren't that great … there was his season two line about ocelots: “I'VE NEVER SEEN AN OCELOT!” And now there’s his current reaction to ocelots, which made for an amazing end gag … “YOU FOX-EARED ASSHOLE.”

Kayla: “They look just like prints from a house cat, only bigger and AWESOMER.” I also liked the callback jokes regarding Archer and Mallory's racism … and then Lana just side-eyeing them the whole time, wondering how she puts up with them. It was classic “Archer.” And then there was the Canadian terrorist assuming Archer was racist because he was American.
 
David: Cyril's still horrible at field agent-ing. He lets the terrorist get away, dances around “blindfolded” by his sweater vest ...
 
Kayla: Yes, but it made for some funny moments and basically setup the entire episode. Like I said last week, I like Cyril. I wonder how much longer Malory is going to let him work in the field.

David: And once again, what are they going to do with Gillette? He’s totally just another side character now … almost no screen time anymore Then again, the writers might've felt that they milked the whole “he's a secret agent, and also he's gay!” thing for as long as they could.
 
Kayla: I hope they don't get rid of him though. He had some great moments this week, despite the minimal screen time ... like when Pam challenged him to a race in the tiny ice skating rink (and then asked to do a couple’s dance) and when Archer asked if everyone was alright and he replied “still paralyzed.” Even the small moments of this episode were expertly crafted. A Nova Scotian separatist movement? Hilarious!

David: I Googled “free Nova Scotia,” and apparently it isn't a thing. Imagine my disappointment.
 
Kayla: This show is really great at coming up with bizarre spy world situations and plots. The fake vs. real Mounties bit was simple, but hilarious.
 
David: Exaggerated canadian accents! Hee-lare-ee-ous!
 
Kayla: I pretty much spat my Coke out when Archer said “get 'em up, Dudley Douchebags!” (and then, “It was good enough for seconds.”)

David: It totally was. Other favorite quotes: When Archer was arrested for “attempted murder of a black guy.” I laughed my ass off for the entire arrest scene.

Kayla: It was quite hilarious, especially Archer's conversation with Babboo, the ocelot.
 
David: “They called you exotic, which is just people talk for awesome!”

Kayla: I liked drunk Archer at the very beginning: “Please tell me he's a renounced chicken and waffle chef. Because I'm starving.”

David: “Thanks, Freddy Foreshadowing.”

Kayla: You know who I really missed this episode? Krieger. I feel like he would have added some more absurdity to the plot — though perhaps that would have been too much. I also have been missing Woodhouse. We haven't seen him since the season premiere, right?

David: We haven't seen him in quite a while, but I'm not really missing them that much.
 
Kayla: Woodhouse/Archer interactions are the best though!
 
David: OK, those are always hilarious, but it’s hard to develop those conversations beyond your typical template of “Archer treats Woodhouse like shit.” Maybe the writers wanted a break. As for Krieger, I miss him, but he definitely wouldn’t have been right for this episode … not exactly sure where a crazy, Hitler-clone scientist would fit in on a terrorist-transporting train.

Kayla: That’s true. This episode was eventful, but tidy, which really speaks to the writers’ credit. FX had a truly outstanding week this week — “Justified” and “Archer” put forth near-perfect episodes. I’ve said before that I think FX is the best and most consistent network right now, and they’re certainly proving my case lately. Hopefully both shows will continue to deliver.