I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about Archer this year, in a previous review I felt a bit disappointed by the season opener as it relied upon the gang arguing and bickering a lot but not much more than that, but was then pleasantly surprised by the second episode which shook everything up a bit with it’s Gladiator / Thor Ragnarok style plot where everyone beat the shit out of each other and it was incredibly fun to see, as was Malory torturing Archer while possessing the horrendously warped Funbeak.
Unfortunately the following two episodes were more of a mixed bag, the one with the alien giving birth to eggs all over the place had some pretty strong moments, Archer and Lana getting back together despite their disdain for each other especially, but a few scenes felt like it was treading water, and the fourth episode was surprisingly joke free, and the plot so nothing-y that I had to look it up online to remember exactly what had happened, which is of course never a good sign. If this was just a standard season perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much but this is likely to be the final one and I was hoping it would go out with a bang.
This episode is better than the previous one for sure, but alas it’s not up to the standard of the second and third. After jumping out of hyperspace Archer and co find themselves near a black hole, and a space station that looks like the most evil thing Lana has ever seen. When they explore it they discover the corpses of hundreds of aliens which have clearly been dead for centuries, but then meet Mr Deadly (guest star Matt Berry) who’s a sentient doomsday device which was never used but who is desperate to explode. That lets Archer come up with a lot of sexual innuendos (and Carol’s hornyness amused as she asked “Who else is turned on right now?”) and for a while it looked like it was going to be a really strong episode.
Unfortunately it became patchier after that, all of the scenes with Mr Deadly exploring the space station and trying out new experiences were really fun (the sweary butterfly being my favourite moment), with Berry a great addition to the cast, but Malory and Krieger becoming arms dealers was fairly weak, with the latter’s sales patter failing to elicit laughter. A few other jokes also fell flat, Pam and Krieger’s mix tape should have been funny but lacked imagination, Archer and Lana arguing about their failed marriage and Archer’s claim that he’d slept with people with less or more than two legs was a limp stuff, especially when compared to most of Archer’s normal bragging, and once again Cyril annoyed as he tried and failed to be heroic.
The mixed quality of the episode continued right to the end too, Carol asking Mr Deadly to grow two penises, and her disdain after having sex with him, was strong material but the final shoot out and destruction of Mr Deadly failed to entertain, as with many aspects of this season it was full of moments that we’d seen before too many times and so impossible to be engaged by. It’s a shame that this is clearly going to be Mr Deadly’s only appearance in the series too as for a good while he was a breath of fresh air, his mixture of joyful exuberance while also still having a death wish made me laugh a lot, and if he’d joined the crew it could have made the final three episodes a lot more unpredictable than the series tends to be.
This was the second episode of the season to be written by Mark Ganek, who was also the writer behind the much better third episode, and one of the very few out of the entire series that Adam Reed hasn’t been involved with. He certainly has a good grip on the characters in general but if the show does for some reason continue without Reed for an eleventh year I really hope he stops relying on some fairly tired tropes and is much more inventive, judging by this it wouldn’t be a disaster if there is an another batch of episodes but it wouldn’t be something I’d be particularly looking forward to, right now at least it feels like everything that can be done with these characters has been and it’s time to end their story once and for all.