Alright, yes. This is the third episode of the season. If those were steps in a person’s run to the finish line, they’d be back on their dominant foot and on the way to the gold. After a shaky wobble in the past two episodes, Archer is beginning to gain some traction, but it’s still uncertain where the show is heading.
“The Archer Sanction” capitalizes on new character dynamics to bring back old jokes. Mallory as babysitter is proving to be difficult for Lana, as ineptitude on everyone’s part presents another charming “where’s the baby?” caper. This is irksome for the new mother on her mission, where, along with Ray and Sterling, she is to assassinate a member of a mountain climbing expedition in the Swiss Alps. Again bereft of the valuable information the mission dossier could provide, Archer must outwit an obvious plot twist to figure out who the target is.
The mountain climb proves to be a fairly dull plot point. There’s not much excitement or concern regarding the risk of exposure to the elements for the agents; just as they can make it off a space station and an underwater laboratory, they can become advanced mountaineers and survive an avalanche. I would have preferred the location be used for more On Her Majesty’s Secret Service references, but it does make for some fun gags (or strangulations, whatever).
Meanwhile, the ISIS administrative crew are enjoying their backing role in this season’s events by only getting trashed all the time. These people have reached the limits of abuse at the hands of drugs and alcohol but just keep going. This leads to increasing incompetence, or rather, the same level of incompetence as always. Equilibrium in the Archer world is maintained through every character’s flawed lifestyle and the regrettable consequences of their actions.
It’s still funny, but getting a little tiring, seeing the same rampant alcoholism on the show when there are plenty of more creative ways to produce the intended effect (Krieger Cleanse was the juice). This episode does well in finding a way to keep the supporting cast reeling with intoxication from one substance to the next. In the end, they accomplish nothing and are violently poisoned for it.
This week’s infant inquiry is resolved following a case of poor communication. Lana’s capability to make calls on her SAT phone from the Alps is funny against Malory’s inability to answer a call on her cell phone. Ray “forgetting” to bring gum is funnier than it should be as it gets callbacks . Along with good animation during the fall in the snow around nine minutes in, there’s enough humor to compensate for the weaker aspects of the episode.
The scales are tipping in a good direction after “The Archer Sanction.” Still, I haven’t been impressed or blown away by anything so far this season. Lucky Yates has kept his intro credit segment, and Krieger commands a huge fanbase, but has been fairly quiet this season. Archer, Lana and Malory are commanding the attention again, after Pam and Cheryl were heavily represented in Archer: Vice. I’d like to see the balance shift to include more substantial roles from the whole cast, rather than keep them engaged in purposeless busy work. Also, is Woodhouse still alive? Someone get back to me.