It can’t be over already, can it?
Archer Season 8 Episode 8 was the culmination of a fantastic season, and I think this was the best, most solid and consistent season of the show to date.
Man, I wish they'd done this sooner.
One of the hallmarks of the kind of hardboiled/noir fiction used in Archer: Dreamland is an incredibly pessimistic, disillusioned worldview with no happily-ever-afters. Archer Season 8 ended in fine noir form.
This season finale had a lot of bloodshed, meaningless deaths, and not a single happy endings for anyone. Somehow, in typical Archer fashion, there was humor in all the darkness.
The mystery of Woodhouse’s death had a very cynical ending. It turned out Mother NOT the one who took Woodhouse’s life; it turns out that it was Dutch Dylan. He killed Woodhouse just for fun. Oh, and because he cut him off in traffic.
He [Trexler] didn't tell me to do it. Hell, I did it just to see his lights go out.Dutch
No vendetta, no charge, nothing.
There was no meaning to Woodhouse’s death, save for the journey it took Archer through. I loved the graveyard scene, which really was a perfect summary of the relationship Archer and Woodhouse had. It was a mutually enabling, respectful, degrading and caring relationship.
Some of the most memorable scenes from the early seasons involved Archer’s interactions with Woodhouse (Eggs 101, I don’t know how they grade sand, but…coarse). I loved the dedication to the voice of Woodhouse, George Coe, who died in 2015.
This episode and this entire season were a lovely homage to the character of Woodhouse and how much he actually meant to Archer. He will be sorely missed.
Another meaningless death was that of the femme fatale, Lana Kane. Lana died for no other reason than the mishandling of a faulty gun. Which, by the way, was a fantastic call-back to Chehkov’s gun in Archer Season 1’s "Training Day."
Most of the other characters experienced some sort of loss. Detective Poovey, or “Mr. Policeman” as known by the rescued Chinese slaves, lost a surrogate family when they all left.
Poovey was so devastated: every vision of his future involved this adopted family. The Poovey we see at the end wasn’t the jolly deadpan snarker, but a broken, lonely soul.
Krieger lost everything. He lost his life’s work in Dutch Dylan, who dies (deservedly) at the hands, or jaws, rather, of Krieger’s robotic attack dogs.
Krieger: You're better than this! You don't have to be a killer. You can use your powers for the good of all mankind!
Dutch/Barry: Yeah, I could, but I was a murderer before you turned me into a freak so I don't know why you thought this was gonna have a happy ending.
Unfortunately, he also loses his dogs to the monstrous hands of Zerk. Krieger’s dogs have been his companions since the war, so he was understandably devastated.
Trexler, Figgis and Mother all lose the ransom they all schemed so hard to get. I dare say Trinette lost her dignity by marrying Cecil Vandertunt. And Charlotte Vandertunt? Well, they did ruin toast for her.
So how on EARTH did this episode still manage to be funny among all that noir darkness?
Adam Reed, that’s how. Adam Reed with a phenomenal story and script, with animators, designers and artists who milk the hell out of the visuals of every scene, and with J.G. Thirlwell’s score that elevated this show to a whole other level.
From the beginning, not a second was wasted, including those 30 seconds of silence that started the episode, which somehow managed to be both poignant and hilarious.
Then there was the escalation of Archer’s restraints on his passengers, which culminated in a continuation on Archer’s penchant for knock-knock jokes. I mean, we went from the interrupting cow to this:
Archer: Anybody got a joke about socks?
Everyone: [silence, gagged with socks]
Archer: Oh, okay, I got one. Uh, "Sock, sock?"
Archer: Then you say, "Who's there."
Archer: [chuckles] Okay then I guess just pout!
The constant revelations of Poovey’s misdeeds were hilarious, as was Charlotte’s obsession with toast and her petulance at having already thrown a chair.
Another stroke of genius was the gender ambiguity of Poovey. I am SO impressed with how they managed to avoid using pronouns for the entire season. I can barely write a review without them!
I’m not about to get into the sociopolitical implications of Poovey (I know the internet too well), but I absolutely loved that the character was unmistakably the same person we’ve seen for years, with the same personality, traits and attitude.
A change in gender didn’t make her any less recognizable as a character. I’ll leave that for you all to ponder.
Then there’s the cast that knows their characters so well that they nail every single line with precision. Their chemistry has never been greater than during this season. From every “Goddammit Archer!!” to every “shut up,” it just sounds and feels so effortless.
I would love nothing more than to sit in on an Archer recording session and watch the cast do their thing (hint hint, y’all).
Speaking of the cast, I really, really wish we had gotten more Ray Gillette. I imagine Adam Reed was perhaps too busy writing all the episodes to voice him too often. However, he was so funny in that one episode he was featured in, and the running rim-shot joke was my favorite of the season.
I also would have liked to revisit the real world at least once, just to see what those characters were up to while Archer was in a coma. Perhaps we’ll get some of that next season.
It would have also been nice to go a little more into those flashbacks Seamus Archer was having. Although, I did enjoy this lampshading:
Holy shit. Glad I don't have a flashback for that!
Archer: Dreamland was so seamless and ran so much like a well-oiled machine that it’s hard to put a finger on singular reasons why it was funny. It just was.
The noir theme had all the tropes, from the disillusioned post-war anti-hero with a penchant for self-destruction to the femme fatale to the organized crime wars to the crooked cops. Thankfully, the Archer we know and love never got lost.
It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here. Does Archer remain in Dreamland, or does he wake up next season? Will we get another hardboiled noir season, or will Reed go for a different genre of fiction?
- Brick joke: Shovel for the win!
- Cheryl’s obsession with toast is even less comprehensible than Poovey’s with hot-dogs.
Lana: Hurry up!
Poovey: Jesus! You people would stand in a bread line and ask for toast.
Charlotte: Wait, there's toast?
Mother: WHY would there be toast!?!
Charlotte: Why WOULDN'T there be?
- The gun with the hair trigger: Archer Season 1 Episode 2 – "Training Day"
- Okay, well then, just pout!
- Hercule Poirot: One of Agatha Christie's most famous fictional detective. Often gathered all the suspects in a room to out the perpetrator.
- John Moses Browning: American firearms designer.
So what did you think? Did you enjoy this season? What were your favorite one-liners and running jokes? Let me know in the comments! Also, remember you can always watch Archer online.