Archer: The Limited

I enjoy Archer. I do. I really, truly do. But my love for Archer is not forgiving, or kind, or sweet-natured.

No, my love for Archer is what people call “tough love.” And I’m about to serve up a heaping helping of this toughened love. Right here. Right now.

Frankly, I thought The Limited was just okay.

While you’re reeling from that heavy blow, you can go ahead and hit “Continue Reading.”

If you’ve read my previous Archer writeups, you’ll know my take on the show is “the more banter, the better.” And there was plenty of banter here in The Limited- Babou the ocelot, George the porter, raw steaks, train-top fights- the agents from ISIS had a whole mess o’ topics to draw from last night as they shot zingers back and forth amongst the actual gunshots.

But something about The LImited just felt lifeless. And I’m pretty sure that something was Bilko, the Canadian terrorist who serves as our villain of the week. Bilko’s goal is a free Nova Scotia, but that’s really his only defining characteristic, and without anything else to build up his character he comes off as very tame (that may be subtle shot at Canadians- it’s a little hard to tell). Even when his cohorts show up on board, there’s never a sense that this guy poses any threat whatsoever.

Archer himself even supports this with a running gag about how he’s never actually in any real danger because everyone trying to kill him is Canadian. Yes, this is a comedy and yes, H. Jon Benjamin gets some great one-liners out of his Canada-bashing, but the weakness in these action segments was still noticeable.

And while we’re on the subject of racial jokes (Canadian or otherwise), Bilko has a repeated gag in which he mistakenly thinks Archer is a racist murderer after a bizarre coincidence involving George the porter (a black man) and a large piece of raw steak. The whole thing is a little blunt and not particularly funny, and lends itself to a few clunkers like:

“They just killed the black guy. I know, right? Only in America.”

And later, when Archer proclaims to Bilko that he’s really starting to get angry, Bilko’s response is:

“Why? Did you see a black woman sitting at the front of the bus?”

If you’re going to go to the well of American stereotypes, why not pick something that’s actually a stereotype? Fat Americans. Uncultured Americans. This whole thing feels totally out of left field.

Okay, I’ve finished my rant- now to move onto what I enjoyed in The LImited.

The grand prize winner in this category, of course: Babou the ocelot. I, like Archer, love that little guy’s presence, and Archer’s willingness to drop any and all spy activity to focus on a jungle cat is never not funny. Just look at the way he lights up once he realizes Babou’s on board- the whole thing’s endearing as well as funny and Benjamin nails every ocelot-related line in the episode.

Plus we get more of Cheryl as a billionaire heiress (a side of her we don’t see as much) and Ray gets in a few good ones about his sad, paralyzed life in the background of the show.

Now the last thing I’d like to bring up is what seems to be happening with Cyril as a full-fledged ISIS agent. Last week we saw a Cyril who was still hopelessly naive but could also be a semi-competent field agent. This week, we get all of the naiveté and none of the competence. While it makes sense that Cyril’s never going to be an all-star like Archer or Lana, I’m intrigued to see where they take him into this new development. Will he be talented in an on-again, off-again kind of way? Will he always be a bumbling doofus? Will they go for a radical change and actually have Cyril transform into a top agent?

That last one sounds a little extreme, but it’s worked before- Venture Bros fans will recognize that exact same character arc happened with Henchman 21.

So, Archer fans, as we come to the very last sentence of this article, I pose to you a question- what do YOU want to see happen with Cyril?

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14 responses to “Archer: The Limited

  1. I think your analysis is pretty much spot on. I have to agree that Bilko never felt like a real threat, and the ‘racist American’ bit was milked so hard that I plum forgot about the misunderstanding with George and the raw steak until Archer actually tried to explain himself. That said, I did really like the deconstruction of the classic ‘chase atop a train’ sequence, and I too love Archer and Babou. Their ‘conversation’ in the police car felt like the perfect ending to the episode.

    As for Cyril, I could be wrong – and, pessimistically, I expect I probably will be – but his naive incompetence in this episode might actually be in keeping with his skills as a field agent. Cyril succeeded in the last episode primarily because he filled the gaps in Archer and Lana’s skill sets. He has an eye for detail and a surprising amount of finesse in social situations, and his near-complete understanding of the situation in his first mission won the day. This time around, he did screw up with Bilko, but once that mistake was made, the situation transformed into a pretty straightforward pursuit of a fugitive terrorist and a hungry ocelot. Cyril’s just not going to be at his best in that situation.

    It might have been somewhat more consistent if someone other than Cyril had let Bilko go, to be sure – hell, Archer was falling-down drunk when he got on the train, and swiftly distracted by Babou; why couldn’t it have been him? Or Pam or Cheryl could certainly have meddled in some disastrous way. But someone clearly needed to drop the ball to get the events of the episode going, and Cyril is still a decent choice. I honestly do hope his skills improve as time goes on, because while he’s not the most interesting character on the show, he does provide a contrast to the other operatives (ISIS agents and otherwise) we’ve seen on the show so far, and his surprising competence in certain situations could lend itself to further hilarity.

    • That’s some great analysis going on there- it does make sense that Cyril wouldn’t be of much use in a strictly physical chase-type situation. And, now that my mind’s started to wander, why do you think Cyril’s the one who got the bump in status? I wonder what kind of stories we’d be dealing with if Pam or Cheryl or Babou got a promotion instead.

      • Well, that one’s simple: Cyril’s the one ISIS staffer Malory can stand; or, at least, he’s the least irritating option. She despises Pam and she tolerates Cheryl mainly because of her vast wealth. ISIS probably doesn’t have the funds to hire a brand new field agent at this point (a subtle continuity nod to the sheer number of times they’ve screwed up in the last few years), so they had to promote someone internally. Who else was left? Krieger? Hobbit guy? Yeah. Cyril was it.

        Of course, Malory pretty much always has ulterior motives, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some deeper, darker reason that we’ll discover later on. I only hope, for Cyril’s sake, that she’s not trying to seduce him.

      • Ok, that makes perfect sense. Cyril it is. And I’ll bet there is some hidden reason for his promotion that we’ll find out later on. Maybe if that plotline starts to kick into high gear we’ll get a little more Ray time. I could use some more Ray time.

  2. interesting blog! I’ll have to come back and check it out when I have more time.

    Thank you for liking my blog post: “Houston’s Tunnel System, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Affectiva And A Quote For The Day.”

    Peace.

    • Then let this place be a sanctuary for your Archer fandom. We shall never spill the beans on your secret. We shall only cherish your love of wisecracking secret agents.

  3. I laughed harder at this conversation than the Archer episode. I knew the episode was not the best. Now I am regretting not spending more time figuring out why it was not the best. I am glad there are people out there doing this important work. I am not nearly critical enough. I have become a lazy TV viewer.
    I guess they figured that the Canadian stereotype jokes were so obvious that we would just fill them in ourselves. That seems like lazy writing to me. Laziness abounds.

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