And so, after episode after episode where Archer strove for perfection but only ever reached the level of “pretty good,” we get Lo Scandalo. By far, it’s the best Archer I’ve seen all season.
In fact, I’m so excited I can’t even type any more of this introduction.
Nope. No more. Done.
Some folks have been calling Lo Scandalo a bottle episode. I’d agree with that statement. Probably.
NOTE: for those not in the know, a “bottle episode” is an episode of television that takes place, for the most part, in one set that the show already has access to and without any special guest stars. It saves everybody a ton of money, and exceptionally well-done bottle episodes are often hailed as the high point of a TV series.
Some notable examples of bottle episodes include:
- Breaking Bad- “Fly.”
- Seinfeld- “The Chinese Restaurant.”
- Friends- “The One Where No One’s Ready.”
- Mad Men- “The Suitcase.”
So there you go.
Anyway, Lo Scandalo has all the elements of a bottle episode- until the last minute or so, it’s all in Mallory’s apartment, and apart from the detective there’s no one here who’s not in the main cast. Unless you count the Italian prime minister. I don’t, though, because of the whole “he’s dead” thing.
But does it really count as a bottle episode if it’s an animated show? I mean, there are certainly fewer locations and backgrounds to design and animate, and the same goes for characters. Plus, stylistically speaking, it feels exactly like a bottle episode. It’s kind of a grey area, really.
But that’s all besides the point, because Lo Scandalo was by far the best Archer of the season. The humor was spot-on, but even more importantly, all those spot-on jokes were there in service of the story- one that was actually fairly tense at times. A lot of the action elements of Archer can feel a little phony at times, if only because most of the action elements of Archer consist of Archer and Lana fighting off a bunch of nameless goons. That kind of stuff can be fun, and can work as a springboard for some great jokes, but there’s never any real weight to it because there’s never any doubt that Archer’s going to win in the end- we’ve seen him easily handle plenty of throwaway bad guys in the past, so why should this be any different?
Lo Scandalo undercuts all of this by giving us a serious spy plot that’s tense but devoid of random, disposable thugs. With a “whodunit/covering up a murder” story, there’s an actual sense of danger because everybody could get caught with the body and the show could still go on. Yes, if that happened then it would all be covered up in the end somehow, but this isn’t a shootout where there’s a risk of physical danger or death. If Archer dies, the show’s over. If Archer gets caught with a corpse, the overall vibe of the show might change for a little bit, but we’d still have a main character and the show would go on.
I don’t watch Archer for the intrigue, though. I watch for the funny. And Lo Scandalo delivers some serious funny. I could list examples, but I’d end up just quoting the whole damn episode so all you really need to know is that when every character on Archer gets crammed into the same apartment for twenty two minutes, the amount of zingers being tossed back and forth is just staggering. If I had to pick one line (I don’t, but I feel like picking one anyway so just roll with it), it’d have to be “your version didn’t have coveralls.”
Now if you haven’t seen the episode, you might not understand why I laughed at that, but if you haven’t seen the episode then why are you even reading this?
Go. Go watch it now.
Or not. I’m not the boss of you.
P.S. Mallory says a very obscene word in Italian towards the end of the episode (I would know, as I speak very mediocre Italian myself), and I wasn’t aware such a word could get past the censors with no bleeps or anything. Maybe none of the censors spoke Italian. Maybe the word isn’t quite as dirty as I thought. Who knows. I just found it curious, is all.