THIS WEEK, ON ARCHER-
- Archer and the gang head to Ferlin, West Virginia for some good ol’ fashioned Justified-esque backwoods fun.
- The audience learns, in a surprise twist, that Ray was never paralyzed to begin with.
- Archer gets trashed on moonshine and all sorts of white trash hijinks ensue.
The only way this could be more fun is if the cast of Breaking Bad showed up somehow.
Note: To any FX executives reading this (of which I’m sure there are many), please put together a Breaking Bad/Justified/Archer crossover. There’s at least one blogger on the internet (me) who thinks it’d be totally great. That’s really all you need.
But really, all jokes aside, this is the second episode of Archer in a row that knocks it out of the park. The action centers on three of the show’s strongest characters (Archer, Mallory, Ray), has some seriously terrific lines that toe that thin line between offensive and hilarious, and the story wraps up in a clever, unique way.
So let’s start with the biggest thing happening in Bloody Ferlin- namely, the reveal that Ray was never handicapped, but just kept his hospital wheelchair because it was a little more convenient than walking and things just sort of snowballed from there.
I was worried about what it would mean for the show if Ray was forever handicapped, mopey, and unable to join in on any more missions, but the idea that he was never handicapped (or “handi-capable,” as Ray chimes in) is the perfect fix that’s just horrible enough to feel completely at home in this show’s worldview. Plus, this means we get a Ray-centric story this week, which is something we’ve all been long overdue for. Ray’s caught pilfering a stash of weapons from the ISIS armory to save his long-lost brother from the clutches of a corrupt Sheriff, and Archer and Lana tag along because, honestly, they don’t have anything better to do.
Now, the episode’s title is “Bloody Ferlin,” a play on Justified’s season two finale (“Bloody Harlan”), so naturally we’ve got pot farmers and police shootouts and a pronunciation of “Ray Gillete” with a hard g that almost sounded like Raylan Givens for a second.
But that’s as close as we get to Justified, which is a smart move, really. Any overt references or direct spoofs of Justified characters would have been too much- it would’ve start to feel like an actual parody rather than just an homage, and Archer’s not really the show to outright parody something else (unless it’s done for a really specific reason, like the how the end of last season’s “Placebo Effect” is a shot-for-shot remake of the end of a Magnum P.I. episode). And anyway, the West Virginia setting was a nice departure from what we usually get, setting-wise, from this show.
But now let’s talk about the actual story for a second- the sheriff down in Ferlin’s planning to kill Ray’s brother Randy and take over his pot dealing (or farming, or whatever) business, so naturally our friends from ISIS head down to give him a hand. And almost as soon as they get there, everything switches gears completely as Archer tries to sleep with Randy’s wife while Randy himself tries to sleep with Ray’s fake wife (a there-for-the-hell-of-it Cheryl). This detour in the second act is a little peculiar and doesn’t really go anywhere (it doesn’t help that Randy’s played by 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer, who I think society as a whole is starting to get tired of), but the level of funny is substantial enough to more than make up for any missteps in the plotting. Archer repeatedly insults a chicken, is amazed at Randy’s use of the word “nonplussed” and spends most of the second act pantsless.
So yeah, the jokes are there and the jokes are great.
And I did think the ending was brilliant. It turns out that Randy’s not being set up for murder and the sheriff’s not crooked at all- Randy just made that stuff up because he’s… well, a drug dealer. And after that little secret comes out, the episode’s more or less over. Randy gets hauled off to jail, the sheriff makes a pass at Ray (Ray’s babbling, wide-eyed reaction to this was one of my favorite gags in the episode) and Archer has one last bit of wordplay with that chicken he kept talking to.
Overall, it was another high-quality outing from TV’s sharpest animated spy comedy. Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few questions I had about “Bloody Ferlin.”
- So what does Cyril do now? Does he still get to be a field agent now that Ray’s back in action?
- Did anyone else think that Mallory was playing it a little dumb this week? She seemed to buy into the whole “mainframe break-in” story pretty easily…
- Is everyone else as tired of Jack McBrayer as I am?
- This isn’t a question, but I remembered as I was writing this that Bryan Cranston will, in fact, be on an episode of Archer later this season. If there’s a Breaking Bad reference my brain may explode.