I don’t know what to think. I’m torn. Confused. Kerfuffled.
On the one hand, “Skin Game” was smart, well paced, and consistently laugh-out-loud funny.
But it didn’t really capitalize on the cliffhanger from last week’s episode.
I mean, it kinda did.
But not really.
It’s confusing. I know.
So a quick recap for “Skin Game.” Katya, Russian agent and Archer’s former fiancee (former murdered fiancee, that is) is back, thanks to Kreiger’s scientific ingenuity and some spare hobo parts. Archer falls head over heels in love once more, has a minor freakout when he finds his robot bride cleaning her sex organs in the sink (honestly, the freakout seems kind of understandable), but throws caution to the wind and decides to marry her once more, mostly to piss off his mother.
Enter Robot Barry, who’s back for a second helping of revenge. Katya and Barry duke it out, but that duking (is “duking” actually a word? Spellcheck seems to thinks so) becomes something a little more intimate and soon Archer’s a single man once again, while Barry and Katya skip town a la The Graduate.
There’s a lot to like here. The story itself is considerably weirder than your standard Archer fare, but the characters all react in a a manner that makes sense, realistically (i.e., freaking the hell out), and the idea of Archer coming to terms with Katya’s new robot body is actually an intriguing piece of conflict. It also helps that the whole “man dealing with the sexual issues that come with reuniting with a cyborg version of his fiancee” thing is a story that hasn’t really been touched on in… well, ever. So that feels unique.
And the jokes are paced perfectly throughout, emphasizing certain story beats (like Archer getting increasingly creeped out by Kreiger’s apartment), and wandering off on a tangent at just the right moment (the whole cranbaisins/craisins bit).
Although I didn’t really get that reference to The Graduate at the end. What exactly was the point of that? Were we supposed to infer that, much like Benjamin and Elaine, Barry and Katya are unsure of their relationship and their future together? Because that wouldn’t really make any sense. And it certainly wasn’t a joke, unless name-dropping The Graduate is funny in and of itself (hint: it’s not). Hell, I spent an entire article explaining that a reference that’s just copied and pasted from the source material isn’t actually a joke. Shame on you, Archer.
But enough about that. I have another major gripe to gripe about- namely, the pushing of the “reset button” in regards to last week’s episode. You may remember, in my review of last week’s “Crossing Over” (I may or may not have published it yesterday), that a lot of the plot development hinged on things that I assume will come in later episodes, with the return of Barry and the departure of the late Jakov.
And this episode more or less sweeps all of that under the rug. Sure, characters mention last week’s events, often multiple times, but were you to delete the occasional lines mentioning Barry or Jakov and this would just be another standalone episode. Archer never once seems distressed about his potential father’s death. Neither does Mallory. Barry’s secret evil plan, which seemed like the big set-up from “Crossing Over,” wasn’t even mentioned. His plan couldn’t have been to disrupt the wedding- how could he have planned for Kreiger to rebuild Katya and for Archer to marry her? That, like last week’s murder, was just a happy coincidence for our old pal Barry.
And my favorite development from last week, the Archer/Pam hookup, was forgotten after one measly line. I love Archer, and I loved “Crossing Over,” but it’s irritating to see the show cut corners like this when a more serialized storyline could be so much more entertaining.
Maybe things will pick up next week. Maybe the two-part finale will reveal Barry’s master plan.
I can only hope so. At least it’ll have Bryan Cranston.