"Edie's Wedding" shows that Archer is still the king of self-referential humor, but sometimes needs to scale it back for something new.
One of the best parts of Archer, outside of clever dialogue and rapid-fire jokes, is its excellent cast of characters. Strip away the spy parody premise and insanely raunchy humor, and what you're left with are well-developed personalities who are engaging in any setting. That's why Season 3 could basically do "Archer in Space" and still be amazing, but also why we've become emotionally attached to the cast - everyone raise their hands who literally teared up during the phone call scene in "The Holdout".
At first glance, "Edie's Wedding" is an episode that's going hit those emotional buttons perfectly, and it gets awfully close to doing so. Sadly, when the credits roll, for some reason it still hasn't quite crossed the finish line. Perhaps that's because Edie's wedding, a great opportunity for comedy and drama, doesn't get much attention. It could be that a returning character completely derails the plot and steals our focus. Heck, maybe it's because the writers are being too forward about the emotional impact for a change, instead of hiding them behind jokes.
But mostly, I think it's because Archer is still following Season 6's trend - resurrecting plot points from the past instead of going in a new direction. Thankfully, it's still a great, tightly written episode that will make you laugh in all the right (and wrong) places. But this time, you can't help but feel like Archer missed opportunities that could have made the show even better. To say more will takes us to the spoiler zone, so feel free to watch the episode on FX, Hulu, or Amazon before continuing.
"Edie's Wedding" gets off to a great start with a perfectly hilarious scene that doesn't need a line of dialgoue. Archer walks into the office break room to find Pam crying hysterically with no explanation. He's the only person in the room, and she's directly blocking the coffee he came for so he'll have to interact with her. But just when you think he's about to actually comfort her, he nonchalantly nudges her aside and goes about his business. What's great about the joke is Archer finds a way to play it out for a solid minute: After moving her to get coffee, she's now blocking the fridge where cream is stored. After getting cream, he needs to navigate around her again to get a stirring spoon from the cupboard. And then of course he needs to add alcohol, because otherwise why have Irish coffee?
This is exactly why Archer is a great show and not a succession of sex jokes. It gets humor, timing, and all the elements that make otherwise ordinary moments laughable. Even when Archer pretends to be a silly cartoon for adults, very smart, very funny people are making it work behind the scenes. And after six years, they've got this routine down cold.