Archer Review - Pam's Big Episode Isn't About Pam

Marshall Lemon | 30 Jan 2015 12:17
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But I'm getting ahead of myself. It turns out being kidnapped was actually the second worst thing Pam went through that night. Edie swings by her sister's motel room to see if they arrived, and she proves to be an irredeemably horrible person. Almost everything that comes out of her mouth is an insult to either Pam or Archer, and it quickly becomes clear only Archer can brush them off. Edie really does just want to destroy her sister's feelings, and has for a long time. In fact, it seems like the only reason Pam was invited was so Edie could rub it in that she's getting married first. This is the emotional meat of the episode and it works very well - Pam's obvious emotional trauma, family problems, and Archer stepping up to repair their friendship, all tied together with the show's typical brand of humor.

Or rather, that's the direction it should have gone, but instead we get a massive cyborg fight. You know, I can't believe I'm making a case for fewer cyborg fights, especially one as impressive as this. It's brutal, funny, and peppered with dialogue showcasing how much they hate each other. This is the showdown Archer fans have been begging for since Season 3, when Barry was left behind in space instead of having the promised throw-down. Trouble is, it happens at the expense of letting Pam have a killer episode of her own. At least she gets a fantastic parting shot at Barry for her troubles, but I weep for what could have been.

Meanwhile, Lana is bouncing around the not-ISIS office, trying to find someone who can take care of AJ for the weekend. The interactions are brief, but funny, and well-worth taking 30 seconds to fit the entire cast into the episode. (My personal favorite is Ray's thinly-veiled attempt to pretend the elevator is malfunctioning. "We'll talk on Monday about how scary this was for me" almost had me on the floor laughing.) But the person who ends up helping is actually Cyril, who makes the very mature suggestion that he and AJ stay in a nearby hotel room in case Lana needs to check up on them. It's a great character moment and seems like Lana and Cyril are moving forward... until he privately reveals it's a ruse to get back in Lana's pants.

You know, sometimes I actually try to like Cyril because he's an interesting character that gets crapped on all the time. But it's really hard when he gets so openly scummy.

The bigger issue, however, is one with the entire episode - Archer is spending way too much time basking in the glory of past seasons. Pam's family visit is actually about Barry the cyborg. A frank conversation between Lana and Cyril hints they'll get back together again. Archer Season 6 has been doing this since the premiere, mind you, but as jokes highlighting how everything's changed. "Edie's Wedding", on the other hand, resurrects old plot points to interrupt what should have been more interesting moving forward.

I'm not sure I can hate Archer for that, considering it's still the king of self-referential humor. But we're finally hitting a point where fans could just rewatch the old episodes. Archer doesn't need to be Vice, but let's do something new.

Although that was a pretty sweet cyborg fight.

Bottom Line: "Edie's Wedding" proves that Archer, while as funny as ever, may be spending too much time living in the past. A Pam-centric episode that could've been fantastic turned out to be a really good episode that happened to have Pam in it. There's a lot of great details that make up for that, but if Archer keeps it up, it risks going stale.

Recommendation: Even when it recycles plot points, Archer is still one of the best shows on television. You should keep watching.




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