February 5th, 2015, 10:00 PM,FX Network
The Archer Gang gets trapped together in an elevator when they rush to work to make an emergency staff meeting on Malory’s memorandum. With an RF jammer installed on the roof of the elevator and all exits jammed, the gang is stuck trying to make time. The rest of the episode tracks their desperate attempt at getting help, rationing resources, picking at each other’s faults and trying to figure out how to pee into a forty ounce bottle.
Some episodes of Archer lean heavily on plot. Some of them try to tell a long form linear story. This one is just pure character interaction from start to finish, and that makes it as funny as hell. There are plenty of multi-episode running gags (Ray’s refusal to hold the elevator for anyone; Cheryl’s “you’re not my (coal mine) supervisor! “, Pam’s “That’s inapropes, dog!”, Lana’s “Truckasaurus Mitts.”), and many, many more little character quirks and bits of backstory that help add extra zing to the ridiculousness we’re given. There are battles and truces, friendships and fights – there’s practicality and extravagance, anger and calm. It’s a roller-coaster ride where every character gets a chance to shine.
And every character does have a second or two of awesome in this episode. Cyril, after being given little more to do than creep on Lana this season, finally gets to step forward and produce some useful and practical help, and even wrings a compliment from his co-workers while we revisit his sex addiction, which we haven’t had an episode about in centuries. Archer’s taken another step toward maturity as he tries to help Lana play leader – at least for awhile. Lana is angrier and more strident than ever, and Cheryl’s ditzy and wise at the same time. Pam is frank and maybe a bit grosser than normal –and Ray gets to be competent and bright. Meanwhile, Krieger is…Krieger. Or MAYBE HE’S NOT. And as for Malory, well – you’ll see.
The episode is dotted with great jokes; besides the ones originating from the characters’ personalities there’s the sight of everyone arguing about Cyril’s possible priapic boner. Of Ray trying to crawl over to a tiny gap in the elevator doors just to smoke. Of Pam horrifying everyone with her eating habits. Of Cheryl being dotty. Of Lana and Archer arm-wrestling each other for supremacy over the situation and both of them losing. Of Krieger being a – surprise! – clone. There are very few casts on prime time television that I’d enjoy watching argue about suicide pacts, feral masturbation, cigarettes and pee, but I swear this cast makes it work.
They call episodes like these “Bottle episodes”. Sticking your entire cast in a single location for a half hour is a classic sitcom trope, but Archer manages to infuse it with a level of blue-tinged raunch and hilarity just by having the characters be themselves, just by having them make the mistake of going to work early.
There hasn’t been a stronger episode of Archer this season, and there hasn’t been a better ‘bottle episode’ this television season. This episode is, therefore, has received the highest grade from this reviewer.
- Cheryl’s serene declaration of what everybody’s thinking of at the moment: Archer wants a drink, Lana wants to lecture them, Pam wants more bearclaws, Ray wants to smoke, Cyril wants to masturbate and Krieger is afraid everyone’s going to find out he’s really a Krieger Clone (!!?). Also Lana and Ray are both addicted to gambling.
- Cheryl is, meanwhile, apparently mildly claustrophobic. Or rather the Carol personality is.
- ”Vision Quest” is a 1985 coming-of-age drama starring Matthew Modine as a high school wrestler who falls in love with an older artist. While it seems to have a cult following among college wrestlers, to the mainstream it’s mostly known for the Madonna-led soundtrack, which features her number one hit “Crazy for You.”
- Apparently Malory never hired back everyone the team laid off when the team disbanded last year.
- Milton the Toasterbot, introduced in the second episode of the season, makes another appearance in this one.
- Elevator rations: a bagel, four coffees, forty ounces of beer, two flasks of bourbon, and some foul non-foodlike substance in Krieger’s thermos (which is, perhaps, human being soup).
- As of this week everyone in the company has seen Pam’s vagina. And Lana’s. Even Krieger (though not in person).
- Next Week: Archer takes care of AJ solo for the first time, a weekend entirely ruined by the appearance of a Pakistani intelligence officer in “Sitting”.< /li>
LI>Cyril is fascinated by elevators.
An exemplary example of the bottle episode, with perfect character humor, requisite mayhem and delightful ridiculousness.