Apprehensive as I was about Archer‘s season finale, I wouldn’t have guessed it would land as flat as it did and that I would now have an answer for anyone who asks me what my least favorite episode of the show is. I don’t intend to argue it wasn’t entertaining, as all Archer episodes are, just that it felt off, comparatively speaking, for a number of reasons.
This was clear from the jump, with Archer mouthing his catch-phrase twice in the span of a minute and not even bothering to set it up beforehand. Did the writers go to work in a “danger zone,” only to say “wait, I had something for this,” and then proceed to give up altogether on contextualizing it? It was cute the first time to see him so desperate to say it, but the second time made it sound as if they were no longer trying.
Shortly thereafter, Captain Murphy re-enters the fold and my suspicions that he would drag the episode down proved true. Archer is a show accustomed to portraying characters in the throes of insanity, yet whereas usually they’re as lovably eccentric as the other “saner” characters, Murphy is half-baked and dull.
He talks to himself, talks like a cliched environmentalist, tosses in yet another twist (there are no missiles), escalates the plot, and is then killed off, his usefulness exhausted. In short, he was a forgettable plot device used to bring about season four’s penultimate “twist,” so to speak, that Lana is pregnant and not by way of Cyril.
Did this have anything to do with the unspecified decision she was contemplating in an earlier episode? Was she mulling over how to handle her present predicament with regards to Archer and Cyril? I hate to think the writers would tack this on the end without any kind of foreshadowing, so I’ll go on believing they were hinting at it back then until proven otherwise.
It wasn’t only her big reveal that I took issue with, however, but what it brought about as well. Archer selflessly giving Lana the last scuba suit and choosing to be the one to risk death sans suit was admittedly as heartwarming as Archer is ever bound to get. That’s not what bothered me.
No, I was put off by it turning Cyril into a cut-rate Archer clone whose quips were to me not so much humorous as they were overly bitter. Cyril has every right to resent Lana for this, but I was waiting and hoping for her to have another largely hormone-driven freak-out on him like she had earlier on Archer. Except it never came (phrasing!).
It was all rather unclimactic, I have to say. The missiles turn out to be an insanity-inspired hoax. Barry’s pursuit of Archer is forgotten entirely, as is Archer’s personal journey involving the identity of his real father. Lana is pregnant out of nowhere and all we get out of it is Cyril being more of a douche than I thought possible. Cheryl and her brother Cecil make up because… Pam confides in Cheryl about her own sibling troubles? And the sea lab being obliterated is actually a win for him due to the absurdly large insurance payout he’s about to receive.
Lastly, Ray is once again confined to a wheel chair after barely getting any use out of those bionic legs of his. Here I was thinking they meant we’d see a cyborg battle, him versus Barry. The joke was on us, as he got about as much use out of those legs as he did his old ones. He could always go back under Krieger’s knife and we could still get that showdown, but I’m no longer counting on it.
All I’m looking forward to in season five is Archer making up for this, their first true misstep. Oh, it had its moments, such as Malory showing how alike she and her son are when downing that ethanol or Krieger drugged and drumming whilst modifying firearms, and I was entertained more or less throughout. That being said, it also left me asking “that’s it?” when the episode finally ended, which is the first (and I hope last) time that’s ever happened for me with Archer.
The show has had its off episodes before, and it’s managed to come back strong each time, so I’ll predict (and hope) they do it again and I look forward to the start of season five already.