The best Archer episodes start out with a little setup, take an unexpected turn, then ramp up the insanity, until, by the end, Pam takes off her shirt to beat up Malory and Archer’s getting really excited about Cheryl having an ocelot. Thus, it stands to reason, “Heart Of Archness” is going to just get crazier and crazier as it goes along, which means that tonight’s episode was a step up over last week’s episode, and next week’s should be even better than that. With the pirate business out of the way, this week felt free to just go right ahead with the hardcore pirate king action, before getting Archer, Noah, and Rip into a situation that was obviously coming from the moment that Archer assumed control of the pirates. “Part 2” is a big, hilarious episode, filled with lots of blatant plot stalls. But they’re such entertaining plot stalls that it doesn’t really matter. This is just a really good time.
Archer’s short rule as pirate king is going… poorly. As Noah keeps trying to point out to him, the pirates have a morale problem now that he’s in charge. His karaoke nights, giant feasts, and intramural lacrosse games seem to consist entirely of him knocking over the same pirate (named Bucky), then parading around, arms in the air, and screaming at the top of his lungs. He’s locked Rip up in the dungeons, and he refuses to release Noah, all the while mocking his anthropology degree. At the same time, Lana and Gillette are speeding toward the fortress, Lana continually expressing her disgust at the thought that everyone believes she still has feelings for Archer. Back at the ISIS offices, Malory is keeping Cyril and Cheryl there around the clock, while all Pam wants to do is go out for tequila and A-rab hoagies.
Once again, the highlight of the episode is hearing H. Jon Benjamin bounce off of a guest star. In this case, it’s David Cross, who does a great variation on the usual dweebish scholar type, as Archer makes Noah his first mate, then promptly spends absolutely no time listening to what he has to say. Cross is great at playing this kind of weary irritation, and the scenes where he was trying to explain to Archer that he was very close to having a mutiny on his hands were funny. I also liked his fascination with the pirate customs, particularly their eschewing of traditional gender roles. (Bucky’s girlfriend’s a giant dude, who steps into combat with Archer when Bucky wants to challenge him for the role of pirate king.) And his constant irritation with the others not paying any respect to anthropology is also great.
Patrick Warburton sits out much of this episode, confined to the dungeons as he is, but he makes the most of his voice time. And for those of you theorizing that Rip would end up being Archer’s dad, the episode pretty much puts a stake in that theory, saying that if Archer were Rip’s son, he would have to be 15. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the show figured out a way to make Archer Rip’s son all the same, but I don’t think he’s the clear answer to this puzzle some of you believed him to be last week.) Once the show gets all three of these guys together in the same scene, it makes for some fun TV, and I particularly liked their escape from Bucky and the mutineers, heading down into the very lowest levels of the pirate fortress, then finding themselves trapped.
But this episode was also filled with stuff going on back at the office, which means that I was bound to like it more than last week’s episode on general principle. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the fact that Cyril’s apparently squirreling away lots of ISIS funds in Swiss bank accounts or what to make of the fact that he and Pam hooked up (and the image of a naked Pam slumbering and farting on the couch is one of the most horrifying the show has cooked up). But the way that Malory kept everyone there around the clock—Cheryl to watch the stupid phone in case the stupid pirates called about stupid Archer and Cyril to find the money to keep up the manhunt—made for some nicely loopy scenes between the characters left behind at headquarters. (Another nice touch: Archer is told he needs to improve pirate morale, and he immediately starts thinking about buying better bookkeeping software and hiring an HR rep. The ISIS office is all he knows!)
The Lana and Gillette stuff is probably the weak link here. It’s not bad, but it does seem to be the same joke over and over: Someone assumes Lana’s still got a thing for Archer. She protests too much. Somebody gets hurt. Rinse. Repeat. Now, there are some funny variations on this—like when she jerks the boat to the side when Gillette is talking about how much she aches for Archer—but the whole thing feels a little too much like a way to kill time in between the other scenes. Once the two show up at the fortress and get locked away in the dungeons (just in time for Archer to give Lana one last “Whooooo!”), the episode seems ready to integrate them more fully, but then it ends. I guess we’ll see next week just how Lana and Gillette help Archer, Rip, and Noah out of this situation.
But, really, you don’t come here for the plotting, do you? And this was another episode filled with bizarre turns and great jokes. I was particularly fond of the way that Archer’s inability to speak without using idioms kept coming up, even as he knew exactly what an idiom was and grew irritated with Noah’s inability to translate them. I also quite enjoyed the scene where Archer and the pirates have stormed a fishing ship, and though the fisherman and his crew are subdued, Archer refuses to let the pirates take anything because Bucky’s apparently just waiting to rape the other crew members. Plus, the fisherman is a small businessman. Do you have any idea what his bottom line is?
Ultimately, what I liked best about this episode was that it kept the momentum from plot one going. The action snaps right along, and Archer’s time living as a debauched pirate king is mostly tossed aside at the start of the episode, where we see the aftermath of an epic sex session that apparently involved all bodily fluids Archer knows of and did not involve the missionary position. The story picks up slightly into Archer’s tenure as king, and that makes all the difference to keep things zipping along nicely. Where other shows might have filled the middle part of this trilogy with a lot of sitting around and waiting, Archer mostly confined all of its characters but kept the action moving forward. This is a great continuation of last week’s episode, and it makes next week’s that much harder to wait for.
- I wouldn’t expect the animation team to forget about this, but it was a hoot seeing Pam’s giant back tattoo again.
- I liked that Gillette continues to spend just as much as he wants throughout the trip, including apparently buying a houseboy as a slave or something.
- I mean, yes, a joke where an Asian dude can’t pronounce the l, thus making “election” into “erection” is cheap and easy and kind of terrible. But I liked the show making the joke mostly on Archer, then subtly calling attention to this with the scene where Bucky makes fun of white people and is called racist by one of his own underlings.
- "Look at him. He is lithe!"
- "Only if it sounds like a shitload of tequila and some A-rab hoagies!"
- "Noah?" "Yes, sir?" "Good morning."
- "Karaoke night's a big hit."
- "Just jackin' it."
- "For the jillionth time, nobody is raping anybody."
- "And correct syntax is with whom."
- "Just try to control all your jealousy and sexual frustration."
- "Oh, king fight!"
- "Oh, since 19-always!"
- "I'm not remunerating you to think, Noah. Even if you were slave. And your 3/5 of an opinion is noted."
- "Way to eschew traditional gender roles, pirates." "I know! They're fascinating!"
- "She said, trying to convince herself she no longer ached for his... ow!"
- "Cock!" "Suck it!"
- "I never realized how much we rely on idioms."
- "Way to eschew traditional labeling, pirates."
- "This is what I was talking about with that whole tinnitus thing."
- "Racist." "Pah! You're racist."
- "I'm pretty sure somebody's already named all the different spiders, Noah."
- "Still got it pretty bad for me, huh?"