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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Archer: “Achub Y Morfilod”

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The best part of “Achub Y Morfilod” is the story credit: “Story Inspired From A Rousing Tale By: Matthew Rhys.” The Americans star also appears in the episode, thanks to the drunken night with Adam Reed and Matt Thompson that included the “rousing tale” in the first place (as Reed tells it, drunken nights is when Archer nabs most of its guest stars, which feels exactly right). Rhys’ story of Welsh separatists hiding out from MI-5 even allows him to use his own Welsh accent, which can’t be an opportunity that comes around very often. He is a game guest star who relishes the chance to poke fun at himself, especially when his character—who looks so much like him—has to pretend to be an American. Exactly no one is convinced when he sputters, “Wales is kickass!”

The problem with “Achub Y Morfilod,” though, is that the best part is the story credit. While I have no doubt that Rhys is an enigmatic storyteller, the script from Reed and Mike Arnold has trouble making his tale fit into Archer’s world, which…is surprising. “Welsh separatists run from MI-5” should be the Archer equivalent of a layup, and yet Archer and Lana’s latest fight muddles the story so much that the end result is less rousing than underwhelming.

We start off mere hours after where we left off, which comes as a bit of a surprise. Archer has become more and more serialized with every passing season, but since lst week was a “literal farce,” it seemed like Lana finding Katya’s vagina in the sink wouldn’t last beyond the winking smash to credits. But the show proves it doesn’t want to make Archer and Lana’s new relationship easy when it picks up with Lana waking up in the backseat of a car, wondering where in the hell she is and where they left off in their fight, which is, in fact, a substantial fight. While I appreciate that the show takes their first fight as a new couple seriously enough to continue into the next episode, Archer whisking Lana off to Wales against her will starts the episode off on a sour note that never quite goes away.

Yes, Archer acknowledges how deeply fucked up it was to drug Lana, dress her in lingerie, and drag her unconscious body across the Atlantic Ocean, but that doesn’t make it any less fucked up. One of this show’s strongest suits is how it constantly balances on a tightrope between offensive material and jokes that just don’t give a shit, but this latest stunt is jarringly crass even for Archer. Self-awareness isn’t a panacea for disturbing subject matter, and so by the time Archer explains that Lana was “hysterical” and that he would “never use drugs for sexual assault-y reasons” because he “never need[s] to,” Lana choking him off the road is the least he deserves.

This whole conversation frankly made it difficult for me to get into the spirit of “Achub Y Morfilod,” despite Rhys’ best efforts. Archer and Lana spend the entire episode bickering and testing each other’s loyalties through increasingly exhausting tests. When MI-5 comes around to arrest Rhys’ Welsh separatist and his giant of a brother, Lana orders Archer into hiding so she can make a move on Rhys out of spite. On one hand, this makes Lana seem like she’s more willing to stoop to Archer’s level than she has in recent seasons, and Aisha Tyler is very good at making Lana’s voice a seductive purr on a dime. On the other, Archer and Lana’s back and forth in this episode just isn’t particularly interesting. It’s basic “married couple” bickering—exactly what Cyril and company were afraid of when Lana and Archer got together.

There are still fun parts of “Achub Y Morfilod,” because Archer and Lana arguing still has its acerbic charms, but keeping them confined to the “romantic” Welsh house keeps their conflict particularly claustrophobic. It also doesn’t help that the “idiots” (Archer’s words) are back to being an afterthought of a runner. There is a brief Malory reemergence, in which she feed baby A.J. ice chips from her Tom Collins and scoffs at her granddaughter’s inexcusable weight gain. Otherwise, any involvement from people outside Lana and Archer Krieger (and/or his clone) gets to work giving Ray a robotic hand while Cyril, Pam, and Cheryl recite the Wikipedia page for M.A.S.H. and make gratuitous hand puns. Granted, the hand puns make for one of the better joke runs in the episode, especially when the snappy repartee between Krieger and Cheryl gets going. But while an episode like “The Kanes” had enough meat in the A-plot to distract from the lack of any significant B-plot, Lana and Archer’s flat fights in “Achub Y Morfilod” make the episode feel just as muddled as its title.


Stray observations:

  • So Ray’s new hand is definitely Conway Stern’s, right?
  • For a second there, the all-consonant Welsh signs confused me as to whether Archer was in Wales or if Archer was just driving super drunk.
  • “There was a black character in M.A.S.H. And his name was Spearchucker Jones.”
  • “Well, the surprise is ruined.” “No it’s not. I’m extremely surprised.”