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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Archer: "Blood Test"

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Thus begins the closest thing Archer has had to a major story arc yet. Even a guy as self-serving and vain as Archer has to have some sort of things in his life change, thanks to a kid, and it sure seems like Trinette is going to make fatherhood a living hell for our main spy, who shows a couple of steps toward personal growth here and there in “Blood Test,” then immediately takes those steps back, making sure to erase all evidence he was ever there on the way. The amusing thing about this—and the thing that makes it a story arc, more than just a one-off plot—is the fact that Archer ISN’T the dad. He actually did go through with he and Mallory’s plan to make sure he’d never be responsible for the child, switching his blood with Cyril’s, but no one believes he did it, there’s no proof, and no one can quite buy that Cyril’s the father of the Wee Baby Seamus (as we are all contractually required to refer to the child). I have no idea how this will all play out, but it sure seems like something that will come back as the season goes along.

“Blood Test” is another ridiculously strong episode for Archer, butting absurd plotting up against genuinely revealing character moments and laugh-a-minute gags (including the second Of Mice And Men joke in as many weeks). If last season felt like the show figuring out just what it could and couldn’t do much of the time, this season is definitely the show in full command of its voice and comic ensemble. In particular, the show has realized that sticking all of the characters in a room together will almost always lead to something hilarious, which makes the second half of the episode—taking place almost entirely at a baby shower thrown in honor of the Wee Baby Seamus by Pam and Gillette in Archer’s apartment—some of the funniest stuff the show has ever done. Don’t get me wrong. The scenes at ISIS, particularly that lengthy discussion between Archer and Barry about the blood test (peppered with Archer trying to figure out what a liter and a gill are), are hugely funny, but by the time we get everybody into the same apartment and bouncing off of each other, the episode takes on a crazy momentum that just works.

The story’s pretty simple. Trinette shows up after a long time away to reveal she’s… had a baby. She blames Archer, who had sex with her condom-less one time. (She thought he had a condom on because she heard the sound of a wrapper being unpeeled, but it was just a candy bar, so Archer could gain nourishment.) She’s come back to ISIS to insist that he assume his role as father. Archer wants to do nothing of the sort, and Mallory, ironically worried about the shame an illegitimate child would bring on the family and ISIS, has no particular desire to be a grandmother. After ODIN arrives to supervise a blood test, thus ensuring the shame DOES rain down upon the Archers and ISIS, Archer and his mother concoct a scheme to use Woodhouse’s drugs (he’s a dope fiend, after all) to knock out Cyril, then take a liter of HIS blood. Archer will then break into the vault, swap the two samples, and be proved to NOT be the father. However, sex addict Cyril is ALSO addicted to food (particularly when feeling guilty) and, as such, also pulled the candy bar wrapper trick on Trinette. So when it turns out he’s the dad, Archer has nowhere to turn. Even his mother thinks he’s had a brief moment of conscience.

Sure, that story is simple, but it’s also filled with surprising, great character moments. I don’t want Archer to turn into the kind of show where people learn lessons and have big, teary monologues about how much they love everybody they work with, but the moment when Mallory proposes to Archer that between the two of them, they might make one good parent is both funny and weirdly touching. It’s clear this is something she’s never said to her son, and he’s somewhat moved by it (hell, even Lana is), even if he still switches up the blood samples. Now, Mallory, being Mallory, probably wasn’t genuine about any of this, but it’s still a very nice moment, and it’s a good way to suggest that though Archer is a cartoon and, thus, can be cavalier about the safety and/or parentage of Wee Baby Seamus, the birth of the kid is still going to have reverberations throughout the ensemble.

Hell, just look at the way all of the characters react to the news of the baby’s existence. Lana wonders why Archer never wanted to have a kid with her, even if she’s resolutely against having a kid with HIM, eventually turning this into an excuse to dig through his stuff. Cheryl/Carol seems horrified by the very prospect of a baby, little germ factories that they are. Cyril stumbles around the episode, eating everything in sight and insisting that sex addiction is too a thing. Gillette and Lana briefly joke about having a kid, and Pam takes it way, way too far. These are goofy, in character things to do, but they’re also the kinds of reactions people have when they find out someone they never thought would be a parent has unexpectedly procreated. I’ve always argued Archer works because way down at the bottom of everything, it’s a fairly standard office sitcom with a good understanding of workplace types and how they behave, and this episode is a good example of that.

Stray observations:

  • I’m pleased ODIN is such a strong recurring force this season, at least in the three episodes so far. I don’t think the show needs recurring villains or rivals or anything, but it is a good idea to keep the world of the show more or less consistent.
  • Wondering what happened to all of those bottles of absinthe from the season premiere? Mallory uses at least one to knock out Cyril.
  • It seems that Woodhouse wasn’t just a dope fiend in his past. He’s still one now, as his battles with the invisible ants would indicate. (There’s an episode coming up in two weeks that’s all about Woodhouse’s backstory, and it kills, while introducing even more absurd timeline questions.)
  • "Like it'd kill you to roll 50 feet. Stupid thing's electric."
  • "I guess I skipped the Emily Post chapter about how to introduce your mother to a hooker."
  • "If and when I am ready for a grandchild, it won't be the potato-faced spawn of some Irish whore."
  • "Sometimes I like to treat myself." "Well, sometimes, I like to ovulate!"
  • "Babies are soft-skulled, fat little germ sacks!"
  • "The last person on Earth I'd have a baby with is Archer, because he is not sold separately."
  • "I wanna come." "Ohhhhh, I think I just did."
  • "Barry, does it hurt? Cuz it looks like it kinda hurts."
  • "I invented the turtleneck."
  • "What's a gill?"
  • "Barry, I'm still unclear on the liter thing, vis a vis a unit of volume."
  • "I told you to buy lemon curd, Woodhouse. Now what am I gonna spread on my toast? Your tears?"
  • "I made mine!" "Me too!"
  • "I sneak in and do it while you're asleep." "Me too!"
  • "Give her the rabbit, Lenny."
  • "Somebody's got a full diaper, huh?" "Me too!"
  • "The mochaccino ones are the cutest. Guess he'd be half-gay though, too. Can you say best dancer ever?"
  • "Gonna be a sticky weekend."
  • "Eight gills is way more than I thought."
  • "It's a baby shower! For the bastard child you humped into a filthy whore."
  • "So I'm obviously not saying now, but one of these days, you're gonna make the best grandma ever."
  • "Cyril? You awake? Because this is about to get weird."
  • "Listen to you, Mr. Melon Balls."
  • "So maybe I would be a good father. Y'know, at some point in the future."
  • "Sterling, you did the right thing." "No, I didn't!"
  • "I don't wanna be people!"
  • "Hello, hookworms. Get in my feet."