We’re close to the end of Archer’s sixth glorious season, but the show’s not ending without something insane. In this first half of the season finale, Archer and the gang are tasked with saving a defected scientist. A brain blood clot is threatening Dr. Zoltan Kovacs’s genius and life — important because the West needs not just his secrets, but his skills as well. The CIA devises a ridiculous plan to miniaturize everybody — excluding only Malory and AJ — and send them via submarine into the scientist’s body to vanquish the clot. If Archer and Co. don’t complete the mission, the CIA threatens to never give them freelance espionage assignments again. Dangerous mission aside, Lana and Archer also have the stress of worrying about their careers as parents.
The Highlight Reel
From the get-go, the CIA acknowledges that all these characters are very bad at doing their jobs. So the whole mission is a Hail Mary, and everybody can participate if they want to. This is good news at first — but nobody knows what the assignment is:
Archer: Well, unless the mission is a softball game against Gary’s Old Town Tavern — in which case I nominate Ray pitcher.
Ray: You know what?
Archer: Not because it’s black.
Lana: You know what?
Archer: Lana, he’s the one who’s ashamed of his hand’s heritage, not me.
Ray: I’m not ashamed [crying].
Cheryl: Psssst, Ray, call me.
Pam: Ewwww, a little bit of hand-dingo action.
[+1 point to Archer for calling Ray out on his self-directed partial racism; +1 to Cheryl for trying to make him feel better; +1 to Pam for the pornopun.]
The scientist whom they’re trying to save has been working on molecular miniaturization. To save him, they’ll use his own transformative invention (FUN!). The premise of this episode no doubt reminded you of countless cartoons and shows who have played with similar story lines, but this episode of Archer specifically takes its name (and some of its plot) from 1966’s Fantastic Voyage:
Not only is everyone allowed to participate in the mission – everybody kind of has to. The CIA is taking a carrot-and-stick approach: Everybody gets $1 million if they pull it off, but if they don’t, everybody’s fired from CIA freelance forever. Not everybody grasps this right away, unfortunately:
Pam: Well it’s normally the other way around, but this time I definitely prefer the carrot.
Lana: Not Dick, Pam. Stick. Carrot and stick.
Pam: Yeah … I know.
[+1 to Pam for loving vegetables.]
Before the fun begins, the team obviously has to receive training from Dr. Kovacs’s lover (voiced by Carrie Brownstein). Archer is training himself with an Operation board game:
Archer: Why the hell would this guy have an oil can in his —
Lana: — elbow grease.
Archer: Wow, it’s pun for the whole family!
Slater: You know what I don’t have time for?
Archer: Shopping for clothes?
[+1 to Archer for playing with our nostalgia; another +1 for the scorching Slater diss we’ve been thinking all along.]
Archer calls dibs on piloting the ship that will save Dr. Kovacs, but unfortunately, that’ll never happen. Ray’s the only licensed pilot, and, of course, Cyril will probably be the co-pilot. In another nostalgic gag, SLIM GOODBODY (TV’s Michael Gray) comes out of nowhere to teach everybody about the human body’s systems.
Michael Gray: I see I have some fans in the audience.
Archer: Are you kidding?
Lana: Are you?
Archer: Lana, it’s TV’s Michael Gray. Billy Batson from The Shazam!/Isis Hour.
MG: Well, and The Brian Keith Show.
Archer: Obviously, The Brian Keith Show.
Lana: Who is Brian Keith?
Archer: Now you’re just trying to piss me off! So, what’s up? What have you been doing?
MG: As you see my good sir…
Archer: CIA puppet shows?
MG: Acting, you philistine.
[+100 to TV’s Michael Gray for coming out of nowhere like the divine blessing he is; +1 to Archer for being his biggest fan this side of the ‘70s.]
Slater explains, with lots of blue humor, what everyone has to do: Pam and Cheryl are staying out of everybody’s way in the rear of the vessel; Ray and Cyril are piloting; Lana and Archer are manning the lasers; and Krieger is helping the medical staff inject the subway into Dr. Kovacs. (Slater? Probably barking orders.)
[+5 to Krieger for this beautiful bongo solo.]
Cyril tries to comfort Ray by telling him he’s not a monster, but it doesn’t really work, and Cyril’s totally weird:
Cyril: Well, I guess the hand, or the tissue covering the bionic part it would be, I guess, could’ve come from a serial killer. And then one day soon, maybe you’re shaving and you find out it has a mind of its own. It has a force of pure evil, and it starts dragging you out into the city at night, just cats at first, but once the hand gets a taste for killing, it’s only a matter of time before you’re out there strangling male prostitutes, then posing them in grotesque and horrific parodies of Mentos ads. You know, the FRESH MAKER, in which case, try to remember I was always kind to you.
[+1 to Cyril for the product placement, but also for postulating that a malevolent version of Thing might be Ray’s new hand.]
Meanwhile, Lana is lecturing Archer about the gravity of this mission, as it relates to their lives and their daughter’s life. LIFE IS FRAGILE, ARCHER.
Lana: So if, say, there’s a malfunction with the shrink ray and the ship and everything in it gets vaporized—
Archer: I’ll jump out at the last second.
Lana: While every single atom and molecule in your body is being destroyed?
Archer: No, I’ve already jumped out. It’s this new thing called cat-like reflexes.
Lana: So can you seriously not even grasp the concept of your own mortality?
Archer: Lana, nobody can.
Archer: Except maybe bears. So can you do everyone a favor and just relax for once?
[+1 to Lana for trying to have a heart-to-heart with Archer; +1 to sci-fi Archer for reminding us of Dwight Schrute, but also for subtly reassuring Lana that their family-in-the-making was going to be just fine — even if it was with his own immature touch.]
After getting in a kerfuffle with the real doctors, Krieger botches the injection. The ship is in the doctor’s foot, rather than his neck. And that’s all until the hopefully exciting conclusion of this finale.
This episode was a tad frustrating in that it was just one big preview for next week. As boring as the action was, the writing was stellar as always. All the nostalgic gags and one-liners made up for it, at least temporarily. We’ll need a real thrill ride (and hero) next week. For this one, though … I guess Lana? I liked that she was trying to push Archer more into safe hero mode rather than reckless hero mode. And of course, she’s always looking out for AJ, world’s cutest baby. I hope that she keeps Archer focused next episode, too. There’s also been some speculation online that she could die? What the hell? I hope not. Please no.
- Julia Gluey-Dreyfus, FTW.
- RIP to Krieger’s Shrinky Dinks and dignity.
- Archer wants this to be outer space so bad.
- They each get paid $1 million if they pull this off.
- Fuck, AJ IS SO CUTE. I hope she survives her infancy.
- “Dr. Dickwads.”
- There can only be one best milker.
- HOLY SHRINK SNACKS!
- Krieger yells at everyone for thinking he’s a Hitler clone. But he was kind of a dick in this episode.
- Cheryl’s speech about the orphanage was pretty unsettling — “Shits, grins, and screams.” Yikes. Pam says maybe she’ll die, which might’ve made you realize, Holy crap, someone’s probably going to die. Hopefully not, but you never know. Also, these characters are pretty indestructible, as the second-part teaser reveals: