Archer: Looking Back at Lucky Seven

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This article originally appeared in The Lombardian, a Tallahassee-based blog.

Why are we still not doing phrasing? This is a question I ask myself at least once a day. Fortunately, Archer knowingly produced a blossoming gimmick in the form of Pam tacking on “On my tits, what!” to some of the lines of other characters. This and several other jokes, new, old, long forgotten, and briefly mentioned all appear in the debuted episodes of Archer’s seventh season.

Almost since its inception I have been an enormous fan of Archer. I have appreciated the casual racism, the misogyny, and everything in between. My roommate and I still respond “Immigrants. Cramming their lowriders full of free healthcare and… snow,” (Season 2 Episode 1, “Swiss Miss”) whenever we need an answer to weighty political question. The delicate spy agency housing a surprising variety of insane cast members, perpetually delighted my desire for sophisticated vulgarity.

Archer’s initial release in 2010 saw a slightly different world, notably without an ISIS for the lay viewer to confuse the two with. Each season witnessed a kind of stripping away of the backdrop I held dear. The less important characters like Brett Bunsen and Bilbo (the only name we have for a technician Malory Archer slapped into a heart attack) simply died off, and even Katya and Barry deteriorate into the ambiance of the past, with little bearing on the future. But the more I watch, the less I focus on the vignettes as much as I do on the affinities some characters possess.

The story of Archer this season is so far the story of a more modern, more haphazard version of Chinatown, with Veronica Dean playing the role of Evelyn Mulwray, and Veronica Dean’s imposter yet unknown as of the third episode, but the plot indeed thickens here. Archer’s more grandiose, season-spanning storylines most evident in the fifth season (Archer: Vice) often fall flat in their storytelling, but each episode sees heartfelt or surprising moments between characters. Malory’s coming to the rescue in the third episode of this newest season expresses the growth in the relationship of the gang.

The seventh season of Archer is a refreshing change from the spy game, one heralded not only by a reinvigorated Cyril and Malory — I haven’t watched with vigor but the focus of season six certainly developed the relationship between Lana and Sterling — but by a refocus on the actual characterization of each of the ensemble (“you can be anyone you want, so why would you keep being you?”) and what each character represents. Last season Cyril’s jealousy came to a peak, but to the viewer’s chagrin takes a front seat in the action now. Ray lost another hand and found himself crippled for a third or fourth time, but fortunately both of these jokes fall by the wayside and he is imbued with real cyborg powers. Cheryl’s Tunt identity dissipates, but she and Pam retain their fondness for one another through new gags. Krieger continues to be Krieger.

Will the seventh season be viewed in a reinvigorated light? I don’t think so. Falling viewership (all television is experiencing this, not just Archer) probably keeps Archer off FX’s radar past an eighth or ninth season. The show doesn’t bring home the bacon at awards. Many of the voice actors are exploring other career paths. H. Jon Benjamin recently appeared in Master of None and the reboot of Wet Hot American Summer. Chris Parnell continues to do his thing, appearing in so many commercials and television shows his voice is as close to an internal monologue as I can envision. Aisha Tyler hosts two shows and plays a role in Criminal Minds.

The show deliberates on its loss of content with a refocus on Lana and Sterling and their daughter, but the trio inextricably bring in Malory and Cyril, who serve as the foils to Sterling and Lana — the four often juggling these roles against one another — and find a serviceable place for the other four members of the agency. But Archer is about much more than its initial seasons, the world’s greatest secret agent. The viewer might find themselves thinking of the namesake more as Sterling, and the Archer he lives in is no real existence without the rest of the characters.

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