It's always nice to see a show like this develop a rogue's gallery and I've always felt that for the first few seasons the show suffered from killing off the big bad at the end of the episode rather than teasing us with the possibility that they might return.
In addition to the gay Cuban hitmen, I was particularly delighted when George Takei's Yakuza character returned in Archer Season 5 and his death was even handwaved (when a logical explanation is omitted just because). The potential of George Takei's return is too fun to have continuity get in the way, after all.
Archer Season 6 Episode 2 featured the return of Conway Stern. Was he a fan favorite? He certainly was delightful in Archer Season 1 Episode 3, "Diversity Hire," which is coincidentally the episode that introduced me to Archer in the first place (it was offered for free on iTunes and I grabbed the bait), but his return here convinced me that Conway Stern only worked in that moment.
Conway Stern came from a season of Archer in which the characters hadn't been firmly established and it's an interesting time-capsule-like experience to see a character from that era back, but it's ultimately jarring. In the first few episodes, Mallory was a bit more of a sexual predator and Cheryl was an unspecified form of crazy who couldn't decide on a name, for example.
That's not necessarily a big deal here, but Archer and Lana are significantly different than the early days. Archer was an alpha male, protective of his territory (his non-relationship with Lana, his mom, his general freedom to do whatever he wants), and would often pick fights. Hence the inexplicable fight that occurred between Archer and Stern three seconds after their encounter. These days, he's a more flawed man-child who gets a little bit more empathy from the audience, and he doesn't pick as many fights because he's too lazy. Similarly, it's odd to see Lana get hit on by Archer as Lana as a sex prize was more of an early season motif.
By highlighting these differences, I'm essentially nitpicking in search of a reason for why "Three to Tango" didn't do much for me. The bottom line was there were few memorable moments. It's possible Conway just didn't have much potential for a second episode on the humor side. It's also worth noting that one of the main functions of Conway Stern's first appearance was to highlight Archer's weird aversion to knowing his mother was sexually active. It's a negative that this installment can't be another playground for that conflict, as Mallory and Conway don't share screen time.
Whatever the reason, Conway didn't hit and these missions generally sink or swim based on the humor potential of the characters involved. Like Archer Season 6 Episode 1, the actual mission was just an irrelevant excuse to get the right characters together and it was an awkward mix. Still, there had a few moments worth noting. The fight that immediately broke out between Archer and Conway without a single introductory word being spoken was a highlight and a somewhat strange shock.
I've also noted that the baby could be problematic, though I'm open to the possibility that good things could develop here. Here it led to a highly pedestrian B-plot that was excused from being terrible by a few funny lines from Pam. I suppose a B-plot has to happen as per the show's structure, and they might as well use the baby for such a plot, but there's a risk of having Mallory lose the baby every other episode.
Did you guys like the episode more than I did? Was the return of Conway Stern a welcome sight for you and did they use him effectively? Do you think the addition of the baby is a good or bad thing? Don't forget you can watch Archer online right here at TV Fanatic.