We open Archer Season 6 Episode 5 with Sterling Archer trying to board the elevator which is already filled to capacity. Ray tries to stop him but Archer, being Archer, makes it in which means that the entire gang minus Mallory is all in one very uncomfortable enclosed space.
Naturally, by the laws of every sitcom ever created and plain comic common sense, this elevator just has to malfunction and when it does, we have ourselves our very own Archer bottle episode
For those not in the know on TV terminology, a bottle episode is one with minimal set changes and guest stars with all the characters placed in the same room. The format was originally born out of budgetary limitations in the 1960's (the original Star Trek series was the trope namer if Wikipedia and TV Tropes are to be believed) but has been used as a stylistic statement on shows like Community, Castle, Breaking Bad, and Boardwalk Empire.
A danger of the format, however, is that when done poorly, a bottle episode is simply a celebration of uneventfulness and that can sometimes be a problem with some of Archer's more low-key episodes.
I've said before that Archer benefits from being a hang-out show (a space where the viewer just wants to spend time with the characters) in addition to the whole spy parody angle. While the show could get by on just being the former, it's generally at its best when these characters are fighting bad guys at various levels of ineptitude.
Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth here. The episode was nothing short of brilliant in the way it mined conflict, pathos (that's the biggest word here I'll use, I promise) and comic depth out of the situation.
One of the best jokes was that it played out the familiar trope that when people are trapped in an elevator, it brings out the worst in people. The hilarious Archer twist on this is that the Archer gang undergoing standard trapped-in-an-elevator social devolution isn't much different than how the gang normally behaves.
Then of course there was the urine, the bottle of Krieger clones, the sweater vest, Cheryl's sudden bout of claustrophobia and a countless number of other jokes that hit.
Lana: What is it, soup?
Ray: Define soup.
Lana: Would it be safe to assume that no one wants to drink what's in your thermos?
Krieger: Sweet Jesus God, I would hope so!
In terms of the plot, there's close to absolutely nothing to say here, but that's obviously beside the point. I'm not sure if you readers know this but in addition to the reviews, we do full-length synopses of each episode and writing the play-by-play sequence of events in this episode was both a highly superfluous and ridiculously fun exercise.
One thing worth noting is that Cheryl showed a bit of her idiot savant qualities by calling out everyone on their faults which was the most epic moment of the episode.
(to Archer) You want a drink, (to Lana) you want to lecture us, (to Pam) you want more bear claws, (to Ray), you want to smoke (to Cyril) you want to masturbate, and (to Krieger) you're scared that we'll figure you you're actually just a Krieger cloneCheryl
In this sense, Cheryl has a lot in common with Archer and it's a shame the two haven't bonded on that front or been paired off in a way that could exploit their similarities.
This was an excellent episode that gets my first 5-star rating but what did you guys think? Did you like this change in pace? Was this episode Cheryl's finest moment? should there be more Cheryl-Archer scenes? Don't forget: Here at TV Fanatic, you can watch Archer online here.