Magnificent. Just magnificent.
Man, Archer just does not disappoint. I think Archer Season 8 Episode 1 was one of the best season premieres in this show's entire run.
In yet another thematic overhaul, Archer: Dreamland starts off in a sharply written, intriguing, satisfying and ever hilarious way. To those who had reservations about this, I think you can put those fears to rest.
I really cannot say enough about Adam Reed's brilliant mind here.
So very many shows have tried to shake things up to keep a sense of newness and excitement, only to end up losing their way because they've veered so far from what the show is and who the characters are.
Reed is having none of that.
With every overhaul of Archer, whether they're drug dealers, private detectives, or whether it's a noir entirely in Sterling Archer's mind, Reed never loses sight of all the things that makes the show charming and hilarious.
He somehow manages to make things new while keeping it the same.
That is just part of what made this season premiere so impressive and joyous to me.
It's the concept that it's a completely different world, but not so different that we can't recognize the characters we love so much.
Sterling is still very much Sterling, with the reactions and one-liners that never disappoint.
Cyril: Come to think of it, Archer, where were YOU last night?
Archer: Ask your wife!
Pam: Awwww, you know his wife left him! For you, Archer, because you screwed her tits off at the precinct cookout! So then she thought the two of you would get married and live happily ever after, but you were like, "Whaaaaaaaat.."
Archer: (stares at Pam)
Pam: Exactly. That face right there.
Archer: Dreamland takes place just about three months after we last saw Sterling Archer floating face down and bleeding out in a pool in Hollywood.
Woodhouse has died, and Sterling is in a coma in the hospital, with no indication to those around him whether he'll wake up soon, if at all. I thought the exchange between Malory and Lana was really interesting.
For all her faults and her questionable ways of showing it, Malory does love her son and has not left his side. Lana, on the other hand, said she would "try" to visit another day down the road. I'm fascinated by this, and I hope we get to see bits and pieces of what's happening in the real world without Archer.
Has Lana given up hope that Sterling will wake up and has started getting used to raising AJ without him? How and what is the rest of the gang doing?
So while the gang waits for Archer to wake up, his comatose mind has created a dream where Cyril and Pam are partnered detectives,
Malory is some kind of mafia boss named "Mother," Krieger is a waiter/drug dealer, and Ray's a musician (I'm sure the trumpet was a conscious choice) and Lana is a lounge singer at Malory's place.
It was FREAKING HILARIOUS.
From Archer's one-liners and snark with Malory (class flirt), to Ray's annoyance with the drummer's rim shots, to Pam and Archer's exchange about racism (I almost died at "cotton-picking slavery"), I was laughing so hard!
How great is is that Len Trexler and Barry (a.k.a. Dutch Dylan) are villains in this world? Barry is one of my favorite Archer enemies, he is just sooo much fun.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of hilarious havoc he's going to bring to Archer's noir dream. Especially now that Archer drove over his legs.
I relish any opportunity to see Archer be the badass that he is. That scene where he knocks out the three enforcers in the back of the truck was just golden. Until, you know, Pam unceremoniously shot them.
One of the intriguing things about the characters in this season is that we get to see them as Archer sees them, or perhaps wishes them.
This is all happening in his subconscious mind. Some of it is expected. I mean, he likes Pam, resents Cyril. No surprise there. However, his dream interaction with Lana was interesting. For one, he was pretty nervous approaching her, and positively smitten.
We know Archer loves Lana, but I think this gave us a bit of insight as to how much he really is enamored with her.
Lana: What sort of daily expenses does a semi-private investigator incur?
Archer: Or, I don't know, maybe a surf and turf dinner at the Polo Lounge?
Archer: And then maybe a room upstairs at the Beverly Hills hotel?
Archer: And then, maybe...
Lana: I'm gonna leave you here. Between hope and despair.
Dream Lana, though, seems quite a bit gentler with Archer thus far than real Lana, who had become especially harsh with him recently. She still had her edge and quick wit, but she let Archer down a lot easier that we would have expected real Lana to do.
More interesting, though, was his subconscious reaction to Woodhouse's death. I mean, look at how devastated Archer is.
He's built an entire world and story in his dreams to avenge the death of the man he considered his partner (note that their company is "Woodhouse and Archer").
Also fascinating is Archer's construction of his own biographical narrative. His mind created a grandiose narrative of a decorated war veteran.
Interesting, though, is how, even in his own mind, he doesn't quite live up to the potential that he could have, and he flippantly dismisses the notion that he could have achieved more than he has.
Malory: Hmmm. Bronze Star with two Oak Leaves and V Device, Legion of Merit, Croix de Guerre with Palm, Silver Star with two Oak Leaves, Distinguished Service Cross with one Oak Leaf and V Device, three Purple Hearts. It goes on, Mr. Archer.
Archer: Yeah, senior year I was voted "Class Flirt."
Malory: And yet you turned down a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant.
Archer: Well, after "Class Flirt," I mean...
My goodness, there's also the fact that Archer is having flashbacks within his dream, to those days of war from the life story he's created.
I can't even handle the Inception here; what is that about?! I am positively stoked to see more of this. I'm also intrigued by the mysteries in Archer's dream.
What does Cheryl (a.k.a Charlotte Vandertunt) want? And who actually killed Woodhouse? Was it Len Trexler, or was it another Archer antagonist that we'll get to see later?
Other Archer-y things to note:
- If Archer had a spirit animal, it'd be an ocelot. Babou!
- Not exactly a call back, but that updated theme music and opening sequence. FABULOUS.
- Granville Sharp: An English political figure who championed the abolition of the slave trade.
- "Do you know how much I don't care?"
- Archer's indignation at any kind of racism.
- Also Archer's love of animals. He picked up a stray on the way to Long Beach!
If You Blinked You Missed It:
- Arthur Henry Woodhouse's tombstone is a wonderful tease anyone who has been trying to figure out what time period Archer is set in. The year of his death was conveniently obfuscated by the coffin and wreath.
- Servant was the one word they chose to describe him. Double meaning: he was Archer's servant and just the kind of callous remembrance you'd expect from that crew. That said, he also served in the war. These are the war decorations as per his tombstone: Victorian Cross, Knight Grand Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Service Cross, Military Cross. Servant indeed.
One-Liners and Insults: While my favorite exchange is EASILY the racism discussion between Sterling and Pam, my favorite one-liner comes from Barry. I mean, who comes up with these!?!
Barry: Just so I understand you, your theory is that the truck backfired, whereas your theory is fireworks.
Enforcer: They are Chinese.
Barry: What, in Christ Foo Yong, could they be celebrating?
This was one heck of an episode of Archer. Fantastic writing, hilarious, intriguing mysteries and stellar character work. Honestly, I think this was one of the best season premieres in this show's entire run. I hope the rest of the season lives up to this because I'm officially excited.
So what did you think? Was Archer: Dreamland a hit or a miss with you? Who do you think killed Woodhouse? Leave a comment, let me know what you think!
Also remember you can always relive the jokes when you watch Archer online.