4.09- "The Honeymooners"
Last week I discussed Archer's identity. I wondered if he has grown over four years as an ISIS agent, as well as whether or not he is a good person. These questions are the core of his existence, and while each episode of the show is a new chapter in this ongoing discussion, I don't think there's really a right or wrong answer to any of them.
Is he a good person? Is he a good agent? The answer is, of course, a little of both. Underneath the superficial exterior, we see that he is disinterested but competent, and that he is a product of his upbringing and complex profession.
In "The Honeymooners," Archer and Lana go undercover as a married couple to investigate North Koreans that have come to New York to buy enriched uranium. I was struck by the opening scene – because Archer actually did go undercover. There is a huge contrast between the soft-spoken, relaxed performance of H. Jon Benjamin, the extremely talented voice actor that plays Archer, and his typically aggressive, explosive demeanor.
The second episode of the series opens with Archer telling everyone around him that he's a secret agent and he accidentally uncovers a Russian assassin; in the next episode, he blows the cover of several undercover ISIS agents by calling them on the phone to help him hook up with girls. So I was surprised that he was actually willing to go undercover, even if he was motivated more by the enticing honeymoon suite and manicures than by his duty to the mission.
It was also startling to see that ISIS was taking on a much more respectable mission in this installation of the show than in the past few weeks. Krieger turned out to be the uranium distributor (and was totally intercoursing that pig) in yet another twist ending, but still, the real threat of nuclear weapon capabilities was a departure from the past few ISIS missions, all of which involved Malory's selfishness and corruption.
"The Honeymooners" also brought back the Archer-Lana-Cyril love triangle – or, more accurately, lovemaking triangle. Cyril's jealousy and semi-competency as an agent added to an aspect of this episode that I reacted to very positively: Archer being a complete badass. He dove thirty stories to save Lana from certain death, saved her again by manhandling one of the Korean operatives, broke out of handcuffs to save both of them, and even got to take part in an awesome smoke fight.
I could absolutely see the show bringing Lana and Archer back together, as their relationship preceded the show itself; in the first episode, they had just broken up. It would add a fresh dynamic to their work as agents, it would spice up the way that Cyril and Archer relate to one another, and would inject more dysfunction and tension to the ISIS team. The show has managed to stay fresh for four years, but at some point the status quo must be disrupted. I think changing the relationships of the primary characters is a more effective and desirable vehicle for this than sticking Barry on to the ends of episodes or manufacturing twist endings each week. Are we going anywhere with the Barry storyline? Certainly Krieger isn’t going to be any type of primary villain!
The show has always maintained a balance between Archer's competency and incompetency; he is known as the most dangerous spy in the world. For a while this was a recurring gag, as that qualifier referred only to how dangerous he is, rather than to his actual skill as an operative. But we've seen how competent he can be when he is focused and feels like going on a rampage, we've seen that he is capable of being hurt emotionally, and we have seen that he is invested in finding his real father. He's more than just a cartoon character, he's a real person that has goals even though he’s been shot 19 times, sexually assaulted, and stabbed several times.
I love that the writers have chosen to sprinkle some new spices into the recipe by changing the power dynamic between Archer and Lana by adding the possibility that they will get together in some capacity. I’m not exactly sure where things ended up in this episode, either between Archer and Lana romantically or in terms of their roles within ISIS, and I thought the storytelling was patchy – we sort of knew that Krieger was involved throughout, but I don't feel like that will go anywhere beyond this episode. I am, however, excited about the potential ramifications of what happened in "The Honeymooners," as well as what these events could produce in the next few episodes.
Ben Wachtel likes baseball, the Boston Celtics, pancakes, tacos, and swam collegiately at Purdue University. You can follow him on Twitter at @benwachtel24.