Arrrrrcherrrrr, come out and playyyyaaaayyyy…
Pam has a surprise for Archer, she’s turned Lucille into a Sea Plane! His reaction is…less than ideal, but he’s stopped from hitting her by the sound of an incoming plane, triggering a flashback to his war days in a dogfight with his nemesis, Barr-I mean…Ziegler. Archer faints upon snapping back to reality, but his nightmare is all too real as his archenemy has arrived with his fellow German soldiers for some business with Fuchs, and can’t wait to rub his five victories (including one that cost him his left eye) in Archer’s cyclops face.
Mallory continues her tutoring of Charlotte in the ways of the night moves, though business is a bit dry until the German soldiers arrive. The party gets started like the Black Eyed Peas, to the point that not even Ray can stop them (though not for lack of trying). Archer drinks himself into an enraged stupor and plans to use the festivities to off Ziegler then and there, but Pam points out it’s pretty cowardly.
His next solution is a duel, instigated by burning several of the Germans’ planes. He also concusses Pam and makes her his co-pilot in the duel and having Crackers invite Barry to the battle. The two enemies face off once and for all, but a miscalculation lines them up for the perfect killshot by Pam, ending the rivalry in fiery explosion. Knowing the Germans will connect the dots, Archer gives Crackers a story to tell, putting the burned planes on the now dead Ziegler and saying he and his co-pilot deserted as gay lovers to open a club in Shanghai. The soldiers seem to buy this, especially with their new fondness for Charlotte, who decides to take charge of the operation from Mallory. Oh, and Pam and Archer have to crash land and are surrounded by sharks.
This episode was another mainly about laying groundwork for the future, stealthily distracting us with the newest incarnation of Barry, the Joker to Archer’s boozy and ornery Batman. I was thrown off a bit by the accent (possibly even a different voice actor) and the more defined jaw structure, but Ziegler definitely fits the bill. His history with this version of Archer is summed up pretty concisely in the several flashbacks detailing his five downings of Archer’s planes. It’s a bit of a shame he’s out of the picture so soon, but his purpose is done. He’s delivered the soldiers for Fuchs to invade the jungle for the idol, and for Charlotte to shift the dynamic of power between her and Mallory. When they met, she was but a whore pupil, but now she is the whore master.
Similarly, Archer’s continued abuse of Pam’s helpfulness and taking credit for his win against Ziegler seems to have reached a turning point. The continued physical violence, punishment for appeasement and gifts, and literally leading them to shark infested waters could just be the beginning of the end of their friendship. And going back to the psychological analyzing of what this means for REAL Archer. His friendship with Real Pam is one of the more gradual developments in the show’s first seven seasons, and she was even his partner in the Dreamland world, so this could be a manifestation of Archer’s fears of how being him will ultimately drive her away.
But even with how much plot necessary stuff this episode DID have, it was a bit disappointing to see it continue to drag, especially now that we’ve finished the first half. We know Fuchs wants the idol for Germany, and we know Archer wants it to get rich. The most definite move forward would be on Charlotte’s end, and it’s definitely welcome and appreciated, but Dreamland was a lot quicker paced with its plot and managed to keep the jokes coming a mile a minute (also helped by its interesting similarity to a Steam or point and click adventure indie game). As things are now, we are treading water, and not the fun shark infested kind. Next episode should really be about kicking the plot into real action, along with progressing the many subplots we’ve seen thus far. I know some people have become wary and weary of Archer as it tries out these themed seasons, but there is brilliance in here to be tapped.