Is it time to wake up?
Archer returned for its 8th season, Archer Dreamland. Transpiring with series protagonist Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) in a coma after getting gutshot during season 7. As such, most of season 8 occurs in a dream world that’s dripping juicy noir. Episode “Auflösung” offers a fitting finale to Archer Dreamland that’s blood-soaked, tragic, and as witty as ever.
In comparison to past Archer episodes, “Auflösung” remains fairly dark. It’s rather akin to Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket in that season 8, episode 8 feels split into two halves which serve almost as two radically different episodes.
During act I, it’s typical Archer fare. The various plotlines began converging during “Waxing Gibbous.” In “Auflösung,” there’s continued advancement of the many plots and subplots. Detectives Figgis (Chris Parnell) and Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), Len Trexler (Jeffrey Tambor), Lana (Aisha Tyler), Mother (Jessica Walter), and Charlotte Vandertunt (Judy Greer) unite at Dreamland where Archer accuses Mother of killing Woodhouse.
As it turns out, neither Trexler or Mother had Woodhouse whacked. Instead, it’s Barry “Dutch” Dylan (Dave Willis) that murdered Woodhouse “Just to see his light go out.” Poovey responds in the way many audience members, including myself, did: “Goddamn.” “Oh, and because he cut me off in traffic,” adds the now-bionic Dutch.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Archer offers a ruthless anticlimactic finale. That’s not to say the final episode of season 8 is boring, but rather the mystery that precipitated the entire season’s convoluted events is revealed as unconnected to any grand conspiracy. It’s a nihilistic moment that perfectly exhibits the dynamic of the series.
Moreover, like the horror-tinged “Waxing Gibbous,” “Auflösung” morphs into a blood-soaked romp. Whereas “Waxing Gibbous” provided a glimpse of the macabre, “Auflösung” instead delves into tragedy: Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) sobbing over the carcasses of his dead mechanical Dobermans, Archer clutching Lana’s lifeless body, and Poovey tearfully reading a goodbye letter from the Chinese sex workers. The Poovey-Chinese Hookers subplot evolved into an endearing storyline as the season progressed.
But there’s a good mix of humor to balance out the dark elements. When Zerk saves Charlotte, Vandertunt wonders aloud “You saved my life. And was it because you love me?” When Zerk growls in the affirmative, Charlotte responds “That is without a doubt the saddest thing I have ever heard. I mean, in what kind of crazy dream world could we ever possibly be together?”
When Lana gets shot, Archer rants “Nobody could possibly survive that, not even in a parallel universe.” I like the meta moments such as this. The appropriately-named “Auflösung,” German for resolution, resolves every running plot line. It’s a decidedly gruesome, nihilistic, and tragic episode. I wasn’t entirely sure how Archer Dreamland would end, and its conclusion left off still in Dreamland. I’m unclear whether Archer will return to Dreamland, reality, or another dream world when it returns\. While there’s a note of finality, there’s room for expansion of the Dreamland universe. Ultimately, “Auflösung” is as emotional and unbalanced as any Archer episode thus far, and one of the more memorable series entries