Was this the best episode of the season so far?
Archer Dreamland delivered one of its best episodes in “Gramercy, Halbred.” Beginning with the death of Woodhouse (Tom Kane) which parallels the real world, Dreamland proceeds to follow P.I. Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) in his quest to locate Woodhouse’s killer. But Archer became seriously sidetracked. Throw in police corruption, a staged kidnapping, ransom, mad former-Nazi scientist, James Dean-T1000 hybrid, an IRS investigation, and an assortment of characters. On the surface, there’s no unifying factor.
At the finale of “Waxing Gibbous,” Archer, Detectives Figgis (Chris Parnell) and Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), Lana (Aisha Tyler), Trinette (Maggie Wheeler), and Cecil Tunt (Eugene Mirman) arrive at Len Trexler’s (Jeffrey Tambor) mansion. They’re greeted by a grisly sight. Trails of blood coat the floor, and Trexler is tied up in the center of a ghastly recreation of The Last Supper painting. It’s largely comprised of corpses. Mad former-Nazi scientist Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) created a bionic version of Barry Dylan (Dave Willis). Archer running over Dylan’s legs during “No Good Deed.”
Finally during “Waxing Gibbous,” Archer Dreamland reached a turning point. The Len Trexler’s missing Chinese prostitutes subplot, bionic Barry storyline, Vandertunt drama, and IRS investigation culminate in an epic showdown. But wait, what happened to Woodhouse? His death sent Archer spiraling into a meandering, seedy Dreamland underbelly. There’s a major reveal: Woodhouse’s purported killer.
Yet it’s a deeper episode. There’s the usual slew of one-liners and clever banter. Eliot Ness, the FBI agent who took down Al Capone, is referenced as Elios Mess. Cecil continues reminding everyone that the ransom money is in a bag that was a gift. The running gag with the Chinese prostitutes has been adorable, and Poovey’s latest fantasy sees him celebrating his 1,100th birthday with his rescued Chinese prostitutes and their massive family.
But it’s the exploration of Archer’s psyche which makes “Gramercy, Halbred” delve further into the mind of Archer. His friend gets killed, precipitating a descent into misadventures. Sterling has gotten no sleep and is a bit of a drug bender. Moreover, it’s not just his mental state that’s taken a beating. Rather, Archer’s face to shows bruises. “Gramercy, Halbred” culminates in Archer running over Barry repeatedly, then stopping to wonder aloud he got to this moment: from an investigation into the death of his friend to this far sidetracked, and suffering a mental breakdown. Additionally, Mother (Jessica Walter), and Archer’s nemesis Barry play so prominently into the plot.
After a major revelation, Archer Dreamland has come full circle. “Gramercy, Halbred” offers an advancement of the plot, as well as clever meta-Archer moment.