Wax on, wax off.
After Archer Dreamland “Sleepers Wake,” which slept walked most of the episode, “Waxing Gibbous” wakes up. Archer Dreamland remains one of the best of Archer‘s 8 seasons. And “Waxing Gibbous” is definitely among the most memorable.
In true Dreamland fashion, “Waxing Gibbous” resumes where “Sleepers Wake” left off. This continued narrative structure truly reinforces the noir vibe which Archer Dreamland channels. As the episode opens, Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is interrogated by Mother (Jessica Walter) about the missing ransom. Meanwhile, Detective Figgis (Chris Parnell) and Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) head to Len Trexler’s (Jeffrey Tambor) mansion with the money. Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) doesn’t get nearly as much screentime, but thankfully the charming yet batshit crazy Charlotte Vandertunt (Judy Greer) remains a prominent character. Though Vandertunt has been relegated to a side character, her lines are magnificent. Excellent writing Archer writer’s room.
While “Waxing Gibbous” feels a bit like “Sleepers Wake” in its formula, which is largely shifting plot lines so as to converge, there’s more cohesion. Whereas “Sleepers Wake” emanated a sense of stalling, “Waxing Gibbous” reveals a lot. Lana (Aisha Tyler) emerges as an IRS agent, and there’s pretty funny banter between her and Cecil Tunt (Eugene Mirman). Trinette (Maggie Wheeler), the prostitute from “Sleepers Wake” gets a larger presence as well. She contributes loads of humor, like when she suggests fixing Lana’s car with various food-based remedies.
The writing is on point. Mother barks “Don’t humanize yourself,” to Charlotte, and murmurs “I’m sorry, all I’m getting is ‘gerk'” while Archer is being choked. This truly shows her ruthlessness. Later, Charlotte corrects that it’s not Frankenstein, it’s Frankenstein’s monster. Frankenstein was, in fact, the doctor. Then, she drops a reference to Gargantua and Pantagruel. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good cultural reference. Poovey’s fantasies get kind of adorable with daydreams of fathering children with all of the Chinese prostitutes and watching the kids graduate from Harvard.
Despite the lack of Krieger, “Waxing Gibbous” is incredibly ghastly. It’s a blood-soaked romp. The finale features a replica of the Last Supper painting with Trexler front and center, surrounded by his mutilated cronies. As Archer astutely points out, if a ghost did this, it wasn’t Casper. But it’s not a ghost. Rather, it’s the now bionic Dutch Dylan (Dave Willis). I can’t recall a non-horror animated feature with this much carnage. The stark contrast between humorous elements in Archer Dreamland and the pools of blood and grotesque bodies is remarkable and memorable. I’m still unsure where the Dylan narrative is heading, but Archer Dreamland tied together several story arcs.
A more cohesive episode with less filler, it’s an improvement over “Sleepers Wake” that shines with its inventiveness while persisting in uniting various plot threads.