I mean…they were THIS close.
Another dream ends as we close what may or may not be the penultimate season of Archer. Once again taking place within the subconscious of our titular protagonist while creator Adam Reed lets the show limp the exit, we were given yet another chance to see characters we’ve followed the first seven seasons be placed in a completely different genre and period twice now, and sometimes with only their personalities and respective voice actors to even convince us that they are those characters. This time, instead of Dreamland’s late 40’s New York noir mystery, we have late 30’s Pacific Island adventure. We’ve seen cannibals fighting Nazis in mech suits, bonbon smeared prison cells, and uranium filled treasure rooms, but was it all worth it?
What If scenarios and Alternate Universe stories often give characters ways to interact and develop relationships with others that they normally wouldn’t be able to in the main story. Though what seems to be consistent between this and Dreamland is Archer’s insistence on partnering with Pam in both occupations his comatose brain has put him in. However, while Dreamland had them teaming up hastily in taking care of a group of Chinese slave wives, Danger Island makes their partnership more direct as down on their luck pilots, including making their friendship basically the lead relationship with the most focus and development. Also of note is that Dreamland sees Pam imagined as a man, while Danger Island makes her being a woman a very apparent character trait, to the point of completely showing off the goods. And given this is meant to be in Archer’s head, one has to wonder what is making him re-examine his friendship with Pam so much.
Besides these two, everyone else basically lives up to their average potential as characters, with a few branching out into different areas that actually suit them fairly well. Mallory is still motherly yet manipulating to both her son and Charlotte as her only prostitute charge. Charlotte, the new Cheryl, is all the types of crazy we know and love, but with a bit more vulnerability from her backstory as a disgraced New York socialite turned sex worker…turned owner of a harem of German soldiers…turned goddess of cannibals. Lana takes on a royalty role that at one point makes her seem commanding and in control, and later adorably flustered and spoiled when she can’t get things to happen how she wants. Ray is just kinda himself but with a French accent, sadly, but Krieger takes kind of the biggest leap as being an inexplicably talking parrot, even if he’s not much more than ambivalent comedy relief. And lastly, Figgis as Fuchs has a surprisingly developed antagonist who goes from feeble and cowardly to let his lust for power and addictions turn him into a mechanized final boss, and oddly one of the few characters who actually get an ending this season.
The abrupt cut to black as Archer lands in the lava certainly makes sense given the mental situation that is the center of these past two seasons, but it still kinda stings that Danger Island does not really get to have a proper conclusion. While Dreamland did start with acknowledging Archer’s coma, it kept inside the new story until the very end, giving everyone a wrap-up and closure to shut the book on that world without leaving anything. Meanwhile, all the new backstories and character arcs and iterations of these characters will have to be left either sitting in a Cannibal village or stuck in a collapsing temple. I suppose it could be easy to conclude that everyone in the temple would’ve slowly died from the radiation anyway, but it could’ve at least shown us that. We have no reason to go back to this world, especially with the end so close. I honestly can’t say I cared all THAT much about how these versions of the cast, but cutting the story off like that kind of gives the whole season an air of pointlessness.
But now, we must look ahead. To the stars. Archer may or may not be ending next year with Archer possibly waking up from his coma…or maybe it’s just another dream and he’s just going to be asleep for the rest of the series. I honestly don’t know what to make of any of these possibilities unless it’s returning to the main story, because going around in circles again doesn’t sound fun even in a Ridley Scott inspired backdrop. I can’t deny I had fun with both this and Dreamland but I’m eager to conclude this series with the versions of these characters we started with. Basically, do you WANT a mediocre ending to a great show? Because that would be how you get a mediocre ending to a great show.