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TV Diary | Archer: “El Contador”

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TV Diary | Archer – Episode 3.05 – “El Contador” – Original Airdate: 1/26/12

Episode Grade: A-

White hot. That’s what Archer’s been in its first two 2012 episodes. From Burt Reynolds showing up to date Malory and torment Archer to Cyril’s field promotion as a result of Ray’s “infirmities,” Archer has been firing on all cylinders thus far and it’s been a damn joy to watch it unfold. It’s not like “El Contador” was anything out of the ordinary for the show – it deftly balanced a mission storyline with the goings-on back at the ISIS office – but when both plotlines are moving smoothly with any number of drop-dead funny lines of dialogue, no other show is able to deliver the number of laughs per second like Archer does. Let’s deal with the field agents first. Again showing that it isn’t content to just sit on its laurels [1] and keep stasis amongst its characters, “El Contador” finds Cyril ditching his role as comptroller for a new post as a field agent [2]. While it would have been very easy for the show to make Cyril a bumbling moron in the field who’s in need of being rescued by Archer and Lana, “El Contador” instead goes a much smarter route. After ISIS is hired by the DEA to apprehend Roman Calzado, a drug dealer in the Amazon, Archer, Lana, and Cyril are dropped in the middle of the jungle where – unsurprisingly – Cyril proves to be much more by the book than his more-experienced colleagues. Archer laughs off Cyril’s attention to detail and to reading dossiers… so of course Cyril ultimately saves both Archer and Lana by bluffing his way into Calzado’s confidence by employing the knowledge he learned via research [3]. After Archer and Lana are captured by Calzado’s henchmen and are to be used as hunting targets for Calzado the following day [4], Cyril hatches a plan for Archer and Lana to split up so that both of them can be saved. It’s here that “El Contador’s” second masterstroke occurs. After getting the drop on Calzado with Lana – while Archer is being used as bait to his dismay – Cyril’s confidence has reached obnoxious heights, leading to his decision to order Lana around like an underling. Obviously, this isn’t something that Lana takes kindly to so she stands by and lets Cyril take an ass-kicking from Calzado before interceding. Just a brilliantly played plot all around. The easy – and lazy – way out would have been to make Cyril a bumbling child who needed his hand held the entire way. Instead, Adam Reed made him self-sufficient but when he got too big for his, as Archer put it “shit-caked britches,” Reed used Lana to bring him down a peg. Cyril’s first field mission was handled so deftly that it opens up a wealth of possibilities for the future. Related to Cyril’s new station at ISIS, the fact that Ray’s paralysis has now removed him from the field [5] and thus rendered him office-bound is almost as potential-filled as Cyril as an agent. One of the great things about Archer is, even as it’s a spy-based comedy, its office scenes are some of the best work that the show does. They’re relatable to anyone who’s ever been in an office-setting, even as the zaniness is turned up to eleven. Adding Ray to the mix that already includes Pam, Cheryl, Malory, and the suddenly omnipresent Krieger is just as brilliant as adding Cyril to the Archer/Lana pairing out in the field. The first glimpse of that is the sudden implementation of drug-testing at ISIS, an announcement that causes great consternation in Pam, Carol, and Ray [6]. Sensing an opportunity to test a new creation, Krieger lets the trio know that he has a way to beat any drug test by pawning off his Krieger Cleanse Tea [7] on the three of them for cash compensation. Since this is Archer hilariously inappropriate complications ensue with all three experiencing hallucinations: Ray sees Pam melt into a puddle of goo, Pam sees Ray as a Decepticon [8], and Cheryl strips naked and sees the floor turn into molten lava, all the while Krieger takes note of the side effects. Ray and Cheryl eventually come down, but the show has long since established Pam as not-entirely-human when it comes to chemical substances so she escapes with Krieger chasing after her. I love the dynamic that Ray adds to the already-crazy stew of employees at the ISIS office and, just as Cyril as field agent has limitless possibilities, so too does Ray as office prisoner. Incredibly strong start to season three for Archer.

[1] Much like the fact that Ray’s paraplegic status seems to be sticking.
[2] Archer’s incredulous response to the news: “Oh, sorry… I have to get back to Earth before the stargate closes.”
[3] Though, in true Cyril fashion, he ended up close to Calzado after falling down a booby trap, shitting his pants, and being caught by Calzado’s men.
[4] And I’d echo what The AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff said in his review – Has Archer never really done a Most Dangerous Game plotline before? How is that possible?
[5] Ray: “You’re taking ME out of the field?” Malory: “Well… unless we need someone to go undercover as a shopping cart.”
[6] There’s a nice cutaway gag to Ray (presumably) using ecstasy at a rave while surrounded by half-naked dudes.
[7] Cheryl: “If this doesn’t work we just paid $100 bucks for liquid fart.”
[8] I’d love to know what Ray’s Decepticon name would be.

Miscellany:
*Cyril thinks Lana has Yeti hands. I love the callbacks to already established comedic mythology on this show.
*Lana seems very impressed by Cyril’s field handiwork. Could his promotion be the impetus towards putting the two back together? File that one away.
*In the end, despite delivering Calzado to the DEA, the ISIS crew doesn’t get paid because the DEA claims that they didn’t actually do anything and Archer and company fail to get a receipt when turning Calzado over. Nice nod to the idiocy of bureaucracy there.
*”WE don’t have enough field agents to effectively run our covert operations, especially since this one went and got himself paralyzed.” “Yeah, that’s me… Mr. Selfish.” ” More like Ms.”
*”And if you were in my tax bracket you wouldn’t be spouting that socialist propaganda.”
*”Ms. Archer said dress for the tropics.” “Tropics or Busch Gardens?”
*”Shut your dickholes, get your gear, shut up again, and start walking.”
*”You’re looking for Predator, aren’t you?” (Pause) “Yes.”
*”Every time. Big fat mouth gets us caught every time.” “Not every time…  like a third of the time.”
*”Ugh… it tastes worse than it smells.” “If I had a nickel for every time I heard a guy say that… I’d have eight nickels.”
*”Oh my God… I’m gonna die in a toilet stall. Just like that gypsy said.”
*”But first I need some clean clothes. This is not mud all over my pants… it’s caca.”
*”After seeing a tiger get murdered, Lana? No offense but I’m not really in the mood. (Pause) I mean, if you want I can watch while you masturbate but I’m can tell you… my heart’s not gonna be in it. It’ll be with that tiger’s family. But.. Go ahead. I mean, start.”
*(Archer after pushing Lana down as Calzado’s about to begin hunting them: “Are you really that selfish?” (Running away) “Apparently!”
*”Ow! Eat a dick jungle! Cover it with malaria and leeches, spread it with some dengue fever, and eat a big goddamn jungly dick!!!”
*”Speaking of excellence, did you hear we met a tiger? But… then he got murdered.”

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Written by jeremylikestv

February 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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