Archer: “Skytanic” part 2










So, our team of self-involved, superficial super-spies are now on the Excelsior.  But there is one key player we haven’t met yet — Cyril, Lana’s current boyfriend.  Cyril, anxious and insecure on the best of days, can’t stand the idea that Lana is going to be spending the voyage in a cramped stateroom with his rival Archer, so he sneaks aboard the airship and disguises himself as a bellhop in order to spy on them.  The perfect ingredient to raise the level of farce — a character with a secret, involved in a deception, and best of all in disguise.  Add to that the enclosed space of the airship, the ballooning of free-floating sexual tension and the escalation of the bomb plot (which may or may not be real) and you have a farce narrative that would work under far less well-written circumstances.  (It’s essentially the plot of The Hindenburg.  “Skytanic” manages to cover the same ground with 100 minutes to spare and a lot more laughs.)


Archer doesn’t care about Cyril’s discomfort.  But then, Archer doesn’t care much about anything but himself and his own wants.  He openly flaunts his desire for Lana, his superior physicality, and the likelihood of close physical contact with her.  He seems to want to win her over by sheer force of will — he knows he’s attractive, he knows he runs rings around Cyril sexually, he figures all he has to do is keep reminding Lana of that and she’ll eventually succumb to his, er, charms.   








Because that all isn’t quite enough complication for an Archer episode, there are still two more characters to work into the mix: Cheryl, Malory’s secretary, and Pam, the ISIS HR manager.  Both of them are terrible at their jobs and sexual psychopaths of different stripes.  Cheryl, we will learn, has a plan for sneaking aboard the Excelsior; Pam ends up mostly just along for the ride.  (Cheryl, by far the most clinically insane of the team, is often crazy like a fox, and today is no exception — she pretends to be stupid to lure Pam into a round of drinks, to ensure them both being aboard the Excelsior when it takes off.)








Now that everyone is aboard, we catch up with what I’ll call our “active principals” (as opposed to our “reactive principals”).  The script touches base with all four motivations — Capt Lammers wants to keep the Excelsior safe, Malory wants Capt Lammers in her luxury suite, Lana wants to actually protect the Excelsior while keeping her relationship with Cyril on an even keel (the Excelsior eventually becomes a clear metaphor for her relationship with Cyril), and Archer’s mind is headed in three different directions — he still doesn’t understand that the ship won’t explode on its own, he has no idea where to start looking for a potential bomber, and his primary goal is to get Lana alone. “Skytanic” is really Lana’s episode, now that I think of it.  Archer, as Archer will, gets all the good lines, but it’s Lana’s emotional arc that carries us through the narrative.

Capt Lammers, still believing there is a real bomb threat to worry about, directs our super-spies suspicions to officer Kraus.  Kraus is a classic red herring: he’s introduced as the first possible suspect and he exudes guilt — he’s German, he’s got a hideous scar and an eyepatch.  He’s missing only a mechanical hand and a white Persian cat.  Archer, pressed into unwilling service of actual detective work, goes about his job by punching a man lighting a cigar and suspecting a man in a turban (to whom he gives the name “Beardy McTurbanhead”).









Meanwhile, Cyril, deeply anxious about losing Lana to Archer, falls prey to Cheryl’s plan.  Cheryl’s plan, it turns out, is to get Archer’s attention by having brutal sex with Cyril.  How this plan is supposed to work exactly is unclear, but few things from Cheryl’s head scan in the cold light of day.  Cyril, understandably panicked by Cheryl’s rabid advances, flees to go find Lana and finds, more or less, this:   









Which, again, classic farce.  A cuckolded lover, feverish with jealousy and sexual longing, has his worst fears confirmed, if only in his own head.  This forces the issue between Lana and Cyril, and Lana tells Cyril they are now “on a break.”  Is Lana seriously charmed by Archer, or is she merely creeped out by Cyril’s obsessive stalking?