Archer: “Skytanic” part 4










Archer’s arc for “Skytanic” is:

(1) He has no interest in defending a rigid airship against a bomb threat, but goes on a mission to do so, in order to have sex with Lana.

(2) Once aboard the ship, he goes about his job of “finding the bomber” half-heartedly and incompetently, while still trying to have sex with Lana.

(3) His twin motives of “find the bomber” and “sex with Lana” conflict in the person of Singh, and force him to drive Lana into the arms of Cyril, his romantic rival.

(4) Finally, once it is revealed that there never was a real bomb threat, Archer discovers a very real bomb.


The most excellent of Archer episodes take care to include at least one sequence of “actual movie spy work” — a car chase, a gunfight, a break-in.  This is no small feat — action sequences are expensive, whether in live action or animation, and the action sequences in Archer manage to be both visually impressive and funny on a character level.  It is also, I would say, not strictly necessary — comedies like Archer, where the comedy often rises from colorful characters doing mundane tasks, could easily get by on anti-comedy.  Adult Swim shows have trafficked in this kind of comedy for a decade now, where the laughs come from the audience’s expectations being dashed.  Archer, on the other hand, is lovingly generous to its audience, giving them excellent scripts, elegant animation (for its budget), and devoted attention to detail in its homages to its source material.

The “actual movie spy work” sequence of “Skytanic” is “Disarming the Bomb.”  Archer, upon finding the bomb, immediately jumps into action — and runs back to his room to change into his black turtleneck.  On the way he runs into Lana and tells her about the bomb, and Lana, in turn, captures Kraus, who, of course, is not the bomber.  Archer returns, with turtleneck, just in time to see Kraus shot by — who’s this?

Capt Lammers! (ARCHER: “Nice read, Velma.”) In a twist worthy of Chandler, we see that Capt Lammers has been playing ISIS the whole time.  He has taken advantage of Malory’s fake bomb threat to create a real bomb threat, and he has hired ISIS to deal with it because he knows that ISIS will be utterly incapable of dealing with it, because they are a bunch of incompetent, base-minded nincompoops.  (Why does Capt Lammers want to blow up the Excelsior?  Oh, you know, a stock scam — essentially lifted from Casino Royale.)  He now jumps out of the cargo hold and flies away, leaving Archer and Lana to deal with the bomb.









Archer and Lana call Ray Gillette, who puts on his “crisis vest” (lifted from Apollo 13‘s Gene Krantz) and helps them disarm the bomb.  Who is Ray?  Ray is “the gay one,” and is therefore obsessed with clothes and bitchy.  Is Ray a stereotype?  Maybe, but he is a markedly better person than either Archer or Malory.  Would we say that Archer is a stereotype of privileged white men?  He has all the characteristics — short-sightedness, complete disregard for the feelings of others, outrageous sense of entitlement.  Lana has faults but is in no way a stereotype, not even a stereotype of a “1970s black female action star,” which is what she looks like — Pam Grier mixed with Diana Rigg.  

And while Ray has his stereotypical “gay mannerisms” (lisps, sex-mad, fashion-conscious), he also has real skills (which always go unappreciated).  (And, if “clothes conscious” is gay, then Archer is the gayest member of the cast — he worries more about what he wears than anyone.)









Long story short, the “Disarming the Bomb” sequence involves a blue wire with white stripes, a white wire with blue stripes, a pair of serial numbers, a static-y radio and Archer using the phrase “‘M’ as in ‘Mancy,'” which is precisely where the series exploded for me.  Bond parodies I’ve seen for decades, but a character who could say “‘M’ as in ‘Mancy'” is a whole new level of stupid. Archer fails in every regard in “Skytanic.”  He doesn’t catch the bomber, he doesn’t have sex with Lana, he fails to disarm the bomb, and he ends up shot in the leg (by Lana, no less).  At the last moment, Cyril enters, still in Malory’s dressing gown, to help Lana, in her underwear, to push the bomb off the Excelsior.  Cyril proves his love for Lana and the Excelsior is saved, although the bomb lands on Wales.  But that’s someone else’s problem.  Someone must always pay the price of love, even if it’s not the people actually in love.


2 Responses to “Archer: “Skytanic” part 4”
  1. Curt_Holman says:

    I live in Atlanta, where ‘Archer’ is produced, and last year I wrote a cover story on the show. If memory serves me right, show creator Adam Reed said that the script for ‘Skytanic’ began because he thought of the phrase “‘M’ as in ‘Mancy'” and found it funny. So he thought of a situation in which someone would say “‘M’ as in ‘Mancy'” and basically reverse-engineered the story from that.