Archer: “Skytanic” part 3













Up in the sky aboard a rigid airship, Lana has reached a crisis point with her boyfriend Cyril.  Dressed as a bellhop and bearing a basket of fruit, Cyril has stumbled upon Lana in her underwear with a naked Archer.  Lana, fed up with Cyril’s mistrust, breaks up with him, and Cyril flees, sobbing.  Archer, whose first priority is to have sex with Lana, tells her to “go after him.”  Not to patch up their relationship, of course, but because “we’re almost out of fruit.”

Mind you, this is all in the service of foiling a bomb plot.  That’s one of the key things to remember with farce — the higher the stakes are, the more serious the “mission,” the more base the cast’s motivations should be.  In Fawlty Towers it’s “the hotel inspectors are coming,” in Arrested Development it’s “we’re going to trial,” in Curb Your Enthusiasm it’s “There’s an important party and you need to be on your best behavior.”  With the Marx Bros it’s A Night at the Opera, with Bugs Bunny it’s “The Rabbit of Seville,” with the Three Stooges it’s the “important society gala,” with Caddyshack it’s the big golf tournament, with Animal House it’s the homecoming parade.

And one of the things that makes Archer that much more startling is that it’s, of all things, “a James Bond parody,” a genre unto itself, something that’s been done to death, in every possible medium, from Get Smart to Austin Powers, from radio to newspaper comics.  How Archer manages to be not just fresh, but startlingly so, is a miracle unto itself, and a testament to the vision of the show’s creators, who have turned a liability into an asset — they use the “Bond parody” style as a familiar way into their extremely bent worldview.










While Lana is dealing with Cyril, Malory is glowing and gloating in the casino.  She is getting what she wants — she’s got her luxury trip, she’s showing up her rival Trudy Beekman, and she’s working on getting Capt Lammers into bed.  She’s forgotten all about why she’s actually aboard the ship — for good reason, we will learn.  Lana and Malory have a “girl talk” about Lana and Cyril while Archer half-heartedly goes about some secret-agent stuff.  He goes to the gaming tables to suss out Singh (or “Beardy McTurbanhead” as Archer calls him) and promptly loses to him.  Having no money, Archer must give Singh the only thing he has worth winning — Lana.

(At the top of the show, Archer, in order to get into the same room as Lana, suggested to Capt Lammers that they pose as man and wife.  Now, without ever achieving his goal of sex with Lana, Archer loses Lana to Singh, because of his own ruse.  That’s good plotting.)

Meanwhile, Cyril, still a mess from Lana’s rejection, falls prey to Cheryl’s demented wiles, and has violent sex with her.  Realizing his mistake, he panics, again, and flees the room, this time wearing Malory’s dressing gown — a second outfit change for Cyril, and a step down from busboy.  Cyril’s arc, up to now, has been a steep plummet from anxiety to humiliation.

Back in the casino, Archer faces a crisis — he has to pay up to Singh, but Lana isn’t really his to give.  Thinking fast, he remembers the reason he’s supposed to be there — looking for a bomb plot.  He tells Lana that Singh is the bomber and that she needs to go to his room to seduce him while he “looks for the bomb.”  Archer never confronts an issue if he can push it downstream instead.

Malory, on the other hand, is upset with both of them for ruining her trip — the bomb threat is the furthest thing from her mind. Having sent Lana to seduce Singh, Archer comes up with another plan — to find Cyril and send him to discover Lana with Singh, which will save Lana from seducing Singh.  Archer is either trying to save Lana’s relationship with Cyril (doubtful) or he’s thinking that if Lana goes through with seducing Singh and then finds out there is no bomb, he’ll never get to have sex with her (more probable).









Archer runs into red-herring Kraus and then Cyril (in Malory’s dressing gown).  He directs Cyril to go find Lana with Singh.  Cyril does indeed walk in on Lana and Singh, and drags her back to Malory’s suite, to find Malory, Pam and Cheryl reviving Cheryl from a post-sex drowning (don’t ask).  Then comes the big twist: Malory reveals that it was she, herself, who made the initial bomb threat on the Excelsior, for the sole purpose of showing up her bete noir neighbor Trudy Beekman. This is already enough plot to carry a Joe Orton play, but we’re only at the end of Act II, at which point Archer discovers, almost by accident, that there is, in fact, a real bomb on board the Excelsior.