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April 23, 2014

'Archer' Season 2, Episode 12 Recap

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 14th 2011 10:30PM
['Archer' - 'White Nights']

Show of hands here -- who's obsessed with finding out who Luke Skywalker's Sterling Archer's real father is?

Yeah, me neither. I suppose the trip to Russia had a few dividends -- hearing Archer's thoughts on shoe-and-suit combinations is never a waste of time -- but all things considered, I wish we'd spent more time back at ISIS, watching Krieger make animal-boy hybrids or checking in on Cheryl's dwindling stocks of sniffable glue.

I fully recognize that 'Archer' has to mix it up from week to week, in terms of how much interaction the super-spy has with the folks working at HQ. If the ISIS team found ways to accompany him every week, it wouldn't seem believable, even in this surreal, fanciful world.

Still, banter between Archer and his ISIS colleagues is often the best part of the show, but he wasn't even on the company premises this time. We had to make do with Archer-Barry banter, and let's face it, Barry's kind of a pill.

All that being said, I enjoyed the fact that the Russia of 'Archer' is basically stuck in 1975. Because it's animated, the characters can do much wilder and weirder things than they could if this were a live-action show, and a show made with real sets would also never be able to get away with such time-frame shenanigans.

It's not that 'Archer' employs time travel (though that might be a fun idea for a future episode -- 'Archer' travels to the future! And the 18th Century! And in both places, he drinks a lot, makes snarky comments and beds women!). But the show impishly refuses to commit to any particular era or time frame. Archer dresses like a 'Mad Men' ad man but the ISIS agents have modern technology available to them -- occasionally. The phones sometimes resemble those giant cordless phones from the '80s and the computers usually look like something from that decade as well, but the ISIS offices have a mid-century modern feel. (Of course, Malory's classic Chanel suits are timeless.)

Thanks to the "it's whatever era we decide it is" attitude, the show got to have fun with the idea of 'Archer' going up against the old-school KGB, in a very grim Russia in which children tote around their own bottles of vodka and the average citizen is lucky to have shoes. Archer's torturer looked a bit like Lenin and the country itself was as grim and dank as could be. And despite the fearsome reputation of the Russian military back in the day, the soldiers chasing Archer and Barry really could not shoot worth a damn. No wonder Communism crumbled.

I was a bit disappointed that, after all those Soviet shenanigans, we never did find out whether Jakov really is Archer's dad. Are they going to do a "who is Archer's real father" episode every season? If so, I hope Pam and Cheryl and Lana get to go along next time. Krieger too.

Here's my bullet list of notes, observations and favorite quotes (feel free to add yours in comments):

• I love Ray's catchphrase, "Dukes!" But I've never heard it before. Is it Ray-specific or is it a reference I'm just not getting?

• I enjoy the fact that whenever we see Pam these days, she's likely to have a bear claw in her hand. The woman likes what she likes.

• Anybody else mentally scarred for life by seeing Malory covered in whipped cream?

• Archer looks like kind of a douche a lot of the time, but he's a prince among men compared to Barry.

• Lana's "Noooope!" this week was a classic.

• Nice action-movie beat when Barry and Archer jumped between balconies.

• "Why are you wearing silk socks?" "Is that a joke?"

• "How is this happy play time?"

• So was the whole episode designed to introduce Katya Kasnova? She seems like a character Archer would want to meet again.

• "Super glad I didn't wet my pants."

'Archer' airs 10PM ET Thursdays on FX. (Season 2 finale airs next week.)

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Rob Clement

He has used "Dukes" before. In the Swiss Miss episode at the beginning of the season. He even went on to "double dukes" and "triple dukes" in that episode.

And doesn't Katya Kasnova look familiar?

April 16 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg Sorkin

"Dukes" is short for "dookie" which is a tv-friendly way of saying ****.

April 15 2011 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Greg Sorkin's comment
Greg Sorkin

Although, now that I think about it, they say **** on Archer all the time. Maybe it's just Ray's attempt at politeness by not swearing.

April 15 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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