“I swear to God I had something for this.” (Episode Summary)
Because he was still “butthurt” from last week (you know, when Lana hired a Pakistani improv artist to shoot him a bunch of times), Archer flew to Vegas on a drunken bender that somehow ended with him on the no-fly and no-train lists. In a plea for help, he asks Cheryl to send her family’s private jet, the Sky Tunt (as opposed to the Sea Tunt) to get him home, only to have that trip upended by Ray’s poor piloting.
Forced into an emergency landing at Area 51, Archer pretends to be CIA Agent Slater before Pam and Krieger go searching for aliens to disastrous ends. After a quick rescue, Archer & Co. steal a plane from the Air Force and head for the rest of the gang’s original destination: Branson, MO.
Oh, and back home, Mallory buys “naming rights” to AJ for just a touch over $25,000. So now Archer and Lana’s offspring will have the full name of Abbiejean Mallory Kane-Archer. We’ll have to see how Papa feels about that later, hopefully after he returns from Branson.
“Bloody Mary, full of vodka, pray for me now…” (Best Drinking Reference)
“What the hell is the Air Force spending all their kajillion of dollars on? O’Dublin tequila? I mean, vodka, maybe, they obviously know their way around a potato.” – Archer
Of note: O’Dublin tequila is not a real brand of liquor, but I doubt it’s the worst kind of tequila one could buy (and our alcohol expert agrees).
“Danger Zone” (Most Action-y Action Sequence)
“Nellis” was rather light on action, in spite of the quick-paced plot. Between the plane being shot down and Archer’s brief brawl with Air Force security, we’ll have to side with the high skies. Seeing the Sky Tunt soar through the clouds, dodge a missile and then lose an engine in a fiery explosion takes the cake over Archer flinging a chunk of a fire extinguisher into a dude’s face. They’re both impressive, though neither can reach the earlier heights of this season’s top level animation.
Embarrassing side note: the above exchange automatically won the week because it took this critic an embarrassingly long 30 seconds to realize the connection between statements. Otherwise, Archer’s dialogue with Ray where they tag-teamed the pilot’s signature statement — “God damn it!” — would have been your victor.
“Tactleneck” (Archer Innovation)
“Nellis” was pretty short on new creations from our hero. Sure, he used his wits to throw part of a fire extinguisher — seriously, what was that? an axe? — at an Air Force sentry, but that was more resourcefulness than innovation. He also managed to make himself an acceptable cocktail, though he’s always able to do that given he’s a raging (or rampaging?) alcoholic. So we’ll have to be shy one category this week, and hope for more in the weeks to come.
“That’s like killing a unicorn!” (Best Quote)
“And before you ask, Carol, the answer is no. 1000 times no. I will not, I cannot ride the bus.” – Archer
“Can’t or won’t?” (Analysis)
Far from the heights of the last two episodes, “Nellis” provided a few hearty belly chuckles, some fine animation and sterling voiceover work — all of which are standard to a show known for exceeding expectations —except “exceeding expectations” is exactly what this week’s entry failed to do. I can’t shake the feeling that this week’s adventure was constructed entirely around the premise of “Hey, what if Archer went to Area 51?”
Instead of embracing the alien sideshow wholeheartedly, however, “Nellis” tries to take its concept and insert it into through plot of the overall season. Keeping it from being a CIA-sanctioned mission aided in the logistics of the series — after all, why would the CIA contract out these yahoos to visit one of America’s most top secret institutions? — but “Nellis” was too eager to stray from that narrative to grab easy alien-related jokes.
While propped up by some of the aforementioned witty banter, “Nellis” reached a bit beyond its grasp by episode’s end. Pam and Krieger’s conversation with an alien race didn’t sit well with me, as the show rarely deals with supernatural or even conspiracy-heavy storylines (not to mention nothing scares Pam Poovey). Indeed, I’m as glad as any X-Philly to hear Archer quote Fox Mulder; but the geeky joy it brought me clashed with my objective instincts. Even with some well-executed moments, Episode 7 felt like it was pandering to the show’s audience, rather than providing it with the more characteristic narrative challenge.