“I swear to God I had something for this.” (Episode Summary)
After a less than stellar introduction to Country Day pre-pre-school that featured a traumatizing flashback for Archer and some racist remarks for Lana, The Figgis Agency still managed to land a new gig — or, at least, 10 percent of Archer’s gig. While debating whether or not to Irish up their coffees, Archer, Mallory and Lana got the pleasure of experiencing Richard “Ivy” Stratton IV, an old nemesis of Archer’s who once put him in the hospital during prep school after a disastrous “swirlie” incident taken too far.
The chance meeting led to two key events for the episode: After being hired to kill Ivy, who claimed to be dying of cancer but was really trying to off his thieving, adulterous business partner, Trent Whitney, Cyril discovered a giant batch of documents and tapes relating to “Longwater,” aka the Veronica Dean case that took up the first two episodes of Season 7. Sadly, Cyril’s decision-making skills under pressure — like all his “skills” under pressure — are lacking, and the key evidence burned up when Trent’s house exploded. That being said, the real loss may have come when Archer was too distracted with losing the clues to engage Cyril in a discussion about his history of being bullied has turned him into a bully himself.
But hey — at least we got to see Cyril’s killer “Silence of the Lambs” fantasy. Hopefully, he can live in that world a bit longer, since it doesn’t seem like Archer’s going to apologize for bullying Cyril anytime soon.
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“Bloody Mary, full of vodka, pray for me now…” (Best Drinking Reference)
Archer: “Boop. Sorry. Had to take that.”
“Danger zone!” (Most Action-y Action Sequence)
The obvious answer here is the wild car chase down the Pacific Coast Highway. They say a road trip up Highway 1 is one of those bucket list items everyone has to check off before they check out, and, having done it a few times, I’d have to agree. So credit goes to the animation team for capturing the route’s beauty under the cloak of night, a bright moon and starry sky shimmering off the ocean…while Archer jumped from car to car in an attempt to beat up his worst bully. (We think Ivy takes over first place from Whitney after trying to kill Archer again.) “Archer’s” artistic stylings have been improving year-to-year, and — even after an homage to “Bullet” last season — they still find new ways to make these car chases exciting. The PCH combined with some aesthetically-pleasing yellow & red sports cars made this one a chase to remember.
[Though credit to Lana for her first “phrasing” since it was brought back: “Now that wasn’t so hard…she said…phrasing!”]
“Literally the only thing about Los Angeles that doesn’t make me want to vomit.” (Best Hollywood Reference)
Los Angeles certainly has its allures, and the PCH is near the top of the list. So watching Archer get in a high-speed chase with the Pacific Ocean on one side and Malibu and/or the Pacific Palisades on the other was a particular treat for anyone who’s dreamt of recklessly tearing up the curvy and captivating route. Lana’s vain attempts to get into a pricey and prestigious pre-pre-school could have been the negative to the PCH’s positive, but that’s more of a universal issue than one that’s L.A.-specific. Kids, man. Good luck with that.
“A black astronaut, Cyril. That’s like killing a unicorn!” (Best Quote)
Archer’s persistent insistence that he’s immortal — carried over from last season’s two-part finale — serves as an excellent reminder of how this season started: Sterling Archer’s bullet-ridden body floating face first in a pool. Don’t forget where we’re going this season, folks.
“Can’t or won’t?” (Analysis)
Tied together nicely by Archer’s closing monologue about bullying and education, “Deadly Prep” held together nicely as both a classic mission-based episode and a subtle continuation of the season’s overarching story — and theme. It will be interesting to see how Whitney ties into the Veronica Dean plot down the line, but I was more impressed with Archer’s brief reflection on death (see the Best Quote, above). Adam Reed’s dedication to exploring the idea of whether or not Archer can, in fact, die by emphasizing the character’s belief that he’s immortal is a fascinating strategy and one that should pay bigger and bigger dividends as the season progresses.
We also shouldn’t overlook Cyril’s part in the story. As he tries to assert himself again and again as an authoritative presence, he continues to struggle in overcoming his own timid nature. “Suppressing fire!” is an excellent callback to some of Cyril’s finer moments (of comedy), but before we write him off completely as a leader, he should be given some credit for trying to push Archer into a discussion he needs to have. If Archer wants to mature — for his child — he needs to dig into his complicated past and possibly even address longstanding issues with Mallory, like those 63 boarding schools he attended before age five. To get there, he might need to start hearing Cyril (or at least hearing his points through someone else, like Lana). Otherwise, maybe his quest for immortality will come up tragically short.