[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Archer Dreamland” Season 8, Episode 8, “Auflösung.”]
For those wondering but unwilling to use Google, “auflösung” — the title of the Season 8 finale — is German for “resolution.” But while “Archer” certainly resolved the central mystery of “Dreamland,” Adam Reed’s last episode of 2017 didn’t end it. Or maybe it did. We don’t really know the lasting effects of what we just saw, and while that’s partially enticing — considering how creative the “Archer” team can be — it’s also a little disappointing.
To sum up the plot: Barry, Trexler’s henchman-turned-cyborg, was the one who killed Woodhouse. As Archer reminded us last week, that’s how “Archer Dreamland” began: with Archer out to avenge the death of his partner. In the end, though, it was Krieger, the Frankenstein to Barry’s monster, who killed Woodhouse’s killer by unleashing a pack of robot dogs on the unstoppable assassin. It takes a robot to kill a robot, I guess.
Along the way, Poovey “accidentally” shot Lana full of bullets, killing the undercover treasury officer as Archer held her in his arms. It was a low-key reversal of the real-life scene that put Archer in a coma. Last season, Lana held Archer as he passed out, but the event didn’t trigger anything in Archer’s subconscious that brought him back to the real world.
“She got shot seven times, and no one could survive that,” Archer shouted at Poovey. “Not even in a parallel universe!”
So… is Lana dead? Obviously, she’d only be dead in Archer’s “Dreamland,” but the finale gave no evidence we’ll be leaving this fictional space anytime soon. Though the last scene was of Poovey (bursting into tears while reading a goodbye letter from the Chinese women she’d been housing), the more traditional ending came when Archer visited Woodhouse’s grave and delivered a meta message to Woodhouse, his voice actor George Coe, and fans looking for a hint at what’s to come.
“I don’t know if you feel avenged or if that even matters to you,” Archer said, addressing the grave. “I know the case took a long time, but like you always said, I have a tendency to get sidetracked. […] Woodhouse, I’m going to miss the shit out of you. All right, well, see ya. I don’t know, maybe next week, but let’s play it by ear.”
The first few lines feel like a direct message to fans. Archer seemed to be telling viewers, “I don’t know if you were satisfied with this season, or if this world holds any consequence to you, but this is it. I know this digression took up a whole season, but getting sidetracked on wild, creative tangents is part of my DNA.”
And he’s right, if that’s really what he’s saying. The luscious visuals, enticing arrangements, and callbacks to retired fan favorites, from characters like Len Trexler to a countless array of jokes. And the recurring joke of starting each episode with the line, “So, what are we doing, are we just jumping right into this?” — or a shortened version, in later episodes — showed just how much fun Reed & Co. could have in “Dreamland.”
That Season 8 functioned as an ode to Woodhouse and George Coe is also incredibly endearing. We noted how touching the premiere was, and Archer’s goodbye to his partner — combined with the tribute to Coe in the end credits — made for a moving final eulogy.
But it’s Archer’s goodbye, not to Coe, but to us, that’s a bit irksome. “All right, well, see ya” isn’t exactly as inspiring as the finales of season’s past, and it’s especially disheartening given how complete the “Dreamland” arc felt. We needed some sort of arrow toward the future: Is Archer dead? Is Lana? Will next year be back in Dreamland without her? Or will we move on to a whole new dream within Archer’s brain?
Not knowing lessens the dramatic impact of a season that, self-admittedly, functioned as a story unto itself. But one can only put the real world’s life-and-death stakes on hold for so long. Those ties remain relevant, and the unknown future, while exciting, also feels a little bit empty. “Archer” has been renewed for two more seasons, and that may be it. While I’m all for a grand experiment and a good time, here’s hoping what’s next resolves more than just the dream.