ARCHER 2.04 ‘Pipeline Fever’

Archer relives his favorite movie and faces his three greatest fears on a mission gone wrong.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

ARCHER 2.04 'Pipeline Fever'

Episode Title: "Pipeline Fever"

Writer: Adam Reed

At the top of the episode, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) are assigned to protect a natural gas pipeline in the Louisiana wetlands; and of course Archer quickly blows their cover by loudly shouting their mission on the plane ride over there, in full earshot of the terrorist known as "Gandolf." Meanwhile, back at ISIS, Mallory Archer (Jessica Walter) decides to take advantage of the "hippie democrat congress" by getting a huge tax write off for going green.

It’s still early in the second season, but it seems like Adam Reed is making more of an effort to humanize Archer and some of the lead characters. Sometimes it’s really effective, as in the first episode of the season and last week’s show. But the humor really seemed to suffer in this one. That’s not to say that it didn’t have a lot of funny moments. The opening sequence in which Archer inadvertently freaks out an air marshal and tips off their target was classic Sterling. His man crush on Burt Reynolds was also really amusing, even though I’ve never seen "White Lightning" or "Gator."

Because of that, I may have missed a lot of the references, but Archer’s airboat theft was hilarious as was the joke about boat’s owner losing his two dogs named Danny. There was also a joke I missed on the first time through where Archer seemed to be responding to the mission briefing when he was actually on the phone with a restaurant.

Archer being Archer, he quickly blows out the airboat’s engine and then Lana learns that he packed beer almost exclusively before he shots an alligator in the head with an arrow and accidentally sinks their boat And that’s actually the last real piece of action for the episode. After building up Gandolf as major threat, he never actually lives up to his rep. The story basically stops when he catches up with Archer and Lana and takes Lana for a date while leaving Archer behind with a dangerous and pissed off alligator.

In-between that, Lana coaxes Archer into admitting that his three biggest fears are alligators, crocodiles and brain aneurysms. Weirdly enough, he’s so afraid of alligators that he’s memorized all of the fatal alligator attacks in North America. Although Lana refuses to open up in kind, he guesses that her biggest fears are intimacy and falling in love with him again because of his "awesomeness." We even learn how Lana was hired by Mallory after starring her down despite a gun in her face during a failed PETA protest.

Archer himself seems immune to real character growth despite occasional self-aware moments. His biggest "dick" moment came when Lana severely burned her hands on dry ice and he barely seemed to care beyond "you okay, buddy?" And that’s fine. He’s a hilarious a**hole and I loved the second "Lord of The Rings" reference when he told Gandolf to "Suck it, Samwise!"

I don’t have a problem with character building. But after spending all of that time putting Archer and Lana in place to defend the pipeline, the ending was just disappointing. The B-story could have been dropped entirely this week to give Archer and Lana time to have their character moments and still deliver a fun, solid story. But apparently we can’t ever take a break from ISIS. Some of the ISIS gags were amusing, like Pam’s surprise that the office has a women’s restroom. However, most of the office gags fell kind of flat and for once I wish we had an episode without checking in on the support staff.

Even with the weakest episode so far, this was still one of the funniest shows on TV last week. But it can and should be better.

This week’s top five "Archer" moments are:

5:

Archer: "Whaling ships? What, he’s against clean burning lamp oil?"

4:

Archer: "Sterling Archer and Lana Kane from ISIS. And we’re on a mission to stop an eco-terrorist from blowing up a gas pipeline. So for the love of God woman, make me a fresh batch of hurricanes!"

Lana: "Way to keep a low profile."

3:
 
Archer: "Seriously, Lana, this must be what it’s like to have sex with me."

Lana: "How can an airboat be selfish?"

2:

Mallory: "Oh shut up, Mr. Big Mouth. Telling it we have a women’s bathroom. (turns to Pam) Where I better never catch you again!"

1.

Archer: "Well, that’s just great. She gets dinner and dixieland and laid and I get mosquitoes and no beer and not laid. How could this get any…"

The wounded alligator growls.

Archer: "Let me finish! Worse. Now, see? You ruined it. You ruined the moment."

Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.