Episode Title: "Space Race Part II"
Writer: Adam Reed
When we last left the ISIS team, they had been recruited by Commander Tony Drake (Bryan Cranston) to hastily receive space training to help him put down a mutiny on the international space station. What Drake neglected to mention was that he and his men were the real mutineers… and that they intended to colonize Mars with their newfound captives.
In the opening moments of the third season finale of "Archer," we learn that Drake's endgame involves using Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) as a breeder to create the new Martian people on Mars. Much to Lana's disgust, both Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) suggest that Drake release them and they only become indignant about Lana's predicament once it becomes clear that they will be slaves of the new colony as well.
Meanwhile, back on the space shuttle Intrepid, only Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) and a nearly impenetrable shuttle door keep Drake's men at bay as Mallory Archer (Jessica Walter) is drunk and Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) is going out of her mind (while wearing a dress make up of cobbled together space parts)… and Cheryl seems to like the idea of being the Martian queen.
Out of all of the characters, "Space Race II" really put the screws to Lana, as Archer, Ray and Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) use her clothing to distract a guard and escape, leaving Lana naked save for her panties and a pair of stickers over her nipples. I'm sure that Lana could have lived with that had Archer and the others not taken to insinuating that her breasts had significantly drooped. Even Pam and Mallory seemed to think that Lana's breasts were horrific, but Pam made sure to mention that she would still have sex with her.
To make matters worse for Lana, no one took her seriously for the rest of the adventure and the guys completely voted down her garbage shoot escape plan in one of the many nods to the original "Star Wars" trilogy. But I especially loved Pam's "boring conversation anyway" on the shuttle. Things nearly get out of hand when Cheryl allows Drake inside the shuttle while taking on the persona of the Martian queen. However, Pam saved the day by quickly capturing Drake even as Commander Kellogg (Dave Fennoy) held Archer and the others captive after their initial escape attempt.
Brett Butler had a small vocal cameo as Trish, one of the scientists captured by Drake. But Butler really didn't get much to do and Trish seemed to exist only so everyone else could mention how ugly she was. Dr. Krieger's (Lucky Yates) small appearance back on Earth was fun, as he apparently sold out the ISIS team to Drake and the KGB in return for the money for his new tricked out van. Krieger even brought back his Anime hologram bride, whose voice I find strangely amusing.
Cranston had a few funny moments as Commander Drake, but his character was pretty underdeveloped despite being prominent in both halves of the two parter. A little more exploration into his plans and motivations would have been more rewarding than his apparent madness and subsequent suicide-by-Pam. Naturally, Cyril screws things up even more by accidentally slaughtering Kellogg, the only remaining pilot who could have gotten them safely back to Earth.
Which brings us to KGB leader (and Cyborg) Barry Dylan (Dave Willis); who grabs a space ship (with Other Barry) to secretly kill Archer without his new love, Katya finding out about it. It was a strange way to bring the story back to Archer's main rival, but it led to some remarkable moments of character growth for Archer. When Barry arrives on the station and calls Archer out to duel with him while using an "Aliens" style power loader, Archer is only too eager to fight Barry once again regardless of the consequences.
However, Lana (and surprisingly, Cheryl) actually get through to Archer and let him know what a dick he's being… and Archer realizes that they're right. Archer turns down Barry's offer and he doesn't give in to Barry's final taunts before leaving. Archer even compliments Cyril on his piloting skills, which earns him the satisfaction of watching Cyril destroy Barry's shuttle and leaving his rival stranded on the space station.
If the season had ended there, it would have a triumphant note to go out on, with Archer more like a fully realized human being than ever. But if you're watching "Archer" to see his personal growth, then you're either watching the wrong show or you haven't been paying very close attention. Right before touchdown, Archer petulantly tries to grab the shuttle controls from Cyril just so he could land the shuttle as a reward for his restraint on the space station.
Naturally, the shuttle crashes and injures everyone… except for Archer, who seems blissfully unaware that everyone hates him more than ever now. Ray may even be really paralyzed this time and Cheryl looked like she had a major eye injury. But Archer doesn't care as long as he's got a drink in his hand. There's a reason that Archer will never truly change: he really is that big of a douchebag.
But if Archer was kind and sensitive, why would we watch him?
The space adventure had some fun moments, but it seemed to lack the punch provided by the two episodes that proceeded it. Even though it was good to see Barry again this season, his appearance in this episode seemed pretty tacked on. Although Adam Reed and company wisely kept Barry alive in case they want to use him in the future. It's useful to have a foe out there whom Archer can't seem to beat anymore.
Overall, "Archer" season three was pretty fantastic. It have suffered a slight dip in the last two episodes, but it's still rightfully among the best comedies on TV.
For the last time this spring, here are the top "Archer" moments of the week.
Cheryl: "Now, we heard some mention of babies. But just to be clear, we don't do babies."
Drake: "Do as in?"
Cheryl: "Do us in tolerate, be around, touch and definitely in letting them claw their monstrousry way out of our vagine."
Drake: "Well, let's put a pin on that."
Cheryl: "Eww… Wait, put a pin in what?"
Cheryl: "Duh, the party's starting and this dress makes me look like a whore!"
Mallory: "Oh… you don't look like a whore. An idiot maybe… Or both! Yes, a whorediot."
Drake: "Involuntary labor is just a temporary measure. In a few generations, after the colony is established, we'll revisit the issue. In the meantime-"
Archer: "You can kiss 3/5 of my ass!"
Pam: "Don't get me wrong, I'd still do her."
Mallory: "Oh please, you'd do… name a noun."
Cyril: "I think I got him. Did I get him?"
Lana: "You did. You got those two guys who were just minding their own business and also the remaining person who could fly us back to Earth!"
Archer: "A black astronaut, Cyril! That's like killing a unicorn!"
Barry: "Katya, pumpkin, I promised I'd stop trying to kill Archer. [Laughs] Yes, yes. Both Barrys promise."