ARCHER 4.01 ‘Fugue and Riffs’

The ISIS team tries to help Archer regain his memory as the KGB closes in on him.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Fugue and Riffs"

Writer: Adam Reed

If the season premiere of “Archer” is to be believed, then Bob Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers” was always an amnesiac Sterling Archer who simply assumed his life and family for a two month period. Both characters share H. Jon Benjamin as their voice actor, but not much else.

I’m not really a fan of “Bob’s Burgers,” but it was undeniably fun to see the composite character (Barcher?) kick ass when the KGB came to kill him and when he left several dead bodies behind for his family to clean up before the health inspectors arrive. Even when he’s out of his head, Archer is still a hilariously selfish prick who  thinks only of himself.

The bulk of the episode involves ISIS tracking down Archer and trying to slowly bring out Archer’s real identity so he won’t reject it. Therefore, Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) plays the ISIS agent and damsel in distress while Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) and  Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) portray a pair of inept KGB operatives.

"Fugue and Riffs" has its best moments when we see just how deeply Archer’s personality traits are ingrained in his brain. Bob/Archer still makes comic book jokes (Jennifer Walters!) and he’s an unbelievable pig towards Lana as he rips off her shirt and bra to create a makeshift slingshot/lacrosse stick to hurl molotov cocktails when the real KGB shows up. And I love that “Suppressing fire!” has become Cyril’s catchphrase.

Oddly enough, it felt like the rest of the cast was just going through the motions. Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) and Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) tag along for the mission… because why not? But they spend most of the episode in spa treatment with only occasionally funny moment from Chery’s LSD freakouts. Making Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) extremely bitter over his paralysis had the side effect of making him less interesting while Archer’s mother,  Mallory (Jessica Walter) was pretty stuck on her one note of grousing about how Archer was pulling his identity switch just to punish her. Although to be fair, Archer did drunkenly commandeer her limo on her wedding day.

That’s right, Mallory got hitched and we briefly meet Ron Cadillac (Ron Leibman), her new husband whom everyone loves… except Archer. There’s definitely no affection coming from Archer. While Ron didn’t have any real jokes of his own, it was amusing to see how happy everyone was to see him… with Archer as the lone exception.

“Archer” does tend to set up its jokes well, so that when the obvious frying pan to the head cures Archer’s amnesia, you don’t even care that it’s a cliche because that’s already been pointed out. And the brief moment in which Archer rejected his true self and deliriously identified himself as Bob was the second funniest moment after the opening scene.

While this episode clearly takes place several months after the third season finale, there’s a great reveal that Cyborg Barry Dylan (Dave Willis) has found a way to torment Archer even from space, potentially setting up a return visit to the space station or Barry’s inevitable escape. As fun as it is to laugh at the ISIS gang, there was a gruesome moment when Barry (and Other Barry) revealed that they’ve been killing scientists who fall short of helping him get back to Earth. And those deaths are squarely on Archer, Cyril and the rest even if they don’t know yet.

“Archer” is rarely a show that goes for long term repercussions, but this seems like an attempt to tell a longer story about Barry’s satellite escapades eventually coming back to bite Archer and the ISIS team. And I’m on board for that. As far as “Archer” episodes go, "Fugue and Riffs" was only an average installment. Hopefully it’s just a warmup episode before Reed and his creative team impress us again.