ARCHER 4.04 ‘Midnight Ron’

Archer and his new stepfather go on the run and bond during a harrowing road trip.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Midnight Ron"

Writers: Adam Reed & Tesha Kondrat

Before we get started on  this week’s “Archer” review, I just have to say that “Midnight Ron” may be my favorite episode title from any series  in a long time. And the episode itself was hilarious and it’s easily the best one of the new season.

Successfully adding a major new character to any series is always difficult, especially when they drop in out of nowhere in the way that Ron Cadillac (Ron Leibman) did in the season premiere as Mallory Archer’s (Jessica Walter) new husband. And until now, the only character traits that Ron displayed were his romantic feelings for Mallory and the slightly racist stereotypes he mentioned in last week’s episode.

But “Midnight Ron” went out of its way to flesh out Ron’s “epic” identity alongside Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin). Unfortunately, most of the supporting cast was sidelined in the process. Although Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates), Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) and even the newly restored Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) all get funny cameos as they laugh at Archer’s attempt to secure their help getting back across the U.S. and Canadian border.

Of course, Archer has no one to blame for this but himself. He’s such a conceited a**hole that the only one even willing to go get Archer is Ron, a man he barely knows. Even Woodhouse (George Coe) declines to help Archer… and he pays for it when Archer finally gets home. Coe’s reading of Woodhouse’s brief monologue was heartbreaking. Woodhouse might be one of the few genuinely decent characters on this show, so it’s easy to wish that Archer would treat him better. But how funny would that be?

On a side note, Cheryl’s paper cut outs of the human centipede were disturbing.. and hysterical. I also loved that Krieger would have helped Archer out if he didn’t have a significant problem of his own.

Even a down on his luck Archer can’t help being a huge jerk to the Canadians, so he only accepts Ron’s offer to bring him home to escape being arrested for destroying a pay phone. While Ron presents the impromptu road trip as a chance to get to know his new stepson, he also had an ulterior motive that is exposed when mobsters attempt to attack their car on the way to New York. One explosion and one major car crash later, Ron is forced to explain that he got his start as a car thief and that his briefcase full of cash was intended to pay back his old crew for not ratting on him when they were arrested years ago.

Ron and Archer’s misadventures inadvertently lead them to the set of a “rapey snuff film” as a crowd of crossdressing hillbillies surround them while holding weapons. That sequence and their subsequent escape to a moving train were the highlights of the episode. Archer and Ron actually have a good chemistry together and Ron called Archer out on his almost Oedipal complex with his mother.

FX’s description for this episode hinted that Archer and Ron would have the beginning of a “beautiful hatred.” But instead, Archer and Ron realize that even if they aren’t friends, they can make Mallory upset just by pretending that they have become close. And when their plan works beautifully, their facade of friendship may no longer be fake.

Truthfully, Archer loves no one but himself, so any character development here may be short lived. However, “Midnight Run” was funny all the way through and it even had some emotionally satisfying moments. It’s hard to argue against that.