Episode Title: "Viscous Coupling"
Writer: Adam Reed
“Cyril Figgis strikes again!”
I love that “Archer” has made a running gag out of Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) acting like a complete dick and then instantly identifying himself as his hapless co-worker so that the blame and blowback always goes to him instead. That’s classic Archer. This week, Archer robbed a random guy of his flowers and chocolates (more than once) in an ill-fated attempt at romance with his lost love.
"Viscous Coupling" served as a stark reminder of the duality of Sterling himself. Thanks to his mother, Mallory’s (Jessica Walter) marriage to Ron Cadillac (Ron Leibman) and various office hookups, Archer finds himself feeling extremely lonely.
But Archer lacks the self awareness to realize that if he really wants his life to change then he has to change. Archer practically begs Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) to take him back after learning that she’s dating Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) again. Archer even claims to have been changed by the events of the last few seasons (which was a nice callback), but all it takes for Archer to forget about Lana is a phone call from his ex-fiancée, Katya (Ona Grauer).
The fourth season of “Archer” seems to have really played up the idea that Archer has completely alienated the people in his life. Even Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) can’t seem to stand him anymore. And it’s Archer’s fault because he’s completely self-centered, if a little naive at times.
Archer really believes that he can win Katya back without having to free her cyborg lover, Barry Dylan (Dave Willis) from his exile on the international space station. Hilariously, Archer comes up with a scheme to get his more rational ISIS co-workers out of the way while he entices Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) to help Barry with the promise of a cyborg showdown between Barry and the recently rebuilt, Ray Gillette (Adam Reed).
I love that Krieger’s holographic Anime bride is developing a personality of her own as she chides him for his apparent sexual dysfunction issues. The crazy thing is that Krieger created and programmed her, so on some level, that’s how he wants his artificial woman to act! And yet Krieger has a fairly accurate assessment of Archer’s persona that Sterling finds “hurtful.” But then, the truth hurts, doesn’t it?
Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) had some of her funniest material of the season as she became convinced she was living in “Opposite World;” which may explain why she was competent at keeping Mallory and Lana locked up until she let them go for some reason. In the meantime, Archer’s attempt to create a recording of Barry admitting to cheating on Katya was pretty amusing, especially since it never actually fooled her.
The reveal that Katya was working with Barry all along to trick Archer was a little predictable, but it still managed to hurt Sterling when he realized the truth. Barry’s wild bearded spaceman incarnation was really funny, but I do wish that the episode dealt more with the space station full of scientists that Barry apparently murdered off-screen. Archer has had to face the consequences of his actions when Nikolai Jakov was killed by Barry last season. I’d like to see more things like that payoff in the series.
Surprisingly, Bearded Barry actually makes it off of the space station because Archer forgot to stop Krieger in time; which means that we should get another Archer and Barry showdown before the end of the season. It wouldn’t surprise me if we actually get a Ray vs. Barry fight as well, since the repeated mentions of it in this episode have set it up pretty effectively.
The ending twist is that Katya has engineered her own rise to power in Barry’s absence and her affection for Archer could make for some interesting stories ahead. Katya is actually moved by Archer’s ridiculously doctored audio tape of Barry not because of the content, but because she thinks it means that Archer still loves her. And I suppose that Archer does love Katya, as much as he can love anyone that’s not himself.
This was a pretty solid episode of “Archer” with some good laughs and advancement on the Barry front. Hopefully Barry and Other Barry will be just as hilariously unhinged when “they” find out what’s waiting for them at home.