When Archer is on, it has a tendency to be on in a pretty legit way. It's amazing to think that the show is currently wrapping up its fourth season, and has been renewed for a fifth, especially to anyone who caught Frisky Dingo and/or Sealab 2021. Both Adult Swim efforts came from the team of Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, and both featured Archer's distinctive blend of irreverence and tight scriptwork. While Sealab was something of a different beast entirely, it's obvious that Frisky Dingo and Archer share a lot of the same DNA, which makes it crazy to consider the phenomenon that the latter has come. It makes you wonder, too, what might have happened with Frisky Dingo, had it been allowed to continue beyond its magical two seasons. This is worth wondering because of how brilliantly Reed and his team have handled the characters and their storylines over the course of the last four years. One of the things that made Frisky Dingo so exceptional was the fact that much of the show's ample humor was based of character intricacies and the specific ways certain players related to others. The impressively evolving nature of the characters' relationships in Frisky Dingo, combined with fantastically complex but completely batshit insane plotting always made me compare FD to some sort of Bizarro-world version of Lost. You have a story that's all over the goddamn place, but really does hold up if you think about it, and you have characters who grow and change in interesting ways over the course of the series. The same idea has been replicated in Archer, and viewers that have stuck with the show for four years are rewarded with hilarious character revelations and in-joked galore. (Seriously, remember when they revealed that Dr. Krieger is literally one of the "boys from Brazil?" Amazing stuff. What's even better is that the Boys from Brazil reference is totally a callback to Frisky Dingo—of which there are a huge amount throughout all of Archer's run.)
"The Honeymooners" is basically Archer doing what it does best: playing its cast of characters off one another, and having a super fun time whilst doing it. Archer and Lana have to stop some North Koreans from buying enriched uranium, so after just a teensy bit of admittedly clunky exposition, they get to work posing as honeymooners in the hotel where the deal is supposed to go down. Instead of actually doing this, though, Archer only wants to feast on steak au poivre (another of the show's many references to eclectic dishes) and get his nails done. Of course, as soon as Mallory realizes that Archer has "borrowed" her credit card to pay for the hotel's bridal suite, she freaks out and pulls the cost out of his mission bonus. The problem here is that this motivates a lot of the episode's action, but is also the episode's only hanging thread. Why wasn't this mission properly funded to begin with? Is there a reason Archer had to take Mallory's credit card to pay for the hotel suite? I've watched the episode about three times, and haven't caught anything to this effect. God, I hope I'm wrong.
Anyway, Archer finds out about his bonus, which leads him to join Lana so they can both get captured by the North Koreans. Turns out Cyril's been tagging along the entire time because he's got mad trust issues, which have been goaded along by Pam and Cheryl, who are both looking for an excuse to go stay at the hotel (which Cheryl happens to own). All this culminates in a classic Archer (smoke) fight scene, with chaos and comedy in equal measures.
We get a lot of comedy and action in "The Honeymooners," and the latter is home to some thrillingly well-animated sequences. The North Korean threat is boilerplate action-movie stuff, but Archer works well when it lets this kind of template act as a structure over which it can hang its own unique designs. Sure, there isn't a whole lot of originality in a plot about stopping the sale of some enriched uranium, but it gives us a chance to explore Cyril's insecurity, Lana's concern about her future, and Archer's ability to sometimes be super, super good at his job.
A friend of mine has pointed out that he really prefers it when Archer brings things in a little more, focusing on more serialized arcs that are less crazy and all over the place. He lamented the disappearance of Conway Stern (I had no choice but to agree), and commented upon his enjoyment of Mallory's affair with the head of the KGB. Granted, his death has paved the way for the current Barry/Katya storyline, which I assume will come to a head in the season's final episodes, but season four has been a little bit scattered. This isn't enough to keep the show from being one of the strongest comedies on TV, though, and "The Honeymooners" is a great showcase of everything the show does well.
Oh, and also...
• Are we ever going to see Gilette's bionic legs in action?
• The whole issue with Mal's credit card and Archer's stealing of it is a serious plot hole that really bugs me. I hope I'm wrong about it.
• I'm really glad we got to (sort of) meet Trudy Beekman.