I’ve gone on record about Archer being not only the best animated comedy on TV but one of the best comedies period. One of the reason’s why it’s so successful is its ability to be more than one type of show. One week it will be a surreal workplace comedy, and the next it’s a biting satire that riffs on action movie clichés. If I had to pick my favorite flavor of Archer, I’d have to go with the latter which means I really enjoyed the first part of the Season 3 finale.

“Space Race: Part I” had a pretty straightforward plot by this show’s standards. ISIS was hired by the International Space Agency to help with a mutiny that took place on a space station. The mission was led by Commander Drake (voiced by Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston), and he put the ISIS agents through their astronaut paces before taking them to the space station. Once there, they encountered the mutineers, but it turned out that it was all a ruse. In reality, Drake and his band of outlaw space cowboys were responsible for the takeover and planned to use the ISIS women as baby factories once they terra-formed Mars so they could create a new civilization.

From start to finish, “Space Race: Part I” spoofed on classic science fiction tropes like Earth running out of resources, needing to colonize other planets, laser guns and other spacey goodness. You add to that the fact that the ISIS agents are taken out of the comfort zone and tossed into the role of astronauts, and it was a recipe for awesomeness. It also didn’t hurt that Bryan Cranston gave life to one of the best supporting character’s this show has ever had.

Now, admittedly this episode was chock-full of one-liners and jokes, but it had an exciting storyline with a nice twist, and there were also some very good character moments like Lana’s inability to deal with the rigors of being an astronaut. Usually, she’s the best agent ISIS has and can do pretty much anything, so putting her in a situation where she was not a bad ass gave the character some added depth which is something most animated shows don’t prioritize.

While I liked pretty much all of this episode, it did have its share of misfires. For instance, the running gag about Malory constantly drinking and stooping so low to drink an unknown liquid and rubbing alcohol didn’t quite land for me. I also was a little irked that Pam and Cheryl somehow stowed away and got on board the space shuttle. I get that the writers want to give all of the characters something to do during every episode, but they were literally shoe-horned into this one, and they didn’t add much (except for maybe Pam since she was responsible for bringing back the subplot about her and Sterling hooking up.) Plus, the whole “having someone sneak their way into missions” bit has become a bit of a crutch for this show.

Lines of the Night:

  • “Uh, smoke bomb!”
  • “Happy Cyril? You just destroyed Alderaan.”
  • “What, are you trying to get my mother into the Million Mile High Club?”
  • Archer: “Lana, it’s not a strip mall. Although, I assume there’s a bar?”
    Drake: “A bar?”
    Archer: “Or whatever, cantina?”
  • “And can it be fired with an erection?”
  • “So, ‘stun’ may be a bit of a misnomer?”
  •  ”F**k you, space.”
  • “Get them! Get them! Get them!”
  • Archer: “I’m sorry.”
    Pam: “For what, space blastering me in the freakin’ tits? Or tricking me into that fart locker to get blasted into outer god damned space on the off chance that you might want to bang me?”
  • “R2-Double D2.”
  • “Welcome to the Danger Zone.”

This season of Archer has been one of the strongest yet, so it’s fitting that the two-part finale has not only increased the humor but the scope as well, and I cannot wait to see “Part II.” What did everyone else think of “Space Race I?” Did you enjoy all of the nods to classic sci-fi storytelling ? Are you excited for next week?