TV Recap: ARCHER, “The Limited”
At its best, Archer is a surreal lampoon of the spy, action genre with some absurdity piled on top. “The Limited” had all of the elements of a great episode, but some of the moments fell flat and didn’t quite work while others made up for some of the weaker spots. What we ultimately got was an installment that was good but far from great.
ISIS was tasked with returning an alleged Nova Scotian terrorist back to Canada via train. Once on board, the inexperienced Cyril allowed the terrorist to get away, so it was up to him, Archer and Lana to find the prisoner before his cohorts could free him. While the manhunt was on, the rest of ISIS stowed away in one of Carol’s private cars (since she’s an heiress to a railroad empire), and for some reason they had an ocelot named Baboo hanging out with them. The rest of the time revolved around people looking for the bad guy and the ocelot while incorporating various jokes about racism, elitism and of course Canada.
Trains are an action movie staple, so it didn’t surprise me that Archer ended up on one since it’s a requirement for all spy related shows (Chuck had at least two train episodes). Even though the idea of a speeding train has been worn out, Archer was able to make it feel somewhat fresh mostly because it commented on the absurdity of two people fighting on the roof of a locomotive. Plus, this story allowed for the writers to mock other tropes like the Mexican standoff and footprints (pawprints in this instance) through blood. Again, this show excels when it riffs on absurd moments like the ones mentioned, so I enjoyed pretty much everything that revolved around Archer. Heck, even the running gag about his obsession with the ocelot was worth a few chuckles.
Unfortunately, everything that didn’t involve Sterling was more problematic and hit or miss. For one, I did not see the reason for having the rest of ISIS on the train. Including everyone else felt like a way t0 give the rest of the ensemble something to do while the field agents did the heavy lifting. Sure, having them around allowed for some character development for Malory, who is apparently an elitist but not a racist, but that was about it. To be fair, those racial undertones were humorous, but I think we still would have gotten them without the tacked on stow away B-plot.
Lines of the Night:
- “Oh Lana, maybe you could talk to him.”
- “Because pretty much my whole life I’ve wanted to fight some guys on the roof of a speeding train.”
- “OK boys, make sure you bring the heavy stuff because these these crazy ISIS bastards aren’t playing. They killed a black guy. I know, right? Welcome to America.”
- “At worst I’m an elitist, but not a racist.”
- “I can tell you never played much hockey, huh? Probably too busy running around shooting black guys.”
- “Well, not to belabor the point, but they’d still be Canadian i.e. I doubt we’re in real danger.”
- “Get ’em up Dudley Douchebags!”
For such an edgy show, “The Limited” felt safe. It relied heavily on well established action movie cliches and the always funny topics of race and Canada, but it didn’t do much else. That’s not to say that it was a bad episode because it was funny, but parts felt clunky and it didn’t transcend the genre that it poked fun at.