“Waxing gibbous” is the best written episode of Archer Dreamland, which is a high bar considering Archer Dreamland is the show’s best season yet. With so many in-jokes, offhand references and mountains of witty dialogue, Archer has once again lived up to Adam Reed’s plan to make a show that was “James Bond meets Arrested Development”.
The episode opens with Archer being strangled by Mother’s henchman. Mother asks for the one piece of information which would justify Archer not coming back with the million dollar ransom he had been tasked to retrieve after “kidnapping” Charlotte. Archer struggles to find the words, but can’t as they are literally, not figuratively, being chocked from him. Using hand signals he asks for a pen, then paper, all the while Charlotte incorrectly guesses what she assumes are hand signals in the worlds most BDSMy game of charades.
Eventually Mother is fed up enough with Archer’s feeble attempts to explain himself, and has her man release him from his death grip. Archer lays on the floor gasping for air, the gasps lasting just a bit too long, resulting in the perfect closing to one of the show’s best scenes composed almost entirely of physical comedy.
“Cops took it” archer finally reveals after he catches his breath.
While Archer and Mother are hatching a plan to retrieve the stolen ransom money, we follow Trinette as she stumbles down the road that Archer had thrown her on in the previous episode. Eventually she stumbles upon Lana, and attempts to commandeer her vehicle with Cyril’s badge and gun she received from Archer. Lana pulls out her own badge and gun, revealing that she is an investigator working for the IRS. Not the FBI Lana explains, as J Edna Hoover wouldn’t allow it. If you’re wondering, this is a call back from all the way back in Season One, Episode Three: “Diversity Hire”.
All of this discussion about badges and the FBI is a moot point really, because one of Cyril’s stray bullets went right through Lana’s radiator. Ever heard of a “potato box”? I won’t spoil this joke, you just have to watch it.
Just then Cecil (Charlotte’s 4/10 incestuous brother) arrives to further the plot. I have to be perfectly honest here: Cecil’s dialogue is what makes the episode great. The entire drive to Len Trexler’s House (where both Lana and Archer separately but correctly assume the stolen ransom money is heading) is pure comedy gold.
Meanwhile, Cyril and Poovey arrive at Trexler’s mansion only to discover the door is ajar, the lights are out and no one is home. Archer arrives, under the effects of dexedrine (to stay awake) and codeine (to smith out the dexedrine), he isn’t sure which thanks to the inept advice of Charlotte, and ventures inside as well.
Lana intends to explore the mansion alone, telling both Trinette and Cecil to remain behind, but both of them eventually convince Lana to let them come along, mainly because she needs to keep them under her watch. “OK,” Cecil says, “I guess I could use this time to constantly honk my horn over and over again.”
Eventually the three groups come together, standing in a puddle of blood. They notice that the house is completely empty and the lights are off. Archer suggest that this could be the work of a werewolf since the moon is full. Cecil, of course, corrects Archer, informing him that it is “technically a waxing gibbous.”
Suddenly the group hears a man screaming. They rush upstairs to find Dutch Dylan has killed all of Len’s henchmen and arranged them in a recreation of the last supper, with Len tied to a chair in the central location.
This is quite a brutal seen, and honestly I doubt that it would be allowed to be broadcast even on basic cable had it not been animated. “I kind of wish it had been a werewolf,” Archer says as the episode closes.
The writing on this episode is so strong, that one can forgive the few minor plot holes that arise. I rather suspect that the decision to make Lana an undercover cop happened rather late in the writing process, because otherwise there was no real reason for her to perform such a horribly bad stand-up comedy earlier in the season, nor was there any real motivation to follow Archer to the ransom dropoff.
Regardless, the jokes are witty and on point. Like Arrested Development, there are so many references to previous episodes and obscure word play that this episode is one of the most re-washable of the entire season. But then again, the entire show is infinitely rewatchable, and we’ve seen that this latest jumping off the shark has helped to revitalize Archer’s writing.
With only two episodes remaining we are reaching the climax of the story, and it will be curious to see if Archer will wake up from his coma and return to the real world, or if next season will be another coma induced fantasy. Perhaps it will even be a continuation of Archer Dreamland, which I am personally hoping for but I’m not holding my breath. Although the post-war noir setting is probably the best shark jump the series has undergone, I get the feeling that Adam Reed wants to change the setting with each season in order to allow for a fresh perspective in writing. Which I for one and all for.