Archer 5×04 ‘House Call’: Who are you, Thomas Corwin Mendenhall?

Archer

FBI Agent Holly pays a visit to the ISIS gang and snoops around Tunt Manor. Our heroes must keep him away from the pantry, which is holding their stash of coke, while trying to catch a drug-fueled Pam, who is carrying Carol around “Queen Kong”-style. In the end, Archer shares a very human moment with Lana, and Carol becomes Charlene. It’s a busy episode of Archer that we’ll discuss after the jump.

It’s another “bottle” episode focusing on the ISIS crew running around Carol’s mansion. Despite the fact that budgetary and premise-elasticity restraints are putting pressure on this season, this installment was still nice and briskly paced. It’s an overall improvement on last week’s episode, and at least serves the purpose of establishing that the government is keeping an eye on our heroes and forcing them to deal with Pam’s addiction. I’m also glad to see the Charlene plot kick into gear, with the injection of Krieger’s tiny mind control chip in Carol’s brain.

In another big development, Ron leaves Malory because he doesn’t want to be a part of her illegal activities. He takes her apartment, which she signed over to him to avoid seizure by the government, which makes me think that he’ll be gone for at least an episode or two, if not the remainder of the season. Good riddance! I know every comedy needs a straight man, someone to call out the other characters on the absurdity of their ideas, but Cyril is more than capable of playing that role. There’s a fine line between a straight man siding with the audience in regarding his peers and annoying the audience with his criticisms. Ron tipped into the latter category, for me, at the beginning of the season.

Archer

Source: FX

This week’s nerdiest reference goes to Malory, with a jab at Lana related to the Mendenhall Order.

Malory: We throw her a party! With an enormous cake! Cyril, can we spare another 5 pounds of cocaine?
Lana: Malory!
Malory: 2.27 kilograms then! Who are you, Thomas Corwin Mendenhall?
Archer (chuckles): Right?

Archer is one of the only shows, if not the only show, that can get away with a Thomas Corwin Mendenhall reference without simultaneously making fun of people who would know what Malory was talking about. I also love that Archer backed up his mother’s sick Mendenhall burn. The Archers are a family that takes standards of weights and measurements seriously, except when they don’t.

Finally, Archer shows some actual genuine affection for Lana by looking up the complications associated with pregnancy and trying to console her when she believes she’ll be sent to prison. It of course dissolves the moment they’re in immediate danger of being caught, but it’s still nice to see the two characters bond. Every so often, it’s important to re-establish why characters stick together, especially when their old ties-that-bind (in this case, ISIS) are no more. I’m glad to see Archer taking a moment to show why Lana doesn’t get out of the game completely – because she and Archer do genuinely care about each other in a strange way.

Finally, the three best bits of dialogue from this episode, besides the Mendenhall burn:

Krieger: This place is like a habitrail. There are secret passages everywhere.
Carol: I think that’s why the colored maids never felt safe. They’d be polishing a spittoon or whatever and suddenly…Grandpa!
(Everyone gasps)
Carol: Yeah, and dressed up like a ghost.
Lana: What is up with your family putting on costumes to scare black people?!

Malory: And Krieger, I trust the brain chip implant was a success?
Krieger: I think, I mean, it’s in there and she’s alive. Now we just have to wait to see if there are any adverse side effects. (Charlene walks in and yawns.)
Lana: Uh, Cheryl?
Charlene: Nah, Cheryl’s gone. I’m Charlene now. And if somebody don’t fry me six goddamn eggs and some Carolina fries, I would personally be shocked – shocked I tell you! – if by morning this place ain’t burnt to the ground. (yawns, walks off)
Krieger: And I’m not a doctor but…I mean, I’m definitely a doctor so….no. I think we’re good. Yep-yep-yep!

Krieger: Oh hey, remind me to reboot the CPU in Ray’s spine so he can walk again.
Cyril: Wha…a reboot, that’s all it takes!?
Krieger: Beep boop.
Cyril: He’s been paralyzed for months! What the hell have you been waiting for?
Krieger: Ehhh. Think how much happier he’ll be now.

 

J.P. Laub

is a pop culture connoisseur, politics wonk, sometimes gamer and consummate nerd. To give you some idea, he is an avid reader of Wikipedia entries about fictional and theoretical faster-than-light drives. Seriously, he once saw a random Dune reference on a website and spent 45 minutes reading about the Holtzmann effect and related entries.

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