Archer is a series that has taken its characters all across the world and put them in crazy and sometimes unbelievable situations. So what happens when they strip all that out and stick them together in a broken elevator? Another excellent episode is what happens. “Vision Quest” is an episode that, if this were a live-action ’80s or ’90s sitcom, would be an episode full of flashbacks to past episodes as the group reminisces while stranded together. Archer takes in a bit of a different direction, with more arguing, urine, and implied human soup.
The entire group, having to come into the office at 7 AM for a “staff meeting,” get stuck in the elevator when it breaks down just above the floor they are supposed to be on. All of the cliche ways of getting out of such a situation are explained away quickly. The hatch on the top of the elevator is only meant for rescue crews to get in (not for people inside to crawl out of), Krieger installed a cellphone radio jammer on top of the elevators to “encourage people to talk to each other,” and no one is around the office because everyone quit when the main group was on the lamb as coke dealers for an entire season. None of the explanations are meant to be foolproof, and they are obvious spoofs on typical ways out in other movies and TV shows, and explained with the typical Archer wit.
What ends up happening, instead of some sappy flashback montage where everyone hugs each other at the end, is 20 solid minutes of arguing and cracking jokes. Every character is brilliantly boiled down to their most basic parts and have their personalities constantly clash which makes for constantly effective jokes. Many of the shots of the episode are just the six of them standing around in a circle arguing, but they are all such quick and referential jabs that any Archer fans will recognize and love them right away.
Krieger is extra creepy (and has apparently stuck everything up someone’s butt – literally), Pam is extra gross, and Archer is extra Archer-y. Even the office photocopier / toaster Milton makes an appearance, as he attempts to help the gang by constantly making toast just out of reach of the stopped elevator. And then when the real fighting begins, Milton flees flinging toast everywhere and beeping frantically. The episode even points out the fact that they are boiling the characters down when Cheryl – trying to prove she’s a mind reader – guesses what everyone in the elevator is thinking “at this very minute” by pointing out their obvious addictions.
Even though everything takes place in a single location over a short period of time, “Vision Quest” still manages to bring some great jokes that set up near the beginning and pay off near the end. Cheryl pointing out that she has crippling claustrophobia, temporarily forgetting about it, then Archer mentioning it at the end causing her screech at the top of her lungs was pretty great. Pam spouting “in Soviet Russia” jokes was the perfect Pam thing to do, and sums up just how annoying people repeating those jokes can get when they apply it to everything. And finally, Ray mentioning that he’s colorblind at the beginning of the episode then Archer later responding to him yelling “What are you deaf?” with “What are you colorblind?” was great, and drew gasps and “too soons” out of the other characters.
After a couple episodes light on past references, this episode gives us a few. Pam drops an “inapropres” and Archer wants to bring phrasing back (much to the chagrin of everyone else).
“Vision Quest” is just a fun episode that finally gets the gang back together in a small place for the first time in a long while, and it works extremely well. It harkens back to a time when the show was simpler and just about the main group doing missions for ISIS and constantly ripping on each other. It’s admittedly a little strange that none of the things set up from last episode come back in any way, but Archer isn’t normally a show that does continuing storylines anyway, so it’s not a huge deal.
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