This week’s Archer review has us looking at “Sitting” – an episode where Archer babysits and Kumail Nanjiani can’t voice act. Ever since the Archer gang got off on the strange and wild ride that was Season 5, the show has been taking a lot of time to normalize daily life for the characters. This week’s episode is another case of that normalization, and it ends up still delivering an enjoyable episode – for the most part.
As I said, Kumail Nanjian – as good of an actor and comedian as he is – does not fair well in a voice acting role. Part of it is that his voice is so much of him and not a character, but a bigger part is just plain not being to pull it off. His inflection was off several times, and it never feels like he’s the character at any time, he’s just Kumail Nanjiani talking in a flat tone and reading lines. In the past, Archer has more-or-less seamlessly blended celebrity guest stars really well into the show’s world, but the Pakistani assassin, Farooq Ashkani (played by Kumail) in this episode isn’t one of those instances.
Before getting to the positives of the episode, might as well keep on with the bad news. A lot of the jokes in “Sitting” are a bit too referential, and even encroaching on Family Guy territory where they are nothing more than mentioning something funny and cutting away to it (or giving you a second to cut away to it in your mind). As well, the character development of Archer becoming a caring dad is a welcome one, but he’s never that great of a straight man in any situation. In the first half of the episode, where he’s dealing with the even more strange and dickish Pakistani assassin, his reactions to everything having to do with baby AJ feel a little contrived and not quite in line with his character.
“Sitting” isn’t quite a bottle episode like last week’s, but its events are almost entirely self-contained. The fact that Archer has to babysit AJ ties into other episodes, but almost everything else is specific to this week. That’s not a bad thing, though. Archer as a series needs a few episodes like this to establish that things are mostly back to normal after the country singing, crack dealing adventure of Archer Vice. It is also pretty great how the main group of characters pop up in the episode playing poker in the CIA headquarters – even if it did contain a Family Guy-esque throwaway joke.
Farooq’s incompetence over the course of the episode is a little annoying and takes away from the episode, but once we learn the reasoning for it, it makes a quite a few of the events a lot better so it’s a flush in that sense. Everything that happens in the office – incompetent Farooq or not – is great. Pam going Godzilla mode with the baby and heading straight for the roof came out of nowhere, and the running gag of knocking the wind out of Cyril got a laugh out of me both times. Several of the other wordplay jokes (is a ‘black Mexican’ a mixed drink or a racist slur? How much Pakistani does Archer actually know?) are also signs of Archer at its best.
This episode is also very aware that it’s using plot convenience to keep guns out of Archer’s reach the whole time he’s fighting with Farooq. It works though, thanks to the cheeky, self-aware way that it mentions it. Such as the office guns being locked away because of the insanity that usually happens during office poker nights (most of which involve hate crimes), and the guns at Archer’s house are locked away because he’s babysitting, at the request of Lana.
And of course, without spoiling it, the twist at the end is great and comes at the perfect time. Despite the fact that the episode blatantly reveals what it is at the beginning, I definitely didn’t see it coming.
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