I figure I get about one of these reviews a year to just sort of riff on the general awesomeness of Pam Poovey. More than that, and I’m doing little more than preaching to the choir; any less, and I’m criminally underselling you on how important this once-minor character has become to my ongoing love of Archer as a show. And, given that Pam starts “Disheartening Situation” parachuting into a hostile jungle with a massive machine gun in her hands, ends it by decking our “hero” and planting a fart directly in his face, and spends the intervening time gunning down dragons, murdering massive snakes, and just generally being amazing, I think I’m justified in making this my one.
Let’s rewind for a second: Once upon a time, the only really interesting thing about Pamela Poovey, HR (besides the dolphin puppet, I guess), was her insatiable love for gossip, a funny contrast to her role as middle management in a covert spy agency. Even then, though, the seeds for the future greatness of modern-day Pam were planted: Gossip is all about enthusiasm (for other people’s secrets, but still), and Pam’s lust for life—as voiced with unending delight by the great Amber Nash—has become the character’s defining and most endearing trait, and the thing that makes her stand out as a consistent burst of fresh (if potent) air among a frequently cynical cast. Where her co-workers often approached the spy life with resignation, annoyance, or world-weariness, Pam’s always been game for anything, whether it was beating the shit out of kidnappers, drift racing against the Yakuza, or running (and doing) copious amounts of coke, all without ever tarnishing her sunny Midwestern charm. It’s why she makes such a great foil for Archer himself; she brings out his “Hell yeah, this is fun” side, and often seems like the only member of the show’s cast that actually really likes the guy (most of the time, at least).
Last week, I noted that one of the things I’m really enjoying about Danger Island is its willingness to put that friendship in the foreground. So it’s somewhat ironic that “Situation” manages to get so much mileage out of splitting the pair up, isolating Archer in his own little plotline in the sky, while Pam attempts to keep Princess Lanaluakalani and Fuchs alive despite the best efforts of the jungle (and nu-Cyril’s continued uselessness). The Archer plotline is pretty slight—not that I’m ever going to turn down a chance to listen to H.Jon Benjamin riff to himself about his own mortality—but the material in the jungle manages to turn Pam into a full-on John McClane action hero, grumbling along as she repeatedly saves Lana and Fuchs from themselves. Nash has said that the Danger Island version of Pam was designed to sort of serve as the Chewbacca to Archer’s Han, and, just like Chewie, she’s secretly the real hero here: Tough, smart, and far less of a self-involved shithead than Archer himself—even if he does manage to make an episode-ending last-minute save.
That’s not enough to save him from Pam’s wrath when she finds out that he destroyed their sole means of earning a livelihood during his efforts to get himself back on the ground, though. There’s nothing especially new about an episode of Archer ending with someone calling Sterling out on the paths of destruction he ignorantly carves—and in this case, Pam’s fury’s not so much about Archer’s spectacularly disastrous emergency landing, as it is the negligence that necessitated it—but it’s rare for the comeuppance to be quite this definitive. And yet, there’s also something that’s just so perfectly Pam about the cut cheese she tosses her partner’s way after laying him out on the absolutely-not-50-foot-wide main street of Mitimotu Island. It’s a little childish, sure, but it’s also benign in a way that suggests there’s no lingering hard feelings now that his punishment has been meted out. She even gets to walk off into the sunrise, as if we ever needed confirmation that Pam’s the hero that Archer has always deserved.
Funny stuff, indeed.
- I skipped over tonight’s Cheryl plotline, partially because not much happens, and partially because the whole “coerced into sex work” aspect of it all is too fraught to be funny for me.
- That being said, the shot of Cheryl painting the spiral is a great reveal. Is it weird that I kind of wish she’d actually been painting with shit, though? That’s weird, right?
- Ray namechecks Framboise from “Job Offer” when he’s mourning his lost bon-bons. ’allo! (And yes, I know it’s French for raspberry, but I’m still going to assume it was on purpose.)
- Fuchs is actually on the island for some kind of mysterious idol, and not to become a breadfruit magnate. Sorry, breadfruit fans.
- Pam really focused on the classroom portion of “How to survive a parachute landing” class, apparently.
- “Oh, man, I had something for this, like…’Flying is for the birds?’ No, it’s gone.” Crackers: Still pretty great.
- Pam, shushing Lana: “We’re not currently at the top of the food chain.”
- Weird, fun little flirty moment when Pam catches Lana in the jungle. I ‘ship it. (Honestly, I ‘ship pretty much everybody and Pam.)
- Nice animation tonight on Mitimotu’s various deadly reptiles. The bit where Fuchs falls like a billion feet, barely insulated by an increasingly battered snake, was especially good.
- Archer’s futile attempts to find a safe landing spot for Lucy Goosey is a nice bit of H.Jon solo business. “Great, now that’s broken.”
- Love that Malory’s still calling Cheryl “Miss Thing.”
- Danger Island Archer apparently lost his eye dogfighting with the Nazi Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War. That’s two fantasies in a row in which he’s been battling Hitler’s forces.
- “Well, if you think I’m mad now, wait until I’m getting shit out of a dragon.”
- A lot of cross-cutting in tonight’s episode. Occasionally, it feels a little forced, but for the most part, it keeps the pace ticking along pretty well.
- “Lucille-Goosille! Oh, okay, so then I guess just pout.”
- Line of the episode: “And if you leave us here, I will find you. I will pluck you. I will slather your bumpy skin with olive oil and rosemary, and then I will shove a beer can up your asshole and roast your ancient carcass until it is golden brown and goddamn delicious.” What can I say, I’m partial to elaborate threats.
- Not that Archer didn’t have some good ones, too: “Holy shit, I really am immortal!”
- “Sterling, be careful!”
- “Oh, le sarcasm.”
- “How long was I out?”
“Flew by.” Great line read from Judy Greer.