The ever-expanding world of “Archer” gets a new chapter April 5, with its Season 8 premiere on new home FXX.
Still set in Los Angeles, “Archer: Dreamland” quickly picks up with the gang three months after the Season 7 cliffhanger: Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) lying face down, bleeding out in a pool. Now in a coma — hence the season’s subtitle — the action takes place in Archer’s subconscious, playing out in a noir-style crime mystery, a la “LA Confidential.”
In it, Archer’s a P.I., working to solve the mystery of who shot his partner, Woodhouse (the late George Coe). Lana (Aisha Tyler) is a sexy lounge singer and Ray (Adam Reed) a band leader, Mallory (Jessica Walter) is a jazz club owner/mob boss, Krieger (Lucky Yates) a “bar tender,” Cyril (Chris Parnell) and Pam (who is now gender neutral and goes by just Poovey, but still voiced by Amber Nash) are crooked coppers, and Cheryl (Judy Greer) a mysterious heiress.
Now that they all have new roles to play in a brand new setting, we’re hoping the hijinks and humor are heightened as well. The genius of “Archer” lies in the writing: The jokes can be both over the top and subtly brilliant, and the zingers the characters hurl eat each other are both incredibly smart and increasingly gross. In other words, there’s a rhythm to “Archer” that requires we settle into, to truly appreciate its unique charms. To get back in that groove for Season 8, we’ve put together an essential episode guide — to better help you slide right back into “Archer.”
Season 1, Episode 2: ‘Training Day’
Archer is assigned to train Cyril to be an effective field agent, which gives us a window into his methods and perspective on being a spy; naturally, this lesson involves covering up the accidental murder of a call girl: Essential training! The real threat is Lana finding out what they’re up to. Watching Lana flip open a switchblade while asking poor Jane if she’s “getting [herself] a tampon?” is one of the comedic high points of the show, and sets the series rolling nicely.
Season 2, Episode 9: ‘Placebo Effect’
In a truly ridiculous two-parter Archer learns the meds for his stage II breast cancer have been replaced with Zima — and someone must pay. Archer goes on a hilarious “RAMPAAAAAAAGE” which, this time, is surprisingly justified.
Season 3, Episode 8: ‘Lo Scandalo’
The gang gets invited over to Malory’s for a dinner party and ends up having to cover up a murder. Malory needs Archer and Lana’s help after the Italian prime minister is found dead in her apartment, under graphically sexual circumstances. Of course she killed him — but the narrative Mallory spins makes a pretty great mystery, and a perfect example of Mallory’s gift of self preservation.
Season 5, Episode 8: ‘The Rules of Extraction’
The bed-hopping among the group is finally discussed, as the girls (Pam, Lana, Charlene, Mallory) all go out for a spa day, and they realize they’ve all slept with each other at some point. Cyril and Ray discover Archer’s fear of crocodiles navigating a jungle river after a jeep crash that paralyzes Ray (again!).
Season 6, Episode 3: ‘The Archer Sanction’
Lana, Archer, and Ray travel to a mountain-climbing resort in the Alps to kill an assassin — only Archer has forgotten the mission dossier, leaving them without the target’s name. Watching the three of them deduce the identity of the target is hilarious — and ends with Archer giving some pretty convincing logic for why he thought Ireland was an Axis power.
All of Season 7
Not only does the season’s arc lead-up to the cliffhanger that kicks off the new season, it saw the show running on all cylinders. The plot was refreshing ground for the gang, the move to Los Angeles added for some great general zingers, and the jokes came fast and hard.