Archer: Danger Island returns this week with “Different Modes of Preparing the Fruit”, a typically funny episode that continued the mysterious idol plot thread while establishing some surprisingly thoughtful motivations.
It’s probably pretty telling that my favourite joke in “Different Modes of Preparing the Fruit”, this week’s episode of Archer: Danger Island, had nothing to do with the weird pocket dimension of unreality that the show currently exists inside of. It was just a throwaway line; nothing to do with anything, really. Pam described a tricky situation as a Catch-22, and Archer responded, “I don’t think that’s a thing yet.”
It’s funny because it’s a playful jab at the show’s adventure serial artifice, a knowing acknowledgement to the audience that, yes, creator Adam Reed is very much aware of Danger Island’s soft-reboot, thanks very much. But I liked it so much because it was really the first reference we’ve had to a world outside this one – a world that, presumably, the “real” Archer still exists in, comatose, but perhaps only temporarily.
Not to worry, though. In amongst jokes about the publication date of classic novels (1961, if you were wondering), “Different Modes of Preparing the Fruit” nicely continued on from last week’s episode by returning to the fleeting mention of that mysterious idol. Archer suspects it might be a gold monkey, but Pam, true to form, assures him it most definitely is not a golden monkey while staring directly into the camera, presumably for legal reasons.
But Archer and Pam take an interest in the idol because they need money after Archer crash-landed the seaplane last week. Without the seaplane they can’t make enough money to fix the seaplane (thus the joke about Joseph Heller’s novel), so the idol represents an opportunity. It’s better than the alternative, anyway, which a quite brilliant extended bit explains was a side business selling chinchilladas. Their plan to snoop around Cyril’s cabin includes Crackers, the Krieger-voiced Macaw, and an elaborate distraction by Malory and Cheryl, the latter having nosedived right into an exploitative career as an escort.
Archer is always funny, but at its best it’s also clever and thoughtful and actually about something, which in the case of “Different Modes of Preparing the Fruit” is the timelessly hysterical geopolitics of colonialism. The Nazis are interested in the idol for reasons Fuchs won’t divulge but that I assume are mental, but Lana’s stake in the operation is the liberation of her subjugated people from under the yoke of the French – the French, in Danger Island, still being represented exclusively by Ray Gillette’s cloying Aristocats accent. There’s a joke here about Fuchs’ ethnocentrism and another about Lana’s heritage, although I’m unsure whether the latter was a plot point or just a playful jab at Aisha Tyler not being able to pull off a vaguely South Pacific accent. Not that it matters much, as much more attention was given to the long-running gag about Cyril having a giant dick.
I have no idea where Danger Island is going, and that’s a welcome feeling. After an unsure introduction to this new, pre-war aesthetic, it’s refreshing to see Archer using its anthology format to dig into themes and challenges without losing its anarchic sense of self. Allusions to the broader continuity make a welcome return in “Different Modes of Preparing the Fruit”, but what’s more exciting is the fact that while Archer is here, it obviously has things on its mind.