Archer: Danger Island Episode 6, “Some Remarks on Cannibalism”, brings the various characters and plot-threads together in search of the mysterious MacGuffin idol, as Archer and Pam are captured by indigenous cannibals and the various factions close in on each other.
It would have been faintly pointless setting Archer: Danger Island in the post-war Pacific if it wasn’t going to tackle racism at some point, and in the sixth episode, “Some Remarks on Cannibalism”, those simmering tensions were brought to the boil, so to speak. Hey, you wanted some remarks on cannibalism. You got them.
None of this is to say that Danger Island hasn’t dealt with such things until now. The race for the MacGuffin idol has always had the underlying subtext of Lana’s native islanders trying to stave off encroaching imperialism, represented here by Cyril as a Nazi and, weirdly, Ray as a French colonist. But it was made more explicit in “Some Remarks on Cannibalism”, which introduced Lana’s parents as snooty isolationist royalty more akin to European monarchs than tribal leaders. On the other side of the island, though, Archer and Pam were abducted by ceremonially attired, war-painted cannibals, so it all balances out.
The funny thing about all this is that nobody behaves how you’d expect them to, with the gun-toting Germans shooting aimlessly at wildlife as they trudge through the jungle, grunting and hollering like animals themselves, while Lana’s underdressed folks figure out the Nazi’s obvious manipulation of their daughter pretty much instantly. She’s framed as the dumb one; too concerned with opening an art gallery in the West to recognise when her people are being unimaginatively subjugated.
Meanwhile, the simmering tensions between Archer and Pam continue, as the former grapples with confessing his feelings for her last week only to be belittled for them (he gets an erection when he’s setting her free at one point, which she obviously mocks), while the latter grapples with whether or not she would enjoy eating a person – “not a whole person,” she concludes, “maybe just a drumstick.” This subplot also includes an anthropology Ph.D., Noah (David Cross), who has been living with the Mua Mua for four years and at some point lost half an arm thanks to their taste for exotic, human delicacies. (He tastes like chicken.)
Complicating proceedings further are Malory, Cheryl, their giant manservant and Ray, arriving on the scene in the nick of time to trample all over it with their big, dopey Western boots. It’s no coincidence that they bring calamity everywhere they go; they are, after all, the literal embodiment of ethnocentricity. Adam Reed loves this kind of thing, and what he evidently loves more is layering a contemporary social consciousness over a proudly racist era, just to poke fun at the absurdity of it all. He also thinks it’s funny when characters have to house their genitals in various unusual receptacles, which in “Some Remarks on Cannibalism” was hollowed-out coconuts, and I can’t fault him for that.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.