Michael Olderr, staff writer
The adult animated spy comedy Archer returned for its 11th season, where the titular character finally wakes up from the coma he entered in season 7. The season acts as a return to form and an uphill battle since Archer has to recover physically and socially. Needless to say, the writers had their work cut out for them as they had to juggle all these elements into 8 half an hour episodes, and some of the show’s magic was lost in the transition.
Archer always had top-notch action; it went out of its way to show how ridiculous spy movies are. In earlier seasons, Archer developed tinnitus from his violent, explosive past. In previous seasons, he would tell how many bullets someone had left by counting gunshots. That level of attention to detail and characterization is not present this season, as Archer now has unlimited bullets. It’s not a huge detail, but it’s big enough for viewers to miss the subtleties.
To the show’s credit, it has the same style of humor as it always had: Archer and friends being simultaneously good and bad at their jobs filled with raunchy humor. That much hasn’t changed, except for how the side characters treat Archer. This season, Archer is a bully who sometimes cares about things just a bit. His relationship with the supporting cast is dysfunctional and parasitical. Sometimes those moments are funny, but they’re also sad. Suddenly, all of Archer’s friends are in a better place without him, but his return brings out the worst in them, reverting them all back to their toxic selves. It’s a give and take in execution that sometimes brings out the season’s best moments.
Despite those flaws, the show takes its time to show just what those last three years meant to Archer. For instance, Lana and Archer have had a complicated love/hate relationship. Lana used to always call him out on his attitude while still showing that she cares for him deeply. The two even start raising their child together prior to him entering a coma. While he’s in a coma, she seemingly moved on. She now treats Archer like a nuisance, a big step back for her character-wise.
Lana’s feelings about Archer’s return are barely shown and are never explored. She simply portrays a mad character with little to no room for actual development, reducing her to just another angry Black woman in the media. While it’s not her job to be Archer’s weeping widow, it’s out of character for her to act so harshly to the father of her child, especially given their history with each other.
Overall, season 11 isn’t bad, but it’s far from the return that fans had been promised. It’s no longer as genuine as it once was and the characterization is put before the character development. It is slowly becoming a parody of itself.