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'Archer' season finale: Is this the bleakest comedy on television?

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Archer started its second season finale with an unexpected image: Sterling Archer in love. Katya Kazanova, the Russian spy who saved his life in last week’s episode, swore that she had fallen for him at first sight. Perhaps because she looked remarkably like January Jones in X-Men: First Class, Archer felt the same way. Mallory and Lana were immediately skeptical. She’s Russian! She’s hot! Clearly she’s a double agent! This was vintage Archer, combining a cocktail of refurbished spy cliches with pleasantly pathological emotional issues. By the time the Anxious Mother and the Jilted Ex-Girlfriend were both holding guns on the Suspiciously Buxom New Girlfriend, it felt a little bit like we looking at a candy-colored diagram of relationship malfunction.

There has been a lot to enjoy about the second season of Archer. Seemingly throwaway characters like Ray and Krieger have developed fascinating, terrifying inner lives. The show has expanded its world to include a whole network of spy agencies, most of them commanded by ex-boyfriends of Mallory Archer. Pam has become a pseudo-Chuck Norris figure — it’s no longer surprising when she says things like “I got ripped at a bar last night, and I was trying to beat my record for cramming pool balls in my mouth.”

Last night’s season finale had a pleasantly zig-zag plot: While the agents of ISIS plotted a take-down on Sterling’s new lady-friend, Nikolai and his Russian pals gave Barry the Six Million Dollar Man treatment and sent him to kill the traitorous Katya. The ISIS plotline ended in a shootout — Dr. Freud would note that this is the second straight season finale in which Sterling and Mallory were shooting at each other — and the stage was set for a spy-wedding. Archer, the terminal spy bachelor, seemed to have found the true love of his life. It was just like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

…and just like in that awesome-besides-Lazenby James Bond film, it was doomed to tragedy. Bionic Barry attacked mid-ceremony and nearly strangled Archer. Mallory proudly proclaimed that she had one bullet left, and fired it…and of course, it bounced off Barry’s metallic frame. “What part of ‘I’m a cyborg’ are you people still not getting?” he asked, exasperated. Katya sacrificed herself, tackling off the building. Of course, her sacrifice was pointless — Barry, who you’ll remember is a cyborg, had no problem with the fall.

And so, the second season of Archer ended in sad, pointless madness. Archer was crying for his lost love; Krieger, uninterested, was crying because his totally awesome tinted-window van was completely flattened by Archer’s lost love. It was all weirdly funny, although from another perspective it probably looked depressing. Archer could be the bleakest comedy on television, but wow, I’m excited for season 3. Here’s some great lines from the episode:

–“With our earballs!” — Cheryl, on her hearing organ

–“More like Lemon Party Chairman!”– Russian accomplice. (We all know what Lemon Party is, right? Oh god, don’t Google it, whatever you do!)

–“Penetrate deep! Destroy from within!” — The ISIS nerds chanting Katya’s mission objectives.

–“It’s a calf-skin Hermes grip, and it’s full of fake passports and mustaches…oh, and two hundred grand in cash!” — Archer, describing his Bug-Out Bag. (I really want a Bug-Out Bag now.)

–“You’ve sown the wind, and now you shall reap the Barry.” –Bionic Barry

–“1 for 3 off the roof, bitch!” –Bionic Barry, a douche cadet even after surviving a fall off a skyscraper.

Viewers, did you dig the finale of Archer? Is there any more enjoyable show populated entirely by sociopaths on television? Did you enjoy the reappearance of Krieger’s bizarre anime ex-fiance?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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