After a short mini-season arc in the fall (a la Lost), FX's Archer is now back for its official full third season, kicking things off with a premiere that featured a guest appearance by leading man icon (and Sterling Archer's longtime man-crush), Burt Reynolds.
The episode (titled "The Man from Jupiter") was already distinguished by Reynolds' presence - but it also proved that Archer is truly hitting is comedic stride in season 3.
Things started in the usual Archer fashion: with our master spy (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) by the bar, courting a few young ladies. The twist comes when Archer bumps into one of the other patrons of the bar - who just so happens to be Burt "Gator" Reynolds. Then comes another twist: Burt isn't just at the bar by chance - he's there to meet Archer's mother Malory (Jessica Walters) for their...date. Cue Archer fainting.
Torn between the love of his man-crush and nausea at the thought of anyone "dating" his mother, Archer does just what his ISIS co-workers figure he will: he kidnaps Burt and leaves Malory a forged breakup letter. Of course, while caught up in his personal drama, Archer forgets entirely about the professional perils he's facing - namely the Cuban hit squad on his tail, seeking vengeance for the comrades that Archer killed way back in the season 1 episode, "Honeypot". Lana (Aisha Tyler) and the other ISIS agents try to watch Archer's back, but instead land themselves in the hit squad's crosshairs, leaving it to Archer and Burt to mount a rescue.
The strength of Archer has always been in its witty and profane character banter. While consistently funny, sometimes the amount of time spent on dialogue and hit-or-miss improv was a little much. Season 2 got better about including action with all the word play, but 'The Man From Jupiter' takes things a step further by keeping the banter-heavy jokes firing fast and hitting often, the action ongoing (instead of tacked on to the end) - and perhaps best of all, reigning in some of Archer's douchebag personality, so that it doesn't cross the line from humorous to annoying. Who knew that Burt Reynolds would be such a wise and reasonable foil for Sterling Archer?
Indeed, it seems that with each season series creator/voice contributor Adam Reed and his cast just get more and more comfortable with the rhythm and strengths of the unique show they've created. There are now multiple levels to enjoy the show on, be it the low-brow hilarity of the raunchy one-liners and visual gags; the sharper-witted banter and word play humor for the more attentive viewers to enjoy; or the multiple in-jokes and self-references that make the character situations and conversations even more rich and entertaining for longtime fans of the show. No matter which category you fit into, Archer is delivering the goods at the moment.
With a few juicy plot threads laid out and Reynolds (seemingly) on hand for at least a few episodes, it seems like Archer is only going to get better, and funnier, as season 3 progresses.
You can catch new episodes of Archer season 3 Thursdays @ 10pm on FX