If it takes a village to raise a child, how well would an office of incompetent secret agents fare? The sixth season of FX's hit animated series, [Archer](series:720985), concluded with the answer this past Sunday (they'd do okay, really) in a season that brought the cast back from the cocaine-riddled, country music adventure in Miami that made up the show's previous season.
Where season five saw the cast go on an adventure that made Las Vegas blush, the sixth season focuses more on the madhouse at home: the missions are just as dangerous, the lewd jokes landed in classic Archer potence, and in the middle of a will-they-or-won't-they string of one night stands, Archer and Lana must work together to take care of their infant daughter, Abajean (or AJ, for short).
While the presence of an infant didn't soften the show's signature style of vulgarity, we did see Archer develop in an arguably stronger and more pronounced way than any other season. Archer, in the middle of bloodbaths and gun fights, began to worry about what might happen if he and the child's kick-ass spy mom died on the job. This was such a prominent concern on his mind that it didn't just span one episode's plot line - Archer brings it up quite a lot, and it truly serves as a doorway to the character's development as a father. The voice of archer, H. Jon Benjamin, thinks that the character still has has a long way to go:
I think there’s always— especially considering the way he had his child, he is slowly improving from the last child he had. Progress is slow, but life is pretty short. Archer, I think he’s got to pick up the pace as far as self-examining and figuring out how to get his life on track. But I'm not sure that will ever happen in the show... he’s got some time to while his daughter’s still a baby.
Archer's regard for his daughter surges past his previous, but just as unconventional interactions with Baby Seamus.
Beyond the lead, the supporting cast of Archer have gone from slates of comedic relief to full-fledged characters, existing as a barely operational family unit fueled by sarcasm and a shared love of chaotic instances.
"I think that they all probably hang out because nobody else will be friends with them, and I do think they like each other," says Amber Nash, who plays the loud and beloved Pam Poovey. "I honestly think that’s why the comedy works so well, because without the charm and the right chemistry, I think as mean as these characters are to each other, it wouldn’t work. But you can kind of tell there’s this like underlying love, this weird, unfortunate family drama love that they all have for each other that I really think makes it work."
Arguably one of the best and funniest episodes of the season, the cast finds themselves stuck in an elevator and must work together to stay sane. Predictably, they fail, and the trope of the episode develops in to a strange, deep look in to the cast that shows just how different they are from the people that popped up in season one.
Lucky Yates, who plays the outlandish and creepy Dr. Krieger, agreed: "I think it’s not only the best episode of the season, but I think it might be one of the best episodes of the entire show. Just for the very same reason that it is absolutely the core of the show that’s going on right in that episode, like it’s about these people that have to work together, they really like each other, but they hate each other the same time. They’re a big, huge dysfunctional family."
The show's supporting cast has enjoyed massive fan favoritism, along with long storylines that continued to develop in season six, said Nash. "Just this week I went back and read the pilot script for Archer, and when Pam first gets introduced ... it says 'Pam, overweight and mousy,' and like, now you think of Pam and you would never think 'mousy', right?"
The show's straight man is the talented and irritable Lana, Archer's on-and-off love interest who became the mother of his child at the end of season five. "Yes, she is kind of the straight man in a lot of ways, but she has to be somewhat nuts to have dated Archer and then also to have absconded with his sperm and made a baby with his genetic material," said Aisha Tyler, the actress-comedian-hosting powerhouse who voices Lana. "So, she’s not entirely sewn tightly. She's a professional in her field, but her personal life is kind of a mess."
Beyond anything else, the cast of Archer in season six managed to show real, human development while being put in completely inhumane situations. With a decent glass of whiskey and the experience of dealing with absolutely insane situations, the character development seemed natural amongst the chaos.
Audiences are still taken aback by the vulgarity, the ever-growing amount of bloodshed, and every moment where we see a character naked with a surprising tattoo (really, somehow, we're still taken aback by that, and it's awesome), but now, we're treated to characters who can manage the reckless abandon of the least effective spy organization in the world in a realistic, personal way.
Characters that once (and several times later) hated each other have come together for various reasons, and relationships that seemed out of left field at their beginning are now as normal as anything else. While the characters that make up the cast of Archer may end up destroying the world some day, they will at least do it as a unit, and that's really all that matters.