I have not been the biggest fan of Archer‘s “coma seasons,” the last few seasons that have taken place inside Archer’s head while he has been in a coma since he was shot and drowned in the season 7 finale way back in 2016.
To me these seasons, while not being bad, have freed the show creatively as I understand the producers and writers were feeling stifled by the show’s setting, but have also freed the show of consequences. In short, during the last three years, nothing has mattered. If a character gets killed, they’ll be back next season. If Archer’s colossal narcissism causes a rift with anyone he cares about, it’ll all be reset. If a character grows, that growth is wiped away with the next change of setting. Nothing really matters.
Oh sure, on paper the coma seasons have been a grand idea — a real way to shake up the show, but in practice, they have done more to cripple Archer than set him free.
I would like to now go on the record as saying that, out of the three coma seasons, Archer: 1999 has been my favorite. It could be that I’m just a fan of science fiction over the film noir style of Dreamland and whatever the heck kinda Indiana Jones fudgery that Danger Island was supposed to be, but I found this season a lot more cohesive and satisfying and, yes, even funnier than its predecessors.
But, here’s the thing… I still miss Archer, Lana, Mallory and the others. We haven’t seen the real cast of characters in three years and that’s just sad. It’s like we’ve been watching a puppet show of people we like while the real people are out there somewhere in the ether.
So, even though Archer: 1999 has been a relatively strong season with no episodes I would call terrible or even incredibly weak, the entire season has ended in a collective “meh” from the experience standpoint. This can best be illustrated in the fact that the last five minutes of the episode contains more emotion, more satisfaction, and more character development than the last three years combined.
I dare you to tell me that’s not true!
The revelation that Mallory had lived in Archer’s hospital room while he was comatose, with Archer’s reaction and Mallory’s own mute response, was so touching and such an evolution of Mallory’s character… it’s moments like this that I missed and why I am so glad the coma seasons are over. Sure, they ruin it by giving Mallory that awkward and cringe-worthy love speech, but in that moment, there was development and forward progression and, yes… even a tear.
Welcome back to the land of the living, Sterling Archer. It’s about time.