I don’t know about y’all but I love FXX’s Archer. Season 8 started last night and I could not have been more excited! (That’s a lie, I’m slightly more excited for American Gods, premiering April 30th on Starz.) I really enjoyed the season opener and a few spoiler-y things resonated with me. So… SPOILER WARNING!
What struck me most about the season premiere was that Archer is now a WWII veteran. Mallory, or Mother, as she’s called this season, points out that he was an extremely distinguished soldier who fought in Normandy, North Africa, and eventually all the way to Berlin.
During the scene where Archer is climbing up crates to get a better look at the human trafficking organization, he flashes back briefly to climbing a rope ladder up the side of a ship, presumably sometime during his service. A few moments later he then sees that the Chinese women he’s observing are being trafficked into sexual slavery and nearly freaks out, reminding himself to calm down and keep his cool.
Later in the episode, Archer is in a fist fight with one of this episode’s bad guy gangsters and he flashes back quite violently, many times to a fist fight with a Nazi.
His flashbacks, from a cinematic perspective, are washed out and in a bland, almost-sepia color scheme, showing the audience that they’re from a past better forgotten.
There’s no doubt that a man like Sterling Archer has PTSD in some way or form. He’s been beaten, shot, stabbed, bullied as a child, shot, held captive, sexually assaulted, shot, lost his wife, and is a cancer survivor. You name it, it’s probably happened to Archer. Up until now, Archer – and by extent, the writers – has only dealt with his past issues through his heavy alcoholism and hedonistic behavior and habits.
But with this season titled “Dreamland” and being set inside Archer’s comatose mind, a lot more can be explored about the title character’s psyche. Archer showed awareness of Woodhouse’s death, with that event being the catalyst for the plot, and he also showed awareness of his own drowning (the artsy shot of Mother pouring whiskey into a glass and then dropping the ice cubes in), another real-life event that actually put him in the coma.
In this movie-esque, somewhat out of canon setting, Adam Reed and the rest of the crew have a lot more leeway to explore Archer as an already complex character and I think that it would add a lot to the already beloved show, in addition to allowing audience members to relate to Archer and his PTSD.