Episode Title: "The Man From Jupiter"
Writer: Adam Reed
Technically, last fall's "Heart of Archness" trilogy was the kickoff for the third season of "Archer." But "The Man From Jupiter" is the official season opener now that things are back to normal at ISIS. And what better way to start a new round of "Archer" episodes than by bringing in Burt Reynolds as himself?
Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) has constantly spoken about his admiration for Reynolds in previous installments of the series. And in this episode, Archer proved that his devotion ran deep. Encountering Reynolds at a bar, Archer urged him to go to "The Longest Yard" with his date until he discovered that Reynolds was accompanied by Mallory (Jessica Walter), Archer's mother and boss.
As seasoned "Archer" viewers can attest, Sterling handled the news with his usual maturity and he promptly fainted in the bar. Then Sterling did what any other rational human being would do if they were a deadly secret agent who worked for their own mother. Namely, kidnapping his idol and faking a breakup note from Reynolds.
The over-the-top adulation for Reynolds could have gone too far and made "The Man From Jupiter" seem like an overenthusiastic love letter to the star. And that's still the way it ultimately comes off as. But the laid back demeanor of Reynolds' voiceover and the occasional jokes at his expense made it work.
Reynolds really seemed to enjoy playing off of Benjamin throughout the episode, especially during the long discussion about a potential "Gator" sequel and the extended car chase in which Reynolds gave some very solid advice to Archer about his relationship with his mother. It almost echoes a similar conversation that Archer had with Anka in the second season premiere. Maybe Sterling can only deal with complex emotions while on a high speed chase… or fighting cancer.
Bizarrely, the heart-to-heart with Reynolds is followed by a scene in which Reynolds actually tickles Archer while they're driving. It's a little creepy but funny. I also loved the insanely slow elevator in Archer's apartment building and the return of Woodhouse (George Coe), who apparently let it slip that he's attracted to Archer's mom. What would Captain Reggie say?
The other story of the episode dealt with a Cuban death squad sent to assassinate Archer, presumably for his actions in season one's "Honeypot" episode. The assassins even had pictures of Archer from that mission! Anyway, Mallory didn't warn her son immediately about the threat because of his hilariously long answering machine message. It's just Archer using technology to make an even bigger dick out of himself.
Not taking the threat seriously, it falls to Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) and even Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) in his newly tricked out and handicap enabled van. Surprisingly, Ray's crippling injuries from "Heart of Archness" and he remains paralyzed from the waist down in a wheelchair. And Ray is so defensive about it that he insists that he's still a better field agent than Lana. An assessment he only takes back when it becomes clear that the handicap enhancements are only slowing down the van as they try to outrun the Cuban death squad. The brief return of Krieger's Anime bride was also amusing as Cyril was attracted to her and Reynolds thought she was a ghost.
To Sterling's credit, he actually cares enough to go save his co-workers from the Cubans and his subsequent team up with Reynolds was pretty epic. The car chase was one of the best animated sequences on the show to date, and Archer's dialog even humorously acknowledged the reused clip of the van crashing into the water. Sterling also shows one more moment of humanity when he confesses what he did to his mother and he tacitly approves of her relationship with Reynolds. I get the feeling that Reynolds would probably be a good influence on Archer if he stuck around. But that probably won't happen.
There's nothing wrong with "The Man From Jupiter" aside from not being quite as mindblowingly funny as other episodes in the series. For any other show, this would be one of the best episodes of the season. For "Archer," it's just very, very good.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.