Episode Title: "Crossing Over"
Writer: Adam Reed
If there was one pairing on "Archer" that seemed almost inconceivable, it was Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Pam Poovey (Amber Nash). And yet, "Crossing Over" not only featured that hookup, Archer and Pam formed a strange sexual bond… over their mutual love for sex. Not that the relationship has much of a future.
The episode begins with Archer suffering from a major hangover as he hilariously recalls hitting on the widow of a dead ISIS agent during her husband's funeral, before accompanying Pam, Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) and Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer) to a strip club (while riding on the hood of a cab). Several Green Russians later, Archer finds himself back in his apartment having had "the greatest sex" in his life… only to find that Pam was his lover for the night.
In the early days of "Archer," Sterling seemed to really dislike Pam and I recall a flashback of him spanking her for some reason during the first season. Somewhere along the way, Archer and Pam got comfortable enough around each other to hang out after work with their fellow ISIS colleagues, but Archer still holds Pam in low regard. When Archer literally threatens her life if she reveals to their co-workers that they slept together, it actually crushes Pam's ego and it hangs over her.
Yes, Pam is a human being and never more so than when she is stung by how little Archer thinks of her. Of course, moments later Pam joins Archer for another round of sex in a dirty bathroom stall. But Pam carries her self-esteem issues into a conversation with Mallory Archer (Jessica Walter); who is apparently being treated the same way by Burt Reynolds. Pam gives Mallory a pep talk about holding some of the power in the relationship if she's using him for sex, while clearly talking about herself.
Pam eventually pulls it together enough to set some ground rules for Archer. But if Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) couldn't tame Sterling, than no one can. By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, Pam has now slept with Archer, Lana, Mallory and Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell). I think that only Ray, Cheryl and Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) have yet to be intimate with her, but knowing this series, Pam will get to them eventually.
The bulk of this episode deals with the defection of former KGB director, Nikolai Jakov (Peter Newman), who has been displaced by Archer's nemesis, Barry Dylan (Dave Willis) aka Bionic Barry. As long time watchers of "Archer" know, there's a strong possibility that Jakov is Archer's father, since he was one of Mallory's most frequent lovers. With the help of his faithful lackey Boris — whose "promise broken" tears were very funny — Jakov makes it to New York, where he expects to move in with Mallory and resume their relationship.
Unfortunately for Jakov, Mallory doesn't seem to have much love left for him, as she sticks him in the ISIS safe house and assigns Archer to watch over him. This eventually leads to some quasi-father/son bonding between Archer and Jakov as they take shots together and ponder the ramifications of being related to each other. And for a while, it seems like Archer and Jakov genuinely like each other.
However, the fly in that ointment is that Archer ditches his guard duty for a booty call with Pam, leaving Jakov alone with only a video camera to debrief himself. Meanwhile, Barry comes to New York and he quickly seduces Cheryl into giving up the location of the ISIS safe house. Barry than proceeds to choke Cheryl out in a way that made it seem like he murdered her. If Cheryl had actually died in that sequence, it would have been the darkest scene on the series to date. Which isn't to say that this episode didn't get dark by the end.
Meanwhile, Ray, Cyril and Lana interrogate a deep cover Russian assassin, who is about to share Barry's master plan with them… right up until Cyril shoots him in the face… accidentally? Cyril really is that clumsy, but what if it wasn't a mistake? What if Cyril has sold out to Russia or secretly been replaced? That gunshot was pretty damn convenient for Barry's plans, and no one would suspect Cyril of treachery.
Barry soon finds Jakov in the safe house and he binds him while setting up a death trap in the kitchen. In the face of his impending demise, Jakov turns out to be a really decent guy whose only thoughts are of giving Archer some closure over whether he is Sterling's father. But Barry sets up the apartment to explode just to rob Archer of that chance. Thus, Jakov spends the last lonely moments of his life leaving a message for his possible son on the still functioning video camera in the slim hope that it will be intact after the explosion.
When the explosion finally comes, it levels the entire floor and hangs over the rest of the episode. Jakov's death is so stunning to Mallory and the other ISIS agents that they barely react to Archer's initial douchebaggery over the phone. Although I have to admit, Archer's last line about his phone messages was pretty funny.
It's the final moments of this episode that really give it some punch, as Archer seems genuinely distraught that his neglect helped kill the man who may have been his father. And Archer's reaction isn't played for a joke or a cheap laugh. This is the most genuine emotion that Archer has had since the death of his fiance, Katya Kazanova last season… also at the hands of Barry. Is that how you set up payback, Barry? You bet it is, Other Barry.
"Crossing Over" was pretty far from the funniest episode of the third season, but the impact of Jakov's demise added some unexpected drama to the proceedings. As shown with the cancer two-parter and the second season finale, "Archer" can go dark when it wants to. And when the consequences of Sterling's actions are so deeply felt, it makes the rest of the comedy stand out even more.
These are your top "Archer" moments of the week.
Barry: "Want to get out of here?"
Cheryl : "Oh my God, totally. But like, it has to be your place, because mine reeks of ocelot piss."
Barry: "I have no response to that."
Cheryl: "Doesn't merit one."
Cheryl: "But then, he strangled me, which at first was hot and he is like super-strong. Then I was going toward this really bright light and some guy with a beard…"
Malory: "Jesus Christ."
Cheryl: "Or Rich Havens!"
Pam: "How do you think that makes me feel?!"
Archer: "I don't care, Pam! Now, having said that, would you please come in this dirty toilet stall and have sex with me?"
Archer: "Bloody Mary, full of Vodka. Blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now that the hour of my death… which I hope is soon. Amen."
Archer: "I'm serious, you are literally draining the life out of me."
Pam: "Come on! You make it sound like I'm some kind of Chupacabra… for dicks."
Archer: "A terrifying, yet accurate comparison. Where did you learn all that stuff?"
Pam: "You know I grew up on a farm, right?"
Archer: "Really hoping that's not relevant."
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.