This week’s episode finds the gang contracted by the real Veronica Dean to track down the disc they stole from lawyer Shapiro for the fake Veronica Dean. They are eventually successful, though of course, there are a few bumps along with the way, not to mention some wardrobe mishaps.
Archer spends most of the latter part of the episode naked, though it is not entirely clear how he got that way. He winds up in a fight with a whole gang of bikers after spending most of Act 2 in the trunk of Shapiro’s car. Lana, posing as a chauffeur (excuse me, chauffeuse), drives Shapiro to a hand-off with the bikers, all the while trading barbs and puns with Archer about trunks (“Trunky Bruster” “Trunk Master Flex”). When Shapiro fails to provide the money promised, the bikers take them hostage, at first not realizing Archer is in the car’s trunk.
However, after Malory tries contacting Lana several times, she is forced very resentfully to call Archer’s phone. This inadvertently tips the bikers off to Archer’s presence and he must fight the whole gang single-handedly as his mother and coworkers listen over the phone, assuming the whole thing is an elaborate voicemail hoax. This is one of the most inspired scenes of the episode, as it is a perfect example of Archer’s chickens metaphorically coming home to roost.
‘Phrasing’ also gets an earnest reprieve when Lana and Shapiro are handcuffed to an overhead pipeline and he suggests she try tugging on the pipe to get them loose. However, Pam later introduces “on my tits” as an alternative suffix in some instances of inadvertent sexual innuendo and no doubt the two expression will find themselves battling for dominance in episodes to come.
And speaking of battles for dominance, Ray actually has some of the best lines/scenes in the episode, first when Veronica Dean leaves, and Lana asks if she sprayed a batch of pheromones that inflated the men’s testosterone levels. While Archer and Cyril agree casually, Ray feels inclined to be more poetic: “I feel like I could fight a grizzly bear over a parking space.” Later, when the gang must go in to rescue Archer and Lana from the bikers, Ray dresses up as a fetish version of a biker, ass-less chaps included, and subdues a set of them in this ‘undercover’ get-up. Later he and Archer have a light-hearted bit of banter about how gay they both look (Archer has since borrowed some too-small pants and a vest from Shapiro) and it is a nice call-back to the early season 2 scene when they fight over wearing the black turtlenecks because it makes them look gay.
This might be a good time to flag my increasing ambivalence over Archer’s implicit queerness on the show. The suggestion that he might be a little bit on the not-straight side is one that has existed since the first season, but it has gotten notably ramped up in later seasons. While it never comes in the form of ‘standard’ gay-panic style jokes, it is a recurring source of humor in the series and I frankly can’t decide whether to call it queerbaiting, or just a clever meta acknowledgement of how homoerotic the genres are that the show is intended to satirize and spoof. It walks a very fine line between the two, and seems ever more on the verge of asking, perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, if that’s a distinction without any actual difference.