Archer is completely back on form this week, setting the Veronica Dean intrigue mostly to the side and instead focusing on Archer and Lana’s attempt to get their daughter into “pre pre” (school). There are, of course, murderous high-jinx and deadly car chases, because naturally that’s how any scenario involving Archer will eventually turn out. This episode it happens to revolve around two of Archer’s old nemesises (nemesi?) from his own prep-school days.

Our cadish hero did not always live such a charmed life, it seems. Before he became The World’s Greatest Secret Agent™ he was apparently the butt of some quite aggressive bullying as an adolescent. Two of his tormentors wind up as business partners in LA, and one of them wants to kill the other one, and enlists Archer’s help under very false pretenses to do it. Archer, of course, wants nothing to do with either of them, but one of them is on the board of the elite pre pre school Lana and Malory are determined to get AJ into, so he gets roped into it anyway.

I liked the premise of this episode immensely, for a variety of reasons. First, because it brought AJ back substantially into the story; I really dislike when the writing seems to basically forget she exists, which happens from time to time. Second, because it allows the show to take rightful aim at the elitism of prep-schools in general and also the ever increasing parental strain to get your child ‘ahead,’ even when they are still in diapers. Third, and most significantly, because it allowed for a very interesting exploration of Archer’s past, which often doesn’t get a lot of show time, but which can be very illuminating when it does.

While Archer initially goes on the mission alone, Cyril — suspecting Archer of trying to skim the agency’s profits — follows him and gets inadvertently dragged into the deadly escapade. They have some fantastic back-and-forths, and Cyril seems particularly gratified by the opportunity to psychoanalyze Archer through the lens of his former experiences of being bullied. Often the Archer-Cyril dynamic can be predictably hostile without much genuine humor or substance, but this episode they pulled it off to great effect, and it was a joy to watch.

The one criticism I have is the lack of well-integrated Cheryl and Pam. So far this season they both have just sort of been there, and while they’ve each had a few good lines, they’ve remained very ancillary, which is a shame. Both have immense comedic value when utilized properly, and I am hoping for more of them as the season moves along. Perhaps they should join artistic forces to make a cheesy TV-ad for the agency featuring Furlock Bones, or just get a real basset hound to keep at the office as a mascot. The first would annoy Archer immensely, while the second would annoy Malory immensely; both would, thus, be comedy gold.