When looking at the character of Sterling Archer, it is easy to see that he is mostly a heightened version of stereotypes from spy movies, most notably James Bond. While, Archer would have no problem telling you he’s a loudmouth, heavily drinking womanizer, he’d probably also tell you the main influence in his life is actually Burt Reynolds. So it was a brilliant idea for writer/creator Adam Reed to introduce Reynolds into the world of Archer in this third season premiere.
When Archer runs into Reynolds, it’s a dream come true, as the fan boy lists off his list of favorite films, several of which embarrass Reynolds. But it doesn’t take long to figure out that a man of his age will probably be making his move on Malory Archer pretty soon. Archer finds out his own mother is dating his lifelong hero and takes matters into his own hands, kidnapping Reynolds, leaving his mother a note supposedly written by Reynolds and destroying her hopes with the mustachioed actor, and attempting to dissuade Reynolds from ever seeing his mother again. At the office, Lana quickly figures out that Archer is the kidnapper and heads to Archer’s place to stop him. Unfortunately, Archer doesn’t take his mother’s advice seriously that a Cuban hit squad is after him, and the entire ISIS gang is now chased by carloads of gun-toting Cubans. Thanks to a picture taken of Archer during an undercover sting where he dressed up as what he thought a gay man looks like from a prior episode, the Cubans believe Ray to be Archer.
After discussions of the epic finale of the Gator McKlusky trilogy, Woodhouse confusing Reynolds for Clark Gable and Archer realizing that his friends may be in trouble, Archer and Reynolds head out to save the ISIS gang. On the way, Reynolds has a heart to heart with Archer, saying Archer will never shake the turmoil between him and his mother unless he starts to treat Malory like a human being rather than just his mom. Reynolds leads an action-packed chase, saving ISIS from the Cubans and riding off into the sunset with Malory.
Reynolds is great here. He’s fine with being self-deprecating, and he gives some fantastic moments with Archer, such as their discussion about getting a Batpole added to Archer’s apartment and the random tickle fight the two have during a high-speed chase. Reynolds is a great character here, not only because he sheds light onto problems in Archer’s life, but also because he’s one of the only people that can unnerve Archer. And it’s always hilarious to hear Reynolds’ laugh after a moment of crazy stunts and tricks. Even though it may seem like an unlikely possibility, I’ve just found my choice for who I want to answer the series-long question of who is Archer’s father.
Reynolds could have easily dominated the first episode back since the “Arch of Darkness” trilogy of episodes, but Reed gives each of the characters at least one enjoyable moment. Pam and Cheryl playing off each other always features some amusing banter, such as Pam’s awkward lines after seeing Reynolds. There’s also plenty of callback jokes, like Krieger’s anime fiancé and his tricked out/creepy van that he cares about more than getting shot. It’s also a great choice to have Ray still recovering from his gunshot wound in “Arch of Darkness” and basically being a hindrance to the rest of the group.
“The Man From Jupiter” already sets a pretty high bar for a show that is always getting consistently better. We get the great ensemble dynamics of ISIS, the incredible douchebaggery of Archer, plus enough to shake up the show and leave Archer with a little something to think about, regardless of whether he takes Reynolds’ advice or not. Archer has a lot to live up to given its past seasons, but if “The Man From Jupiter” is any indication, it’s on the right track.