Not since the very end of Archer’s second season have we seen Barry, Archer’s nemesis who is now a bionic man. In fact the last time we saw him, he had killed Archer’s wife of a few minutes and run off leaving Archer crying and in despair. In “Crossing Over,” Barry returns to bring Archer even more heartbreak, but with him comes one of season three’s best episodes, and one of Archer’s best combinations of signature wit and continuing story.
“Crossing Over” starts off with Archer drunk. So drunk, in fact, that he has a hangover, a rare occurrence. Turns out, Archer got drunk at an ISIS member’s funeral, rode on the front of a taxi, Death Proof-style, picked up some chicken and waffles and brought them to a strip club, where he drank Green Russians (absinthe and milk) with his debaucherous partner for the evening, Pam. While Archer wakes up believing he has had the best sex of his life with a stripper, he goes to the bathroom to find Pam on his toilet, mouth full of waffle.
After another romp in the ISIS elevator with Pam, Archer finds out that Jakov, KGB head and possible father, wants to defect to the United States. However Barry takes over the KGB, planning on defecting Jakov to Siberia. Jakov escapes to the United States however and ends up in the ISIS safe house, under the watch of Archer. Not surprisingly, Archer leaves his duties to go get drunk and have more sex with Pam. Meanwhile Barry is seducing Cheryl, and Cheryl shows Barry the location of the safe house. Barry chokes Cheryl, which she likes at first but then she passes out, as Barry heads into the safe house.
Barry ties up Jakov, leaves the gas running on the stove and starts microwaving a giant ice block with a fork in it. Once the ice melts, the fork will start sparking, and boom—no more Jakov. The rest of the ISIS members find Cheryl too late as the safe house blows up. Malory calls Archer with the bad news that his maybe daddy has just blown up, while he is still in bed with Pam.
Almost every character gets a fun moment, with the usual exceptions of Krieger and Ray, but he got enough attention last week. Pam is given a little dimension, and it’s nice to see that she isn’t just a one-dimensional powerhouse of a woman. In fact, the relationship between her and Archer kind of makes sense. Both don’t really have any boundaries and both seem to have their addictions: Archer with booze and the ladies, Pam to excess.
“Crossing Over” also has a great amount of call-backs, such as Cheryl saying she and Barry can’t go back to her place since it reeks of ocelot piss, or how Malory has to remind the ISIS office that yes, she still is dating Burt Reynolds. It’s also nice to see the Jakov and Barry storylines making a comeback. And of course it never hurts to reference Woodhouse’s heroin addiction and have some of Archer’s signature annoying phone machine messages for good measure.
It also never hurts to have Archer feeling something. Ever since Archer had cancer in the second season, some of the best episodes feature Archer having some sort of emotion, whether it’s regret, loss or shame. At the end, we see Archer feeling all three, which would be nice to see reverberate in next week’s episode.
“Crossing Over” mashes all the best parts of Archer into one packed episode, full of callbacks, story developments and character moments. It also seems like the show is setting up for the last few episodes, and Archer is also amazing when there is a continuing story between episodes. “Crossing Over” leaves many unanswered questions, but what the episode does is everything Archer is great at, and it does it in a phenomenal episode filled with twists and laughs.