When we last left Archer, he was in a dark place. While in bed with Pam, he found out his possible dad Jakov had been murdered by his archenemy Barry. In fact, we hadn’t seen him this down since the finale of season two when Barry killed his almost-wife Katya. So it comes as a surprise when “Skin Game” begins with a trip to Krieger’s apartment, one where we don’t find Krieger playing Rush songs or any Dr. Moreau-style pig babies, but rather a cyborg recreation of Archer’s beloved Katya.
Archer immediately is excited by his resurrected love, until after a night of lovemaking that reminds him of a memory of him as a child with a vacuum, he finds Katya cleaning her detached robo-vagina in his sink. But willing to overlook this, Archer decides to propose to Katya and marry as soon as possible, which means getting married in the ISIS offices with Ray as the priest. But once again, Barry storms into the proceedings and starts a fight. In order to power down the robots in the fight, the lights go out and Archer puts on his night-vision goggles to end this. When he finally finds Katya and Barry, they have quit fighting and are instead having sex on a desk. Archer decides to let Katya go with Barry, since they clearly have more in common now that they are both robots, leaving the two of them to run off in a Graduate homage.
In the last episode, “Crossing Over,” we had Barry speak of a sinister plan he was hatching, one so great that it didn’t even involve blowing up Jakov. Then this week, we see Barry sleeping with and stealing the resurrected love of Archer’s life. “Skin Game” works well as a not-so-obvious second half to the story of “Crossing Over,” and it makes me wonder if we are going to see more Barry antics building up to a final fight.
It’s great having Archer continuing story lines between episodes, something I’ve praised before since the Archer cancer episodes and the Heart of Archness series are some of the show’s best. If the last few episodes of season three deal with the battle between Archer and Barry, and possibly now Katya, we could be in for the show’s best season finale yet.
But “Skin Game” isn’t all robot fights and Graduate references; it actually features some of the best ensemble work of the season, allowing everyone to have some pretty brilliant moments. Even sometimes-overlooked characters like Woodhouse, Krieger and the constantly injured Bret share the spotlight. It’s just great to see the animation of Pam eating a bear claw again, or having Cheryl announce that her gypsy warned her about the robots and having her attempt to play Marco Polo while the lights are out in the office. Plus as a huge Krieger fan, it’s always an added bonus to see just how weird he can get, as seen here by his frequent emotional boners and by creating a robot that turns on by “flicking the titty.” Also the continuing gag of Bret never grows old. Now the currently crutch-dependent Bret must also deal with missing an eye, a broken leg and pretty much losing all of his blood.
“Skin Game” continues the trend Archer seems to be enforcing throughout the season of even better continuity jokes than usual, more meaningful stories (at least to the characters) and what seems like a consistent build to an epic finale. Barry has now emotionally attacked Archer three times, something very hard to do when it comes to Archer, and usually reserved for Malory. But this blend of actual emotions mixed with hilarious jokes, even when they get as crazy and weird as they do in “Skin Game,” is a great blend that always works well in the world of Archer.