If there’s a theme to the third season of Archer, it has to be the dedication to family, even if family means you had a mother who spanked you with a ping-pong paddle, leaving you emotionally scarred, or as in this week’s episode “Bloody Ferlin,” your brother is a weed farmer in the back woods of West Virginia. This week we also get one of the rare, but always welcome, looks into the family life of some of Archer’s minor characters. After Woodhouse and Cheryl, we get a glimpse at the family that Ray has: his brother Randy, voiced by Jack MacBrayer, and his old high school bully-turned-sheriff EZ, played by Michael Rooker.
The episode starts with a break-in at ISIS. Someone has infiltrated the armory, and Archer and Lana are on the case. What they find is the supposedly crippled Ray stealing weapons and ammunition…while standing on a ladder. Turns out for the last six months, everyone just assumed that Ray was handicapped since they hospital-wheeled him out; he just went with it since no one asked. Turns out Ray needs some heavy weaponry to go help out his brother Randy in West Virginia. His brother’s weed farm is threatened to be taken over by sheriff EZ. Ray goes back home, with the cover-up of coming home to show off his new wife, Cheryl, who everyone understands is just an alibi except Cheryl. Of course, Archer is in, for no other reason than it sounds similar to the story of White Lightning. It’s shocking Archer still holds such reverence for Burt Reynolds after all that Reynolds has done. Mostly to Archer’s mother.
While it seems like the episode clearly will be about the battle between Randy and EZ, nothing of Archer is as it seems. Randy and his wife Jenette, who Archer has taken an instant liking to, have an open marriage. Randy wants to sleep with Ray’s supposed wife, Cheryl, which will then mean that Archer can sleep with Jenette. This upsets Ray because of the betrayal his brother would commit against him, which leaves Archer pantsless, chugging moonshine, and Cheryl shaving a rooster.
Right after the two brothers come to forgive each other, and Ray admits that he is not a interior decorator but a secret agent and almost admits that he is gay, EZ comes to the house prepared for a shoot-out. Turns out, EZ doesn’t want to take over the weed farm, but rather do his sheriff duties and take a known drug farmer to jail. By the end, Ray’s brother and wife get arrested by EZ, leaving EZ to surprisingly hit on Ray. As an added bonus, we get another episode ending with Archer talking to an animal; this time he mocks the “wife” of the rooster that Cheryl shaved, calling him “Dan Lather.”
This season of Archer has hosted some great voice talents, from the aforementioned Reynolds to David Cross and George Takei. “Bloody Ferlin” features a great duo of voices, from MacBrayer and Rooker. MacBrayer plays his usual clueless hillbilly routine, but it works so well here it isn’t distracting and Rooker, as always, is great. Plus the little twist at the end is a fun bit from Rooker.
“Bloody Ferlin” is Archer having fun with its attempt at a Justified homage, even taking its title from the season two episode “Bloody Harlan.” It’s also always nice to get a little more background on the characters that fill out the ISIS offices. The more we know about each of these characters, the more backstory and jokes the show can cultivate. I mean without backstory for these characters, we wouldn’t have Cheryl’s ocelot, clearly the greatest thing to happen on an FX show since It’s Always Sunny’s Greenman. It’s great to see Adam Reed not just content with filling his episodes with hilarious quips, but also deepening characters to create a world just as deep as any traditional sitcom can attempt to be.