I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
ARCHER: DANGER ISLAND – “A Discovery”
Season 9, Ep. 8 (Season Finale)
aired on FXX on June 13
DANGER ISLAND has been fighting an uphill battle since the very beginning. I’ve done my best to give it credit where it was due and enjoy the change in direction for what it is. After seven episodes that were mostly hit and miss, A DISCOVERY is one of the best the series has produced in years and does a fantastic job setting up the show’s tenth and final season. In a time where everyone is on a cannibal filled island in the 1930s and Krieger (Lucky Yates) is a talking bird, this is the episode where things get weird.
From the opening shot of Pam’s (Amber Nash) thong-clad butt, I knew this was going to be special. Malory (Jessica Walker) is baffled as to why she and Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) have yet to put on normal clothes even after the cannibals washed (and folded) what they were wearing when they were captured, but Archer is too busy “tasting the freedom of the coconut.” But the episode really takes off when the gang arrives at the entry to the volcano/temple unable to get in through the door. After a hilarious and lengthy conversation about how their circumstances line up the dwarves from THE HOBBIT (a novel that only just released in time period), they realize they can get through the door by pulling rather than pushing.
What makes the scenes within the mountain work so well is that they rely solely on the dialogue between the characters to maintain our attention. Besides the pressure plates that affect the lights within the halls, there aren’t any traps or spikes that fly out from the walls to give a bit of shock humor as yet another character meets their horrific end. These scenes are so enjoyable because they’re just really funny. Perhaps it’s because of the extended HOBBIT references, but I still liked how it left the action heavy padding from last week behind.
After arriving in the final chamber of the temple, it is finally revealed that the idol everyone has been searching for is actually a gigantic chunk of uranium rather than gold. Touching the idol with one’s bare hands is out of the question unless they want to get radiation poisoning. Fortunately for everyone, Fuchs (Chris Parnell) arrives in his robot suit from last week still dangerously high on cocaine. After a climactic showdown Archer, Pam, and Fuchs are left dangling above a pool of molten lava. In a moment of actual growth for a character who has spent the last nine seasons being the most selfish jerk on the planet, Archer decides to save Pam by sacrificing himself and falling into the lava along with Fuchs and the idol.
Remember how I said this was the episode where things got weird? Upon Archer’s heroic demise, we are treated to a shot for shot recreation of the opening scene to ALIEN. The sterile, empty halls of a freighter adrift in space perfectly capture the somber tone of the classic horror film. We eventually see a computer with the name of Seamus (possibly a reference to Archer/Cyril’s illegitimate child with a prostitute) booting up. A long dolly shot pushes past the cryotubes of the ship’s crew each labeled with the names of the gang, including Cyril and Krieger. Finally, we see Archer with both of his eyes in tact wake up and say what we’re all thinking: “Are you kidding?” Topped off with a perfect punch line where Malory is now the sentient computer of the ship who is known as Mother in both ARCHER and ALIEN, this one definitely set the tone for the upcoming final season of the show.
Combined with the show’s signature brand of self aware humor and an admittedly emotional climax, A DISCOVERY could be the episode that made it all worth the journey on Danger Island. Here’s hoping that season 10 will have a few less bumps along the way.
A clip from Episode 8: