Why Archer's Father's Identity Doesn't Matter

More like Sterling Ar… wait, I swear I had something for this…
Why Archer's Father's Identity Doesn't Matter

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At the end of Archer's 10th season, the titular spy/drug dealer/assassin/imaginary airboat captain, PI, and space trucker wakes up from a coma to find that his mother spent years by his side at the hospital waiting for him to wake up. Malory then tells her son that their relationship is really a kind of love story, but the reason why that line hadn't caused Freud's body to spin fast enough to rip the fabric of reality apart is that Malory obviously meant parental love. It was, honestly, a surprisingly tender moment between the two, which might have had something to do with the creator of Archer, Adam Reed, planning to step away from running the show after the 10th season.

It sure seems like Reed was summing up what, to him, Archer was really about. But while parental love might very well be the show's plot, that's not what made it funny. Like a streaming service that doesn't have anything by Arthur Dreifuss, Archer is ultimately about a lack of payoff.

The show does make straight-up, non-anti-climatic jokes, but one of its many catchphrases IS "Wait, I swear I had something for this…" whenever the dialogue looks like it's being set up for a pun, but then nothing happens. And that almost always gets a laugh. It's like an Anti-Chekhov's Gun, a subversion of the famous dramatic principle which says that every element in a story must ultimately lead to something. Archer treats that idea like a tungsten knitting needle that has been built up as having some vital importance to the plot, only to unceremoniously jab it into a paraplegic's unfeeling leg and then forget about it. That's one of the best jokes in one of the funniest Archer episodes ever, "Drastic Voyage," and it really gets to the heart of the show's humor.

Archer relishes its anti-climaxes, which is why it keeps introducing and then forgetting about some pretty huge plot points. What was Barry's master plan after becoming the head of the KGB? Nobody knows. It could have been world domination, could have been Barry planning to sneak into Archer's apartment and rip up all of his clothes. It doesn't really matter because it was everything around this plot MacGuffin that we were supposed to be focusing on and laughing at. The payoff was never in the works, and we know that for sure because that entire arc first aired 10 years ago. Maybe the show will eventually resolve this "mystery," but if it does, it's definitely going to be something hilariously dumb that the writers came up with on the spot because Archer simply doesn't do "mysteries" and big plot reveals.

So … why are some of you waiting for the show to reveal who Sterling Archer's father is? It's been a topic since Season 1, and we still don't have an answer for it, and that's exactly how Archer likes it. Trying to look for clues as to the identity of Archer's father is like trying to use logic to figure out which state Springfield is in or using a Letterkenny DVD as a Frisbee: You've been given something amazingly funny, and you're using it completely wrong. Look, it's simple. Originally, Nikolai Jakov was supposed to be Sterling's father. But then Adam Reed understood where the show's humor should come from, so he made the main character's parentage a "mystery" and used it as an excuse to make a bunch of jokes… and one episode that proves that Sterling is deeply depressed.


My point is, don't wait up for any big reveals that will fit perfectly into the show's story and leave you feeling satisfied. For one, the show's been on the air since 2009, so whatever expectations you've built up for the big "reveal" have probably long surpassed what reality can deliver. More importantly, though, the reveal was never actually coming (obligatory "Phrasing!"). As cheesy as it sounds, the humor in Archer has always been about the journey, not the destination. And about how it's okay to make fun of people if they have massive figurative yogurt pistols/literal dicks.

Follow Cezary on Twitter.

Top Image: FXX

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