Heads up ladies and gentlemen! There is a graphic image below of a man and his hand separating violently. But if you are reading this blog you probably watch Archer so it won’t be anything too extreme for you. Just a heads up! Let’s get into it!
Hey there Archer fans! Today we are going back to one of the classics, “Diversity Hire” episode 3 of the show’s first season, to check out the structure of the show. The show opens up with one of my favorite gags in all of the Archer universe when Malory opens up a day at the office with tragic news. One of the spy agencies top operatives had been killed in the field for unclear reasons. Agent Hector Ruiz was killed in the field when his cover was blown – by Sterling Archer calling and asking him to tell some chicks how they are ‘totally’ ISIS agents. This of course means he was discovered by the cartel he had infiltrated and subsequently killed. Sterling plays it off by calling Ruiz a “loose cannon” and that he had it coming. Apparently this sort of thing (i.e. Sterling Archer calling his fellow agents while they are on mission) has happened before, and lead to the death of all the non-Caucasian agents in ISIS. This opening gag leads to the title run of the show, and introduces the viewers to the main story line of this particular episode. This opening is a common element of every Archer episode as the writers aim to open with a quick hitting element that makes the audience laugh while also setting up the first act of the show to begin.
Each episode of Archer has three acts over the course of the show. This episode in particular revolves around the new ‘diversity hire’ Conway Stern, who is a black Jewish agent that Malory has hired to make up for all the “loose cannons” that Archer inadvertently got killed. Conway causes an instant splash in the office as the employees are either suspicious of where exactly such a perfect specimen of diversity mixed with badass secret agent skills came from or want to sleep with him. Yet Conway seems to fit in fairly well with the office, and it seems like a solid addition to the ISIS roster.
The second act of the show has Conway introduce the ‘whisper drive’ – technology that allows a submarine to move absolutely silently. He lays out intel that says the Cubans have a plan to buy the technology from its traitorous creator. He proposes a plan for Sterling Archer to take the place of the Cuban contact meeting the inventor of the drive, thus stopping the deal from taking place.
Third act is the completion of the operation, with Conway saving Archer’s life twice over the course of the execution – with the second one looking like Conway was about to turn on Archer. Then Conway literally stabs Archer in the back, and attempts a getaway on a helicopter. However Lana Kane, who never trusted Conway from the beginning, shows up with a speargun to snag the case, tearing off Conway’s arm in the process. Its a climatic ending to an exciting episode that will have anyone in stitches.
If the plot woven around this three act structure seems fairly straightforward then bravo! It is a single item plot structure, with the main plot overwhelmingly dominating the run time of the show. From start to finish the audience is engaged by the new agent Conway, his efforts to fit into the office, and the climax of discovering it was all a setup. Archer utilizes this straightforward plot structure to its strength with great humor through conversation between its established characters. The single direction doesn’t get boring because of the laughs the show provides intertwined with the single direction story. There is one small secondary story line regarding an empty corner office that the ‘drones’ of ISIS want to claim as their own – but this petty office power struggle is resolved withing the second arc of the episode and doesn’t drive the main story in any discernible way. When you consider Archer’s viewer base of predominately younger men this story structure makes sense. As a member of said generation I just don’t want to think too much while watching a cartoon, I would rather laugh and be entertained by a simple story with plenty of guns, explosions, and helicopter chases (interwoven with crude humor that keeps me chuckling). I’ll leave the more serious stuff to more serious, live action shows.
That’s all for now boys and girls, stay frosty and log in next time for more things Archer!