Archer “Once Bitten” review: Cuz childhood emotional trauma is… hilarious?

Source: FX

So… I know my job is normally to recap the plot of the episode at hand, but what exactly was “Once Bitten” about? No, seriously. I swear I’m not doing that douche-y writer thing where I pretended to be all introspective and philosophical. I literallyhave no idea what I just watched. I mean, I guess if I was forced to tell someone, I’d say it’s about Archer getting bitten by a snack and working through some deep-seated childhood emotional issues. Hilarious, right? If I’d known it was such a comedic gold mine, I’d have stopped paying for therapy years ago and just gotten myself a lucrative animated TV show on FX.

Only, here’s the thing. It- uh… I don’t know how to say this about Archer, but- it wasn’t really that funny. I mean, there were bits, but “Once Bitten” didn’t really deliver in the usual Archer way. Was it still better than an episode of Big Bang Theory? Sure, but let’s try to keep our standards high for funny, don’t you think? I think the biggest issue with the episode is that we’re talking about a sitcom here. Now, I don’t wanna pull rank or anything, but I kinda have a Master’s in Media & Cinema Studies so attempting to intellectualize the American sitcom? It’s kinda my thing. For those of you that don’t know, “sitcom” is short for “situational comedy.” Archer is, by all accounts, a situational comedy. The laughs are derived from the situations at hand. When there’s no real plot for the writers to build off of? There aren’t many laughs for the audience.

Source: FX

Still, it’s not like it was all bad. Archer is a show that knows how to mine its bits for some solid jokes. One of the highlights of the episode is, of course, the long-developed mockery of Ray. Look, as a gay dude, I’m all for decent representations of GLBT characters, but did I laugh when Archer called him “Gay-vee Crockett?” Yes… yes, I did. But it’s okay, I donated to HRC this morning, so laughing at the terribly un-PC joke is a wash, right? Isn’t that how charity works? No, “Once Bitten” may have not delivered on a full-scale, but it had some memorable bits, particularly Pam’s line about Lana clomping around like an AT-AT. Don’t look now, but I’m pretty sure my Star Warsnerd is showing… Cheryl’s monologue about the bleak future awaiting Lana as future head of ISIS and Mallory’s death by alcoholism was another solid contribution to the episode, especially the weirdly poetic bit about Mallory’s jaundice and liver spots. Yeah, there were some definite solid jokes for “Once Bitten” but not enough to carry the episode and certainly not enough in the main storyline.

Then again, I guess you’re kinda limited when you decide to do an entire episode dedicated to the emotional traumas of a young man turned narcissistic man-child. I mean, the character of Archer has always played the “mommy issues” card and for some reason, I’ve always been willing to let it slide, but something about this episode turned… dark. I guess in the long run, it might lead to some good jokes, but man, I’m really not sure if I’m ready to laugh about this yet… I mean, it was just a little too uncomfortably real for Archer. Here’s hoping we can put it behind us and at least get a cheap laugh at Archer’s expense next week, eh?

What did you think of this week’s episode?

Tags: | Categories: Recaps
About the author: Calhoun
Calhoun
Calhoun Kersten is unofficially over-educated and unemployable. he is currently finishing up his Masters thesis on horror films from DePaul University, but now resides in Hell on earth aka Los Angeles. When he's not writing, he enjoys being a grown man who still watches Arthur on PBS, singing along loudly to Three 6 Mafia, and spending time with his dog, Karl Marx.

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  • Monika Alem

    I love your reviews! They’re really well-written and funny. I actually liked the episode and thought it was funny, but it definitely felt like the first part of a two-parter so I’m curious to see how they get out of Turkministan next week.