Posted by: pop-break | March 3, 2013

TV Recap: Archer ‘Live and Let Dine’

joel wosk has no reservations…

ARCHER: Archer, a new half-hour animated comedy series airing on FX

Ready. Set. Cook.

On this week’s episode of Archer, our favorite international spy, Sterling Archer, leaves his designer suit and guns at home and tries his hand at haute cuisine. Just when I thought the writers for this show couldn’t top themselves, they went ahead and got one of my favorite TV personalities to guest star: Anthony Bourdain. Fans of Bourdain’s travel show, No Reservations, would immediately recognize his unmistakable vocal delivery and trademark smartass witticisms. In the introductory scene, his character, Chef Lance Casteau, delivers an angry monologue to a camera crew who are in the process of filming an episode of the fictitious cooking reality show Bastard Chef. Casteau (essentially a hybrid of Bourdain himself and the foul tempered Chef Gordon Ramsay) is livid for two reasons. First, he is being forced to forsake his usual menu of fine cuisine for a visiting Albanian diplomat, and must instead cook traditional Albanian fare, which according to Casteau consists mainly of “boiled sheep’s head and yogurt.” Secondly, he is appalled to learn that ISIS agents, in the wake of an anonymous security threat, have replaced his regular staff of competent chefs and servers for the evening.

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While Chef Casteau complains loudly in the main dining room, we are allowed to observe what’s going on behind the scenes in the kitchen. The head sous chef and garcon de cuisine have been replaced with Archer and long-suffering ISIS accountant Cyril Figgis, respectively. However, due to the covert nature of their mission, they have assumed code names for the time being. Archer is to be referred to as “Randy Randerson” and Cyril is now “Chet Manley,” both of which kind of sound like male porn star names, but that is neither here nor there. ANYWAY, the ISIS agents succeed in making a complete mockery of Chef Casteau’s kitchen by repeatedly dropping ingredients and failing in the most simple of tasks like answering the never ending stream of phone calls from patrons desperately trying to get reservations.

Chef Casteau has no problem whatsoever demonstrating his displeasure physically towards Archer and Cyril by hurling ingredients across the kitchen, all of which hit Cyril and none of which hit Archer. It is at this point that Archer demonstrates how terrible of a person he really is. After being pelted with various forms of produce, Cyril asks Archer, “Why do you keep antagonizing him (Casteau)?” To which Archer replies, “Cyril, come on. It’s my nature.” This implies that Archer knows he’s a jerk, yet continues to act like one, solely for his own amusement. Meanwhile, back at ISIS, we learn that the steady influx of calls to the restaurant have been coming from Mallory Archer’s secretary/crazy person Cheryl. Mallory has commanded Cheryl to call the restaurant non-stop until she secures a reservation. Unfortunately for Mallory, we have already learned from Casteau that the restaurant is booked solid for the next ten months.

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After being at the receiving end of Chef Casteau’s trademark ABBAB (Always Be Berating and Belittling) managerial techniques all day, the ISIS agents begin to grow slightly suspicious of their mission. This is not the first time they have been forced into an uncomfortable situation in a luxurious setting at the behest of Mallory Archer. Fans of the series will probably remember the time she called in a phony bomb threat aboard a transatlantic zeppelin just so she could bump a paying guest and acquire accommodations. This is pretty standard behavior for Mallory Archer, and it was reassuring to know that everyone else on the show is starting to catch on. I pretty much saw it coming from the beginning.

Unsurprisingly, Mallory gets what she wants and is able to get a table when Cheryl claims to be a distant relation of the Kennedy family. The meal goes according to plan and the Albanian diplomat is very pleased. And then he promptly drops dead. Chaos ensues and ISIS is embarrassed in front of the surviving diplomats after failing to protect the Albanian diplomat. We learn that Chef Casteau was the one responsible for the diplomat’s death after he poisoned his wine glass. Why you might ask? Archer’s nemesis, Barry, paid Casteau a hefty sum to do so, simply to make ISIS look bad. In the final scene, we see Casteau, Barry, and Katya flying in a helicopter over the East River. However, at the last moment, Katya banks the helicopter sharply to one side, which in turn tosses Casteau out of the side door, killing him.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the suspense surrounding the eventual confrontation between Barry and Archer that has been building over the course of the series. Ever since Barry became a cyborg, he has gone completely psychotic. Anthony Bourdain was great as Chef Casteau and you could obviously hear the enjoyment in his voice while he delivered some truly priceless lines. We are heading into the home stretch for season four of Archer and I am excited to see where it is all heading. But like all great things, I am going to be sad when it’s over.

Check out Archer Thursdays at 10pm on FX

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