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Stephen Stec

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Archer Season 8 Episode 8 Auflösung Review

Well, things came full circle in this last episode, but probably not in the way most might have imagined. Dreamland ended a lot like how it started; someone who Archer cared about died. Everything went tits up for Archer and crew in Auflösung. Worst of all, Lana even ended the episode seven bullets deep, one via mother and six courtesy of the finally gendered Mr. Poovey.

Nothing was exactly how it seemed during Dreamland. All those dark questions and grey areas finally came to light during Auflösung, you see, there was no money in the bag, Krieger was never really a bad guy Nazi, Mother didn’t really kill Woodhouse. Yet, if there was one thing that always seemed certain for the entirety of this season, it’s the fact that Barry is absolutely crap snacks crazy, again genuinely reaffirmed in the heat of the moment as Adam Reed and his noir obsessed team of meticulous writers dropped a particularly massive u-turn regarding what was thought to be the big reveal of Dreamland during it’s last episode. Before trying to pop Archer’s Adams apple out of his own throat (and quite casually), in all of that unholy robotic and leather clad glory, Barry finally solves the mystery that Archer and the audience set out to learn from this season’s first episode. Woodhouse didn’t die because of a dope tab to ANYONE, Woodhouse died because he cut off Barry in traffic. Sometimes, that’s just how life is.

If this seems shitty, things really get no better from here; when all hope seems lost at the apex of frantic madness, we fortunately do see a timeless lesson that everyone learns at one point or another; history repeats itself. While beating the living pulp out of Archer, Barry’s psychotic cyborg self meets the same demise as the nazi shitheads who threatened to kill Krieger during his WWII flashback. Of course, things go a step further when Krieger’s bizzaro robodogs meet a really graphic end at the hands of Gurk, the man whose undying love for Charlotte Vandertunt meets an even harsher fate via her rather characteristically harsh response to his revelation. Lana dies. Chaos and comedy ensue.

While that scene was REALLY good for a number of reasons, the moment that felt truly significant to the progress of Archer as a character (and our hope to snap him out of his coma) was to witness the moments of our title character at the cemetery. These were scenes that, to quote a line uttered by Poovey countless times throughout the season, humanized him. Archer always treated Woodhouse like absolute shit, especially for a man who practically raised him as essentially his father (and could very well just be his biological father, THINK OF THAT!), so to see him break some glass and end things with Archer in a deep state of reflection and recognition felt like a fitting way to end things; with a lesson. If you learned a lesson, it’s not a mistake, right? This was a teachable moment that makes this season not a waste but after so much rapid fire action to cap things off, Auflösung ends the season with an uncertain feeling that things could go anywhere from here.

Though this case is closed, some things feel a bit more uncertain than ever for the characters within Archer’s personal Dreamland. Archer got his clarity on one situation but he did have to drag his feet through a pool of blood via his lady love. Some of the dialogue that ended these final group scenes of Auflösung climb a bit close to the fourth wall regarding this situation but ultimately, stops just short and leaves a very meta mystery cut cold under strange circumstances.

Regardless of where we are in the Archer universe at this point in time, Auflösung was a fitting end for the season, the sharp execution served as a reminder of the ethos of this season’s core values, befitting the audience with a cold and comedic, bloody ending that fits like a golden glove alongside the dark noir whimsies partaken during Dreamland.  Still, if there’s one thing that is certain after that end, it’s that much like Archer was finally able to admit, we’re all going to miss the shit out of Woodhouse.

As a whole, this season was a fitting tribute to honor that great dope fiend of a character and the incredible man behind him. The last words of this season were “I loved you so much”. We all did, Woodhouse.

RIP George Coe.

8
Score
Archer Season 8 Episode 8 Auflösung Review
The Bottom Line
As history repeats itself, the main murder is solved but a new pool of blood leaves Archer on unsettled ground during a frantic, yet fitting season finale of Dreamland.

Archer Season 8 Episode 7 “Gramercy Helberd!” Review

Fueled by the fading fumes of his foray into the adventures of Dex and Codeine, Archer’s pill-popping, sleep-deprived Dreamland take a nightmarish turn in Gramercy Halberd! during what proves to be an iconic episode of the season drawing to a finish with the mystery of Woodhouse’s death finally coming to light. Starting with a great getaway scene, Archer narrowly bails Trexler out of certain death as Cyril bails with the money and Lana thinks quick on her feet to get the rest of the gang out of trouble. Although I really missed Ray this season, it was good to see Archer behind the wheel of a chase scene, as well as witnessing the return of one of his signature moves to kick-start a series of brutal, jarring, and scintillating events that end with a vital realization from our main character during a quasi-epiphany/mental breakdown over his repeated poor decisions and bad behaviors this season.

During a finale that plays out like a cinematic noir de force, this key moment of self-awareness quite casually FINALLY solves the prevailing mystery of the entire series (with the last line of the episode, no less!). After the temporary dismissing of the absolute terror of an artist formerly known as Barry; from the backseat of a speeding convertible and clad in nothing but his tighty whities, with a hint of honesty and a bit of regret, Trexler sorrily explains an all too simple solution to the mystery at the heartbeat of what has made Archer tick for the past seven episodes (besides the Dex and Codeine). In a classic Whodunit series like Dreamland, well, who else could have done it but Mother? The constant heartbeat behind most of the mystery of Archer’s misery since his time in short pants. An astute sleuth had to be stunned to see Sterling so startled.

The direction finally looks clear with one episode remaining, yet the dust has hardly settled with so many webs left untangled and only less than half an hour to wrap this whole mystery up. Dreamland has nonetheless remained far more interesting than any season of Archer in recent memory and remains evidence that Adam Reed has found a heady concoction through his combination of comedic surrealism entrenched in a sense of strange verisimilitude.  If only every season of Archer was as perfect as this mystery filled noir known as Dreamland!

10
Score
Archer Season 8 Episode 7 "Gramercy Helberd!"
The Bottom Line
Adam Reed stamps a climactic finish on his hot streak to solve the prevailing mystery during the noir nightmare delusions of surrealism and reality projected in Dreamland by suave sleuth Sterling Archer.

ARCHER Season 8 Episode 6 “WAXING GIBBOUS” Review

Holy shitsnacks. Just honestly… HOLY SHITSNACKS!!! I mean, I mean… wow. That just got pretty dark pretty quick. Barry just took his whole crazy shtick up to another level, or twelve, to end another fantastic episode and that just needs to be said to start this whole thing off.

Alas, as a whole, Adam Reed and his crew continue Waxing Gibbous by jumping straight into things with the same stream of consciousness cinematic setting that leads so successfully and so seamlessly from one episode to another, all the while Archer is strangled into an explanation to Mother and supplied with pills (and a few other sorts of pills, you know, to smooth out the edges!) from Charlotte to ensure our main character remain awake for another episode fraught with danger. Finally, Lana’s character is reintroduced in force during a pretty comedic exchange with a familiar figure from Archer’s past that reveals a bit of backstory as to why Lana’s been so very concealed in the background for the majority of this season. Eugene Mirman again steals almost every scene as the definitive second most sinister entity in all of Dreamland and I love how the creators constantly having a character somehow mention the title of the episode throughout the dialogue of the show but a pilled-out Archer questioning himself aloud over the types of ghost temperament may have been the most personally rewarding exchange of the entire episode.

Yet, most importantly, Waxing Gibbous feels like the exact pinpoint on the map as to when all of the rising action building paramount throughout the course of Archer Dreamland finally feels like the tension has reached the very moment where everything being held carefully together by a thread finally explodes in the worst and bloodiest way possible. The possibilities of where things can go from here remain endless, but it feels like a good bet that Krieger has to make a pretty dramatic appearance sometime in the course of the final two episodes. Next week’s episode surely has the hallmark for all hell to break loose even further in the Trexler’s mansion, as after six episodes, the majority of the main characters are finally gathered together in one room on a stormy night in the hills of LA after witnessing the leftovers of grotesque group homicide and meeting the murderer face to face, ending Waxing Gibbous with a cliffhanger that would rival the finest of any mystery novel.

Archer Season 8 Episode 1 Review: No Good Deed

I couldn’t have picked a better time to start re-reading The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s 1939 detective novel that details a hardboiled, detached private investigator discovering the seedy criminal underbelly of LA while investigating a murder. Archer Dreamland premiers and honestly feels like a small screen size retelling of The Big Sleep…if only Chandler dropped a tab of acid before dropping his pen to paper and decided to star suave spy Sterling Archer in lieu of Marlowe. Or at least, that’s what I hope it will be. No Good Deed kicks off the new season with a funeral and a fake-out after last season ended floating in murky waters with Archer’s face down in a swimming pool courtesy of his cougar crush, Veronica Deane. Though we all knew (or at least, hoped the creators wouldn’t pull a final season of the Office and omit the focal point of the series) that Archer wouldn’t be gone for good, it was really nice to see the passing of Woodhouse addressed and really set the plot in motion in a big way, as the original real-life voice actor, George Coe, recently passed away.

After this brief intro, we find Malory and Lana in a hospital to address just what exactly happened after those events closed the season. They are next to Archer in a coma and although they don’t know when he will wake, they take comfort in the solace that hopefully, Archer doesn’t know about the passing of the man who practically raised him. Except, he does. Dreamland is a coma series taking place in Archer’s literal dream that sees our old characters placed into totally new scenarios and roles. The avenue that the creators of Archer chose to pursue Dreamland has so much promise; although this premise is executed better in theory than in practice during the first episode of this new direction, as No Good Deed was an episode that unfolds a little too slow at points but still excels on intrigue and writing quality.

The direction reinvigorates the series in a way both refreshing yet familiar; our old pals that we knew since ISIS have the same personality as back then but entirely different lives and social roles.

Overall, the animation, the writing, and the thought process behind certain devices remain truly top-notch, and as expected from Archer, the verbal interplay between characters was beyond sharp and witty. The scene is set for an amplified version of Season 7, allowing Adam Reed and the other writers of the series to totally immerse themselves deeper in whatever whimsies crossed their mind while dipping their toes into the private investigator business back with the Phygis agency in real life LA. Archer’s own warped, dreamy version of noir remains at the top of must-see television throughout the remainder of Dreamland.

8
Score
Archer Season 8 Episode 1: No Good Dead
The Bottom Line
Archer’s own warped, dreamy version of noir remains at the top of must-see television throughout the remainder of Dreamland.
Top-notch writing and animation
The episode unfolds a bit slow

Dragon Ball Super Episode 9 Review

Although perhaps not packing as many laughable moments, or any of those super-swelling and intense make-or-break fight scenes that have been littered throughout the previous few episodes, “Sorry for the Wait, Beerus Sama. The Super Saiyan God Is Finally Born” isn’t really an episode that would qualify as filler, but also wasn’t close to standing out despite two huge happenings throughout the course of our half-hour adventure. These moments, as awesome as they may have been, felt predictable, or maybe just a long time coming, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this episode was entertaining and had a few scenes that will surely influence the series for a long time to come.

 

To quote Gohan, “We are going to have a baby, like for REAL for real?!”

 

The world is already thankful for this addition to the Z-Family because the addition of one more Saiyan-blooded body allows for our heroes to finally fulfill the actions of the ancient Saiyan mythology as prophesied by Shenron in perhaps his greatest appearance of all time throughout the franchise.

So, while we find out we have a baby coming quite soon and get a few laughs along the way (with Chi-Chi’s baby name suggestion and the scene involving the Saiyans trying to figure out how to become a Super Saiyan God being highlights), “Sorry for the Wait, Beerus Sama. The Super Saiyan God Is Finally Born” felt light on content.

 

The episode flew by and left me feeling discontented in light of some of the amazing high points that have happened over the previous three episodes or so.

 

The episode climaxed with a real high point and an amazing ending scene in which finally Goku climbs to the top of the mountain and reaches what had appeared as unattainable throughout the past few episodes. Here we witness the monkey transcend into a true Super Saiyan God amongst the golden glow of his friends and family.

 

As Beerus so aptly notes to end the episode, “it looks like this was worth the wait after all…”

Dragon Ball Super Episode 8 Review

Dragon Ball Super Episode 8 Review

After watching Gotenks, Piccolo, and every other Z-Fighter be put in their place (as well as Bulma get the living shit slapped out of her) last episode, “Goku Makes an Entrance! A Last Chance from Lord Beerus?!” finally showcases someone (Vegeta) tossing the big cat around a little bit.

In Dragon Ball Super, Episode 8, Vegeta lays into Beerus with a humongous close-range blast all the while managing to call him a repugnant bastard. This leads to everyone getting to see 10 percent of the Destroyer God’s strength, which, was scary enough for most.

With a thrilling opening scene, “Goku Makes an Entrance! A Last Chance from Lord Beerus?!” doesn’t ever let up. Episode 8 also provides a good amount of screen time for most of the main characters, and more surprisingly, it features one of the most unexpected and forgotten characters in an extremely entertaining,  laugh-out-loud scene on the boat of Bulma’s party.

If there are two things that I would pay money to watch decide the fate of the world, one would be the best game of all time, Rock Paper Scissors, and the other would be a perverted, shape-shifting pig.

This episode has it all, people.

Episode 8 even wraps up with our boy Goku facing his biggest fear and finally teleporting to Earth, first and foremost, to address the obvious elephant in the room of missing his oldest friend’s birthday party and not even having a present to make up for his blunder…Goku does at least sweet talk Beerus, and in doing so, comes up with a plan to buy us at least one more episode of Dragon Ball Super. Everyone wins.

Dragon Ball Super Episode #7 Review

This episode probably should have been titled something along the lines of “The Revolving Door,” because Beerus literally goes off and kicks the snot out of every Z-Fighter on Earth who has the balls to challenge him (ahem, Krillin), until the only person left to defend the planet is the one presence that constantly leaves Goku shaking in his weighted boots.

If that wasn’t perplexing enough, prepare yourself for some oddities like how easily my main man Buu gets tossed aside a number of times. And what about Gotenks’ strange decision to keep his hair brown for the entire episode despite getting embarrassed in front of his mother(s)?

By the way, Gotenks has to be more involved in the series; that pudding spoiled brat (Beerus’ words, not mine) is always good for at least a few off-the-wall scenes thanks to his outrageously brash personality and those equally ridiculously named moves.

On the other side of things, Piccolo and Gohan have gotten increasingly predictable even though we’re less than ten episodes into the series. Then again, it was startling to see the son of Goku, after supposedly getting some heavy Mystic training once upon a time, stay down after getting slapped once with a Buu. Speaking of slaps, what about Bulma?! Vegeta is not a happy a man, and in Episode 8, I’m sure that we’ll get to see just how unhappy he is. It’s too bad that the episode ended when it did…

Goku gets absolutely no screen time here, and since he has meet up with the others sooner or later, I’m sure that our Sayan Prince is destined for something intense soon. Episode 8 should be interesting. It would have been cool to get a flash of Kai’s planet for a moment or two, but Episode 7 was the best that it could be since it was an early-season episode that fails to make mention of the series’ main character.

 

 

Dragon Ball Super Episode 6 Review

Let’s start off by saying that we all agree that Vegeta definitively has the best vocabulary of any Super Saiyan in the universe. I know Gohan’s been nonexistent this season, and super boring since he hit high school because he’s a scholar, but he doesn’t drop bombs like throwing ‘infinitesimal’ into his dialogue as smoothly as the Prince of Saiyans. So dramatic.

Honestly, this episode was one of the most ridiculous episodes in the franchise. With a strange, but effective, plot, packed with tons of seriously funny scenes, that would leave many longtime fans relatively shocked, “Don’t Anger the God of Destruction! The Heart Pounding Birthday Party” does a really good job encapsulating the essence of what Dragon Ball Super has been shooting for this season. Props to the writers for giving the fans what they want and bringing back at least one more brief encounter between Vegeta and his one true arch nemesis in this entire godforsaken universe…no not Kakorot, Octopus.

“Don’t Anger the God of Destruction! The Heart Pounding Birthday Party” was actually a standout episode because of how memorable it’s going to be for a lot of people, as it will surely prove to be an episode that defines the series. The structure, a slow build-up, with tons of gags sprinkled throughout, until a big dramatic end point with some action, works for now. It’s better than where we were three or four episodes ago. And the end of Episode 6 just sets up so many possibilities for next week and maybe finally, one of the first big fight scenes of the season. If not, I don’t believe many would complain about another episode of Vegeta playing sushi chef for a good majority again, right?

Dragon Ball Super | Episode 5 | Review

The action really gets shaking in the fifth episode of Dragon Ball Super, as “The Ultimate Fight on King Kai’s Planet! Goku Vs the God of Destruction Beerus” kicks off addressing that huge cliff hanger and some highbrow comedy befitting of only a Kai. We’ve got a good amount of face time from some of the best character combinations, and we finally address one of the main plot points that have been simmering so slow, and oh yeah, GOKU, of all people, throws some punches! What a novel idea for a show called Dragon Ball Super…

The action that we have here isn’t some of the finest or most precise high-stakes game of intergalactic combat, but compared to what we’ve sat through thus far, this episode is like a crisp senzu bean after a long and tough battle.

Not only did “The Ultimate Fight on King Kai’s Planet! Goku Vs the God of Destruction Beerus” take a stroll down the first three aisles of the Super Saiyan Market; there were some very genuinely funny scenes scattered throughout the episode, peaking with the Vegeta joke about Yamcha that might just have been the funniest moment of the entire franchise so far.

The beginning of Dragon Ball Super has such a unique tone compared to its predecessor; it basks in a more ironic atmosphere and with a lighter overall feel compared to the start of Dragon Ball Z. This is one of those episodes where animation does indeed reach peak-poop-levels at points, but we knew this was coming. More importantly, Dragon Ball Super is finally taking off, and Episode 5 comes closest to the type of series that fans fell in love with many years ago.

There are important distinctions between Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z, but those lines are blurring in the best possible way and it feels like “The Ultimate Fight on King Kai’s Planet! Goku Vs the God of Destruction Beerus” is a prelude to some positive things…

Dragon Ball Super | Season 1 | Episode 3

Dragon Ball Super 103

Dragon Ball Super | Adult Swim | Saturday | 8pm
Season 1 | Episode 3
“Where Does the Dream Pick Up?! Find the Super Saiyan God!”

Goku can’t launch a Spirit Bomb every episode…let’s just get that out into the open right and accept the fact that we can’t have one-armed, tri-Kamehameha’s on the reg. There is a distinct reason why these moments are forever embedded within the minds of so many fans; these points are the grandiose payoffs to frustratingly long and exceedingly stagnant waiting periods. But, was Dragon Ball Super Episode 3 actually vital to advancing the plot of the series?

I suppose the audience certainly learned a few minor details that filled in pieces of the back story, but, figuring out that Beerus trapped Grand Kai in the Z-Sword wasn’t really a make-or-break moment.

Beerus continues to dominate the majority of the story and deservedly so. The high point of the episode comes when he speaks about visiting Earth awhile back to deal with some “dinosaurs with attitude problems” and then proceeds to break the fourth wall, making a passing comment that twenty-five-minutes is about the length of a standard anime episode.

Unfortunately the heart of the episode was strangely and severely lacking anything resembling a steady pulse. Overall, the episode felt stretched too thin in the way it glanced over the reintroduction of pivotal core characters that dated as far back as the beginning of Dragon Ball. Krillen was the only Z-Warrior to get any type of scene with an extended run of dialogue, but even that fell a little flat. It was lame how Vegeta had literally one line, same for Goten and Trunks. Is anyone ever going to throw a punch this season? I’d even take another dinosaur fight with the little guys at this point.

Long time fans are getting a lot of good laughs and a few nice moments to start off the series, while new fans are getting their toes wet in Sector 4032 Green on Planet 877. The introduction to this new series is no doubt moving at a crawl, but long time fans need to understand; this isn’t episode 292 of Dragon Ball Z. However hard or frustrating it may be (and for longtime fans who have already seen the movies, it sure IS hard and frustrating at points), this is episode 3 of a new series called Dragon Ball Super.

The contrast with the series that preceded DB Super is night and day; while you certainly sense that ominous tension of a snowball tightening with every passing episode, DB Super remains a stark contrast in comparison to the events that transpired within the first few episodes of DBZ that were absolutely riveting.

But let’s not pass judgment within the first sixty composite minutes of a series. Sometimes, the long play is the best hand. Haven’t you ever cooked a slow roast? Watched a triple overtime game? The wait can be worth it, my friends. Let’s just hope to see a few yellow hairs or something sometime soon.

Score: 5 out of 10
General-DC Comics

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