The era of peak TV has certainly made for some interesting shows in recent years. Who would have thought a show about a spy agency that’s the dirt worst at its intended purpose could have a now eight season run and essentially spin itself off in two different ways. Without giving too much away, the show has used some heavy plot elements to up the creative ante. However, there are times when the demented nature of the show can rely on all the characters to literally spend 20 minutes in an elevator with each other and generate one of the funniest episodes its ever had.
The concept of “Vision Quest” is incredibly simple. Everyone who works for Malory in their new spy agency has to come to a 7:00 a.m. meeting. They all arrive at the same time and take the elevator together. Then they get stuck. I guess you could say this evolve the bottle episode into an elevator episode.
By the sixth season of the show, the characters are very clear established. Archer plays loose with the rules. Lana is probably one of the few competent people at the agency, but she is constantly being dragged into the mud and forced to be the voice of reason. Cyril is too straight laced for his own (to the point he just wants to masturbate in the elevator despite everyone being around. Pam rotates being weird and a little bit crazy. Krieger is worried everyone else will realize he’s a clone and the actual Krieger is elsewhere (a storyline that would have the ultimate pay-off in the season seven finale). Oh, and Archer desperately wants to use the term “phrasing” whenever someone makes a sexual innuendo or similar phrase.
In just 20 minutes, everything breaks down to the point where half the characters are naked, and the other half are choking their co-workers. There’s panic over food and they tease the possibility of being stuck in an elevator forever. Only a show where the characters are so clearly established and the voice acting is strong can “Vision Quest” exist. It says a lot that H. Jon Benjamin can play Bob, a schlubby family man restaurant owner, and Archer, a somewhat suave spy, and even though his voice is so recognizable, the audience can buy his performance.
I could have picked so many possible episodes, but “Vision Quest” represents the show at its height. It is the best of creator Adam Reed and a tour de force of great voice work.