Written by Scott Clifford
“Southbound and Down” is a surprisingly heartwarming episode that delves into the dynamic between Pam and Archer while everything in their lives is out of control. Once again, Archer is being subtly turned into a relatively more sincere and mature character in the ex-ISIS gang because Pam is descending into crazier and crazier depths due to her risky behavior. This episode may also be the first time the series has established a potential standard plotline for the series. Malory gets Cherlene to play a show, the gang devises a wacky plan to get there, and things go horribly wrong.
Krieger starts off the episode by finally rebooting Ray’s cybernetic spine wile conditioning Ray’s mannerisms towards by having total control of his walking abilities. Meanwhile, Malory gets off the phone and barely fakes being nice to Cherlene to get her to perform at a concert for public television. They only have thirty-six hours to get there and Cherlene refuses to fly. Instead, Archer gets to emulate Burt Reynolds and drive a blocker car as everyone else rides a bus painted with a sexy picture of Cherlene. Archer and Pam drive in the blocker car while everyone else rides the bus.
Speaking of Archer, he decides to hide one-hundred pounds of cocaine in the bus because he figures that someone in Texas will want to forget where they’re living with the help of lots of drugs. Pam then knocks Archer out with a tranquilizer and he wakes up the next morning to find that she advertised the cocaine to various seedy people. It’s not much of a surprise when a biker gang surrounds Cherlene’s bus and start shooting at the tires. Archer tries to get his gun to stop them but can’t find it due to Pam losing at craps as Lana takes the wheel. Cherlene is upset that Archer doesn’t view her as a kidnapping risk as Archer covers Pam’s mistakes. Pam then reveals to Archer that she gave him the nickname “Lickbag” while he was passed out. What a great friend.
Archer fixes the bus tire and further shows his ability to be responsible as a police officer starts to trail them. Pam then accidently reveals to everyone that she moved the cocaine from the bus to Archer’s car. Malory casually orders them to take the exit so the cops will go after Archer and a chase right from Smokey and the Bandit occurs. As the cops shoot at them, a discussion between the differences of satire and irony occur in order to get Pam to open up about her new lifestyle choices. I almost died when Archer said that he doesn’t care about Pam’s boobs while figuring out that the cops are crooked and not officially on patrol. Pam convinces Archer to promise to have sex with her in exchange for getting rid of the cocaine. It’s an incredibly sad and yet funny moment. I guess Archer is right when he says that it’s a “win-win”.
Cherlene finally sings and easily wins over the crowd before refusing to sing more than one song in order to be an “outlaw”. Malory tries to intimidate her to sing more when a stereotypical Texan music company owner offers to make Cherlene a big star. Archer and Pam step in and without the need to get out of jail, which surprises everyone. I suppose that all is well that ends well or something like that. Never mind, everything is going to hell and I love it.
It’s nice to see that “Southbound and Down” is able to take a premise and run with it within the first few minutes of the episode. It’s also brilliant to see that the writers have been able to examine the relationship between Archer and Pam in an organic way. Pam’s downward slide to emotional immaturity forces Archer to be a responsible adult in comparison. Let’s not forget about the top-notch dialogue in this episode. Malory’s irrational, right-wing rant about how PBS launders tax dollars with the help of Bolshevik, lesbian couples is worth watching a few times alone. I also like how they introduced the new dynamic between Ray and Krieger. I’m excited to see where that goes.