Archer vs Barry: Charting the “Bromance” between Sterling Archer and Barry Dillon.

Iconic TV animated show Archer isn’t without it’s fair share of “Bromance.” Without wanting to resort to anything that calls for “Phrasing!”, Sterling Archer (H Jon Benjamin) can’t help but be the meat in the sandwich that is the entire surrounding cast of characters that inhabit “his” world. His mother, his lovers, his co-workers and, of course, his antagonists.  And right at the core of the latter is Barry Dillon (Dave Willis) – or Blonde Archer if you will. 

When we first meet Barry in the tail end of season 1 he is every bit Archer’s equal, and perhaps in some cases his better.  And then Archer entered his life and proceeded to break him.  Archer bent more rules than Barry; but before the show reached its zenith, Barry was so out of his mind (and body, literally replaced with that of a cyborg) he was willing to push further than Archer was, and all in the name of getting even, revenge and even for a little bit of “bromance” respect from his enemy, which if the creator of the show Adam Reed had any say on the matter, would never happen (Not in his tenure as lead writer from seasons 1-10 anyway).

Let’s break it down one step at a time. Here, in order, are all the 20 plus times Barry appeared on the show and what damage was done to him, or in the odd case, to Archer.

  1. Job Offer

The main issue: Odin (rival company to Archer’s ISIS) is trying to steal not just Archer, but Lana Kane as well.  Archer gets on so well with his prospective new boss that it sends Barry round the bend.

Damage to Barry: He catches Archer sodomising potential fiancée (Served up to him by Barry’s boss no doubt!).

Damage to Archer: Well, he doesn’t get the job, But it seems that was for the better.

Memorable bit: In a telling flashback, Archer refuses to help Barry to safety whilst dangling off a balcony in Berlin (Which post flashback we learn he falls from and shatters his femur)

2.2 A growing Concern

The main issue: Odin is all set in motion to buy out ISIS (due to Mallory being broke). Barry comes in to help oversee things on site; Archer spends his time making sure it doesn’t happen.

Damage to Barry: More humiliation. He may beat Archer with words on this occasion, but he’s otherwise duped into losing his clothes and dignity when he’s told Lana is showing an interest in him.

Damage to Archer: None.  He sets all of Odin up for a fall and prevents the sale.

Memorable bit: “Barry, is that how you get ants?  Yes it is Other Barry, yes it is.”

2.3 Blood test

The main issue: Archer might be a dad!  A blood test is done to prove whether or not the wee baby Seamus is his or not (FYI – It’s Cyril’s… But this episode doesn’t care!).  Archer, worried that it is, decides to swap out his blood with another suckers.

Damage to Barry: None.  Barry is pretty much in charge this time round for the little time he is around.

Damage to Archer: Total backfire.  Archer succeeds in swapping out his blood for Cyril’s. But when the test comes in as positive Archer has to cough up the Alimony as it is believed he is the dad (despite it being Cyril).

Memorable bit: The actual flashback to Barry’s unconscious body on a car he just landed on in Berlin, breaking his femur.

2.12 White Knights

The main issue: Barry is hired by Mallory to go to Russia to rescue Archer.  So ensues chaos between the two of them as they try to escape together… until Archer decides it’s time to ditch Barry, of course.

Damage to Barry: Barry is the cushion for everyone’s pins.  But the icing on the cake is being dropped, once again, from a large height; altering the trajectory of the character for the seasons to come!

Damage to Archer: Well, there is the insult that Barry imparts that is part of his reward for saving archer (he gets to have his way with Lana).

Memorable bit: Choose!  Barry’s interview with Mallory;  Barry’s taunts to Archer upon recusing him; The comic-edit to the two of them beating five bells out of each other? White Knights is one of the best Archer/Barry episodes.

2.13 Double Trouble

The main issue: At the end of the last episode Sterling met and promptly fell in love with former Russian agent Katya. And by the end of this episode they are getting married… until Barry.

Damage to Barry: Well despite losing only a leg last episode the Russians went ahead and replaced all of his body: now he has a “Six Million Dollar Man-type” cyborg body instead.  An upgrade for sure, but his humanity it seems has also gone.  What is left if his lust for revenge against Archer.

Damage to Archer: Pretty bad.  Katya saves Archer, sacrificing herself by pulling both her and Barry off a balcony and she falls to her death.  Barry is unharmed and walks it off.  One of the few actual downer endings the show has.  Well; it would have been if it weren’t for the magic of Krieger crying next to him (because Katya landed and destroyed on his van).

Memorable bit: Barry’s upgrade montage.

3.1 Heart of Archness

The main issue: Post Katya’s death, Archer has vanished and is living a drunken pirate life.  Barry only features briefly.

Damage to Barry: None.  He zooms off unharmed chuckling to himself (Other Barry).

Damage to Archer: Like before.  He is reeling from the death of Katya.

Memorable bit: “Is that how you crash a wedding?  Yes it is Bionic Barry, yes it is”

3.10 Crossing Over

The main issue: The head of the KGB (and potential father to Archer) decides to defect.  ISIS takes him into their safe house – but Barry manages to circumvent that easily by seducing Cheryl/Carol.

Damage to Barry: None.  Evil Barry finds and blows-up his former boss.

Damage to Archer: Seems Archer will never find out whether the man was his dad or not with the explosion leaving no DNA left over to test.

Memorable bit: Barry giving Cheryl/Carol probably what she would describe as the time of her life.

3.11 Skin game

The main issue: Katya is alive: Or at least Krieger as reanimated her. And like Barry; she is now an ultra-strong cyborg.

Damage to Barry: Little damage other than his constant need to reign hell down on Archer.

Damage to Archer: Archer loses Katya, again, only this time he catches Barry sodomising her (not unlike Archer did to Barry’s former beau).

Memorable bit: Barry’s six-million dollar man charge.

3.13 Space race part 2

The main issue: Archer and gang are up in space being held captive.  Barry decides to drop in unannounced to, well, kill Archer.

Damage to Barry: Barry is left at the end stranded on the space station alone with no way home.

Damage to Archer: None.  Archer learns to swallow his pride in what would have been an otherwise and obvious losing fight to a mighty cyborg.  In doing so he earns the respect his colleagues – and as a treat Cyril destroys Barry’s ship in thanks.  Don’t worry.  Archer won’t make a habit of doing the right thing.

Memorable bit: Barry taunting Archer “Warriors” style over video com.

4.1 Fugue and Riffs

The main issue: Archer has gone missing again and this time has amnesia too.  It’s gonna take the whole gang to get him back to who he previously was.  Barry cameos at the end as the reason for why so many guns are headed Archer’s way.

Damage to Barry: Still stuck in space… Slowly murdering those around him that can’t get him home.

Damage to Archer: Well Barry is the reason he has so many thugs chasing him, but the two never meet and Archer is reinstated back where he belongs; so happy ending.

Memorable bit: The reveal of Barry at the end.

4.5 Vicious Coupling

The main issue: Katya enlists the help of Archer to find her beloved Barry who has been missing.  Archer uses this as an excuse to drive a wedge between the two and perhaps win Katya back.  Krieger uses this opportunity to help a bearded Barry in space (barely holding onto his sanity) so that he can witness a Robot fight between Barry and Ray (who now has cybernetic legs).

Damage to Barry: Well, he gets home, but he is quickly put in his place by Katya who has taken over his position in Russia.

Damage to Archer: The plan backfires as Katya isn’t as out of the loop as he thought.

Memorable bit: Archer’s “edited” mixtape of Barry audio saying how much he doesn’t like being with Katya.

4.7 Live and Let Dine

The main issue: Archer and Co are enlisted to work at a restaurant as part of their cover to protect a diplomat; which also happens to host a Chef reality show. Hilarity ensues.

Damage to Barry: Not much.  He and Katya make a surprise entrance at the end as the ones responsible for the assassination attempt.

Damage to Archer: Mission not accomplished. But he never knows it’s Barry.

Memorable bit: Katya telling Barry off in the final moments.

6.4 Edie’s Wedding

The main issue: Pam’s sister is getting married: Archer goes as her date.  Barry shows up in the freezing cold to kidnap Pam leaving archer and Pam’s unruly sister to come to her aid.

Damage to Barry: Turns out he’s been dumped by Katya. And it looks like this was going to be it for poor old Barry as he is blown up in a grain store… but his Endoskeleton survives. So, looks like we will see him again.

Damage to Archer: Just given a bit of a shitty day to deal with.

Memorable bit: The tender moment where you think Barry is a goner with his red eye flickering out, only to pop back to life again.

  • Motherless Child

The main issue: Barry shows up looking for a favour. He’s willing to put everything aside if Archer and co will help him find his mother whom he never met.  They agree. Of course, he holds them at gun point and has already kidnapped Mallory as an insurance policy.

Damage to Barry: He gets his way; but he still doesn’t look too good by the end, wearing an ill-fitting skin of a mask of Cyril. But he is indeed reunited with his mother.

Damage to Archer: Well, he’s forced against his will to actually help Barry out.

Memorable bit: Barry bagging some T

  • Archerland – All 8 episodes

The main issue: Archer is in a Coma and imagining the whole world around him with all of his friends and enemies showing up as varient versions of themselves. Which means that despite Barry appearing in all 8 episodes; he’s not actually there at all.  Plus, he seems to be playing an alternate version of himself called “Dutch” who wants to kill Archer, naturally.

Damage to Barry: A lot!  He loses his legs in the opening episode, then is tested on and then given bionic limbs by Krieger. He then goes on a kill crazy hunt until the end of the season where Krieger finally has dogs tear him apart.  Not pleasant.  And rarely funny either.

Damage to Archer: From Barry:  Not much.  Despite Barry’s constant attempts, Archer usually manages to sneak away.

Memorable bit: The shot of the truck sidemirror showing Barry in the distance with his crushed legs screaming!

10.1 Bort the Garj

The main issue: Archer is still in a Coma.  Barry shows up as a full-on Robot called “Barry Six” to act as an antagonist.

Damage to Barry: None. He shows up late to capture Archer and the gang.

Damage to Archer: He gets caught by Barry

Memorable bit: Barry’s new look.

10.2 Happy Borthday

The main issue: Barry has Archer tortured and the rest of his gang are made to fight to the death against one and other.

Damage to Barry: Archer escapes.

Damage to Archer: Torture at the hands of a robotic bird.

Memorable bit: Archer trying to con Barry Six into letting him go fetch the cargo he owes him.

10.9 Robert De Niro

The main issue: As Archer’s addled mind warps constantly between what is real and what isn’t; Barry Six returns to the fray. As Archer’s mind shreds, he finally sees Barry in the way we are all used to seeing him (in his red track suit). He and Archer go at it as Archer’s coma state reaches its zenith.

Damage to Barry: It seems like a fair fight this time round.

Damage to Archer: It seems facing off against Barry is what brings Archer out of his coma at last.

Memorable bit: The rage fuelled face-off between the two.

11.4 Robot Factory

The main issue: So, back in the real world it turns out that Barry has finally got his life together and is now not only a decent kind of guy (or borg), but is working hand in hand with the agency.  He’s even let go of his hate for Archer and is wanting to help Archer along in his new life. Archer is having none of it.

Damage to Barry: A lot of damage to a lot of Barry’s as they spend much of the runtime destroying a warehouse full of Barrys.  Barry even does the noble thing but manages to download himself into a fresh body at the end; which actually endears Archer to him.

Damage to Archer: His mind is messed with a lot as Barry doesn’t take any bait and never turns upon Archer.  Looks like they are going to be friends after all.

Memorable bit: Archer shooting the dicks of all the inanimate Cyborg Barry’s they pass in the factory.

12.7 Colt Express

The main issue: Archer has been going up against a new rival in season 12. Thankfully Barry lands on the scene at the end of this episode, or at least Sterling thinks it’s Barry.  Turns out it’s “Other Barry”.

Damage to Barry: None.  He knocks Archer out cold in the climax of the episode.

Damage to Archer: Knocked out cold by “Other Barry”.

Memorable bit: Barry’s fist hitting the screen.

12.8 Mission: Difficult.

The main issue: Captured and beaten by “Other Barry”, it’s all Archer can do to get through to “his” Barry to turn the tables on the bad guys.

Damage to Barry: He gets zapped pretty bad causing his apparent death. But as always, looks like he can be rebooted at a future date.

Damage to Archer: Archer takes a good beating throughout from Barry, but comes out on top thanks to a little help from his friends.

Memorable bit: Archer and Barry’s heart to heart.

Season 13 is due later this year. Barry has managed to appear in all but two previos seasons, so the odds look good that he will show up once again. But what do they have left to say to each other? If they are friends then that could be rather boring. If they are enemies then that might get annoying considering what has more recently transpired. It could get repetative. Hopfeully the writers will look back on the early seasons and have something in between: Colleagues who rattle each other’s cages.

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