7. Beneath the Bridge of Spies (S01E06)
Major Nikolai Jackov and Malory Archer seem to have quite the historic romance. While vacationing together on the Chum Guzzler (“Ha ha ha. I am just now getting that”) they both reminisce about first meeting as young black-ops agents in Berlin under the Bridge of Spies. While this reference isn’t exactly a joke, the bridge is an icon of Cold War history, and learning about it adds a little depth to their long and complicated relationship.
The Bridge of Spies is actually called Glienicke Bridge, and it is indeed located in Berlin. The bridge was equally divided between Soviet and NATO territory, so neither party had full control of it. This made it the perfect meeting ground for prisoner exchanges — of which there were several between 1962 and 1986. It is easy to imagine these two meeting on a moonless night and, after swapping hostages, consummating their love, perhaps in a tank. I dunno, I’m just spit-balling here.
8. You’re just a dog in a manger (S01E07)
I had always just assumed that this was a completely random insult, but it turns out it is one of the most ancient references in the entire show!
After Pam and Carol (Cheryl, Cristal, etc) stow away on a rigid airship, Carol continues her psychological torture of Cyril by teasing him about the fact that they have had rug-burn-y sex. Pam, just learning this juicy tidbit of gossip, calls Carol “a dog in a manger,” prompting the response,”I don’t know what that means Pam, I didn’t grow up on a cheese farm.” (“It’s called a dairy!”)
A dog in a manger is actually a reference to an old fable of unverified origins, sometimes attributed as one of Aesop’s fables but more likely hailing back to the ancient Greeks. The story involves a dog (Cheryl) who sits on top of some grain (Cyril’s wang) even though he has no interest in it and spends his day barking at a horse (Lana), so she can’t eat the grain either.
Now that I think about it, I bet there are some pockets of America who have actually heard this fable. Like it’s really popular in North Dakota or something. Let me know if you already knew the reference and where you live. I have decided to do an impromptu sociology project.
9. You’re obviously into Greek, get it? (S01E01)
[Editor's note: This is an email I got earlier this month: "In the first episode of Archer, Archer says the following: 'You want breakfast? Try the diner. You're obviously into Greek. Get it?' I've thought about it. I've googled it. I don't get it. I feel like I'm missing out. Can... you help me out?]
Greek sex is synonymous for butt sex because the Greeks invented butt sex. Get it now?
10. Chekhov’s Gun (S01E02)
This is maybe my favorite of all the (woefully) esoteric references in the show. When Archer tries to train Cyril to become a secret agent he employs the services of Trinette, a begrudging call girl, to help teach the would-be spy some moves. But when the cap slips off a pen that is actually a hypodermic needle full of a toxin called poisocane (not a real toxin), for like no reason, Trinette receives an inadvertent and apparently lethal dosing. Archer cuts off whatever excuse Cyril was going to make about his actions by telling him not to employ the Chekhov Gun argument.
The Chekhov Gun (or more popularly Chekhov’s Gun) refers to a maxim of theater based off a quote by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov who once said,
If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.
Since Archer had earlier implied that the pen would most likely at some point lose its cap and kill someone, and since television is actually a type of theater, the Chekhov Gun rule itself could possibly be blamed for the dead hooker (once they’re dead they’re just hookers) lying on the ground. Kind of.
The joke is not a perfect fit, but it such a wallop of a reference by the time you are done trying to extricate the one theater class you took from your pot-addled mind we are already rolling the hooker up in a carpet. What a great show.