Sterling Archer's pirate saga concludes tonight, and that also means the end of our Archer fix until 2012. At least we have a great conclusion to hold us over.

Malory has realized that half the ISIS team has gone missing at the same time that Cyril discovers he must have drained the agency's accounts in his drunken rage. It's the makings of a very bad day - so unsurprisingly, it's the time when Archer has become a comedian, and not a very good one. He's still in the pirate dungeon, making jokes about (wait for it...) Dungeness crabs. He is useless to everyone trapped with him, but then again, we soon learn that this is the guy who tried as a kid to literally put a square peg in a round hole. No one said he was bright.

"Pirates, line two!" Cheryl announces when they call using Lana's sat-phone. Malory argues with them over a potential ransom, while Lana and Archer argue about how Malory always comes to his rescue - at least, until Rip (Patrick Warburton) reveals that Archer is on the island voluntarily, which causes Lana to punch Archer out in anger. Still par for the course.

When Malory needs $3 million for the ransom, Cyril scrambles to remember his password (which we know is not "archersucks" or "killarcherdie").

Meanwhile, Rip starts referring to himself in the third person shortly before taking a spoon in the eye, and in a struggle between Archer and the chief pirate, both Ray and Lana are shot. This is a big enough disaster that Malory changes her mind about ransoming anyone, and Archer's resulting rage causes him to punch the pirate in the face a few times and get control of his gun. At last, he's done something if everyone else wasn't wounded or emotionally scarred, both of which seem to be common happenings when interacting with Archer.

Ray is dying, but Archer is more concerned with the pirates' intramural lacrosse tournament until Lana threatens not to be friends with him anymore. That at least gets him onboard their escape helicopter along with everyone else, even though he's still yelling at the game below. Having had enough, and seeing the pirates arming themselves, Lana starts shooting indiscriminately. She nearly says those three little words to Archer - but it doesn't matter because everyone else on the copter can tell they deserve each other.  "Just screw already!" Noah (David Cross) mutters. "And then kill each other. And then shut up," Rip adds.

All's well that ends well - almost. While everyone gets home, Archer has already forgotten Katya's name, and poor Ray is now stuck with both an eyepatch and a wheelchair. Despite Sterling's annoyance, I'd say he has reason to be pouting.

"Heart of Archness, Part 3" may be the strongest part of the trilogy. It at least has more quotable lines than the previous two, and neatly ties up the entire storyline while leaving a few potential threads for the rest of the new episodes - like Lana and Archer's simmering feelings for each other and my legitimate concern for Ray's continued survival. (I'm very glad he didn't die as he's definitely one of my favorite characters.)

The episode also hits on something that's an underlying theme of Archer as a whole: while Archer may be arrogant, ignorant and often inept, when the situation is really dire, he'll usually do the right thing - just not always voluntarily. Or intentionally. And that's important, because he can be the biggest jerk on the planet, but there has to be some likeability in him somewhere to keep viewers tuning in rather than wanting to shoot him in the face. Adam Reed and company have mastered that balancing act between insufferable and watchable very well.

In fact, a lot of Archer is about balance, including between shock and hilarity - and the creative team of Archer is always very good at knowing what the perfect mix is. I would love to see them get an Emmy nomination for their writing. Not only is it funny, it's also very smart and I don't think they get enough credit for pulling the whole show together in that cocktail of craziness and brains.

Now to start the wait for the rest of season three...

(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.