If I could have a crush on an animated gay man, it would be Ray Gillette. He's funny and generally saner than everyone else at ISIS, and completely deserving of his own Archer episode.
The saga begins when Lana and Archer find Ray (who is not actually paralyzed; he was just rolling with everyone else's assumption for the past six months) stocking up in the ISIS armory. "I kind of have some family problems," he tells them. His brother Randy is a "drug farmer" who's being targeted by the local sheriff, and he's intent on mounting a rescue mission. What interests Archer about this is that it sounds similar to the plot of the Burt Reynolds flick White Lightning. Not that he could actually be helping a colleague.
It's off to Ferlin, West Virginia, where Ray pretends to be a redneck with Cheryl/Carol as his fake wife and Archer in tow, while everyone else pretends they're not there. Archer immediately eyes up Randy's attractive spouse, while laughing at the fact that Ray has told his brother he's a New York City interior designer. As if they didn't have enough problems with Randy's marijuana, Archer is surprised to find that Ray's brother has an open marriage...and wants to sleep with Cheryl/Carol. This forces Ray to pretend to be incensed about his fake wife (who busies herself by shaving a rooster, the joke of which involves the only Kenny Rogers Roasters reference I have ever heard on TV).
Yet just as the squabbling comes to a head, Ray finds out that the sheriff isn't really coming after Randy, whom he knocks unconscious before turning him and his wife over to the cops. (And we find out the sheriff might just have a thing for Ray besides, not unlike that underrated little film Happy, Texas.) This episode proves Ray's family is just as messed up as Archer's or Cheryl/Carol's. One can only wonder what Lana's family is like.
"Bloody Ferlin" is most memorable for the fact that it gives a lot of backstory - and an amusing one at that - to Archer's best supporting character. (I'm wondering if the title is play on the Justified season two episode "Bloody Harlan" but we shall never know.) It's fairly surprising to find out that Ray is from West Virginia and has a redneck family, and equally funny that Archer decides to tell that Ray is a secret agent, but not that he's gay. The episode plays on all types of stereotypes ("racist, homophobic, wife-swapping, drug dealer") but that makes it more amusing, because Ray has been established as so not all those things that to see this is where he comes from is a surprise.
It also poses an interesting question: are we going to see what happens now that Malory knows Ray isn't paralyzed? Animated shows aren't necessarily known for continuity but I'm thinking that could be one classic scene. And as much as I thought it was cool that Archer had a handicapped character, I like Ray enough that I'm glad that he's not really disabled. Hopefully, Archer won't get him screwed up again (see: Barry Dillon). But any episode that has more of Ray in it is fine by me. As voiced by Adam Reed himself, he's a snappy, well-dressed foil to Archer's blunt idiocy.
What did you think about Ray's history? Did it surprise you? Would you like to see more of the other characters' families and histories? Sound off below.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.