"Nellis" is the seventh episode of season 6 and the sixty-ninth episode overall of Archer.
The gang embarks on a rescue mission, but their assignment quickly turns into an out-of-this-world visit to the U.S. Air Force facility known as Area 51.
Archer, upset over Lana's trust exercise, has flown to a casino to drown his sorrows, but after ending up drunk, broke, and put on both the "No Fly" list and the "No Train" list, calls Cheryl and begs for a lift home on her private plane. Archer's joy quickly turns to annoyance when he finds Cheryl has brought Cyril, Pam, Ray, and Krieger along with her so that the lot of them can take a tourist trip to Branson, Missouri. Everyone's plans get sidetracked when Ray, after succumbing to peer pressure, steers the plane too close to Area 51 and the Air Force shoots them down. Ray lands safely at Nellis Air Force Base, Archer enacts a clever ruse, and, using Slater's authentication code, poses as a CIA agent transporting prisoners (the gang) with an Israeli pilot (Ray).
Meanwhile, at ISIS headquarters, Malory and Lana catch up over baby AJ. The penny drops when Malory offers one hundred thousand dollars to Lana to rename Abbiejean to "Malory." Lana is outraged, but when Malory cries, Lana compromises and agrees to AJ's middle name being "Malory." The shrewd negotiator that she is, Malory accepts on the condition that the price be dropped to $22,500; she also offers $5,000 more for AJ to be Christened in a White church.
Back at Nellis, the gang hangs out in the Officers' Club while the air force readies them a new transport plane. While everyone is distracted by Archer's gripes about the lack of quality alcohol, Pam and Krieger see a pair of extra-terrestrials walk in. When the two of them scream in terror, the aliens run away before the others spot them. Pam and Krieger go running off in search of the Martians, set off an alarm, and Archer takes off to find them. He gets cornered by soldiers and, after a miscommunication, has to fight them. Pam and Krieger find the aliens who reveal the key to understanding the entire universe (leaving the two of them overwhelmed). The visitors teleport away before Archer finds Pam and Krieger, he brings the two of them back to the lounge, the group disguises themselves with air force uniforms, and they easily steal a cargo plane to escape.
Archer messes with Pam by saying that he believes in extraterrestrial life, but everyone rejoices when he gives the okay to fly to Branson (mostly so he can have the pleasure of bombing it).
- Encyclopedia Cocktailia - Archer states "I don't even know if I can make cocktails" due to the CIA not stocking his brands. Later, on the cargo plane, he makes a drink out of deicing fluid and Tang.
- Slappy Hands - When Pam and Krieger start freaking out, Archer suggests someone slap them to make them get to the point, the same thing he did in Edie's Wedding.
- Myrtle Beach
- When Krieger and Pam express their excitement about going to Branson, the "number one country music tourist destination in the world", Archer quizzically asks if it has something to do with Cherlene (Cheryl's outlaw country singing alter ego from Season 5). Pam says she has no recollection of being the "number one country singer in America".
- Yakov Smirnoff being in Branson is another reference to the comedian. See Vision Quest.
- A poster of Rona Thorne's Disavowed can be seen in the officer's lounge. This was the spy movie Rona Thorne was using ISIS to study for her role in early episode Movie Star (s2e7).
- While making drinks in the officer's lounge, Archer, upon tasting O'Dublins tequila, remarks that they'll probably have to use sour mix. This is a call to season four episode 1 "Fugue and Riffs" where Archer, as Bob berates a waiter for using that ingredient in a margarita.
- After getting on the plane in Las Vegas, the gang mentions that they are going to Branson, MO, not only is this referencing the "number one tourist desination in the world," but also season 4 episode 7 of sealab 2021 when hesh says, "Hesh has heard good things about Branson!"
- Frisky Dingo (2006-08): Simone, Frisky Dingo's homeless prostitute/heroin addict, makes a cameo telling Archer that he doesn't have "kick pants" (a reference to Xander Crews wearing the bottom half of an Xtacles suit).
- Branson, Missouri: the "biggest country music tourist destination in the world", according to Pam.
- Tony Orlando - the American singer opened the Tony Orlando Yellow Ribbon Music Theatre in 1993.
- Charo - the Spanish singer regularly tours in Branson.
- Yakov Smirnoff - the "comedic stylings" of this Russian comedian were enjoyed in his own theatre in Branson.
- Hushpuppies and grits are southern American foods - of which Archer knows their names, locale, but not, ironically, their identity. As Cyril points out, Hush puppies are also a brand of shoes.
- Charlotte's Web (1952): Ray is shocked when Archer revealed to him that pigs who go to farms are made into food - unless the farm has a "magical talking spider" like in this famous story.
- Arrested Development: when Cheryl's plane lands at the airport, a stair car similar in color scheme to the one used by the Bluth family is seen next to Archer
- Area 51: The United States Air Force facility commonly known as Area 51 is a highly classified remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base, within the Nevada Test and Training Range. Its current primary purpose is publicly unknown; however, based on historical evidence, it most likely supports the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems (black projects). The intense secrecy surrounding the base has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore.
- Scanners (1981): When Dr. Krieger suggests that the aliens are using telepathy to communicate, Pam holds her hands to her head and says: "Holy Shit! Like in Scanners?" This is a reference to the David Cronenberg movie where some people would make others' heads explode using telepathy.
- The X-Files (1993 to present): Archer recites the line "The truth is out there," the famous catch-phrase from The X-Files, a television series about FBI agents who investigate paranormal activity, including U.F.O. sightings and alien abductions.
- The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) / Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977): when the team gets teargassed on the plane, Cheryl shouts "Just like Duddy Kravitz in Close Encounters!" She is referring to the actor Richard Dreyfuss, who plays the protagonist in both films.
- This combined reference is similar to the one Pam makes in Dial M For Mother, when she equates herself to "that little Gandhi dude" whilst she is doing accounting. (2 roles, same actor).
- MK Ultra / CIA / LSD / Project ARTICHOKE / Frank Olson: whenever the CIA are invoked, Adam Reed likes to point out their nefarious activities, especially in connection with "black ops" and mind control, and/or unwitting drug tests. When Archer confronts the Colonel, he heavily implies that the Colonel was a participant of Project ARTICHOKE, the unwitting LSD testing incident after which Frank Olson purposely threw himself out of the window of his tenth-floor hotel room at the Hotel Statler, NYC in 1953. (see Quotes for context).
- The episode title refers to Nellis Air Force Base.
- When the Sky Tunt jet arrives, Archer thanks "Asmodeus, Destroyer of Men". Asmodeus is the demon of lust and is therefore responsible for twisting people's sexual desires.
- Though both facilities are part of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), Nellis AFB and Area 51 (officially known as "Groom Lake" and "Homey Airport") are two different locations. The former is in fact within sight of many of the hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, and is accessible by civilians (albeit to a limited degree) during the course of Red Flag exercises.
- This is the first episode in which we see Archer and Cheryl kiss, and see Archer show any affection towards her.
- Archer mentions that he has a cousin named Brian who is in the air force. We can only assume that his cousin is from his mother's side of the family.
- Archer speaks in Yiddish twice during the altercation with "Lieutenant Colonel". First when asking Ray "Redst du Yiddish?" which means "do you speak Yiddish?" and again after the conflict is resolved saying, "shisn tsvey hozn mit eyn shos." This means, "to shoot two rabbits with one shot," or in the English variation of the idiom, to "kill two birds with one stone."
- An officers' club is a military base building intended for off-duty use by officers.
- The fact that Cheryl owns the "Sky Tunt", a private 737 Classic, implies that she is a customer of the Boeing Business Jet program.
- Cheryl is reading a copy of Tunt Mall magazine while on-board.
- In the scene where Archer gets picked up by the "Sky Tunt" a red-white-and-blue staircar can be seen behind Archer; a reference to the Bluth's staircar in Arrested Development.
- The stair car itself appears to be a 2006 Dodge Ram 1500, another example of the show's ambiguous time period.
- Archer tells the personnel at Nellis that he has "Q clearance," but only Department of Energy employees would have this.
- The uniforms that the Air Force wear at Nellis are OG-107 type 1 which were in service from 1953 until 1964 when they were phased out for the type 2. The difference can be seen in the squareness of the pocket, the olive green coloration, and the hats that they wear.
- The drug testing incident described by Archer was actually made into a TV miniseries called "Wormwood" in 2017. It took place in Maryland, not Virginia. But it's close enough to get the message across without being too literal.
Fictional Product Placement
- 'Mobay Beer'
- 'Red Beer'
- 'O'Dublins' Tequila
- 'Old Buncombe' Bourbon
- Sweet and Sour Mix
- Raspberry Liqueur
- Pam: "You think that's for us?"
- Krieger: "I don't know. What sector is this?"
- Pam: "What am I, this map? Oh wait... Aw crap, this is totally nine!"
- Krieger: "Eh, could be a coincidence."
- Pam: "Yeah, like just a fire drill."
- Krieger: "Although it's probably because they found that poor kid that you clobbered."
- Pam: "You don't think I killed him do ya?"
- Krieger: "What am I, a doctor?"
- Archer: If I spoke Hebrew I would ask him, right after I ask your wife and kids about you but they don't know - they haven't even seen you in a year. They think you ran off with a stripper when in reality you were literally climbing the walls of a farmhouse in Virginia somewhere, out of your mind on LSD, compliments of the CIA and MK Ultra
- Colonel: Jesus Christ...