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"Once Bitten" is the sixth episode of the fourth season of Archer.



Archer gets bitten in a special place by a Caspian cobra.[1]


In Turkmenistan, Cyril and Ray are digging out their jeep from the desert sand after Archer got it stuck. Archer gets out to relieve himself, stating that taking a dump on Turkmenistan is third on his bucket list. He opts to use the map as toilet paper, which Cyril and Ray forbid. In response, he decides to use bills from the large amount of money they are delivering to the dictator, Gorbagun Gorbanguly. They eventually settle on 700 in exchange for Archer digging out the jeep. Archer takes the map as reading material, only to rip it for use. Cyril warns him about cobras which Archer merely ignores until a Caspian Cobra bites his taint.

Back at ISIS, Lana expresses her displeasure at being left out of the mission due to her race and gender in relation to Turkmenistan's racism and sexism. She becomes more irate upon learning that the money is to pay the dictator to "hinder construction" on an oil and natural gas pipeline crucial to the Russians.

Archer, after waking from passing out after the bite, begs Ray to suck the venom out, which Ray strongly refuses to do. Cyril is enlisted next, but he points out that sucking out the venom wouldn't help and also envenom the sucker and that the venom is now coursing throughout Archer's system. Archer panics when told that cytotoxins could cause his dick to fall off from necrosis and that the neuro- and cardiotoxins that could cause cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. He then vomits blood, at first believing that his body is removing the venom until pointed out that he would've had to drink it. He asks for his flask of alcohol, which Cyril strongly advises against but complies when Archer says there shouldn't be any more chemical changes to his blood.

Cyril points out that Ray has bionic legs that he could have used to lift the jeep, which Ray had forgotten about. ("You know, are you constantly aware you have regular leg bones? No.")

Ray lifts with his back, throwing it out and rendering him immobile. Archer asks Cyril to get his gun so that he may shoot both of them. Cyril asks why he would get shot and is told that it is second on Archer's bucket list.

Malory pulls Dr. Krieger away from "whatever unspeakable thing" he was secretly doing in his lab to find the trio after they failed to report in. This is kept from Lana, who doesn't believe that they reported in. The unspeakable thing in question is later shown to be a small wedding for two rats. Krieger points out that he doesn't know how to use the equipment, pointing out that Bilbo did before Malory killed him.

Well into the night, Cyril refuses to call for an extraction, which Ray claims is because Lana makes him [Cyril] feel insecure with his masculinity. Archer threatens Cyril against calling ISIS, so as not to hear one of Lana's "I told you so's", forcing Cyril to resume digging. Archer passes out after hallucinating that a Landcruiser was coming their way and that they were surrounded by alligators. He then finds himself in a way station in the nether world, wearing a hoodie, which he claims to hate, where he is greeted by deceased, suave English actor James Mason, who asks if he would like to know who Sterling Archer really is. Archer nervously refuses. "No?"

Lana demands to know why Pam Poovey and Cheryl Tunt won't stand up to Malory about blowing up the pipeline, who respond by saying they just don't care.

"About the Earth?"

Cheryl responds "Please. If you really cared, you'd resign. But there's no way you ever will, because you're just counting the days until, her face bloated and yellow from liver failure, she calls you to her deathbed and, in a croaky whisper, explains that Mr. Archer is totally incompetent and that you, the long-suffering Lana Kane, are the only one qualified to run ISIS, and you weep shameful tears, because you know this terrible place is the only true love you will ever know."

A visibly shaken Lana excuses herself, after which Pam remarks "Damn." Cheryl's response is "What? Oh my god, was I talking?"

As Cyril continues to dig out the jeep, James Mason takes Archer to a past memory of Baltimore. At the age of 18, Archer was the most recruited prep school lacrosse player in America and was visiting Baltimore for the weekend to decide if he will accept a full athletic scholarship to Johns Hopkins. During a stop from the train ride, Archer struck out the major league homerun champion Slammer Sloan, and caught the attention of a beautiful woman named Ruth Anne Litzenberger. Ruth follows Archer to the hotel he's staying in at Baltimore and sends a note for him to come to her room. There she asks if he will be the best there ever was in the game, which he responds to with a duh. Ruth shoots Archer in the stomach before throwing herself out the window and falls to her death. Archer angrily reiterates to James Mason that he didn't want to see this event. Mason asks if he sees how the actions of a disturbed woman greatly influenced his life. Archer states that he means how his lacrosse career was ended due to a crazy stalker gut shooting him.

Cyril has finally dug out the jeep and is speedily driving to reach a doctor before Archer dies. After getting distracted through an argument with Ray, Cyril hits and kills a camel, after which the group is captured by Turkmen and taken to their chief. Cyril communicates with the Turkmen Leader via phrase book in an attempt to pay for the camel he hit, but can't convey that Archer needs help, due to the dictator having changed the words Friday, bread, and snake to the name of his dog, Gurpgork. Ray eventually draws a snake, finally getting the message across. The chief offers to sell them antivenom for a lot of money. Ray comes up with paying the chief 25 grand and splitting the remaining 70 between himself and Cyril, rather than using it to pay for the destruction of a pipeline.

Sterlings real father

Sterling's real father giving him a stuffed gator.

Archer attempts to leave, but upon exiting the hotel, finds himself in his childhood home on the day of his sixth birthday. With his mother in Guatemala to overthrow its democratically elected government, and Woodhouse left unconscious after a heroin injection, young Sterling is left without a present. But present time Sterling recalls that he received a stuffed alligator, much to Archer's delight. The toy is given to him by an unknown man, who claims to be Sterling's real father. Unfortunately, after Archer receives the anti-venom he can't recall, who his father was. 


Cultural References[]

  • Archer continues the theme of referring to vast knowledge of television trivia by comparing their situation to that of The Rat Patrol.
  • Archer mentions the explorers Lewis and Clark.
  • Archer's exclamation "The lambs are screaming!" is a reference to the same line in The Silence of the Lambs.
  • When Ray Gillette tells the story of killing a bear while bowhunting and eating its heart at the age of ten, Archer calls him "Gay-vy Crockett." This is a reference to the legend (and subsequent line in songs) of Davy Crockett killing a bear at the age of three.
  • Lana Kane's clomping is compared to that of an AT-AT from The Empire Strikes Back by Pam Poovey.
  • After witnessing the gut shot scene, Archer complains to James Mason "What frickin' movie is this?! What's next, Mr. Gower slaps me deaf?!" referring to the scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" wherein George is slapped in his ear. This is also a reference to the similarity between this episode and the movie.
  • After receiving the anti-venom from Cyril, Archer wakes up with the syringe still in his chest. This scene is a reference to the "Pulp Fiction," where Mia Wallace woke up in the same way after a drug overdose coma.
  • After awaking from his hallucination, Archer calls Cyril "Buck Henry," a reference to the actor who played the guardian angel in Heaven Can Wait. He was shown in the role at the beginning of the hallucination, before being hit in the face with Archer's tooter.
  • Seeing the fur hats of the Turkmen, Archer exclaims "Hey, check it out, Fred and Barney, we're at the water buffalo lodge!" a reference to the lodge of which Barney and Fred of "The Flintstones" are members, where they wear similar hats.

Running Gags / Callbacks[]

  • The Camero made from a cardboard box that Archer played with as a boy in "The Man From Jupiter" is on the floor during his dream sequence.


  • Despite the intentional ambiguity around timeline, we get a close approximation to Archer's birthdate in this episode. If Malory was assisting with the overthrowing of the Guatemalan government on Archers sixth birthday, then he must have been born in June between the 18th and the 27th in 1948. Given that, in "Mole Hunt", Archer is 35 or 36 (probably 36), then the show begins in 1984
  • The title of the episode is probably a reference to the early 20th Century English proverb "once bitten, twice shy," which has been used in many other media as well including an album by the band "The Snakes."
  • Cyril Figgis appears to be wearing the same hat he wore in "El Contador." However, the rest of his outfit seems to be more practical now.
  • Cheryl/Carol mimics an AT-AT.
  • Lana refers to her downstairs neighbors "the Flatows," Archer once referenced Ira Flatow from NPR.
  • Lana's sarcastic "uh huh" response to Malory’s lies is a callback to the NYPD detective's identical response (including tone) to her stories in "Lo Scandalo."
  • Archer's hallucination in which he sees alligators all over the road and Ray Gillette and Cyril Figgis as alligator people is a reference to similar hallucinations in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."
  • James Mason played Mr. Jordan, a character nearly identical to the one in this episode, in Heaven Can Wait. Archer shows up wearing the same outfit, with the same instrument, playing the same tune as Warren Beatty's character Joe Pendleton in that movie.
  • The scene where Archer is shot in the gut, ending his lacrosse career, is a reference to a similar scene in "The Natural."
  • According to this episode, Archer was supposed to get an athletic scholarship to Johns Hopkins University before he was shot. James Mason suggests that he would have lost the scholarship anyway due to his SAT scores, another example of Archer's poor academic performance. His lacrosse stick bears the name "St. Joshua Prep," giving us one of the schools he attended and has a lightning bolt carved in the shaft (a reference to the bat in The Natural). The school is probably fictional. Archer states that he was kicked out of Episcopal prep school, twice, as proof that he would not be allowed into heaven. St. Joshua may have been one of them.
  • Archer's time as a kid at St. Joshua Prep is later explored in Season 7 Episode 3 "Deadly Prep" when adult Archer runs into childhood bullies Richard Stratton IV, AKA "Ivy", and Trent Whitney.
  • This episode foreshadowed Lana running the agency at the end of “Season 13” when Cheryl was ranting to Lana.
  • When Archer's biological father presents him with the stuffed alligator, Archer claims to like alligators. However, in "Pipeline Fever", "On the Carpet", and "Photo Op", Archer makes it vehemently clear that they terrify him. However, given Archer is only 6 years old when he received the toy, it is likely he had not developed an intense fear of him yet.
  • Given that Archer's biological father doesn't have a Russian accent, it is likely not Nikolai Jakov.
  • The leader of Turkmenistan after independence, Saparmurat Niyazov, was indeed both well known and notorious for his changes to their language and naming various things after his family, such as renaming the month of April after his mother. He was replaced by former president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who is then replaced by his son Serdar Berdimuhamedow.
  • Archer mocks James Mason's accent and calls him a "cut-rate James Mason." This is a bit of in-joke ribbing at the fact that it was Peter Serafinowicz, and not James Mason (who is dead), voicing the character. Also it follows the line of Archer's criticism of the quality of his visionary experience.
  • Coincidentally, Archer mentions that the The Rat Patrol would harass Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, a man whom James Mason once portrayed in the film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel.
  • Throughout the episode, Cyril wears a hat very similar to the Australian army slouch hat often worn by Sgt. Sam Troy (Christopher George), leader of The Rat Patrol.



James Mason: Ruth Anne Litzenberger, qui était, vraiment, une femme fatale (who was, really, a femme fatale).


Cheryl: Please, if you really cared you'd resign, but there's no way you ever will because you're just counting the days until, her face bloated and yellow from liver failure, she calls you to her deathbed and, in a croaky whisper, explains that Mr. Archer is totally incompetent and that you, the long-suffering Lana Kane, are the only one qualified to run ISIS, and you weep shameful tears, because you know this terrible place is the only true love you will ever know.

Gallery of Images[]

There are 20 screenshots and images from "Once Bitten" on this Wiki, visit the category page for a complete gallery.

Here is a sample of four images from the gallery: