Archer Vice: “Smugglers’ Blues” Review
“Can we talk about working ‘Phrasing’ back into the mix?”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
Well, that was unexpected. When creator Adam Reed changed the entire premise of the show in the season premiere, it took me by surprise. This episode did the same by invoking a premise, not unlike the show’s first four seasons, but it actively referenced and lampooned them in this episode.
This week’s proceedings start off with Mallory in search for Archer, who is nowhere to be found. It’s soon revealed that Archer left (he was kidnapped to be more accurate) Ray and Cyril in the middle of the night to go to Colombia to sell cocaine to the nations infamous cartel lord, “La Madrina.” Archer’s side of the story felt almost exactly like an early episode of the series, which usually involved him going to some exotic location and embarking on a high-stakes espionage adventure. However, this episode almost showed how, although the premise is familiar, the Season 5 shakeup has changed the nature of it. Ray and Cyril constantly reminded Archer they’re no longer at ISIS and don’t have the information or firepower they used to. Of course, that didn’t stop some hilarious moments, like Archer’s drinking contest with the locals or his uncanny knowledge of Colombian politics. There was even some great callbacks to past recurring jokes on the show, including Archer’s wonderfully convoluted phone message and everyone’s beloved “Phrasing!”
However, the New York side of the story didn’t fare quite as well. Mallory enlisted Krieger to help track down Archer. While I loved Krieger’s GILFcam, featuring naked Woodhouse reading to “Gilflover99” (business model of the future, if you ask me), the rest of the cast mainly laid the foundation for the forthcoming episode. This became necessary when the show decided to do a two-parter, but it felt like most of the heavy lifting could have been done by the narrative itself. In the midst of Krieger’s search for Archer, Mallory experienced what is probably the closest the show has come to an emotional moment so far. When Mallory’s phone call with Archer ends due to gunfire, she began to face the very real possibility that she might lose her son and started to break down emotionally. To say the least, this is certainly another new entry into this season’s new character dynamics. This may be the first time we’ve seen Mallory legitimately act like a mother, which is a nice change of pace and makes sense with the overall direction this season is going. Though, I do hope it’s not the end for Archer’s hilariously twisted relationship with his mother. Of course, the episode ends with “La Madrina” taking Archer and Co. into custody and ends somewhat abruptly, so I look forward to seeing how both plots play out next week, even if Mallory’s story was a little light on jokes.
Looking at this episode as a whole, it offered some great moments for “Archer” that echoed the feel of earlier episodes while still approaching them from a fresh perspective. Krieger was hilarious as always, and Mallory got a story light on humor but large on emotion. Unfortunately, everyone else was relegated to laying the groundwork for second part of this story, so between that and the abrupt ending, this episode didn’t quite reach its full potential. When it delivered, it did so in spades, and I’m completely ready to see how the Colombia plot resolves next week.
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