Series: the fifth season, the one wobbling along on little shaky Colt legs until the fourth episode where it stood tall, stuck its mighty muzzle in a mess of cocaine someone had carelessly left in the feed trough, and bolted over the fence towards a busy highway and certain splattery doom. The season's faltered along for three episodes of amiable hit-or-miss, and that's all over in a blur of frying pans, eggs that will be four minutes late, and a hulked-out Pam let loose in the bowels of Tunt Manor. As Woodhouse says when the dart hits his neck: "Oh, hello old friend."
Location: Still stuck in Tunt Manor, loaded with plot-convenient tunnels allowing characters to randomly appear and disappear, and further enabling Cheryl to tell more stories about her family's long history of wearing weird robes and oppressing minorities. If this seems like a long time to work the gag that the cast of Archer are so bad at drug dealing that they can't even get out of the house, please recall that Sealab featured whole seasons where the characters didn't get past their own front door, much less to Mexico. Or Columbia. Or wherever. But look hey, Woodhouse is out of the pool! Way to go, Woodhouse. Here's an episode where you're shot in the neck with a tranq dart, and liked it because it reminded you of your old days making suicidal heroin bets with William Burroughs.
It's an old three-camera sitcom setup--the "don't let someone in the kitchen!" caper--mutated and applied to Archer. Which is brilliant, particularly when you get rim job references worked into a tender scene between Archer and Lana in said kitchen. Oh, and the kitchen's loaded with a pile of cocaine, and the character is a bizarre FBI agent, and Pam got really skinny but lost neither her Hulk-like strength or her gigantic Big Ten school boobs. It's all working, is what we're saying.
Plot: After eating yogurt she laced with cocaine, the crew wonders how to get Pam off cocaine, and tries to insert a mind control chip into her head. Additionally, Cyril has two dick-shaped graphics illustrating how they need to sell coke in order to make money, but that's really secondary to chasing Pam around, and also preventing the FBI agent Woodhouse invited in from seeing the pile of blow in the kitchen. A proper caper, like we said, and an ideal way to juggle as many elements as possible in a single episode of Archer.
Ripped from the headlines: Um...nothing, really, unless you count a mid-episode digression about acceptable search and seizure by law enforcement. (Which was, per our attorney friends, pretty accurate.)
References: This might take a minute. "Dr. Who money" is what Archer calls the British pound, and prompts an episode-long discussion of the metric system. (Which seriously: we're in a club with Burma and Liberia. That ain't good.) "Green and half-deaf" is a reference not just to the Hulk, but to the Lou Ferrigno Hulk, since Ferrigno was half-deaf, but still heard well enough to take a lifetime's worth of taunting from Arnold in Pumping Iron. EAT YOUR PASTA, LITTLE LOU.
When Mallory mentions Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, she's a.) misunderstanding Lana's outrage at Mallory suggesting she give Pam even more cocaine, and b.) namechecking a 19th century meteorologist and scientist who was one of the first advocates for the metric system. Calling Ron Cadillac a victim of progeria references Frisky Dingo's running gag about the disease of premature aging. Cheryl describes herself as Esmerelda, which makes Pam the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
And yet there's more! Archer claims to not have the internet, but instead relies on Minitel, the pre-internet French internet provider. Mithril is the invincible
wood metal from the Tolkien universe, and the running gag with Ripley is straight from Aliens.
Cameos: Gary Cole, as Agent Howley. Like everything with Gary Cole, this episode was fantastic, and thus confirms the Gary Cole Rule. (All things with Gary Cole are amazing.)
Was Pam naked? No, but her boobs did hypnotize Krieger and Cyril, the latter of whom is slowly embracing his dark side. It's always the bookkeepers who go hardest in the dark timelines.
Did Archer lose another loved one to gunfire? No, but he did have a moment with Lana that finally gave some insight as to a.) why the hell Lana's still hanging around at all, and b.) that Archer's soft spot for babies resurfaced. Look at him, referencing Braxton-Hicks contractions and pre-eclampsia. Archer needs Lana, Lana needs Archer, and Archer still needs a blow job. Or a rim job. Both. Whatever. Archer's not bad at this life, and keeps attaining a marginal and almost believable level of personal growth here.
Complaints about free entertainment. Other than Krieger forgetting to reboot Ray's chip, thus ending his paralysis after letting him malinger in a wheelchair? Which is actually pretty funny, and screw it, I have no complaints, particularly not about an episode where Krieger got killer lines, Cheryl became a fearless country singer, Pam rampaged around shirtless and got shot with like thirty tranq darts, Archer shared a tender moment AND displayed a deep understanding of maternal health issues, Lana got to shoot someone, a thorough discussion of search and seizure was had, Woodhouse showed off those new gym muscles by clocking someone with a frying pan, Gary Cole made an appearance, and Cyril showed signs of becoming a new, sinister self. Oh, and we're all going to Mexico, or Southeast Asia. (NOTE: we don't get to do that until Feb. 24, because even the staff writers at Archer want to watch the disasterscape of the Sochi Olympics.)
"I hope you have a lot more where that came from." --Mallory
"Cobra whiskey and ladyboys!" --Mallory, discussing Archer's study abroad experience
"Beep. Boop." --Krieger, talking about how easy it would be to reboot the paralyzed Ray's system
"I learned it by watching...you! OH MY GOD." --Archer, figuring it all out at once
"Cheryl's gone. I'm Cherlene now." --Cherlene, the new Cheryl, demanding Carolina fries, and openly speculating about Tunt Manor being burned to the ground. (This means it will be totally burnt to the ground this season.)