Series: "Archer Vice," aka the one where Adam Reed has surrendered all fucks he might have once had and embarked on a serialized drug epic involving characters from an entirely different universe who happen to be reaaaaallly bad at dealing drugs. Maybe the familiarity with the cast made you just a little too comfortable with this whole endeavor, or maybe you just trust the Archer brain trust implicitly after four astonishing seasons, but stop for a second and think about just how fucking bonkers this concept is.
They simply don't care. The ballsiness and/or extravagance is breathtaking, and that's before you get to the part where a coke-blasted nude Pam has a foursome with Yakuza members. Coke-blasted Pam might be a bit redundant this season. It's Pam. The cocaine is implied.
Location: Mostly Tunt Manor, NYC. Tunt Manor is now a magical sack of monied dementia for the characters to pull whatever they need out of, and that's fine because monied dementia has some fantastic props. Tunt Manor has tunnels (because of a Tunt with a thirst for recapturing slaves and selling them back to their owners, of course,) a gun room (all loaded, see "monied dementia,") and somewhere in its bowels a lurking Babou, just waiting to rip Sterling Archer's face to shreds. It also has an old-timey Gentleman's Club of London gym in it, complete with Woodhouse being slowly crushed to death by a medicine ball. He could be down there for quite some time, as in "the rest of the season."
Plot: A deal to take the counterfeit money and exchange it for something real goes awry when Pam--already coked to the gills--trades it in for amphetamines, and thus earns a death bounty when the Yakuza realize the money is fake. Please remember that these are the same Yakuza you saw in "Drift Problem," when Pam was racing them for cash. Should you find Pam's indestructibility to be beyond belief, please remember that you've already believed in her ability to both drift race and cage fight for money, and that you are watching a cartoon about wealthy idiot spies that comes on at ten p.m.
The rest of the episode is an excuse to shoot Ron Cadillac in the stomach, play around with Tunt Manor, and get Archer into a situation where he demonstrates that he can do something right in his new life as a drug baron. (Which, astonishingly, he does.)
Ripped from the headlines: The Yakuza are totally in deep in the amphetamine trade, and do cut off fingers for offenses by their members. New York City is shot through with tunnels, with the Schinasi Mansion and its tunnel to the Hudson River being the most notable example of wealth paired with a deep belief in Mole People.
References: "Scrooge McDuck-ian vault," aka a reference to this. Archer's threat to get all "Josh Randall" in a gunfight namechecks Steve McQueen's character in the television Western Wanted Dead or Alive. Krieger "Bonham's a pussy" line mentions Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, presumably hated because avowed Rush Fanatic Krieger sees him as the false idol you might worship instead of drummer Neil Peart. The crushed Woodhouse says "I'm finished" like Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, but a character spending an entire episode beneath a heavy object is a callback to the Sealab 2021 episode "Mingus Dew," when Captain Murphy spends an entire episode being stung by scorpions while being trapped beneath a Bebop Cola machine. (Also referenced in the Season 4 finale, with Jon Hamm voicing the Captain Murphy part.)
Cameos: George Takei as the Yakuza boss, who has now been bested and shot by the Archer crew twice.
Was Pam naked? Yup, and seen just finishing up a triumphant foursome with the Yakuza. "You too, Oji-san."
Did Archer lose another loved one to gunfire? No, but formally speaking he did get someone injured seriously in Ron Cadillac, gut-shot when the Yakuza open fire on Tunt Manor. I love Ron Cadillac's speech about being there for Mallory, and supporting her in everything she does--including her new career in drug-dealing. You might know better people than I do, but the great realism of the show comes in little moments like Mallory begrudging her otherwise fantastically loyal and loving husband for making her drive a free floor model Cadillac, and not a new one.
This is how people can be most of the time: petty, small, and often too drunk to make better decisions in the face of total chaos. This is a misanthrope's show, through and through, and if you doubt this remember that last night you watched a paraplegic cyborg in his underwear drink, cry, and get lambasted for "pussyaching" about his condition.
Complaints about free entertainment. I'll second the AV Club's lament: Lana doesn't make much sense, which I'm fine with because (ARCHER: FILE NOT FOUND), but also build on that by saying that she's not being given that much to do. I'll also complain that there was not enough Cheryl in last night's episode, but only because you could not have enough of Cheryl detailing her family's mad history or getting excited over autoerotic asphyxiation.
It's the first episode that had its own kind of gravity this season, and it accomplished the kind of manic, snowballing energy the best Archer episodes have at the end: Archer repeatedly firing off the gun in the car, with each gunshot and subsequent ear-ringing getting funnier and funnier with repetition, and Archer himself hitting his stride only when the situation had gotten completely untenable for all but the least sane. That was sort of the point here: that Archer could not only survive this episode, but do well and broker something like a truce at gunpoint. He's gonna be fine as a drug baron, even if he has to break a few phones along the way. (Not his, mind you, but Woodhouse's. Poor, poor Woodhouse.)
MVP: Cheryl. Not even close, and that's just counting her weird-ass histories of the Tunt Family. "It bankrupted him."
"Sorry, I don't wanna get a dry socket." --Archer
"Not to a Chinaman." --Ron Cadillac, in the best muttered aside of the episode
"...and they're all loaded. This was the best house to grow up in." --Cheryl Tunt
"What, were the Hell's Angels busy?" "Yeah, busy bein' pussies." --Mallory and Pam, discussing the magical world of organized crime.