Since we last watched ourselves some Archer there have been rumblings that Adam Reed, the show’s creator and sole writer, is getting bored with espionage. Thus the switch in direction from a spy show to a drug cartel show. It makes no sense as to how this could be the same series. After watching five episodes of the fifth season it’s clear that Archer Vice is indeed a new premise, but it’s blissfully the same show we’ve all come to adore. Somehow Reed has been able to build a new show that feels, and makes you laugh, the same as the previous iteration.
Like Community going forth with a “re-pilot,” Archer Vice finds the ISIS crew kicked out of their destroyed headquarters and embarking upon the season with what is essentially a new pilot episode. The FBI have seized everything, including Sterling’s swank pad, and have left the team with only one remaining possession from their spy game days: a tonne of coke. That’s a metric tonne, not a ton, as Cyril explains to the team.
For all of the changes, things still remain familiar. Here are the five things that have us excited about the new direction of Archer Vice when Season 5 premieres Monday, January 13 at 10:00 pm ET on FX...
ISIS Is GoneIt turns out that all of the time ISIS has been running spy missions, they’ve really been more like Blackwater missions. Malory Archer never had government approval to do the things she’s done. Essentially the entire core premise for the series has been ripped away, and exposed as a lie. This has been talked about already by executive producer Matt Thompson, and the news lead to wondering how this will alter the show.
The answer, it turns out, is that it flips the series on its side. It then kicks old Archer with a steel toed boot and watches as the series we knew and loved dies a bloody death. The ISIS offices are gone, Krieger’s lab is gone, Lana’s reduced to only having her guns but no bullets since she got those from work, and everything else iconic is gone. Except that these are still the same people, and while ISIS has been confiscated by the FBI, the team that ran the missions remains intact. They’re just performing a new task, which brings us to...
Archer And Company Are Now In The Cocaine BusinessThe team has turned their focus from being spies, to running a drug cartel. Exactly how they go about doing this is the central premise of the season. As the first episode ends they find themselves in possession of a great deal of cocaine, and decide that the best course of action is to sell it all. The problem is that no one has direct drug connections, everything from their previous life is spy related.
It’s determined that a big sale to big time drug runners will be the best way to deal with their newfound commodity. Everyone in the group turns naturally to what they do best, but not everything as a world class spy is interchangeable with being a drug smuggler. So the dynamics of the group begin to change as people take on new roles. New faces and foes begin to take shape as Sterling and his trusted associates make their way to South America to proceed forth on the new adventure. The best part is that many of the new characters are actually just familiar favorites that have been twisted a bit. Once again, here comes the transition to...
Everyone’s (Mostly) DifferentLong time ISIS accountant Cyril reveals that he was once a lawyer, and had actually discussed this at length with ex-girlfriend Lana. Pam becomes a ravenous coke addict. Lana is pregnant and without any bullets. Chery/Carol (or whatever) is super rich and has no need to be in the coke business, so she’s becoming country music superstar Cherlene. Malory drinks and is dismissive of others, OK so even a ton of cocaine can’t change Malory Archer. Sterling is an egotistical maniac, yeah OK I’m seeing the pattern already with the Archer family.
The changes to the characters are not so much drastic departures, as they are tangential ideas. Nothing about what’s happening in the season is ridiculous in terms of character development. Sure, the whip smart dialogue and acerbic wit has changed focus, but it remains the same old style. It’s interesting to watch the familiar group, having the same relationship issues with one another, in a whole new environment. Despite all of the changes to the characters…
But Everyone’s (Mostly) The SameThe new Cyril may be a lawyer, but he’s still emotionally whipped by Archer. Pam is still inappropriately sex starved, and hoping the FBI will throw her a bone. She means a penis, inside her vagina. Lana still has her giant man hands, actually Malory Archer says it best when she asks, “I mean did you used to be a man?” Cherlene is incapable of singing, except when not being watched, and so remains a ditz who wonders if Lana’s waited too long to get rid of the baby.
What Archer Vice is doing so well as the show is revamped is to keep the core heart alive. Sure, conceptually things are different, but by using the characters in familiar ways while still departing from the norm, the series is comforting in its treatment of the people who used to occupy ISIS’s offices. This interaction between our favorite characters is still oh so familiar, as can be seen in….
These Insane Moments“Oh my god! Beaker’s boss. Bunson freakin’ Honeydew. Ah. That was figuratively killing me.”-Archer
“And what happened with getting FBI on the fronts of the uniforms? Huh?” -FBI Agent
“Because she was busy having choke sex with a murderous cyborg, who then became the new head of the KGB.” -Cyril
“It’s the A-Team meets Scarface. That makes me….” - Archer
“Hannibal Montana?” - Lana
“Jesus! Be more gross and Chinesey!” -Cheryl/Carol/Cherlene
“My girlfriend’s not equal parts the Internet, a tube of Kentucky jelly, self loathing, and a sock.” -Archer
And those are just a few gems coming this season...