FX’s Archer ended season five this week. Subtitled Archer Vice, it is a huge, splashy showdown, and a return to normalcy. The dictatorship in which the team is hiding collapses into itself, and probably would have even if the U.S. government hadn’t been bearing down on it, which it is.
At the same time, Lana (Aisha Tyler) goes into labor, of course, dividing the attention of Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), who has made the effort to become a doula and wants to be supportive in this situation. Archer and Lana’s romantic arc has been more funny than sweet. They are definitely in love with one another, but Lana is a tough broad, hating to allow any emotion to crack through her hardened exterior. Archer, by contrast, is an immature man-child who can be faithful, but tends to not act like an adult most of the time. Luckily, both have slowly gotten better, keeping enough of those cores to stay true to the characters and remain funny, but also exhibiting a level of growth over the course of the past few seasons.
This comes at an opportune time because Lana’s baby is also Archer’s. Not the result of a sexual hook up, Lana learned a cache of Archer’s sperm was frozen and she took some to make her child. It makes sense because, despite their issues, Archer is a fine physical specimen, and he’s someone Lana cares about. But one gets the sense in this episode that Lana did not intend to tell Archer the truth until she does, a raw moment for her after giving birth, and seeing that Archer is trying to be there for her.
Can these two move forward as a couple? Maybe. Archer doesn’t have to worry about the messy baby wrangling on set, being an animated series, and clearly the writers are going to find fun ways to use the infant, such as when she holds up a single finger to put Archer off while breast feeding. Archer is not a procedural and usually not stuck in any type of mold, so season six could find new territories to explore when two top spies have a baby on the hip.
It does look like they will return to being spies. In this season finale, Malory (Jessica Walter) blackmails Special Agent Hawley (Gary Cole, Veep) into cooperating, thus ensuring ISIS, absent during almost the entire thirteen-episode Archer Vice run, will return to form. It has been kind of cool to leave ISIS, this season being a big ol’ road trip with our favorite characters, who are always best when forced to spend lots of time together. But it will be great to get back to the office, as Archer is as much a workplace comedy as it is espionage adventure.
While I do note that Archer does kowtow to convention, this final episode of the season, more than most, actually doesn’t. A shoot-out as a regime falls and a main character giving birth at the same time feels very sitcom staple-y. Huge events are always mashed together inconveniently, especially at the close of a year. Yet, Archer‘s trademark humor and charm remains firmly in place, so while the story may seem dumbed down a smidge, the characters and dialogue do not.
The focus this week is on Malory, Archer, and Lana, all of them wrapping up their various threads, but that doesn’t mean the supporting players are ignored. Cheryl (Judy Greer) discovers she doesn’t have a chip in her brain, and her country music stardom, which she is likely to give up because she gets bored easily, comes from within. Pam (Amber Nash) gets a few last cocaine jokes in, but her withdrawal symptoms are starting to show, indicating a break away from the new her, too. Cyril (Chris Parnell) loses his position of power. Krieger (Lucky Yates) gets and protects a biological weapon. Ray (Adam Reed) has a few nice ne-liners, and recurring guest stars Slater (Christian Slater, Mind Games) and Juliana (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead) don’t go out quietly. The ensemble is well served.
Which means all there is left to do now is wait impatiently for another batch of one of the most consistently funny and original comedies on television. While no premiere date has been announced, Archer should be back in early 2015.
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