‘Archer’s Fifth Season Went Delightfully Off Track with ‘Archer: Vice’
When Archer got an early renewal for not one, but two more seasons last month, I felt conflicted. Yes, it is currently one of the best comedies on television and more episodes are deserved. But the worrier in me immediately panicked. Two more seasons? How can the show possibly keep being as good? How can the writers keep thinking up new scenarios and, more importantly, new jokes? What if this renewal is just an entry into a slow death rattle? However, now that I’ve had the time to reflect on the entirety of season five, I’m no longer worried.
Archer: Vice was a huge turning point for the series, beyond even the name and plot mix-ups. Never before has the show rooted itself so firmly in the ensemble and never before has the serialized arc come into play so prominently. Last night’s season finale was a huge reminder of this. Throughout the season, each character has embarked on their own separate adventure: Cyril has become president of San Marco, Krieger discovered his army of clones, Cheryl/Carol/Charleen became a country music sensation, and Pam, in what is still my favorite development this season, became addicted to cocaine. Left to their own devices, we learn more about why each of these characters are the way the are, and it’s easier to see their importance to ISIS as a whole, a development that is rare in any television show, let alone a comedy, and an animated comedy at that.
But the true game changer of last night’s finale was the surprise twist in the show’s last few minutes: Lana’s daughter is born, and Archer is the father. Just as abruptly as we entered the world of drug dealing for season five, so it seems Adam Reed has fatherhood planned as the next great adventure for our leading man. It’s a bold move, shifting the center of what originated as an espionage parody to a grounded, emotional storyline, but after traversing through all the most outlandish scenarios, this seems like the perfect next move. The emotional growth of Lana and Archer was a huge focus of this season, proving that even beneath the most ridiculous of situations, they can have sweet moments rooted in their relationship. Now that we know how much time lies ahead for the series, it will be great to watch that grow miles beyond the surface banter that started in season one. And watching Archer and Lana attempt domesticity will serve as a deep, deep comedic well. I mean, can you even imagine what happens when Archer tries to change the baby’s diaper while Lana puts a hot meal on the table? I really hope we get to find out.
There are a lot of loose ends to tie up in ISIS as well; the CIA was in on the drug dealing the whole time, and Mallory is left owing them millions in unsold product. Even as one group has the potential to settle down, it seems the rest of the gang will be entering even more dangerous territory. Just as important as the shift in the central plot might have been this season (and will be next season), it’s these subplots that continue to keep the show interesting and complex beyond past seasons.
This season’s cliffhanger ending has given me hope for next two seasons. The writers have a perfect feel for just how long a premise can be entertaining and jumped ship on the drug lord spin-off while they were still ahead. After proving how successful ditching a seasons-in-the-making premise could be during Archer: Vice, Archer: Parenthood (or at least fingers crossed that’s what they call it) has the potential to be the best season yet.