Like the FBI did to the ISIS offices, Archer creators just demolished the entire foundation of the outlandish FX show's plot structure on last night's fifth season premiere. And fans couldn't be more excited.
Don't say we didn't warn you that the show was about to undergo a radical change. On last night's episode, Archer and company were removed from their spying duties at ISIS, and are heading on the road to adventure as cocaine dealers. After the FBI reveals that ISIS had acted for four seasons without any government approval for its missions, the organization is shuttered, and their espionage acts ended for good. The next step: Become a drug cartel using the ton of cocaine that just happens to be lying around. "Well, how hard can it be–" Mallory intones, pausing, "–if Mexicans can do it."
Though Andy Greenwald of Grantland called it a "radical" departure, it's clear fans can expect a lot of the same from the core gang, with all their personal tics and traits intact. But if the drastic plot changes sounds like an important shift that would change the dynamics of the show, well, fans aren't too worried about it.
oh my god this season of archer is going to be just the best thing— Bill Hanstock (@sundownmotel) January 14, 2014
I wish Archer was an 8-hour show on every day and it was my job to watch it.— Matt Ufford (@mattufford) January 14, 2014
"So Archer is no longer about spies, and it is awesome," writes AV Club. Spies or not, Archer is a show that people will still watch.
Not that Archer's plot ever really mattered all the much. Episodes mainly function as a way to learn more about each character, from the Nazi mad "doctor" Krieger to the aggressive idiocy of Archer. "The plots are perfunctory. The premise is beside the point," Stephen Marche wrote in Esquire. "Archer just has funny characters, and trusts that their innate hilarity will keep people's attention."
On a technical level, too, the episode wasn't particularly creative or memorable. Consider it less of a single enclosed story and more of a hinge looking back and then peering forward. At about the mid-point of the episode, with the gang in FBI custody, characters recalled a verbal highlight reel of the first four seasons. Later, the episode closes with a several minute promo of the coming season of coke dealing, Cheryl/Carol becoming a country singer, pill-popping with the Yakuza, and plenty, plenty more. "It’s insane," H. Jon Benjamin, the voice of Archer, told The Daily Beast. "It’s like Breaking Bad meets Miami Vice.”
Oh, yeah, there were some other changes, too. For one, Krieger is now in the opening credits.
Archer added Krieger to the opening credits pic.twitter.com/bPpQDBwhWC— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) January 14, 2014
About time one of the TV world's best Nazi escapees gets his own credit. "Is it murder if they were my own clones?" Krieger asks the FBI agent who he's confessing to in the episode. "I'm seriously asking."
And finally, human bullet target Brett finally took a gunshot he couldn't handle. "Brett died doing what he loved," Archer says. "Getting shot." That the death of one of the show's less-than 10 speaking parts was at the bottom of this episode's importance explains how big of a deal the rest of the premiere was.