ARCHER 5.01 ‘White Elephant’
Episode Title: “White Elephant”
Writer: Adam Reed
Previously on "Archer":
Adam Reed and company played the fifth season premiere of “Archer” back at New York Comic Con in its unfinished form. But it wasn’t until I saw “White Elephant” again that I realized what a sea change this is for the show.
In the back of my mind, I expected Reed to undo some of the massive changes in this episode. However, I’ve peaked ahead and next week’s episode not only continues the storyline, the series is actually renamed “Archer Vice” for the foreseeable future!
Before we go any further, there are full spoilers ahead for the fifth season premiere of “Archer,” so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should maybe, skip this review? “I’m seriously asking.”
To start off, how about a shout out to Lucky Yates, who finally gets billed as one of the main cast members in the opening credits. “White Elephant” isn’t a Krieger centric episode, but Yates does get some of the best lines as the mad doctor. “Is it murder if they were my own clones?” I also loved Krieger’s hilariously unoffended reaction to Lana’s line about splicing Hitler’s DNA into her baby.
“White Elephant” kicks off with the FBI raiding ISIS headquarters; which leaves Brett dead and the entire cast in custody for treason. It seems that Mallory Archer (Jessica Walter) has been running clandestine spy operations without official U.S. sanction for years. That feels like a retcon, considering that ISIS has had some legitimate-ish operations in the past four seasons. But it’s also a fitting explanation for the highly illegal missions of ISIS, as humorously recounted when all of the main characters except Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) quickly try to cut immunity deals with the FBI.
If “Archer” the show (and the title character) has a heart, it’s all about Sterling and Lana’s relationship. Archer is a huge jackass, a womanizer and he doesn’t seem to be emotionally stable. Yet in the middle of a crisis, Archer and Lana always cry out for each other, as dryly mocked by Mallory at the beginning of this episode.
Archer can be thoughtlessly cruel towards Lana, as he is when he insults the appearance of her vagina. But Archer also seems sincere in his desire to give Lana’s unborn child a father, which is something that Archer himself never had. Although it’s not like Archer is parental material. Has anyone seen the Wee Baby Seamus since Archer got the kid a tattoo to match his own?
And yet Archer is deeply hurt when Lana tells him that she’d rather lose the baby than let him be the father. Of course, Archer’s emotional pain lasts all of 20 seconds before he’s moved on to his next insult for Lana. But that’s an interesting angle for Archer’s character. Think back to “Sea Tunt: Part 2,” when Archer was willing to risk his own life to protect Lana and her unborn child. Even on this show, you don’t do that for people you don’t love
For all of Archer’s faults, Lana’s got some shortcomings of her own. From a scene later in the episode, it’s clear that Lana completely tuned out Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) when she can’t recall any time that he ever mentioned being a lawyer despite his insistence that they had spoken about it at length several times when they were a couple. On a side note, that’s one of the better retcons of this episode because Reed actually made the explanation into part of the joke.
Archer and Lana eventually stage an escape and they narrowly save a FBI agent from being molested by Pam Poovey (Amber Nash). But it’s all for nothing, as Mallory cuts a deal with the government. Everyone gets to walk free, but ISIS is finished and their espionage careers are over.
Or maybe not. The closing minutes reveal the new direction of “Archer,” as Mallory, Sterling and the rest of the ISIS gang form an impromptu drug cartel to sell the $50 million dollars worth of cocaine stashed in Mallory’s office. That amazingly funny montage at the end of the episode is apparently made up from clips of the upcoming season. It’s a shame that Reed gave away so many jokes this early in the season, but it looks like this story is going to be a lot of fun.
“Archer Vice.” Oh yeah…
And here are your “Archer” moments of the week.
Krieger: You’ll never take me alive!
[The FBI blows open the door to Krieger’s lab]
Krieger: On second thought, I’d very much prefer to be taken alive! Just let me clear the ol’ browser history…
Mallory: Sorry Ramona, I know to you it’s just one big sexy briar patch.
Pam: And I believe there was some mention of throwing a bone into me?
FBI Agent: What are you talking about?
Pam: A penis in my vagina. Or wherever. But come on! Chop, chop!
Archer: Nice to meet you, Mrs. “Hello, my kid’s from a sperm bank since I can’t keep a man because in addition to my gillion neuroses, I have a weird looking vagina!”
Archer: You’re going to be a great mother, Lana.
Lana: I could start smoking crack today and he’d still turn out better than you!
Archer: And why is that? Because I never had a father, Lana? So why don’t you shut up… and then also marry me.