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Archer Vice has officially commenced, and with this week’s episode “A Kiss While Dying” it’s getting off to a pretty good start. There is a little weirdness coming into the new premise, but essentially the structure of the show is very much the same as it has always been. There is an A-story with a ‘mission’ on the field being carried out while some characters stay behind doing some B-story work. Plus, the success of the series always hinged on its amazing set of characters, their eccentricities and their relationships with each other, and while they are certainly not carrying out high-risk covert operations, there is still a lot of that hilarious character work at play.
So with ISIS permanently gone and a ton of cocaine to unload, Malory sends Archer, Lana, and Pam to Miami, where “90 percent of all mosquitos and Cubans on earth” reside, in order to sell twenty kilos of their product. While Pam has worked on the field, a few times, this is probably the biggest role she has had in an operation and it is glorious. Pam is a true revelation in this episode; it makes total sense that she would be the character to get hooked on coke. Her personality has always been excessive, and indulgent, the fact that her preferred method of use is actually eating the cocaine is absolute perfection and character appropriate. The show certainly got a lot of traction from this one joke, too. Every gag featuring Pam’s new addiction paid off wonderfully; from her nakedly gnawing on her leg cast, to running around in the background to speed talking like a madwoman, and more, it all worked. Despite the fact that they were all variations on the same joke, it never became repetitive or tedious. Also, the dynamic between her and Lana was fun to watch. As usual, Lana is the rational thinking, voice of reason and her irritation, not only with Archer, but also with crazy, coked-out Pam provided plenty of laughs.
The return of Charles, Rudy and Ramon was a great decision, one again, the premise of the show might have changed, but the characters still inhabit the same universe and this serves as a reminder of that. And from what we saw in that closing montage last episode, we can expect many recurring characters to make appearances in the season’s future. This definitely helps to show what a rich universe Adam Reed has created in the span of four seasons, complete with fully identifiable and unique tertiary characters. Plus with the new settings and scenarios it will be nice to have some familiar characters popping back up every once in a while. As for Charles and Rudy, they are hilarious, their bitchy dialogue and attitude play well with the absurd nature of the show. I mean, arguing about a fondue set in the middle of a drug deal was quite amusing, “and I’ll take the fondue set because you were a total b-hole about the fork.” And I enjoyed how nonchalant they were about the whole thing; they knew they had it in the bag. Archer’s weird love for Ramon was again, endearingly funny and pretty much drove the conflict in the narrative.
As for the group who stayed behind and the episode’s B-story, it was ok. It mostly comprised of Malory being her usual, horrible self, a little bit of Carol/Cheryl absurdity, and Krieger weirdness, but nothing really amazing. The episode’s highlights and most compelling material were all in Miami. However, it did serve to set up the coming of country sensation, Cherlene and what Malory role will be in that.
Renovating the entire foundation of a show is a gutsy thing to do; and adding to the gutsy is ending the first episode with an elaborate montage that gives away many plot points and scenarios of the season to come. While the premiere’s closing montage features details and even jokes central to the episode’s narrative, it didn’t really take away from the enjoyment of the installment. Yes, we knew that Pam would end up in a cocaine cast and that Charles and Rudy would make a return, and that Carol/Cheryl would end up a country singer, but that didn’t necessarily dull the impact or the comedy at all. The montage gives us things to look forward to, to anticipate, but we don’t know the whole story behind them so to see how the events develop and play out in an episode is a greatly pleasant experience. I, for one, cannot wait to see how the tiger gets into the mix, also what shenanigans it will get into.
What did you think of “A Kiss While Dying”?