Tonight’s episode of Archer Vice was surly a potent, undiluted dose of comedy, because I loved nearly every second of it, and I had my arms crossed ready to shrug during the show’s cold open.
After setting up a potential comic goldmine last week when Sterling, Ray, and Cyril were forced to consider fighting for their lives inside a South American prison, “The Rules of Extraction”immediately throws away that novel situation-comedy for a premise that can be summed up as “escape from the jungle” default. Not necessarily the most original set-up for Archer, it nonetheless pays dividends when every single last joke lands perfectly in this 20 minutes of outrageous laughs. Easily the best episode the Vice era has yet produced, it is a half-hour of madcap and non-sequitur glee.
Early in the episode, Ray is seemingly indisposed again due to yet another leg paralysis following a car crash at the hands of local law enforcement. As incompetent as they are corrupt, the cops are unable to perform their assassination duties when Sterling and company begrudgingly take them along to supposed safety and out of the deadly foliage. But Archer was ready to leave them, along with a paralyzed Ray, after Cyril adorably pulled a gun on Sterling. The agent formerly known as Duchess was so bemused by Cyril’s attempt to put on his big boy pants that he didn’t even wallop him with the butt of the M16. Instead, he merely settled for patting him on the head to everyone’s surprise, especially the audience’s. As Archer condescended to Cyril, Ray cooed like he’d watched a son be hugged by his father after playing with shaving cream.
However, it wasn’t just the boys of Isis who got preferential treatment this week. In what I hesitate to call the “B-storyline,” as it was just as funny as the primary one, Mallory is pretty glum and at the end of her ropes. Ron has divorced her, Sterling is missing in South America, and all Lana will do is flip through a magazine. Yet, despite their employer being a hellion with a heart one degree colder than Victor Fries (or Princess Anna for non-fanboy references), the ladies of Isis still decide to cheer Mallory up. For Pam that can only mean cocaine (yay)! But that is cutting into the stash (boo). With a plan sissier than a Long Island Iced Tea, Lana decides the best solution is to get Mallory laid…by them. In an elaborate game of roleplaying that sadly does not include dressing as Archer (Lana, quit acting like an LIT!), Pam and Cherlene dress as Mallory’s “doctor” and “maid,” with every intent of giving her a full-body massage. Tragically, Mallory rejects their advances, probably because she is aware that her son has an all-original STD that doctors cannot even classify yet. The way the room goes quiet and all three women become intently curious is more than enough to dissuade Mallory’s interests…though Pam has just as thoroughly worked her way through that room.
Meanwhile, Archer is fighting off another burning situation in South America when Ray lights their river raft on fire. Granted, it is for good reason: someone finally calls Archer on his damnable ability to shirk off any forethought or sense of responsibility due to his winning smile and alpha male belief that he’s always right. Of course he is almost always right, such as when he call crocodiles an apex predator that’s far scarier than even the dreaded alligators. We learn that crocs are just as ubiquitous in Archer’s nightmares as gators, Mallory, and any man who’d dare call him son. It is a hellacious scenario…until Archer wings his way out of crocodile waters by dousing everyone with gasoline for a midnight swim to the nearby Colombian cocaine drug runners whose plane they can hijack.
The entire episode is a brilliantly crafted joke where nary a minute goes by without a piece of dialogue delivering the guffaws. Like a steady stream of consciousness that’s filthier than even Pam and Cheryl’s combined fantasies, this episode delivered character-based humor that can only culminate from well-defined personalities making the most out of a generic set-up to bounce off one another for one unrelenting punch line after another. And in the process we learn a little bit about these characters, such as Archer’s ever emerging fascination with cats of all stripes and spots. Tiger, jaguar, or oscillate, Archer admires these jungle felines as much as he loathes the leviathans of the delta. In fact, there needs to be an episode soon dealing with where this fascination as a cat fetishist comes from. Similarly, it appears that Mallory has a tipping point worth exploring in future episodes. Most of all though, a new comedic subplot is introduced: where did the 2,000 pounds of cocaine come from? Archer thinks Mallory acquired it while Mallory insists that it is Sterling’s doing. Somehow, I suspect the Season 5 finale’s revelation has just been sewn. Whatever the case though, this episode delivers like the Cherlene chart-topper, “I’m Coming.” Plus, it’s so damn quotable.
Quotes From the DAAAAANGGGGERRRR ZOOOOOOONNNNNE:
-ARCHER (upon hearing a noise): Probably a jaguar excited about being magnificent and corpuscular.
-CYRIL: What do crocodiles eat?
ARCHER: Everything! They eat everything! And fear is their bacon-bits.
-PAM: It was like seeing my dad cry.
LANA: Crying, because?
PAM: Pfft, name it! He is a gigantic pussy! Oh my god, when my mom died!
-LANA: Let me stop you before you say what it is you think I’m talking about.
PAM: Getting shitty-drunk on two different kinds of liquor, dressing up like Mr. Archer, and banging the old lady with a strap-on—
-ARCHER: Gee, I don’t know, Cyril? Maybe deep down I’m afraid of any apex predator that lived through the K-T extinction physically unchanged for a hundred million years because it’s the perfect killing machine, a half ton of cold-blooded fury with a bite force of a 20,000 newtons, and stomach acid so strong that it can dissolve bones and hooves.
-DRUG DEALER: Do you have any idea who we are?
ARCHER: Umm, nope. Do you have any idea who we are?
DRUG DEALER: No?