So the season starts out with a bang as the FBI invades Isis. We’re not sure why until we discover that Malory has been operating off of the books for the entire run of the show; i.e. Isis was not authorized by the United States to function…at all. At the end of the first episode, Malory opens a secret wall in her office revealing a literal ton of cocaine. The next two minutes shows a montage clip of what the next year will bring. Where did they get this cocaine? Who knows? But then again, who cares? It’s Archer! The prospect of the Archer gang gallivanting around the world trying to sell this stash sounded amazing to me in principle. The actual execution of this idea fell more than flat for me through most of this season. Damn.
So the Isis gang finds themselves broke, weaponless and hapless with a literal ton of cocaine on their hands. Not knowing what to do with said coke is the main focus of the first half of the season (not to mention part of my ire) The first episode of this impromptu cartel has Archer and Lana transporting some cocaine to an unknown buyer with Pam wearing a full body cast…made of pure cocaine. I loved it! Especially later whenever Pam starts to eat the cast. Pam getting addicted to the white powdery stuff is a running gag that goes on throughout the entirety of the season and it’s never not funny. If you see Pam eating a white frosted cupcake, rest assured it’s made of cocaine. Anyway, the team gets hoodwinked and sells the twenty kilos of coke with counterfeit bills. Strike one! Malory decides not to waste the counterfeit money and uses it to buy guns. Sounds fool proof, right? Well, when it’s discovered that Pam uses the money to buy amphetamines from the Yakuza instead and soon the team is under siege in the Tunt family home (that’s Cheryl…she’s rich). This attack gets Malory’s new husband Ron shot and he leaves. None of this was funny, by the way. However, it does lead to Cheryl starting a country singing career…so there’s that.
The premise of Archer in an environment of Miami Vice seemed like it was a can’t miss proposition. However, looks aren’t always what they seem. I didn’t mind that Isis was a fraud as long as the following story was exciting, interesting and, most of all, funny. This didn’t happen in Archer: Vice for the first third of the season. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen that would keep my invested in the overall story but it didn’t come until the end of the season. I feel that this interesting premise was wasted on getting everyone acclimated to their new lives as bumbling, drug dealing outlaws instead of just diving right in and embracing the absurdity of it all.
I will say that the last third of the season was pure Archer magic and got the gang back to form. I thought that Lana being pregnant throughout the course of the show would be a drag to what is normally just brutal comedy and extremely sexist/racist/homophobic humor that the show is known for. However, this didn’t happen at all and often helped with some comedy. I can’t tell you how funny it was to see Lana laying waste to some dudes with a machine gun while on a hormonal swing. Classic.
Anyhoo, after most of the coke is gone (Pam eats most of it and Krieger blows up the last bit because it’s on a submarine he’s built in the indoor pool inside the mansion…oh, I love Krieger), Archer takes Ray and Cyril into South America to make an effort at final attempt to unload some of the white gold. This and the next episodes are my two favorite of the season and in the running for top five all time. That is a huge compliment since I am an equally huge fan of Archer. You wanna know what makes these two episodes so great? Because it gets back to being Archer; by that I mean that all of the high velocity, fast paced action is back and the snarky one liners just keep on coming. Sterling Malory Archer is a badass secret agent who just so happens to be a cocaine dealer and when Archer is doing his “thang” is when this show is in its top form. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen throughout the entirety of the season.
This is my least favorite season of Archer. Yes there are some killer cameos from the likes of Christian Slater and Kenny Loggins (DANGA ZOOOONE!!!) and there were truly spectacular episodes. However, Archer: Vice just didn’t feel like Archer to me. Plus some of the running gags are starting to get a little old. >gasp!< Yeah, I know…I said it. The chemistry was all wrong and the situations just seemed too forced. That being said, a bad season of Archer is a good season of almost anything else. The voice acting, as always, is top notch and the chemistry of the cast is amazing (which is weird to say since it’s a cartoon) even with some iffy dialog and show themes. All in all Archer: Vice, or season five, is a disappointing entry in the overall scheme of the Archer run but is still worth watching. Archer will be renewed for a sixth and even seventh season and there will be some very interesting plot points for next year to say the least.