TV Review: Archer: “White Elephant”

Depending on how successful Season Five of Archer is, and it looks to be very successful from what I assume is a preview and not just Sterling’s fantasy, the episode’s title, “White Elephant,” might become a new television term in reference to scrapping a series’ premise and creating a new one for the characters, unless a term for that was already created when the Laverne & Shirley gang moved to Burbank.

As the episode opens, show creator Adam Reed creates a perfect visual metaphor. Life for the ISIS team is comfortable and serene, like many TV shows entering their fifth season. But Reed is not going to coast and continue to give viewers the same old show, evidenced by the ISIS offices getting blown up before the opening credits. Turns out Malory never got sanctioned by the U.S. government to conduct espionage operations and they get hauled in by the FBI, making the adventures of the past four seasons even funnier without altering them.

But what made the show great wasn’t the plots but the characters, who behave as we’ve come to know them. Before Sterling and Lana can break the team out of the FBI HQ, Cheryl/Carol, Pam, Cyril, Ray, and Krieger all offer to testify in exchange for immunity. Reminiscent of a clip show, they rattle off many of the crimes committed by ISIS over the past four seasons. Naturally, Malory is able to finagle their release thanks to a powerful mystery man.

The condition is they have to get out of the spy business, which might be good for Lana since she is now pregnant from an anonymous sperm donation. In a scene as touching as Sterling is likely to get, he offers to marry Lana so the kid won’t grow up without a father, but she has no interest whatsoever.

While the gang wonders what the future holds for them in terms of employment, it looks like they are going to break bad and form a drug cartel since Malory has “literally, not figuratively, a ton of cocaine” which would go wholesale for about $50 or $60 million. Sterling then flashes forward on what’s to come for the season and it looks great, especially seeing Sterling behind the wheel of a Trans Am and behind a Burt Reynolds mustache in a tribute to Smokey and the Bandit. When he comes out of his daydream, he utters the words that will set the stage for the rest of the season: “Archer Vice.”

I am a big fan of the series and can’t wait to see where it goes from here. What did you think of the episode and where the series is going?

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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