It’s a real shame Archer will be taking a three-week Olympic break (what does Archer have to do with the Olympics?), because “House Call” was this season’s finest episode yet, producing a series of changes set to send the show in a more exciting direction.
Picking up where they left off last week, the gang in Tunt mansion goes over their overall losses of cocaine and non-existent monetary gains as Pam feasts on cocaine-infused yogurt. Following a clutch frying pan to the head from Woodhouse, Pam is tied up as the rest of the former ISIS members discuss whether to use Krieger’s new and improved mind control device (“Improved?” asks Archer, “On the one that made Len Trexler think he was a giant lettuce?) to curb Pam’s cocaine habit or to transform Cheryl into a successful country singer. Amidst the discussion, Pam breaks free, grabs Cheryl, and runs off. As the others stand around making a plan to hunt down a coked up Pam, Woodhouse informs them he just let FBI Agent Holly in, who shows up to investigate an altercation with the Yakuza.
Despite remaining in the Tunt mansion for the entire episode, “House Call” worked better than any episode this season for various reasons. First, and perhaps most obviously, it was the funniest episode of season five so far. Also, we finally got the transformed Cheryl (Cherlene) who was shown in the little clip at the end of the season premiere, while finding out Krieger simply has to push a button to get miserable Ray’s legs to work again. Furthermore, as much as we’ve enjoyed seeing these characters fail in past seasons and the last couple episodes, it was a nice change of pace to see them essentially break even here, having lost no additional cocaine (aside from a bit more that Pam ate), and having bought themselves some time from Agent Holly.
Another big reason for this episode’s success revolved around Krieger and Cyril, who both had large roles to play. Cyril not only put his accounting skills to use at the beginning, but also his law experience to deal with Agent Holly. Krieger has always been a funny character, and it was nice to see the increased time for him here, as he and Cyril were ultimately responsible for tracking down Pam and Cheryl while Archer and Lana (and an unconscious Woodhouse) kept Holly out of the kitchen where the cocaine was stashed. Speaking of Archer and Lana, they had a great scene in the kitchen where we got to see some more development in Sterling. He’s done his research on pregnancy and clearly has Lana’s baby on his mind. Archer hasn’t gone completely soft; he’s still making the same derogatory jokes as before, but we’re getting to see more proof of his feelings for Lana that we heard so much about in past seasons, adding more depth to his character.
Ron Cadillac takes off at the end, which is a shame, because I was starting to like him. But, seeing as it was implied he could blackmail the former ISIS crew, I’d expect to see him back again soon. The Tunt mansion itself also deserves special notice, as it has been a perfect new home setting for the show, with its unique rooms and secret passageways. I look forward to seeing a bit more of that this season, even though they’ll evidently be spending a lot more time away from the mansion.
Overall, this was the best-written, funniest episode of the season to date. Pam is skinny and still addicted to cocaine, Cheryl has a mind control device in her brain to help her be a better country music singer, Ray now has hope to walk again if Krieger remembers to flick that switch, and Archer’s trying to get closer to Lana. Compared to the ending of last week’s “A Debt of Honor”, “House Call” leaves us with a better idea of what to expect going forward. If this episode was a sign of things to come, we should be thrilled with this season. Too bad we have to wait three weeks.
Carlo Sobral is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste.