Archer’s continuity is getting progressively more intricate, so it’s noteworthy that in this season, the show seems to have the characters reminding each other (i.e., the audience) of events in the previous episode , in addition to the usual throwback references dating back to its first season, with greater frequency. Cheryl may not remember it, but they were definitely smuggling cocaine and recording a country album last season, and Pam and Krieger have definitely had a close encounter of the third kind. So along with the decision to maintain continuity comes a tacit agreement between the showrunners and the audience to not ret-con, or simply feign amnesia, when it comes to things either party would like to forget. But while that means one side or the other can get "stuck" with a development that made it all the way to air they wish they could simply hand wave away, it also makes the long game a series with a permanent memory plays so much more rewarding for everyone when it unequivocally achieves something everybody has been waiting for. For Breaking Bad, it was the death of Heisenberg and the victory (albeit pyrrhic) of Walter White. For Archer, it’s doubtlessly the détente of Sterling Archer and Lana Kane’s Cold War thaw and sweaty burn of "Reignition Sequence."
The plot is simple this time. Ending last week, Archer and Lana—reaching the bitter end of their make-the-other-jealous brinkmanship—finally succumbed to the passion that’s been simmering below the (often violent) hostility since the series began, and they were still newly broken up. Their PDA is making the rest of the gang (minus Malory, who’s deliberately being kept ignorant) range from sickened, like Pam ("They’re jamming it in our faces that we’re doomed to die alone!"), to violent, like Cheryl, whose solutions involve a disfiguring acid attack, or a kidnapping caper. (Her flipbook outlining the latter plan is an episode highlight.) Of course, nobody’s feeling the burn quite so badly as the jilted Cyril, who leads the charge to conspire in getting the two of them re-broken up by leading Archer astray. The initial problem is they can’t afford the type of hooker who could temp Archer away from Lana, and that leaves them with very few options in the "women Archer hasn’t slept with" arena. They conclude there’s only one woman who could potentially turn this "trick," the woman he was (briefly) engaged to: Katya Kazanova.
So, while the show’s recall makes the big exhale of Lana and Archer that much more potent, it also has to recall the inconsistency of her character who, post-robotic resurrection, dumped Archer for the cyborg Barry, then dumped Barry for the witless Boris. But, even so, it takes only one phone call from Cyril to have her fly from Moscow to New York and attempt to seduce Archer. It makes one wonder what the function of bringing back Barry in the "Edie’s Wedding" episode actually was. This episode would have been a way better segue to getting him back: Instead of dumping Barry for Boris, she slinks away to the States to seduce Barry’s most hated enemy. Next week would have been the best time to bring in Archer’s greatest nemesis, a little extra hell-bent on revenge for the would-be infidelity. Having Barry in the episode is A-plot stuff all by itself, not merely a complicating factor, as in the aforementioned fourth episode of this season.
In the meantime, Archer and Lana’s romantic night in (Archer twists the knife into Cyril by telling Lana he’s making dinner, and taking "Stir Fry-Day" back) is interrupted by Katya, who shows up and does a damn persuasive job of getting Sterling to hook-up with her. The gang watch it all unfold on a monitor Krieger installed at Archer’s apartment (Krieger almost lets it slip he has cameras pointed at all of them. It’s been made clear this Krieger likes to watch.) But Archer, exhibiting heretofore-unseen self-control, ultimately rebuffs her advances, which rightly makes the gang feel guilty about the setup, as Archer describes how committed he is to Lana now.
Katya is impressed, but leaves at Archer’s insistence (with bitchin’ grappling hook cannon from her arm) before Lana arrives. It would all have merely amounted to a close call, but—as established previously—she can detach her… lady parts, which Lana finds in the kitchen at the close of this week’s episode.
By and large it’s a terrific episode that benefits significantly from the show’s continuity. The Newly Monogamous version of Archer couldn’t have had much impact— and it certainly couldn’t have made it as close to genuine sentiment as the show has gotten without it. It’s just a shame that the episode also highlights the Barry-Katya ret-con that same continuity begged for. So praise the show for the canon, but hope it can also acquire a little short-term amnesia when needed.
Scott Wold is a Chicago-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter, if you must.