The multi-part episodes of Archer have often stood among the series’ most memorable installments. Having forty or sixty minutes to tell a story rather than twenty makes an enormous difference, and Archer usually takes advantage of that. “Palace Intrigue – Part 1”, above all, sets up next week’s Part 2 for a highly anticipated conclusion, as many plot lines remain open.
The episode begins with Ray flying the former ISIS team to San Marcos as they discuss which of them are most like each of the characters from The Breakfast Club. After sorting that out, Archer reveals he has decided to give up “anonymous sex,” whatever his definition of that might be. Further discussions ensue before the plane lands in San Marcos and the nation’s dictator, Gustavo Calderon (Fred Armisen), has Archer, Lana, Ray, Malory, Cyril and Krieger on their knees with guns pointed at them.
Luckily for them, Pam and Cherlene are hidden in a box, and once Cherlene pops out, Calderon immediately drops his weapon and runs over to greet his favorite outlaw country star. Apparently, Cherlene’s career has taken off while the others were busy losing massive amounts of cocaine. Yet, their trail of cocaine has led them to arriving in San Marcos with a plane full of weapons and being asked to stay with Calderon and his wife, Juliana (Lauren Cohan), who initially poses as a maid to have her way with Archer, in their palace.
Now, I can’t go any longer without mentioning Krieger’s clones that he sees. That was a pretty big moment, slightly foreshadowed on the runway when Calderon pointed to Krieger and said something in Spanish back to his soldiers. I’m curious to see what sort of plans Gus and his men have for these clones and why they chose Krieger. Something’s up, and hopefully we find out next week.
Same goes for Cherlene—why is Calderon such a big fan? Or, why is he pretending to be? If anyone’s behind it, I imagine it’s Malory, but I can’t be sure. As for Archer, he will inevitably have to once again deal with keeping the secret of having sex with Juliana Calderon before he knew she was Gustavo’s wife. Lana’s not impressed with Archer after he admits it to her, and understandably so. She expects better of him at this point, especially after hearing him say he would give up “anonymous sex.”
Another conversation, the final one of the episode, sees the group at the dinner table with Gustavo congratulating Cherlene on selling a million copies of her album—“it doesn’t matter how!”—before the “rebels” arrive and start the bombing.
Fred Armisen and Lauren Cohan both do great work in their guest appearances here, particularly Armisen, who has plenty of great lines and is given a lot of time. Archer has always been big on guest appearances in these multi-part episodes, and the show’s casting choices here do not disappoint. Look for them to both feature heavily again next week.
So, going into Part 2, a lot of questions remain up in the air. What’s going on with those Krieger clones? What part will the former ISIS team play in this war against the rebels? I bet we’ll see something happen involving someone finding out about Archer and Juliana. Either way, the first part of this has laid down plenty of good groundwork for next week and what promises to be a satisfying end to the San Marcos chapter.
Carlo Sobral is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste.