Driven by Sterling’s need to prove his worth again, “Smugglers’ Blues” delivers the best episode of the fifth season of Archer. After Archer overheard Malory talking about him being a screw-up in last week’s “Baby Shower,” he was bound to feel the need to show his mother he was still as sharp as he used to be. After all, though it might be easy to forget now that he has failed numerous times already this season, Archer actually used to be pretty damn good in the field.
So, he takes Cyril and Ray with him to Colombia to sell a bunch of their cocaine without telling anyone. Meanwhile, back at Tunt mansion, Malory and Lana worry about the missing ex-ISIS agents as Krieger, Pam and Cherlene fail to grasp the severity of the situation. Krieger’s more focused on his disturbing Woodhouse GILF cam, Cherlene continues to care only about herself and her singing career, and Pam … well, she likes cocaine, remember? I hope they do not ride the cocaine addiction for the entire season with Pam, unless they give her more to work with. It is a tough act to maintain a running joke without much variety if it is not a particularly clever one, and Pam constantly eating cocaine has grown tiresome.
Despite that, seven episodes into the season, Archer gives us an episode that feels like it could have been from a previous season. Out in the field, the Archer/Cyril/Ray dynamic works wonders, and we are lucky to have more of them next episode as we see the fallout of this week’s events. Cyril is clueless and terrified, while Ray is realistic but slightly less terrified. Archer, of course, is bold and careless, but the most intelligent and experienced.
Their entry into Colombia instantly brought back the feel of the old Archer, and considering how different the show has been this season, it was a welcome return. I have really enjoyed the new direction so far, but familiarity can be a good thing, too.
We also got to see a side of Malory that does not often show itself. Even though she was furious after falling victim to yet another one (and probably the best) of Archer’s voicemails, she shed a tear and begged Lana to go find her son. A lot of the other characters have been given a degree of development in their character this season, but Malory had remained mostly the same until now.
“Smugglers’ Blues” succeeds both in pairing the feel of the old Archer with the new and heightening anticipation for next week’s episode as Archer, Cyril and Ray find themselves in a South American prison.
Carlo Sobral is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste.