‘Archer’ Review: “A Debt of Honor”
‘Archer’ season 5 adds a bit more ‘Vice’ in its latest episode “A Debt of Honor,” as Pam’s unstable behavior brings down the wrath of the Yakuza on the ISIS team holed up in Cheryl’s mansion.
Last week’s ‘Archer’ installment “A Kiss While Dying” saw the former ISIS team heading to Florida for their first cocaine deal, which quickly spiraled out of control, so does “A Debt of Honor” keep the changes rolling? Is ‘Archer’ season 5 already going off the rails?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 5 episode 3, “A Debt of Honor!”
Malory laments that their ordeal in Florida has financially ruined them, though Cyril points out that the counterfeit cash that duped them could easily be made to dupe others, or at least buy them some time. The team sets their sights on replenishing their depleted weapons store, leaving the increasingly cocaine-addicted Pam to her own devices with the counterfeit money.
A short while later, Pam returns and announces to the group that she traded the counterfeit money for amphetamines through her Yakuza connections, though the gangsters will very likely seek revenge once they realize the money’s nature. Soon enough, the Yakuza follow Pam’s sloppy trail back to the Tunt residence, wherein a still very-much-alive Mr. Moto (George Takei) demands to confront her. Malory proposes they simply trade the amphetamines back, but Cheryl discovers that the Yakuza want Pam for a “debt of honor,” taking her head for betraying them.
Unable to call the police, Cheryl shows the group to her family’s tremendous store of antique weapons, though Ron Cadillac refuses to take up arms, no longer willing to support Malory through her latest conflict. Moments later, a Yakuza sniper fires the first shot through the uncovered windows, hitting Ron in the stomach. Cheryl surprises the group in revealing that they might sneak Ron out to a hospital using any one of the manor’s numerous escape tunnels, while Archer forms his own plan to get the drop on Mr. Moto.
Archer manages to slip out a manhole underneath Moto’s car, incapacitating his driver and confronting the man in his own limo with one of Cheryl’s antique weapons. Repeatedly firing off the gun to irritate Moto’s ears, Archer suggests that Moto can forgive the “debt of honor,” offering to give back the amphetamines and allow the gangsters to keep the money. Moto reluctantly agrees, but must pass off the agreement as his own idea to save face, extorting an additional haul of the group’s cocaine.
The group watches Moto drive off, relieved that Ron has apparently survived his injuries, but incensed they’ve gone further backward in their drug-dealing quest.
‘Archer’ understandably set out for itself a Herculean task in shifting the plot toward a burgeoning drug empire, so we forgave that the inaugural ‘Vice’ episode actually accomplished relatively little in terms of plot progression. Last week’s caper gave us a much clearer course heading on now ‘Vice’ could retread a bit of old ground without losing the madcap spark of more recent seasons, and keeping character dynamics entirely in tact as Sterling and the others began worshiping the other side of crime.
Of course, one can’t add a dash of ‘Breaking Bad’ without first treading over a bit of failure in the beginning, mining plenty of humor from the team’s struggle to become anything resembling competent with their new craft. Such stop and start storytelling works in the case of ‘Breaking Bad,’ which itself had seasons ahead to highlight Walter White’s eventual rise to power, whereas we can’t say with any certainty how long beyond the current season the FX animated series intends to ride this train. It’s one thing to be in it for the long haul, and another if the third episode of a 13-chapter season stays largely confined to a single setting, again putting the team further in the red by the runtime’s end.
It’s ‘Archer’ of course, and we’ve never any instance to doubt that the going proves as satisfactory as the gone, given the always-reliable voice cast and plenty of smirk-worthy moments along the way. And yet, there’s a hint of stagnancy from a season that created so much promise in its beginning, to so quickly seem stuck in the mud. Next week’s installment will again largely keep to the confines of the cavernous Tunt mansion, which isn’t exactly scathing criticism in and of itself, though we’ll understand if viewers share a bit of frustration with the fact that the premiere’s impressive season trailer remains mostly in the weeks to come.
In the meantime, Pam continues to spiral, Archer dons slightly darker duds, and Ron’s relationship to Malory has once again come under strain. More cocaine has been squandered. What else is new?
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action? What was your favorite gag from “A Debt of Honor?” Tell us if you’re on board for ‘Vice,’ and join us next week for all-new ‘Archer’ recap of “House Call” on FX!