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‘Archer’ Review: “A Kiss While Dying”

Archer Vice Review A Kiss While Dying
FX

Archer’ season 5 adds a bit more ‘Vice’ in its latest episode “A Kiss While Dying,” as the former ISIS heads to Florida for their first cocaine deal, which quickly spirals out of control.

Last week’s ‘Archer’ premiere “White Elephant” saw the ISIS crew finding themselves on the wrong side of the FBI, while Malory made a deal that forever changed the team’s line of work, so does “A Kiss While Dying” 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 2, “A Kiss While Dying!”

The gang holes up in Cheryl’s cavernous NYC mansion after the government seized most of their properties, as Malory proposes sending Archer, Pam and Lana to Florida for their first cocaine deal. Krieger helps form the 20 kilos into a body cast for Pam to get past customs, while Cheryl and Ray train her poor voice for her country singing dream.

Having arrived in Florida, Lana expresses her worry that they don’t know the identity of Malory’s contact, while Archer hits his head attempting to keep Pam from eating the cocaine from her discarded body cast. A short while later, Archer wakes in a meat locker with Pam, Lana, and their contact Ramon (‘Sons of Anarchy’ star Ron Perlman). Ramon explains that he’ll take a cut from the sale, hoping to buy his dream nightclub across the street one day, though they must not bring their guns to the meet.

That night, Archer is astonished to see that Charles (Thomas Lennon) and Rudy (Robert Ben Garant) are the buyers, though the men predictably pull their own guns, and elect to keep both the cocaine and their briefcase of cash. Meanwhile back in New York, Cyril, Ray, and Malory lament how tone-deaf Cheryl seems to be, at least until Krieger reveals that Cheryl secretly sings very well when she doesn’t know anyone is watching.

Having retrieved their guns, Archer and Ramon head out to recover their money from Charles and Rudy’s house, while Lana and Pam remain in the car, the latter still jonesing for more cocaine. Once Archer and Ramon lower their guard inside the house, Charles and Rudy quickly get the drop on them, saying they’ve given on the drugs to their mysterious boss. Ramon opens fire, as all but Archer sustain mortal wounds in the crossfire. Ramon asks Sterling for a final request, after which Lana enters the house to find Sterling giving the man a dying kiss.

Back in New York, Archer defends his actions to the group as the request of a dying man, as Cyril points out that the money they’d recovered was counterfeit anyway. Suddenly, Lana realizes that they left the shootout scene fairly quickly, and were likely duped by all three men using blood packs and blank bullets. Meanwhile in Florida, the three men recline in a hot tub, Charles and Rudy pointing out to Ramon that the fake shootout proved completely arbitrary to the plan, and in fact cost them the millions in counterfeit money.

OUR REVIEW:

Given that last week’s premiere essentially upended four seasons worth of premise, in the process sacrificing a bit of humor for breakneck plot development, it seems only fitting that our first foray into ‘Archer: Vice’ (complete with snazzy new title sequence) would take something of a baby step, returning to a fan-favorite episode from the early days of the series, and characters Ramon Limon, Charles and Rudy. Judging by the trailer from last week, ‘Archer”s new premise will send the gang into some pretty far-out escapades, so it certainly helps to start with something a bit more familiar.

Of course, series creator Adam Reed proved justified in his assertion that ‘Archer’ itself didn’t really need ISIS or its continued super-spy framework, given that the characters have all taken on a life of their own, that needn’t be confined to any one building. In that sense “A Kiss While Dying” proves all the more familiar, with just enough added danger and ‘Breaking Bad’ style criminal ineptitude to keep things fresh. The always-welcome Thomas Lennon and a nigh-unrecognizable Ron Perlman do add quite a bit to the proceedings as well, neatly covering a few holes as the episode continues laying groundwork for its future character directions.

Gone was any real sense of softening to Archer’s character this week, particularly with Lana, though a cocaine-addicted Pam will undoubtedly pay off over the course of the season, especially as Malory desperately tries to keep all plates wobbling for her newfound criminal empire. We’re still not entirely sure what to make of Cheryl’s country singing career, much like the characters themselves, but “A Kiss While Dying” still provided a number of humble callbacks to its beginnings, even as ‘Archer: Vice’ scrambles to find a through-line in its madcap shake-up.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action? What was your favorite gag from “A Kiss While Dying?” Tell us if you’re on board for ‘Vice,’ and join us next week for all-new ‘Archer’ recap of “A Debt of Honor” on FX!

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