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‘Archer’ Review: “House Call”

Archer Vice House Call Review
FX

Archer’ season 5 adds a bit more ‘Vice’ in its latest episode “House Call,” as the group’s attempts to curtail Pam’s cocaine addiction become complicated by FBI Agent Hawley (Gary Cole)’s arrival.

Last week’s ‘Archer’ installment “A Debt of Honor” saw Pam’s unstable behavior bringing down the wrath of the Yakuza on the ISIS team in Cheryl’s mansion, so does “House Call” keep the changes rolling? Is ‘Archer’ season 5 cutting the group a break yet?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 5 episode 4, “House Call!”

Cyril lectures the group on their continually failing ratio of cocaine and profit, before the blame shifts to an increasingly-thin Pam for her worsening cocaine habit. Pam bristles at the thought of going to rehab, before Woodhouse takes the initiative to knock her out with a frying pan to the head. The group tie her up and debate their options, as Krieger appears and suggests that his newly-improved brain microchip could curb Pam’s addiction, even as Malory wishes him to use it on the still stage-frightened Cheryl.

Hearing the prospect, Pam awakens and tears off her bondage with coke-addicted rage, grabbing Cheryl and retreating through one of the manor’s secret passages, just before FBI agent Hawley arrives to keep an eye on the gang, having been allowed into the manor by Woodhouse. Cyril insists he has no authority for the moment, at least until Hawley hears a scream from another room and races into action. The scream actually came from a still-despondent Ray, who throws a bottle at Hawley and triggers a federal offense.

Lana looks over the store of cocaine in the kitchen, contemplating giving her friends up to Hawley for the sake of her baby, ultimately deciding against it. Archer and Woodhouse enter, for which Lana inadvertently tranquilizes Woodhouse, as Archer affectionately chides her into following through on the plan to betray them. Just then, Hawley attempts to enter the kitchen, the door’s path blocked by Woodhouse’s body on the floor, something Hawley claims to be obstruction of justice.

Lana berates Archer for joking about their impending arrest, before Cyril and Krieger accidentally enter the room through a reversible wall, simultaneously removing their store of cocaine from the room and the FBI agent’s potential discovery. The group then hear Pam tearing into the cocaine from behind the wall, spinning it around to pepper her with tranquilizer darts, before spinning them out of the room once again. Hawley finally manages to enter the room, insisting he’ll catch them on something eventually.

Archer ponders Hawley’s earlier words that their ISIS connections might easily establish them as drug dealers, deciding to head to Columbia to begin establishing their cartel. Malory asks Krieger and Cyril if they implanted the mind-control chip in Pam, unaware they opted for a much more selfish route: keeping Pam thin and addicted to coke, just as a country-fied Cheryl enters the room, changing her name to Cherlene and beginning her music career suspiciously free of stage fright.

OUR REVIEW:

There’s no arguing that the ‘Vice’ aspect to ‘Archer”s fifth season has been a breath of fresh air, and especially surprising given the status-quo nature of animation that has kept shows like ‘The Simpsons’ chugging along year after year (Bart was born in 2004, by this point). Looking back on the past four seasons of ‘Archer,’ we’ve been everywhere from the vasts of space to the ocean floor, though the fairly uniform ISIS premise justified its many wild endeavors to the point you’d scarcely notice if a few episodes a season kept to the interior offices.

That same fresh air has a counter-effect however, as the game-changing shift to an ISIS drug cartel seems to gather static more quickly than ‘Vice’ was willing to acknowledge. “House Call” is the second episode in a row largely confined to the cavernous Tunt mansion, stewing in dynamics created over the previous three installments with only baseline hints of the game plan in future weeks. As we stated last week, there’s nothing wrong and few plots that the crackling chemistry of the ‘Archer’ cast can’t make work, though considering the tease its premiere offered of the madness to come, “House Call,” still seems somewhat stuck in neutral.

On the plus side at least, the all-too-brief episode gets a bit more in depth with FBI agent Hawley, who we can surely count on to dog the agents throughout the entirety of the season, while still reveling in the character tweaks we’ve seen unfold. The newly coke-svelte Pam continues to steal the spotlight, while Krieger treats us to the reveal that a bearded and broken Ray merely needed his legs rebooted to walk again, and even Ron Cadillac seems to have some new glasses, even if we’re reading into his exit a bit too much. The same goes for Archer and Lana, who seem to have a bit of genuine sweetness and rapport bubbling up amidst their usual animosity, all indicative of the growth and development ‘Vice’ should be, at least on a more varied scale.

It’s easy to draw ‘Breaking Bad’ comparisons in ‘Archer”s flirtation with criminal failure, but whereas Walter White had multiple seasons with which to perfect his craft, we’re not entirely sure how long ‘Archer’ intends to continue along the ‘Vice’ path. Next week will get us outside of the mansion at least, but hopefully the rest of the season doesn’t lean too heavily on the humor to ignore a sense of arrested development. Yes, we realize the irony of that statement.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action? What was your favorite gag from “House Call?” Tell us if you’re on board for ‘Vice,’ and join us next week for all-new ‘Archer’ recap of “Southbound & Down” on FX!

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