'Archer' Review: "On the Carpet"

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Archer’ season 5 adds a bit more ‘Vice’ in its latest episode “On the Carpet,” as Archer, Cyril and Ray return to New York to bring Malory up to speed on their latest criminal complication, running afoul of a CIA operation and a South American President along the way.

Previous ‘Archer’ installment “The Rules of Extraction” saw the trio trying desperately to escape their predicament in Columbia, while back stateside Lana attempted to relax Malory about the ordeal, so does “On the Carpet” keep the changes rolling? Is ‘Archer’ season 5 headed right into the danger zone?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 5 episode 9, “On the Carpet!”

Malory angrily drinks, as we see that a battered Ray, Archer and Cyril have returned from their overseas adventure, while the rest of the group (including a topless Cherlene) sits in fearful silence. Pam covers up Cherlene with a strategic bit of whipped cocaine, as we learn her attire stems from an earlier album cover photoshoot. Archer tells Malory his side of the story first, admitting that they lost their original haul of cocaine in Columbia, and later lost the plane-full they’d lucked into.

Back on the plane, Ray realizes that the additional weight has depleted their fuel before they can reach the plane’s intended landing strip in Miami, to which Archer points out that the ground crew will also be expecting their Columbian counterparts in the plane, not three strangers. Cyril chucks out the guns to keep the plane underweight, as Ray successfully lands the plane, and Archer insists he’ll be able to ingratiate himself to the smugglers given his spy training. Upon stepping out to greet the drug smugglers, Archer is immediately shot in the chest.

Winded, but not killed by the beanbag round, Archer poorly covers for himself, Cyril and Ray to the apparent operation leader “Slater” (Christian Slater), claiming that the original pilot Gomez intended to steal the cocaine for himself. Seeing that the drugs are all accounted for, Slater accepts Archer’s identity as “Rando,” and loads up the plane with its return shipment of crates. Rather than fly south as intended, however, Archer returned to New York to seek his mother’s help, bringing us to the present.

Malory opens the return crates to find a shipment of weapons, deducing that the arms are for San Marco President Gustavo Calderon (Fred Armisen), whose country has been all over the news for its invasion by communist rebels. Furthermore, Archer and the others likely stumbled into a secret CIA operation to smuggle weapons to keep Calderon in power, something they can use to their advantage. To boot, Krieger reveals that he used the remaining store of cocaine as ballast for a submarine built in the mansion’s pool, but he’d blown it up upon realizing the sub had no means to leave the room.

Malory reluctantly accepts that they’ve now entered the arms trade, before the group questions her fancy attire, to which Malory explains that she’d had dinner with Ron. They’ve apparently agreed to counseling and an open marriage, for which Ron calls Cherlene, and Malory knocks her out cold. Subsequently, Pam’s phone rings.

OUR REVIEW:

Last week’s episode brought a heaping helping of ‘Vice’ as "The Rules of Extraction" saw the most action yet for the former ISIS crew’s descent into drug smuggling, though the story felt a bit one-sided to keep the women out of play for the entire installment. Even so, it felt a bit late in the game to finally start moving pieces for the ultimate endgame, while today fittingly brought the news that ‘Archer’ would likely abandon the ‘Vice’ in its sixth season, and return to the status-quo of spy spoofs. It certainly doesn’t invalidate the ‘Vice’ experiment to have a return to form confirmed, nor should it necessarily alter our appreciation for the change in pace, but it’s at least a comfort to know that the creators knew enough to return to more familiar territory.

The timing couldn’t be better either, as we again have to question some of the season’s issues with pacing. You see, not only did Archer, Ray and Cyril return to Manhattan before we ever saw what became of their plane full of cocaine, but the entire installment unfolds in flashback to bring us from A to B, feeling empty for lack of a C. Sure, Archer and the gang traded up to the arms-smuggling game, and we met players by the likes of Christian Slater and Fred Armisen who will no doubt play important roles in the final four installments, but it seemingly wastes another episode in service of previewing more fertile stories to come. It certainly doesn’t help that near of the entire installment unfolds in a dimmer-than-usual Tunt  Manor, as ‘Archer’ best tends to flourish when the visual panache compliments its ever-crackling dialogue.

And that’s it really, an effective reminder of the team’s increasingly dismal prospects through an exasperated Malory, and some tantalizing teases of the four installments to come, though we had hoped ‘Vice’ to be done with its wheel-spinning by now. Oh, and an episode revealing Ron Cadillac’s return to the mix, without an appearance from the man himself? Not frickin’ epic. Not frickin’ epic at all.

Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action? What was your favorite gag from “On the Carpet?” Tell us if you’re on board for ‘Vice,’ and join us next week for all-new ‘Archer’ recap of “Palace of Intrigue: Part 1” on FX!

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