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‘Archer’ Review: “The Papal Chase”

Archer The Papal Chase Review
FX

Archer’ season 4 burns white smoke for its eleventh episode of the year “The Papal Chase,” as Archer, Lana and Pam undertake a mission to the Vatican to protect the Pope from an assassination attempt, realizing Archer’s servant Woodhouse is an exact double for the Holy Father.

Last week’s ‘Archer’ episode “Un Chien Tangerine” saw Archer and Lana tasked with evacuating a dog from the deserts of Morocco, while back at ISIS Pam put in paperwork to become a field agent, surprising Malory, so does “The Papal Chase” screw the pooch?  Is ‘Archer’ season 4 praying toward  its most holy season yet?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 4 episode 11, “The Papal Chase!”

Lana seems taken aback by all the commotion, as Malory and the entire office frantically prepare for an upcoming mission, which Malory is forced to admit will take place at the Vatican. Lana balks at the thought of not being included in a mission to save the Pope from Swiss Guard assassins, but soon realizes there aren’t many nuns of her particular skin color.

Worse yet is that Archer has been tasked with going undercover as a priest, taking newly-minted field agent Pam, given that Ray would fail the cover and Cyril has an apparent phobia of priests. Seeing that neither Archer nor Pam know Italian, or any of the other European languages that Lana does, Malory reluctantly allows Lana to come along. Good thing too, as Lana notices that the Pope is an exact double for Woodhouse!

After the four arrive in Italy, Lana reluctantly allows Woodhouse to get his heroin fix, while Archer and Pam meet with Cardinal Corelli (Rene Auberjonois) to obtain a key to the Pope’s apartment. Once inside, Pam worries that the sleeping Pope has already died, and hoists a giant mirror over him to check his breath, predictably dropping it on His Holiness. When Lana and Woodhouse arrive, Lana removes the mirror to see that the Pope is indeed alive, and aghast that Woodhouse is his exact double.

The Swiss Guard arrive for their assassination attempt, confusing Archer as he believed they only used antiquated spears as weapons. The five evacuate through the window as the Swiss open fire on the door, and Archer manages to secure a small Italian car as a getaway vehicle. Back at ISIS, Cyril admits to Cheryl that he has no actual fear of the church, but simply didn’t want to go on another mission with Archer.

Archer, Lana, Pam, Woodhouse and the Pope race through the streets of Italy in the tiny car with the Swiss guard in hot pursuit as Lana realizes that the killers are too easily identified, and that Cardinal Corelli must have staged the assassination attempt as next in line for the Papacy. Archer mounts the car and leaps to the pursuing vehicle to drop a lit flare in the gas tank, while Lana and Pam take fire. The pursuing car explodes, burning off Archer’s entire disguise, as the chase comes to a halt outside the Swiss Guard HQ.

In the aftermath, a Vatican official assures the team that they caught Cardinal Corelli, though the men he hired were part of the Camorra crime group. With both Woodhouse and the Pope unconscious however, no one knows exactly which is which, while Lana realizes that Cardinal Corelli must have hired ISIS in the expectation that they’d fail the mission. The group swear themselves to secrecy against Malory but Pam quickly breaks her vow upon returning to New York.

Earlier on we might have thought to dock points from ‘The Papal Chase’ for neglecting any overarching plot points from the season so close to its end, but to the episode’s credit Pam’s transition to field agent follows through on last week’s promise quite well. The episode demonstrates a slightly elevated self-awareness as Archer and Pam rattle off cultural references, Archer even pointing out the trope of Woodhouse and the Pope sharing an identical appearance. The episode breezes by rather quickly, devoting little time to its supporting characters and actual narrative, but keeps the jokes flying as the mission spirals into a mad dash around Italy. All in all, a unique and entertaining episode that doesn’t strain the imagination too much to enjoy.

What say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action?  What was your favorite gag from “The Papal Chase?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Archer’ recap of season 4′s penultimate episode “Sea Tunt: Part 1” on FX!

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