'Archer' Review: "The Rules of Extraction"

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Archer’ season 5 adds a bit more ‘Vice’ in its latest episode “The Rules of Extraction,” as Archer, Cyril and Ray try desperately to escape their predicament in Columbia, while back stateside Lana attempts to relax Malory about the ordeal.

Previous ‘Archer’ installment “Smuggler's Blues” saw Archer head to Columbia in search of a buyer for their cocaine, while Malory and Lana worried about their fate from back home, so does “The Rules of Extraction” 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 8, “The Rules of Extraction!”

Cyril is relieved to learn that he, Archer and Ray won’t be taken to “La Culebra” prison after all, at least until he realizes they’ll be killed by the roadside. Before anything else however, an errant cow in the road sends their vehicle careening off multiple cliffs, finally settling to a stop on the jungle floor, and leaving Ray paralyzed once more. Back in New York, Lana works on Cherlene’s record contract, while Malory is distressed to learn that no one is attempting to track down Archer.

Cyril opts to take command of the mission, refusing to leave the paralyzed Ray behind, but both Archer and Ray crack up at his display of machismo. Before long, the three manage to fashion a raft on the river, even taking the unconscious guards, while Archer remains deathly afraid of crocodiles. Meanwhile, Lana realizes that recent events have left Malory in more dire straits than usual, and Lana opts to work with Pam and Cherlene to find something nice to do for her, the only solution of which they can agree on as an indoor spa day.

Archer continues to extoll the deadliness of crocodiles, just before three massive man-eaters swamp the deck, tearing apart the guards, though Archer manages to chase them away by shooting at a gas container, which disappointingly doesn’t catch fire. Ray continually blames Archer for their plight, though Archer insists it wasn’t he who obtained the store of cocaine they’ve all been trying to unload, but rather his mother, as back in the city Malory similarly insists it was Archer.

A distressed Ray lights up a cigarette, which finally ignites the gas surrounding their raft, though Archer refuses to do anything about it until Ray apologizes for snapping at him. Afterward, Archer douses the three in gasoline (as crocodile repellant ), before they all swim to shore. The three set out on foot again, with Ray over Archer’s shoulder, and Archer offers Cyril a stick for defense. Back in the city, Lana and the others finally put Malory to bed, admitting in private they’re not sure if Archer and the others are all right.

Ray presses Archer to admit he’d been half-assing their descent into the drug trade, much as he always fails to take anything seriously, and presumes it will all work out in the end, something Archer freely admits. On cue, the three stumble upon an air strip with multiple drugrunners loading a plane, before Archer and Ray manage to take one of the men hostage. Confronting the other drugrunners, Archer and Ray find a hole in their plan when the men shoot the hostage themselves, though the tables turn once again when Cyril lays down suppressing fire.

After being tied up, the men laugh at Archer’s plan to fly out, considering their earlier hostage had been the pilot. Archer questions if Ray can teach him to pilot the plane, for which Ray demands Archer admit an utter contempt for his own mortality, which he freely does. Suddenly, Ray heaves off Archer’s shoulders and walks onto the plane, having evidently been faking his injury. After taking off, Cyril frets that they won’t be able to land anywhere with their new haul of cocaine, but Archer and Ray remain unconcerned.

OUR REVIEW:

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say again; it’s been a spectacularly weird season of ‘Archer,’ the vice of which has managed to shake up the central premise in a surprisingly organic fashion, only to languish among the ruin too long before picking up a central drive again. Last week saw our most forward momentum yet with Archer, Ray and Cyril’s trip to smuggle drugs into Columbia, and while “The Rules of Extraction” doesn’t bother to pick up with many of the characters or plots established therein, the evolving dynamic between the three leading characters moves things forward snappily enough.

For one, ‘Vice’ seems to have lost a bit of finesse in keeping the major players organically involved in one major story, as for the second week in a row Lana and the women are left with the short end of the stick. It made a degree of sense last week, when Archer and his cohorts had left the country too suddenly for the others to pick up on their distress in the span of half an hour, though it felt somewhat amiss to again play with the thread of Cherlene’s record deal, but ultimately fall into a B-story of affording Malory some relaxation.

On the plus side at least, both stories offer some clear cut and timely reference humor, with Archer’s past fear of crocodiles paying off in astoundingly rendered fashion, while even the women get a chance to revel in their complicated (and shared) sexual histories. Moreover, “The Rules of Extraction” displays some wonderful color for Jessica Walter’s Malory, whose concern for her son grows dangerously close to tangible, while Archer himself and Ray display some surprising self-awareness of their respective failings, and strengths in working together. ‘Vice’ has deftly turned the series' reflective intelligence up to 11, even when the plots languish within the Tunt Mansion, and “Extraction” could be our best example to date.

The sooner the season finds a means to bring all the players together (difficult by the sheer variety of sequences we saw in the premiere trailer, but certainly not impossible) the better. For now at least, “The Rules of Extraction” keeps the season humming along nicely, perhaps, dare we say it, breaking out into stride.

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

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