‘Archer’ Season Premiere Review: “Fugue and Riffs”
Welcome back, Duchess! ‘Archer’ season 4 uncorks its first episode of the year “Fugue and Riffs,” as Sterling Archer awakens in a strange location with no memory of his identity as an ISIS agent, forcing the team to come to his rescue at a spa hunted by KGB agents
Last season’s ‘Archer’ Finale “Space Race: Part II” saw Archer and co. saving the day at the Horizon space station, leaving Bionic Barry behind to rot, so how does “Fugue and Riffs” taste going down? Is ‘Archer’ season 4 pouring its most classic season yet?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 4 premiere, “Fugue and Riffs!”
At a familiar looking joint named ‘Bob’s Burgers,’ a mustachioed Archer (believing himself to be Bob) stands by the grill, his loving family nearby. Russian gangsters menacingly enter the scene, locking the restaurant door behind them and threatening “Archer.” Bob ushers his family into the back room, before unconsciously reacting to the Russians’ advances, and effortlessly subduing all of them. Believing they’ll come back, “Bob” resolves to keep his family safe by finding out who this “Archer” is…after a spa weekend, of course.
Back at ISIS, the team learns that Archer has been found after two months, having taken down the KGB hit squad. Krieger insists Archer has “psychogenic retrograde amnesia” stemming from a certain recent traumatic event, but that they’ll need to very gently ease his mind back into the “Archer” persona. The entire group plots to infiltrate the spa, Krieger and Cyril acting as fake KGB agents, while Malory, Pam and Cheryl pamper themselves, and poor Ray sulks in his wheelchair.
At the spa, Lana saunters over to Archer pretending to be in distress, but covertly an ISIS agent on the run from the KGB. In between trying to figure out the star of ‘Shazam!,’ Archer agrees to stick with Lana until they both resolve their dilemmas. Elsewhere, Malory grows impatient with the operation, but Krieger assures her it can’t be as simple as hitting him upside the head with a frying pan.
Over in Lana’s room, Archer geeks out about his unfamiliar knowledge of guns and hand-to-hand combat, though Lana still clearly outmatches him. While Pam and Cheryl continue living it up at the spa on Cheryl’s wealth, Lana takes Archer to sweep the hotel for the “KGB Agents” Cyril and Krieger. Cyril gives up his ruse rather quickly, but the staged situation quickly spirals out of control when the real KGB show up to attack Archer!
Archer and Lana dive behind the bar, guns blazing, and resort to making Molotov cocktails given Krieger supplied them with fake bullets. Between removing Lana’s top to fling the incendiary spirits, and the strange familiarity of the situation, Archer’s “mindbrain” begins to overload as his old memories return to him. Finally, Lana hits him upside the head with a frying plan, instantly reverting him to Archer and enabling him to take out the remaining KGB men.
Afterwards, Archer slowly remembers why he freaked out and disappeared months ago in the first place, the reason being his mother’s wedding! Malory’s new husband Ron Cadillac (Jessica Walter's husband Ron Leibman) shows up to the aftermath, Sterling none-too-pleased to see him, as Lana wonders aloud how the KGB so efficiently tracked Archer.
Zoom out to space, where Bionic Barry remains bitterly trapped on the Horizon space station, able to see Archer’s every move but unable to kill him! Play it cool, Other Barry. Meanwhile back on Earth, Archer shrugs things off, and Cheryl’s hallucinogen-laden gummy bears get the better of her, envisioning a talking ostrich. Roll credits.
Going into a fourth season of 'Archer,' one wonders how the increasingly callback-y series can top going to space, but the time we spent at the 'Archer Live!' show convinced us that plenty lies ahead to keep the series fresh. "Fugue and Riffs" in particular feels right at home even crossing over with H. Jon Benjamin's other major gig at 'Bob's Burgers,' and makes for an enjoyable and accessible way to dive back into the series without needing any history. The jokes are there, and the cast as sharp as ever, so welcome back, Sterling Archer. Shazam, indeed.
Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action? What did you think about the premiere? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Archer’ episode recap of “The Wind Cries Mary” on FX!