Blow it up and start again. That was the philosophy (literally, not figuratively) going into Season 5 of FX's Archer, which has been dubbed Archer: Vice. The rebooted version of the show finds the agents of the now-defunct ISIS becoming drug dealers in order to get rid of the ton of cocaine they've amassed through their spy work over the years. But of course, the transition hasn't been all smooth sailing. Over the course of the first four episodes, they've found themselves entangled with the Japanese Yakuza, former Cuban spy Ramon Limon (Ron Perlman) and the FBI.
So is the new conceit a good move? With the show on hiatus for the next two weeks due to the Winter Olympics, we take a look at the major developments on this season of Archer to find out what's working and what isn't:
Pros: We've gotten to see a (somewhat) softer side of Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) in relation to his soon-to-be baby mama, most notably in last week's episode "House Call," when Lana (Aisha Tyler) discovers that he's been researching common ailments in newborns (and not as they relate to pregnancy porn, either).
Cons: Pregnancy is one thing, but we have a hard time seeing how a baby is going to fit into the Archer universe after Lana gives birth. The show also hasn't taken full advantage of the resulting rivalry between Cyril (Chris Parnell) and Archer thus far this season.
Pam's Cocaine Addiction:
Pros: Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) suddenly finding herself in the throes of cocaine addiction is by far the best long-running joke of the season. Not only has it set up hilarious visuals like Pam gnawing her way through a body cast and using her newfound super-strength to break through ropes, but it also establishes a huge liability for America's newest drug-runners. Her not-so-subtle rapid weight loss is also brilliant.
Cons: None! We're loving "Cokie Monster" Pam!
Cheryl's Country Music Career:
Pros: Now that Cheryl (Judy Greer) has a mind-control chip implanted in her brain, hopefully her country singer alter ego "Cherlene" can get over her stage fright, because we can't wait to hear her original compositions — or see how Mallory (Jessica Walter) fares as her manager. The music video for "Danger Zone," a duet between Cherlene and Kenny Loggins, will premiere during the March 3 episode.
Cons: We're intrigued by where this brain chip plot line is going, but we hope the old Cheryl/Carol comes back eventually — even just to regale the rest of the crew with more tales about her slave-hunting great-great-great-uncle.
The FBI's Investigation into ISIS:
Pros: Let's not forget where this whole season started — with the FBI raiding ISIS headquarters because the organization had been operating without a license since it was founded. (Not to mention other crimes the team's committed, including tax evasion and light treason.) Plus, guest star Gary Cole is doing a bang-up job voicing the weirdly zealous Agent Holly.
Cons: We can't wait to see how the crew expects to get out of this one — especially Mallory, who accidentally admitted to never having paid taxes. The FBI investigation was dropped for Episodes 2 and 3 and revisited in Episode 4, but it needs to wrap up quickly. At this point it's just serving as an afterthought to the much more interesting plot of the ISIS team forming their own drug cartel.
Archer: Vice returns with new episodes on Monday, Feb. 24 on FX. What are your thoughts on the season so far? Sound off in the comments!