Hey, Archer-fans. James here. Colin and I have gotten a little behind on these things, because he’s working hard at grad school and my mind has been occupied by cannibalism. Don’t worry, though. We haven’t forgotten about everyone’s favorite former secret agents. Let the catching up begin.
So, the basic plot of this episode is that Mallory has gotten Cherlene (the artist formerly known as Cheryl) a gig on a public access show in Texas. The gang, minus Krieger and Ray, have 24 hours to get her down there. They’re driving, because “Cherlene doesn’t fly,” and they really had to do another Burt Reynolds episode.
Mallory, Cyril, Lana, and Cherlene take an expensive tour bus. Archer and Pam follow in a muscle car so that Archer can live out his Smokey and the Bandit fantasies. On the one hand, this is great. The gang is finally leaving the mansion. On the other hand, this is another instance of Archer Vice basically just repeating jokes. As much as I love Archer’s Burt Reynolds obsession, I feel like that particular gag hit its peak in season 2, with “Pipeline Fever.” Or maybe in season 3, when Burt freaking Reynolds voiced himself in “The Man From Jupiter.”
For a road trip storyline, “Southbound and Down” feels kind of inert. Much of the episode’s runtime is dedicated to Archer and Pam’s “witty banter and sexual tension,” which really just means that they sit in a car making fun of each other. Also, Pam has cocaine-frosted cupcakes, finally combining the two jokes that have mostly been used to define her character.
Though the “main” plot of the episode is that the gang is trying to get Cherlene to Texas, there is, of course, a side-plot about Archer’s total incompetence at drug-dealing. He decided to sneak 100lbs of cocaine onto the bus without telling anyone, assuming that he’d be able to sell it when they got to Texas.
Though he spends most of a 24-hour car ride talking to Pam about her drug addiction, Archer for some reason tells her about the cocaine. Because she’s Pam, and because the writers needed to throw in some conflict, she tells all her trucker friends about the cocaine. Pretty soon, a gun-wielding biker gang is attacking the bus, and Cherlene is convinced that they’re trying to kidnap her, since she’s going to be the next big country singer.
They fight off the bikers, and continue on their way, only to discover that the bikers are in league with some corrupt cops. Also, Pam put the cocaine in the car while Archer was asleep, so it’s up to them to lead the cops away. They succeed by once again losing a lot of cocaine. Is it just me, or is the joke that nobody knows how to sell drugs wearing thin?
Eventually, Cherlene makes it to the stage and plays a cover of “Eastbound and Down,” from Smokey and the Bandit. A record executive wants to sign her on. Archer and Pam show up unscathed, and Archer tries to play it off like his slick driving saved the day. Pam, of course, ruins everything.
Mallory: If we miss that taping, I will not be responsible for my actions!
Lana: Are you ever?
I know I said earlier that most of the episode is just Archer and Pam making fun of each other, but there are actually some pretty sweet moments between the two. My favorite was probably Archer taking the fall for her, instead of telling everyone that she’s the reason they’re being attacked by rogue bikers. Second favorite: Archer telling Pam that everyone liked her more when she wasn’t addicted to cocaine. Well, they hated her less. I get that it’s a comedy show, but having a few moments of sincerity is a nice break from the kind of sophomoric jokes that had defined “Southbound and Down.”
So far, Archer Vice has been pretty disappointing. The gang has mostly been confined to Cheryl’s mansion, and the show hasn’t really capitalized on its “everyone is drug dealers” premise. Maybe I just let my imagination run away with me when they announced that, but I’d hoped for a little more drug dealing, and a lot less sitting around and talking about how hard it is to sell cocaine.
“Southbound and Down” is…kind of a step in the right direction? They at least leave the house, even if most of the episode is dedicated to road trip bickering and jokes about Pam’s cocaine addiction. It’s still funny, but much like the rest of this season, it lacks the energy of Archer at its best. It still feels like they’re stalling, unsure of what to do with the new premise. Also, is every other episode going to end with a failure montage set to country music now?
What do you guys think? Am I being too hard on Archer Vice? Did I pick the right major in college? Am I right? Am I wrong? Well? How did I get here?
Please, validate my life decisions in the comments below.