Hey, Archer fans. James here. I’ve gotten a little behind on these recaps, what with all the movie reviews and cannibalism, but I AM CATCHING UP AND WHEN I AM CAUGHT UP THERE WILL BE A RECKONING. Thanks for reading.
“Smuggler’s Blues” starts with Lana practicing mothering with Pam, but the bulk of this episode is dedicated to Archer, Ray, and Cyril’s trip to Columbia to sell some cocaine. Archer is at its best when it nails that “James Bond if he was a real guy” thing. Archer is cocky, yeah, but rightfully so. For all his mommy issues and in-the-field fuckups, the guy is good at what he does. And that’s exactly what Bond would be like if he was, y’know, a different kind of fictional: justifiably cocky, yet utterly fucked up. Recently, I had a conversation with a co-worker—one of my bosses, if you must know—about Archer’s appeal as a character type. In comedies, you usually get one of two types: the blowhard who’s totally incompetent, like Ron Burgundy, or the quiet guy who’s actually really good at his job, like Gromit or that guy who isn’t Mr. Bean in Johnny English. Archer stands out because he’s both of those things. He’s a competent blowhard. Much of this season has been dedicated to taking Archer down a peg or two, and that’s been kind of frustrating, almost as if the writers didn’t understand the character as well as this unpaid blogger*. “Smuggler’s Blues” sees Archer back in that zone of danger, and after the past six episodes of incompetence, I could not be happier.
Alright, let’s talk some plot. Archer forces Ray and Cyril (at gunpoint, a little) to accompany him to Columbia. They’re going to track down “The Godmother” and strike a cocaine deal. It…actually goes pretty well, at first. Archer has done his research, so when they all go to a bard (typo, but can you imagine?) for some information things actually kind of work out. Archer’s ridiculously high alcohol tolerance comes in handy, and he wins over the locals enough for someone to call the Godmother for him. Archer hears the right-wing military police approaching, so he forces himself to throw up so that he, Ray, and Cyril can sneak out the back. Oh, wait, is that Archer being clever? My goodness, what a nice change.
Meanwhile, Mallory wants Krieger to find Archer. Though she is, by all accounts, a terrible mother, she does care about her son. This leads to both the introduction of the “GILF Cam” and an actually funny reoccurrence of the voicemail gag. And an Instagram foodporn parody, “Snackle,” which is how they find out where Archer and co. are. Ray Insta—uh, Snackle’s a picture of “snake juice.” That scene ends with Lana reminding Mallory that Archer “knows how to take care of himself.”
Technically, that last paragraph took place before at least half of the one before it, but what are you gonna do about it? Nothing, that’s what.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Archer’s attempts to escape Columbia’s version of the SS go pretty well. Archer manages to subdue a guard and use his gun to fire on the other “soldiers,” while Ray gets back to the jeep and Cyril tries to run some sabotage. Unsurprisingly, Cryil fucks that up, and soon Archer is trying to use “machismo” to force a heavily-armed group of soldiers to back down. They do, but only because The Godmother arrives in a tank with an escort of even more heavily-armed rebels. Spoiler: The Godmother is actually super hot, and she wants to sex Archer.
This is where the episode loses steam. After a night of passionate BDSM, The Godmother reveals that she’s actually a cop. The twist is reminiscent of a better episode from season 4, “Coyote Lovely.” First, the well-established seemingly-older criminal turns out to be a young, attractive Latino woman. Then, it turns out that the young, attractive Latino woman is actually something other than she appears to be.
The episode ends with Archer and co. being carted off to prison, “if we even make it to prison!”
Oh shit, cliffhanger!
Archer: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of I have snake poisoning
It’s kind of hard to pick, but this time in a good way. “Smuggler’s Blues” actually feels like Archer, even if it does borrow a twist from a better episode. I re-watch these things before recapping them, and for the first or second time this season I wasn’t kind of irritated when doing that.
Alright. I’m sure you’re all waiting with bated breath. One of my favorite moments of this episode was Archer forcing himself to vomit so he, Ray, and Cyril could make a quick exit. Like I said earlier, part of the show’s appeal is that the protagonist is a competent blowhard. This is a funny way to show Archer thinking on his feet, a nice combination of his immaturity and field experience.
Second favorite moment: Also in the bar. When Archer says that he’s looking for The Godmother, the music stops with a record-scratch. Then a tough-looking guy thumps the jukebox and it starts up again. I just found that funny.
This is more like it. While “Smuggler’s Blues” doesn’t quite hit the heights of the show at its best, it’s a solid reminder of why we watch Archer in the first place. Episode 7 is funny. Admittedly, it’s funnier before “Smuggler’s Blues” starts copying “Coyote Lovely,” but it’s still a welcome change. It finally feels like the showrunners have remembered the appeal of their own show. Maybe now they can actually commit to this drug dealing business.
What do you guys think? That I’m right? That I’m handsome? Both? As always, use the comments section to bask in my glory.
*In my defense, I can only fan cast Archer as H. Jon Benjamin. Jon Hamm may have the face, but there’s no replacing that voice.