Archer Season 12 Premiere Review – “Identity Crisis” and “Lowjacked”


Archer Season 12 premieres Wednesday, August 25 at 10 p.m. ET / PT on FXX and is available the next day on FX on Hulu.

In Archer’s Season 12 premiere, “Identity Crisis,” a pair of over-cheerful marketers inform the main cast of dysfunctional spies that they are dinosaurs who must reinvent themselves. It’s a nice meta jab, considering the series has lasted so long largely in constant transformation, spending seasons jumping between genres. But like their perpetually opposing characters, the show’s writers reject that message and instead offer a fantastic start to a season that goes back to the show’s roots.

Archer began as a sort of merger between James Bond and The Office taking place at the International Secret Intelligence Service or ISIS. When the rise of the Islamic State made the name of the fictitious spy agency have a very different impact, the series began to turn things around, transporting its characters to riffs on Miami Vice and Sunset Boulevard before d. ‘go even further for a series of seasons set in the comatose spirit of the series’ namesake super-spy, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin).

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While these antics, through pulp and space opera, provided a new way to let actors effectively explore other characters while still retaining key elements of their chaotic dynamics, they felt like diversions from the l main story. Season 11 finally saw Sterling wake up from a coma and turn the life his family and colleagues had built without him upside down, culminating in a fantastic finale where he proved that, despite all his flaws, he was worth keeping. by saving the world a tech bro plans to take advantage of the flood of the world.

Yet the shine of that moment of glory has already faded by the time the “identity crisis” begins. Cloudbeam’s marketing team, Alton (Harvey Guillén from What We Do in the Shadows) and Kaya (Natacha Rothwell from Insecure) say they could have given Archer the adulation he deserves, but instead , the US government covered up the incident and his agency can barely keep the lights on. Cloudbeam blames stiff competition from new spy conglomerate International Intelligence Agency, but as usual, Archer’s inept colleagues are at least equally to blame. No one has called them with a job since psychotic assistant Cheryl / Carol Tunt (Judy Greer) broke the phone and hasn’t told anyone about it.

Archer’s crew are normally totally unfriendly, so there’s a lot to be gained from painting them as underdogs. Sterling himself had to learn a bit of humility after coming out of his coma with less force. No longer the world’s greatest spy, he’s had to rely more on his co-workers, especially his hyper-competent ex-girlfriend Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), who is perpetually infuriated by Archer’s antics. Of course, given the mercenary nature of the Archer crew, she and fellow spy Ray Gillette (series creator Adam Reed) quickly start talking about how they can join The IIA on their own. IIA chief Fabian Kingsworth (Kayvan Novak of What We Do In The Shadows) is indeed Sterling in his prime, relentlessly mocking the gentleman spy he once admired and providing a perfect foil not just for Sterling. , but to the whole crew.

“Identity Crisis” sees the team trying to beat The IIA for the award for rescuing a kidnapped scientist while “Lowjacked,” part two of the two-part premiere, follows a team-building exercise gone awry thanks to some eco-terrorists who are just as inept as Archer’s crew. The two set the awkward momentum for Season 12, where some of the crew try to be responsible and earn the money and prestige to keep their business going, while others slack off. It’s the kind of prank that has always worked well for the show, which is motivated as much by sexual innuendos (or “phrasing” as Archer calls it) and ridiculous subplots involving cloning and country music, as everything that happens in the main plot.

Going back to the basics of modern espionage allowed Archer to ditch gadgets, as fun as they could have been, and reconnect with what has always made the series great – its crisp writing and incredibly talented voice. . Benjamin perpetually shines as he laughs at his relative luck and the misfortune of his most hated colleague, bureaucrat Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) who gets beat up while Archer plays with dogs in “Lowjacked”. Cheryl and HR Director turned Field Agent Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) are constantly embroiled in misadventures, whether it’s developing their own marketing strategy or not being on a mission so they can take advantage of the opportunity. ‘hibachi. When a nervous chef tries to remind them that there’s always a hostage crisis downstairs, Cheryl’s main concern, naturally, is whether that will affect the grill.

Season 12 also marks Jessica Walter’s final role, as the actress who played Malory Archer, Sterling’s overly sexual alcoholic mother and boss, died in March. It’s a worthy cornerstone of her exceptional career as she plays the human manifestation of the lateral eye, perpetually judging her employees between sips of any drink she can get her hands on. The show’s limited animation style does a great job conveying facial expressions and, in particular, it masterfully shows the bewildered disregard Walter previously brought to the role of Lucile Bluth of Arrested Development.

It is a cornerstone worthy of Jessica Walter’s exceptional career.

Malory has always kept his misfit employees together, and Walter’s death calls into question the entire future of the series. But in this final eight-episode season with the full original cast, Archer’s fundamentals are stronger than ever. If this ends up being the show’s final season, it’s especially fitting that it feels so much like a throwback to where it started.

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