Archer Season 4 Premiere, "Fugue and Riffs"

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If you love FX's spy-themed animated comedy Archer as much as I do, then you've waited for this premiere with bated breath. The wait is over at last. Let's get into it.

The episode kicks off with the much-ballyhooed Archer / Bob's Burgers crossover - H. Jon Benjamin voices the title character of both shows. "Bob," however, looks like Archer with a mustache. A few thugs with guns and Russian accents arrive and Archer-Bob shoos his wife and kids - all drawn to resemble their Bob's Burgers counterparts but in Archer style - into the back. The thugs make their move to abduct Archer-Bob. It turns into the robbery scene from A History of Violence, right down to the coffee pot smashed across the face.

After executing the last Russian thug, Archer-Bob explains to his family that he's going away for a while to figure out what's going on. But he'll probably have a spa weekend first, because these past two months at Bob's Burgers have seemed like eons. "I didn't know it was such a burden, Bob," wife Linda grouses. "Wh... of course it's a burden, Linda!" Archer-Bob shoots back. He's suffering from a very Jason Bourne-like amnesia, apparently. Opening credits.

We're back at ISIS headquarters, where the exposition is relatively light - Archer's been missing for two months and nobody knew where he was until he took out the KGB hit squad. Just after disappearing, he married Linda as soon as they met and immediately opened up the burger joint. Malory thinks it's all a ploy meant to aggravate her because of course she does. She wants to rush off to confront him, but Dr. Krieger advises that Archer be eased gently back into his old persona, while simultaneously revealing that he has drugged Cyril, who no longer remembers the names of his parents.

Cut to the spa resort. The ISIS gang have cooked up some kind of staged caper to ease Archer back into being Archer - "We can't just hit him with a frying pan, this isn't The Flintstones!" It's a classic damsel-in-distress gambit with Lana as the damsel. She approaches their mustachioed mark and claims to be the top agent of ISIS ("Not even the top agent at this pool," grumbles Malory) on the run from KGB agents. Despite Archer's immediate suspicion - "Me too! How the hell did we wind up at the same spa?" - he's roped in when she kisses him. He's all a-flutter. Aww.

In a hotel room, Archer marvels at his mysterious combat and weapons knowledge / skills while the rest of the ISIS crew listens in next door. Ray is still bitter over being paralyzed, blaming Archer, and Krieger and Cyril are getting set to play the KGB agents chasing Lana. Pam and Cheryl/Carol relax in a mud bath. My opinion on Pam skyrocketed during the season two episode "El Secuestro" - the one where we first see her amazing Lord Byron tattoo - and ever since then she has become my favorite character. I'm itching for her to have more to do this episode, but she doesn't, and that's okay. I think we all learned from The Simpsons what happens when our favorite secondary characters spend too much time in the limelight. It's only the season premiere, so I will be patient.

Lana and Archer are bitching at each other exactly as they always have, even though Archer still has no idea who he is, when Cyril and Krieger emerge playing KGB agents. The charade is ruined when real KGB agents suddenly show up and open fire.

Bullets whiz about, shattering glass and ruining furniture while Archer and Lana continue to bicker behind the bar and Ray, back in the hotel room, ignores Lana's pleas for help. Cyril once again lets fly his war cry of "Suppressing fiiiiiiiiire!" while firing blanks at the Russians, giving Archer time to whip up a Molotov cocktail out of Lana's shirt and bikini top. Don't get too excited, fanboys: she applies some bar coaster pasties, because TV-MA doesn't mean the same thing on basic cable as it does on premium cable.

Pam, Malory, and Cheryl/Carol have a brief scene at a mudbath wherein Cheryl/Carol fires, then promotes the masseuse, while Pam smokes a sizable spliff. Cheryl/Carol is high on LSD-soaked gummi bears. Malory is characteristically grumpy.

The Molotov cocktail barrage isn't terribly effective so far when Archer starts having a major headache, brought on by sudden, powerful deja vu. He puts himself in danger with a mental breakdown, reverting to his Bob persona, when Lana cleans his clock with - you guessed it - a frying pan. Sure enough, Sterling Archer is instantly returned. He fashions a lacrosse stick out of a mop and ice scoop and begins hurling Molotovs with deadly accuracy, which is no shocker, considering all the time he spent at prep school. The Russians burn and scream.

Archer remembers: He carjacked the limousine from his mother's wedding. Yup, it's the big surprise: Malory married Ron Cadillac, owner of the biggest Cadillac dealership in New York. They've been married for two months and the rest of the gang obviously loves Ron. How exactly Archer came to have amnesia isn't explained, although what is explained is how the KGB kept finding him: cyborg Barry is still marooned in space, watching Archer's every move and slave-driving a dwindling supply of scientists to fix his spaceship.

Cheryl/Carol hallucinates a talking ostrich, and we're done for the week.

Overall Score: B+. Not a classic, but it's great to have the show back again.

Random Quotes Out of Context:
"Hamburgers?"
"You know another kind of burger?"
"Ostrich. Shut up, they're good, shut up!"

"Sour mix? In a margarita?! What is this, Auschwitz?!"

"Dun't move a mussels, Amerikyestkis!"

Obscure references:
The old Isis / Shazam cartoon
Jennifer Lawrence, alter-ego of She-Hulk



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