Archer 5×07 ‘Smugglers Blues’: The more things change…


Without warning, Archer forces Gillette and Cyril to accompany him to Colombia to seek out drug lord La Madrina (The Godmother) in order to form a business partnership. Things go about as well as any Archer fan would expect. The rest of the ISIS crew…worries about them. It’s a return to the old-school Archer format that we’ll discuss after the jump.

Overall, this is a fairly by-the-numbers episode. There’s nothing much to recommend it, but it’s a good bit of plot arc progression that isn’t heavy on the Pam-as-coke-addict gags, so it’s not all bad. I think the biggest problem with this installment is that it doesn’t really explore any new territory, either between the characters or in the plot construction. Sure, we have the “Archer is feeling pressure to please Malory” and the “moral debate over selling cocaine” undercurrent, but that’s nothing new. I’ll admittedly never get tired of Archer switching into extremely-competent-spy mode, and there’s enough of that here to keep me happy overall.

Archer: Vice is supposed to be a big departure from previous seasons. Adam Reed was getting bored with the spy format and wanted to change things up. But this is classic Archer – two or three main characters go out on a mission while the rest of the characters wait at HQ for everything to go awry. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this format. I just thought that Reed would try to avoid it completely this season.

Malory, Lana, Cherlene, Pam and Krieger have all been prominently featured at points throughout the season, so stepping away from them and their issues to focus mainly on Colombia is smart. They’re certainly too valuable to over-use, and a lot needs to happen in Colombia to get to the cliffhanger of this episode. Still, as I said, making their entire plotline in this episode trying to find Archer and then fretting about his plan is a bland way to include them in the goings-on. I hope we don’t see more of that in the conclusion “The Rules of Extraction” next week.

Notably, this past week, FX announced it had renewed Archer for a Season 6 and 7. It’s unclear whether the current storyline will be extended, or if we’ll be at a new normal by the season 6 premiere. This season feels very self-contained but it’s not impossible to stretch it out. We’ll have to see.


Source: FX

Some more highlights:

(Lana grabs Malory to keep her from hitting Pam)
Malory: I mean, did you used to be a man?
Lana: Pam…
Pam: I don’t know, did you?
Lana: Have you been stealing coke?
Pam: Wha…no! You think if I had a hundred pounds of coke I’d be sitting here playing choo-choo-train with a tranny?
Lana: Oh, for the…I’m pregnant!
Cherlene (laughing): It said, baffling medical science.
(Lana slaps her.)

Gillette: Do not compare what we do now to intelligence work.
Archer: Don’t worry, I won’t! Because selling cocaine to cocaine dealers doesn’t compare to helping overthrow democratically-elected governments like the U.S. did in Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua, uh, oh, Iran! Because spoiler alert, those didn’t really work out so great. But that’s OK, because I’m pinning my hopes for the future on the next big shipment of Stinger missiles to the rag-tag bunch of mujahideen heroes in Afghanistan!
Cyril: Wow, it seems like you’ve actually given this some thought.
Gillette: Plus, I mean, it’s not like we’re selling cocaine to little kids.
Cyril: And Isis did do a lot of bad stuff.
Gillette: We blew up an oil pipeline.
Cyril: Not to mention a bunch of people, which compared to that, this is kind of a victimless crime. If it even is a crime! I mean…is it
Archer: He said, sucking at being a lawyer.

Cyril: Is that the army?
Archer: I don’t think so. One guy’s wearing a t-shirt from a Phi Mu fun run.

(Archer has just created a voicemail greeting on Ray’s phone tricking Malory)
Gillette: How did you…?
Archer: Remember that day I took your falafel, and you were chasing me all around the living room in your underwear?
Gillette: …Yes.
Archer: Yeah, so I recorded that, added some sound effects, mixed it, called my phone and left it as a message, stole your phone, got into the voicemail settings, called your phone from a landline, and played the message from my phone, then put your phone back. Which I think is why it sounds a little compressed, but whatever.


J.P. Laub

is a pop culture connoisseur, politics wonk, sometimes gamer and consummate nerd. To give you some idea, he is an avid reader of Wikipedia entries about fictional and theoretical faster-than-light drives. Seriously, he once saw a random Dune reference on a website and spent 45 minutes reading about the Holtzmann effect and related entries.


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  • Sally

    So, the unrepentant volley of transphobic jokes was a highlight for you, then?

    • J.P.

      I apologize for making that a highlight. For me, it was just a stand-out bit of dialogue in an episode that, if you noticed, I didn’t really care for. I also included it partially to demonstrate the synchronicity with the other “X said, Ying Z” joke format used in the later bit of dialogue, something Archer does A LOT.

      It’s an unsophisticated string of wisecracks, I’ll cop to that. However, let’s put this in context. It was a 10-second bit in a 22-minute episode. My opinion on transsexuals was not altered by those jokes, and I’d argue that that’s the case with any viewer of the episode. I won’t say “Hey, it’s just a comedy, lighten up” because I do think it’s important to draw a line. What I will say is that the characters as written are terrible people whom almost no viewer would ever want to aspire to. Lana straight up slaps Cherlene for making what is arguably the most offensive of the jokes. So I dunno.

      Like I said, I apologize for offending you. I hope my review didn’t negatively impact your view of the site as a whole. And I hope this response didn’t make you more annoyed.