5 Questions And 500 Words: “Archer”, Season Five

Welcome to another installment of “5 Questions and 500 Words,” my approach to reviewing the crazy amount of shows that will be unspooling/returning over the course of the next few weeks. Given the glut of shows, and the glut of reviews that will be published for these shows, I’m keeping things short and sweet. This is for your convenience and my sanity.

Archer, returns January 13 at 10:00 pm EST on FX

archer-season-5.jpg“Archer” was once a top ten show for you, but didn’t earn a mention in your recent year-end list. What gives?

The idea that one’s relationship with a show stays static is, of course, insane. Things ebb and flow like in any relationship, and the show’s fourth season was a let-down after the stellar third one. Everything felt the same, which was the problem: with a show like “Archer,” there are only so many ways to play the same insane beats. After a while, it turns into white noise rather than anarchic action.

So you’re saying the fifth season is another step down?

Oh no. The fifth season is straight-up awesome, even if it features one of my least favorite storytelling techniques in the process.

I’m confused. Oh wait, I need to ask a question here, don’t I? So, whuck?

Adam Reed may have senses a similar “sameness” in the show’s approach. Or he just got bored. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the fifth season adheres to the narrative approach of the past two seasons (which got increasingly serialized with events not wiped away at the end of each episode) while throwing in a huge game-changing event in the premiere episode. That event doesn’t change the show, except it basically changes the entire show.

Again I ask: whuck?

Look: I don’t want to give away what befalls Archer, Lana, and the rest of their ISIS cohorts in that first episode. But it breathes entirely new life into the show while keeping its vast core of three-dimensional characters intact. It’s the type of twist that most shows are too nervous to pull off, favoring familiarity over big change. But Reed’s move is both ballsy and necessary: Just when I thought I was out, “Archer” pulled me back in.

So what’s all this about your least favorite storytelling technique being in the mix?

Again, I don’t want to give anything away, since it involves one of the two jaw-droppingly awesome montages in the premiere episode. (My notes read: “Well, they’ll never top that this season” followed a little later by “well, they just topped it”.) After the first episode, I was giddy. After watching subsequent episodes, I realized what was up in that second montage, and I was a little less enamored. That being said, what doesn’t work for me will work amazingly well for many others, so take that as you will. It doesn’t destroy all the happiness that the premiere brought me, but does take away certain elements of surprise that the game-changing twist introduces. I should stop now before a sniper shoots me. Or worse: shoots my glass of whiskey.