TV’s favorite drunk spy is back. FX’s twelfth season of Archer (Adam Reed, Frisky Dingo) is out, which means that “phrasing”, “rampage” and dangerous inebriation are back into the lingo. “Identity Crisis” re-introduces the unintelligent spy agency along with the world’s ex-best spy: Sterling Mallory Archer (H. Jon Benjamin, Bob’s Burgers), who is still getting used to his new A.C (after coma) reality.
This season’s first adventure begins with all the imaginable fanfare. From paparazzi on the bottom of the stairs to the president giving the agents medals, all the way to motorcade celebrations. ISIS seems to have achieved all the grandeur that the visionary Mallory Archer (the late Jessica Walters, Arrested Development) saw for her future. But alas, the glory is nothing but a figment of the imagination, originated by a pair of marketing people (Harvey Guillen, What We Do in The Shadows and Natasha Rothwell, Insecure). This splendor might have taken place if only ISIS had great marketing. They don’t, so they didn’t. Hence, the agency is broke.
The government denied their heroism and withheld payment (cue Slater and the CIA), which perhaps explains why ISIS no longer has functioning phones nor crystal glasses. Perhaps they should have cut alcohol before health insurance, but that’s just how the Archers work. The ranting buffoons explained to everyone how the old spy model just doesn’t work anymore. How come that ISIS hasn’t heard about Global Spy Wire? The only place for spy info, think Linkedin but for espionage. Unless the agency gets more modern, they will get no jobs whatsoever. I suspect this is the theme of the season, for even if ISIS was at risk before, this time it might actually be for real. Unlike the other times, the agency has a new enemy that they are most definitely not prepared to fight against. IIA is the large soul-less vulture rival company that competes with them for every job. The big guy.
The solution against this? Actually, the short-term solution? On the one hand, Cheryl (Judy Greer, 13 Going 30) and Pam (Nash Grier, Mr. Robot) will lead the marketing team in charge of branding ISIS. On the other hand, the rest of the team will sign up for the most lucrative on Global Spy Wire and get going. With no money on their backs, Archer, Lana (Aisha Tyler, Criminal Minds), Cyril (Chris Parnell, SNL), and Ray embark on a dirty trip to Moldovia.
In a somewhat expositional scene, the mission is explained. A group of mercenaries kidnapped a man known as The Professor (Eric Andre, The Eric Andre Show), the inventor of a prototype for an ionic fusion device. The spies have an advantage that no other agency has: they know at that time the Professor is gonna be moved, and through which highway. Or at least they think so. Moments later, the season’s archenemy appears from the shadow. His name: Fabian Kingsworth (Kayvan Novak, What We Do in The Shadows). He is what Sterling Archer used to be, suave, fast and a great spy. He’s even more, for he’s the director of IIA, the rival agency that proves everything impossible for the underdog. After an exchange of unpleasantries (“it’s hard to see someone you used to admire” says Bond-like villain Mr.Kingsworth), Archer re-organizes the mission’s objective: follow Kingsworth and sabotage his plan in a totally humiliating manner.
Between sneaking out from truck to truck and from the hotel to a helicopter, agent Lana Kane manages to share a revealing conversation with her daughter’s biological child. She asks what to do when one person finds their significant other irritating. Has she made the wrong choice? In a relationship way, she says. Oh yes, terrible, answers Archer. Who is not caught by surprise from this line of questioning and even mocks the march and late December romance that his ex everything has today. Yet, it doesn’t make him feel bad enough, for Sterling Archer decides that he is capable of flying a helicopter (aptly named Dr. Whirrlmington Spinblade) to save the day. Or actually, ruin someone else’s day. Whatever it may be, Archer is unable to beat his new enemy and is faced with a humiliating defeat– his tactic-cane is snapped in half. A strong symbolical message for the audience to remember is that even if Archer is as Archer as ever, there are some things that perhaps will never be the same. The group fails at the mission, the Professor falls into a coma while under their supervision, and yet they manage to get some money out of this colossal– and expected– disappointment.
This season’s first episode supply us with all the Archer characteristic that everyone expects: double-entendres, obscure references, helicopter chases, lots of guns, Mallory Archer and drinking. Additionally, it sets exceptionally well what to anticipate from this season twelve: old Archer with a new tactical twist. And a whole lot of Pam Poovey too.