There is a solid argument to be made that Archer’s most recent episodes are a revitalized return to form and the most exciting the show has been in years. It is exceedingly uncommon for a television series to produce its finest material in season 13, but it is possible. Season 13 of Archer forced the show and its characters to take a close look at themselves. The results have been eye-opening for longtime viewers, but they also have meaning for interested newcomers.
The season’s finale, “Dough, Ray, and Me,” deftly ties up the season’s worth of deceit as Archer and company are compelled to face impossibly difficult truths as they work together to determine their personal and professional futures prior to martial law taking over the nation. The events of this revelatory finale are broken down by executive producer Casey Willis and producer/director Pierre Cerato, including the difficult subject of betrayal, AJ’s role in the future, this year’s increasingly erratic action set pieces, The Agency’s new leader, and future plans for Fabian and beyond.
In the penultimate episode of Archer, the worlds of law enforcement and special espionage meet as The Agency team devises a complicated strategy to evade capture that doubles as a specialized ruse to win Lana’s custody trial.
Despite the fact that Lana’s intransigence constantly threatens to break everyone’s secret, this arduous act of teamwork may be just what these spies need to properly come together and decide their destinies.
Season 13 of Archer has been a great return to form, and the penultimate episode ties up the personal issue of Lana’s custody trial, which has been building all year, with the massive repercussions that The Agency team has found themselves in after Fabian’s treachery. Attempting to balance both of these themes at once is a bit far-fetched for these characters, but “Distraction Action” owes a lot to the wacky sitcom zaniness of the show’s early seasons.
In a hilarious and effective way that sets the tone for this zany episode, the opening sequence of this episode mocks several stereotypical sound effects from sitcoms. But I wouldn’t have minded a “Distraction Action” that is stuck with the same recorded laughing and other cheesy sound effects and has to come up with new methods to make fun of these tried-and-true traditions.
Despite the fact that this plot point was dropped, “Distraction Action” still works well as a buildup to the season finale and as an entertaining continuation of the development of Lana’s troubled relationships with A.J., her career, and herself.
The best Archer episodes are the ones when the crew comes together to solve a problem, and “Distraction Action” is one of those episodes because it lets everyone use their own special brand of planned chaos to help the team out. To illustrate the Agency’s autonomy, consider Lana’s quest to rescue her family.
While the efforts of everyone involved are essential, Sterling’s continued development and decent behavior in this setting make him particularly noteworthy. The episode opens with a truly motivational speech from him, which the writer tries to undermine through humor but ultimately fails to do so because the words are too powerful.
When the rocket launchers start going off at the end of “Distraction Action,” it becomes clear that Archer hasn’t held back on any of the action setpieces this season. The hijinks on hovercrafts and jet skis that The Agency and the FBI get into on International Waters are even more visually appealing than the pursuit sequences seen thus far this season. Nothing wrong with an episode that features a lot of motorcycles, explosions, and Pam riding a bike.
The clever application of cutting-edge technology is entertaining, but the characters’ zany improvised antics are just as much of a source of amusement. In typical Archer fashion, a minor disagreement is settled with a shot glass.
This season has been full of satisfying character-driven episodes like “Distraction Action,” which blend foreign espionage and interpersonal drama together with ease. Some of the plot twists are really obvious, yet they ultimately pay off and put Lana back on firm footing after a season of stumbles and ambiguous character development.
It’s a solid episode that showcases the show’s numerous strengths, and it builds true anticipation for the series finale, which hasn’t happened in Archer in quite some time. Many Archer viewers will likely be pleased with the season’s climax and curious about what the future holds for the show in Season 14 and beyond because of the unexpected return of an old friend.
Baby Lamont, the kind-hearted penguin who made his debut in Frisky Dingo and reappeared in Archer’s 12th season, deserves a toast, too. Wherever you are, I hope you’re booshing and/or kakowing.