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Review: ‘Archer’ Season 6 Episode 1 ‘The Holdout’ Reboots the Reboot with Mixed Success

Review: 'Archer' Season 6 Episode 1 'The Holdout' Reboots the Reboot with Mixed Success

“I swear to God I had something for this.” (Episode Summary)

Like many season intros for “Archer,” “The Holdout” opened with our favorite secret agent-turned-drug-dealer-turned-secret-agent-again waking up from a lengthy bender. This time, he’s next to a nearly empty fifth of Cobra Whiskey with a golf cart through his wall and a baby fawn roaming his hotel room. The only problem? It was Lana’s confession to Archer regarding the father of her just-born baby that drove him to drink and thus leave his new family behind. 

Luckily, in what I can only imagine was a drunken hunt for cobra-infused whiskey, Archer’s alcoholic rampage (!) led him close to his mission’s pick-up location, an assignment provided by ISIS the untitled organization’s new employer, the CIA. Archer is sent to destroy an American spy plane in Bornio, but runs into Sato before he can find the plane. The man who appears to be a WWII soldier turns out to be just that, trapped on the island for more than 70 years and still adamant the U.S. is at war with Japan. After a few morale-building skirmishes, the two become close in that very special Archer way, and the young American spy helps the old Japanese soldier find his way home — and find his own path back, as well. 

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, formerly-skinny Pam and ex-country star Cherlene trick Mallory into thinking the renovation done on the office was something truly outstanding, spending a ton of cash on a hologram to fool their boss into believing she finally had the office of her dreams. This leads to many, many callbacks as Mallory mourns the loss of her perfect “white” palace, while the rest of the gang, rather than fix up the office exterior, relax in a secret spa installed by Pam and Krieger. 

“Bloody Mary, full of vodka, pray for me now…” (Best Drinking Reference)

As great as the cobra whiskey was (as well as Lana’s knowledge of it), I’ve got to give this week’s boozing blue ribbon to Archer’s plea for mini bottles before his air drop on the CIA-chartered cargo plane. “Well, then this isn’t a real airline!” “No, it’s not. It’s a CIA front.” “Still though.” Archer’s argumentative nature when it comes to getting his way continues to be one of the series’ highlights, as it’s often highlighted by a feigned ignorance to things he knows, but doesn’t want to admit. This is a great example, even in a light drinking week.

“Danger Zone!” (Most Action-y Action Scene)

Season 6 of “Archer” is chock full of action scenes with advanced animation we’ve yet to see, but the premiere episode didn’t give us much. The climactic escape and plane destruction gave us a pretty good-looking fireball, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Just wait. The coming weeks will blow you (phrasing!) away. 

(Best) “Phrasing”

“Well, I hope you’re happy because I feel like a total dick. And also kind of racist. And I resent you making me feel like that so…I’m not a racist.” – Archer
“I just wanted it to be all white!” – Mallory

“Tactleneck” (Archer Innovation)

Archer may not have invented anything this episode — unless you count his combination of pain killers mixed with candy (Mike and Viks!) — but the biggest change to the episode and thus the show was seen while Mallory spoke to her son about organizations “changing” and “evolving” over time as the ISIS sign was wheeled away behind her. Not much was said leading up to Season 6 about the name of Archer’s long-running employer and its relation to the recently-labeled, real-world terrorist cell, the Islamic State. This was their way of dodging the touchy subject matter, and given how unrelated it was to the show’s mission statement, the subtle nod worked very, very well. 

“That’s like killing a unicorn!” (Best Quote)

“Well, Ken. I’ve got some bad news…Oh, and also some worse news.” – Archer

“Can’t or Won’t?” (Analysis)

Coming back from one of, if not the best season of “Archer” yet, there almost had to be a bit of a backslide. Resetting isn’t easy, especially if the core dynamic hasn’t changed much. Still, “The Holdout” spent its time effectively getting everyone back to business while introducing a few new tweaks. Milton, the toast-making robot assistant, has terrific potential as a frustratingly low-tech sidekick each member of the team will be able to verbally abuse for our amusement. AJ/Abijean was given the moral spotlight, thus providing the greatest cause for overall change. And the freelance assignments from the CIA should allow for some astute satire, especially if a rivalry builds between the employed agents and employing state officers. “Archer” still has solid legs underneath it, and that’s what Episode 1 was tailored to showcase. Mission accomplished. 

Grade: B+

READ MORE: Review: ‘Archer’ Season 6 Kicks Its ‘Vice,’ But Does It Need Another Bad Habit?

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