Archer is back! And back on track, as FX's animated, irreverent secret-agent saga veers away from the cocaine-cowboys plotline of last season and into more "going on missions and fighting and action and people getting shot and stuff," as executive producer Matt Thompson told us last month. Spoilers ahead.
Unfortunately, the first ep, "The Holdout," isn't exactly a series high point; it's more of a "gettin' the band back together" moment that sees the agency — no longer called ISIS, for obvious reasons — leaping into its new partnership with the CIA. (No Christian Slater in the first episode, but he'll be a part of this sixth season, Thompson confirmed.)
The blown-to-bits office has been restored exactly to its previous shabbiness, to boss-lady Malory Archer's utter chagrin; that's what you get when you let Pam and Cheryl do the redecorating, who think their samesies efforts are freakin' hilarious. The only new addition to the office is Milton, a robotic toaster. Totally useful.
Both Malory and Lana are furious with Archer for going MIA for six weeks on what Malory correctly terms "a self-pitying bender" and what Lana — stuck being a single parent — correctly deduces involves "cobra whiskey" and Asian transgender sex workers. But it's time for the world's suavest/luckiest/laziest spy to get back into the biz, so Archer reluctantly agrees to parachute into the hostile country of Borneo (via a cargo plane that, ughhhh, doesn't stock mini bottles of booze for passengers), remove a computer from a downed plane, blow up said plane, then proceed to a rendezvous point he's not entirely certain of, because "I don't do dossiers." Should go off without a hitch, yeah?
The episode's title is a reference to Archer, of course, who's been holding out and hiding out to avoid his fatherly responsibilities. But he meets another holdout who's had it way worse, a Japanese soldier who's been lurking in the jungles since the 1940s, unaware that World War II has ended. (If this trope seems eye-rollingly familiar, rest assured that series creator and writer, Adam Reed, knows this, and he jokes about it with a Six Million Dollar Man reference.) Archer loops the man into helping him with his mission, but not before chomping down on fistfuls of candy and painkillers ("Mike and Vics") and confessing his worries about the baby to a man who's been longing to see his own family for decades. ("You're a major dickhole," the soldier solemnly declares; "I'm gonna parent the shit out of that kid," Archer tearfully and probably insincerely replies.)
Whether or not Archer will be a changed man after this chance encounter remains to be seen (ok ... yeah, he won't be), but his tussle with communist guerrillas in Borneo is nothing compared to what awaits him back at the office, namely the wrath of his momma and his baby momma. If "The Holdout" fails to begin the new season with a bang, at least it sets up some intrigue for the rest of the season. It also contains the line "We need a minute, Captain Shit Nuts!" Which is never a bad thing.