After making it out of the jungle and back to the office by the end of last week’s premiere “The Holdout,” our beloved Sterling Archer isn’t given much time to rest on his laurels in “Three to Tango.” Archer has delivered many ‘mission’ episodes throughout its run, and this week’s installment certainly fits into that category, even if it feels a tad slighter than most.
We kick off with new CIA handler Slater briefing Archer and Lana on a top-secret mission to extract a CIA freelancer from Buenos Aires before Argentine intelligence officers catch up with him. The only reason Slater is bringing the pair in on it is that they have some past experience with the freelancer – who turns out to be none other than dashing handsome double agent (and possible Jewish Santa) Conway Stern. Apparently, Bionic Barry is still suffering over in Russia and wasn’t available for this plotline.
Of course, seeing as Conway “literally” stabbed Archer in the back the last time they saw each other, and Lana was responsible for him losing his hand, the two have some understandable misgivings – unlike Malory, who immediately latches onto the idea that the Conway she was so infatuated with is playing for the same team as her after all. However, with the CIA now assigning their missions, Archer and Lana have little choice about jetting off for a little reunion.
There’s not that much to say about the mission part of “Three to Tango.” Archer and Lana reluctantly team with Conway to retrieve the top-secret intel he was sent to steal, a computer file containing the real identity of every single CIA agent operating in Central and South America, which the Argentine government is threatening to sell to the Soviets.
Donning disguises (with Archer assuming the identity of Colonel Lando Calrissiano, limo driver), they attempt to sneak into the Argentine embassy – only for Archer to “Archerize” the mission by fighting everyone they meet. Finally, they retrieve the intel – only for Conway to shoot Archer into the back and betray everyone yet again, though his escape is sabotaged by Lana and, once again, Conway ends up without a hand. Suffice to say, it’s business as usual on Archer this week.
All in all, it’s a damningly straightforward mission, steeped in nostalgia for season 1, as well as the main reason “Three to Tango” feels incomplete. But the best parts of the episode are, as usual for Archer, in both the presentation and the scripting. The “revenge rampage” fight between Archer and Conway is remarkably fun to watch, kinetic and innovative as the best action scenes this show has pulled off (and it gets bonus points for letting Lana strike the finishing blow with a tea kettle). Ditto for the action sequence with Archer dispatching an entire security team on his own. Archer‘s animation lends itself well to fluid, complicated action scenes, and I’ll give “Three to Tango” credit for providing a little of that (though not enough for my tastes).