Archer season 13, episode 1 recap – “The Big Con”

August 25, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
FX, Hulu, Premium Channels, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

“The Big Con” proves that being bought out and exploited by an evil corporation is just what Archer needed.

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3.5

Summary

“The Big Con” proves that being bought out and exploited by an evil corporation is just what Archer needed.

This recap of Archer season 13, episode 1, “The Big Con”, contains spoilers.


Archer has now been on the air so long that it’s outliving some of its beloved characters. After the loss of George Coe in 2015, his character of Woodhouse, the title character’s long-suffering valet, was written out of the show. And just last year, the great Jessica Walter, who played Sterling’s mother Malory, sadly passed away. Despite the twelfth season finale having given her a surprisingly lovely send-off, reuniting her in retirement with her in-show husband Ron Cadillac, voiced by real-life late husband Ron Leibman, who died in 2019, the thirteenth season premiere, “The Big Con”, is the first episode to really acknowledge Mother’s absence.

And it does so by barely acknowledging it at all.

Archer season 13, episode 1 recap

That might seem like a criticism, but it isn’t, really. Archer allowed Malory a peaceful, fitting send-off, but in the universe of the show, she’s enjoying her retirement. There’s no need to mourn her. So, aside from a few errant remarks, her not being there isn’t made much of a big deal of. The show doesn’t strain for emotional resonance or attempt to carefully tiptoe around the new dynamic. Instead, it charges forwards with a new purpose, a new framework, and a new boss.

That boss is Fabian (Kayvan Novak), the head of the conglomerate spy agency IIA which now owns The Agency. He’s an insufferable spy-cum-businessman with a speech impediment who everyone hates, and yet he’s in charge, so he must be saved when he gets kidnapped. This is what happens at ClandestiCon, an industry conference designed to show off the abilities of the IIA’s various agencies and spies and admin staff to make them a more lucrative, boutique option for potential clients. Fabian gets snatched, so it’s up to the usual team to split in half, with the field agents taking part in various competitive scenarios to impress the audience while the boffin B-team tries to keep the new boss alive.

This is mostly an excuse for jokes at a new-ish target and some solid action sequences. It’s the new target that matters most. Through Fabian, Archer is having to reckon with the idea of faceless corporate overlords stifling the creativity and personality of individuals under their auspices. In other words, the work environment is suddenly strict and serious in a way that is virtually guaranteed to be very funny, especially as Archer himself becomes more and more frustrated trying to operate within its parameters.

So, Fabian is the butt of the joke, but he has a few zingers of his own. He’s no Malory Archer, of course, but nobody ever could be – he is, though, his own kind of horrible boss with even fewer redeeming qualities, and it’ll be fun to watch him annoy everyone throughout the season.

Speaking of awful dudes, “The Big Con” also shunts Lana’s ex-husband Robert to the forefront of the villain line-up by revealing he’s seeking legal custody of her and Archer’s daughter, AJ, presumably as an attempt to punish and/or control Lana rather than any genuine sense of altruism, which is a grim plot point worth keeping an eye on. It at least gives Archer a good excuse to put his arrested development to the task of helping Lana relate to their daughter. That’s a somewhat new angle for Sterling, even if he does swear at the end of the episode to be even more off-the-rails and impulsive than usual.

That should be fun.

You can stream Archer season 13, episode 1, “The Big Con”, exclusively on FX on Hulu.

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