Archer season 13, episode 2 recap – “Operation: Fang”

September 1, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
FX, Premium Channels, TV, Weekly TV
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Summary

“Operation: Fang” is a bit by-the-numbers plot-wise, but it leans against a torrent of great jokes to keep things afloat.

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3

Summary

“Operation: Fang” is a bit by-the-numbers plot-wise, but it leans against a torrent of great jokes to keep things afloat.

This recap of Archer season 13, episode 2, “Operation: Fang”, contains spoilers.


It might be an odd comment, but the jokes often come last in Archer. It’s one of those shows in which everyone is funny all the time; you expect the bizarrely specific references and the withering put-downs. What elevates the better episodes is something unique in their context, backdrop, or structure. When the jokes are always funny, they’re less important than everything else. “Funny” is Archer’s baseline level of quality.

I raise this because “Operation: Fang” is an episode entirely powered by its jokes. It features the whole gang out on a mission, retreads a lot of familiar ground, and doesn’t really amount to much beyond another episode of Archer. That isn’t a bad thing. But it’s not as much of a good thing as it could be.

Archer season 13, episode 2 recap

Luckily, I thought the jokes were stellar this week. It helps that the gang are at each other’s throats for the entire half-hour. They’ve all been despatched by Fabian on a jungle mission to retrieve a red suitcase from a warlord, but in the meantime, they’re to tussle with the wildlife and Ray’s terrible leadership. Ray being the leader is one of only a couple of details that remind us that Fabian is running things now; the other is a last-minute extraction betrayal that shows the whole team comes second to their new boss’s personal interests. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

There’s a moral dilemma here. A little way in, it’s revealed that the warlord has long-since been deposed by his own men, who have since been distributing medical supplies among the locals. So, our heroes are the bad guys. But Fabian outright refuses to extract them until they complete the mission, so they’re essentially forced into doing the wrong thing just to get out of there alive. I suspect this is going to be a persistent theme.

Archer’s characterization also continues from last week’s premiere. With Malory retired, he’s less inclined than ever to do anything that he doesn’t want to do, and it’s only a later suggestion from Lana that he only became a spy in the first place to earn his mother’s love that kicks him into gear – and even then, only spitefully, to prove a point. We’ve done this dance about whether Archer cares or not before, but I’m hoping that it eventually ties into Fabian’s flagrant immorality, and everyone finally comes together to take him down.

But the meat of “Operation: Fang” is, as mentioned, just classic Archer silliness, and it’s a great time. Ray eventually gets bitten by both a snake and a spider, leaving him delirious and under the care of Krieger, who tries to explain his various behaviors as the effects of the dualling venoms. Meanwhile, Cheryl, who is on the mission for reasons I didn’t quite catch, has some great moments in service to the “Lord of Cinders”, whoever that is.

It’s just as well that the writing is zinging in this way since virtually everything here we’ve seen in the show before. To be honest, I’m willing to write this episode off as a functional way of showing how cavalier Fabian is about the team’s lives, which is hopefully developing the season’s overarching plot. But we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, well… at least Archer is always good for a laugh.

You can stream Archer season 13, episode 2, “Operation: Fang”, exclusively on FXX.

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