Plot: With the UN voting to outlaw independent spy agencies, Archer and the gang have to work outside the law to save the world from an unlikely duo in this epic series finale event.
Review: Back in October, the eighth and final episode of Archer’s fourteenth season debuted, seemingly bringing the animated series to a close. But, at the end of the episode, it was revealed that a three-part series finale subtitled Into The Cold would premiere in December. As a movie-length closer to the long-running espionage comedy, Archer: Into the Cold is a fitting wrap-up to the adventures of the private spy agency known for mucking up international affairs for over a decade. With the return of some characters from prior years and delivering a goodbye for the main ensemble, Archer: Into The Cold is a far more satisfying end to the series than we got just a couple of months ago.
Archer: Into the Cold finds the title spy and his workmates taking on a mission that could be their last. As the United Nations votes on outlawing private spy agencies for good, Lana (Aisha Tyler) sends her team to find a stolen bunker-buster weapon that could reignite global tensions with Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and a team in Rio De Janeiro while Lana, Krieger (Lucky Yates), Cheryl (Judy Greer), and Cyril (Chris Parnell) try to figure out how to stay afloat at HQ. The opening section of Into The Cold feels like a typical mission involving sex, undercover work, and lots of one-liners. But, there is also the underlying fear that their careers may end. While most of the team questions what they may do in the future, Archer is in his trademark denial as he tries to stop the bad guys while scoring some very rare whiskey along the way.
As the trailers tease, the mission becomes more complicated with the return of Slater, once again voiced by Christian Slater and Katya (Ona Grauer). Their presence brings back long-standing tensions between the spies and their former adversaries and brings the story to multiple locations, including a casino and Russia. There is torture, action, bombs, a mysterious glowing substance, references to Rush, and batteries attached to nipples. Basically, everything you would expect from a typical Archer episode is here. The story is spread seamlessly across three episodes for a solid sixty-four-minute running time without venturing into feature film territory. But seeing all three episodes combined into one long episode gives the narrative more structure. Still, you can tell where the half-hour breaks would be along the way.
What has always made Archer so much fun has been the send-up of the spy genre and over fourteen seasons, Adam Reed and his voice actors have spoofed and mocked every major franchise and film in the annals of film and television. What I appreciated about this finale was that it never felt like an homage or best of collection of the past fourteen seasons while still managing to close out some plot threads from prior arcs. There is no overt callout to Jessica Walters because that was done in prior seasons. Nor is there a formal close for every character, meaning the door is not permanently shut on future Archer adventures. But, there are some great moments involving every character as they go on what feels like the end of the road for the agency formerly known as ISIS.
Scripted by Mark Ganek, Archer: Into The Cold ends a decade-and-a-half of this series by putting the team on a global mission that sends them across the planet. This finale fails to justify the inclusion of the new character, Zara Khan (Natalie Dew). Yes, Zara does prove integral to the plot of this episode, but adding a character like this in the final season of a series feels like filler since Lana was no longer a field operative. Similarly, many characters we have come to love in this series have key roles in the episode, but their arcs drop off without any wrap-up. Archer: Into the Cold focuses on giving Archer and Lana the close they deserve. The episode’s final scene offers a tease of where this could go next if Archer ever does return while also picking one particular character for an important role moving forward.
Archer: Into The Cold brings a close for the second time to a series I have loved for fourteen years. When I reviewed the final season a few months ago, I was not expecting to get this three-part finale. After watching it, I realized how much I missed this show after several weeks. Multiplying that by years, I am already saddened to think I won’t get to hear H. Jon Benjamin mess with Aisha Tyler while drinking and shooting at bad guys. This finale is a fun send-off that proves that this show still has stuff left in the tank, and I will remain hopeful that we have not seen the end of Archer and everyone else from the now-outlawed spy agency.
Archer: Into The Cold premieres on December 17th on FXX.