TV Review: ‘ARCHER’ – “Strange Doings in the Taboo Groves” (Season 9, Episode 5)


Connor Bynum // Film Critic

ARCHER: DANGER ISLAND – “A Warrior in Costume”

Season 9, Ep. 5
aired on FXX on May 23

Creator: Adam Reed
Voice cast: H. Jon BenjaminEugene CorderoJudy GreerAmber NashChris ParnellAdam ReedAisha Tyler and Jessica Walter

After last week’s flashback-heavy and seemingly unnecessary detour of an episode, DANGER ISLAND corrects its course with my new favorite episode of the season by far.

The episode starts off with a fantastic opening with Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), Pam (Amber Nash) and Crackers (Lucky Yates) sitting in awkward silence aboard the “repaired” Loosey Goosey. It’s a great sight gag, but also a perfect introduction to the central conflict of the episode: Archer’s growing frustration with Pam.

Right on cue, Pam inadvertently reveals to Malory (Jessica Walter) over the radio that they’re out searching for the coveted golden idol somewhere on the island. In classic Malory form, she immediately starts to rationalize how the idol technically falls under her ownership once found, leading Archer to shoot the radio out.

ARCHER: Danger Island — “Strange Doings in the Taboo Groves” — Season 9, Episode 5 (Airs Wednesday, May 23, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured (l-r): Pam Poovey (voice of Amber Nash), Crackers (voice of Lucky Yates), Sterling Archer (voice of H. Jon Benjamin). CR: FXX

Back on the island, Malory is obsessed with finding the idol for herself, but Charlotte (Judy Greer) is much more interested with her newfound control over the hotel with the German soldiers all pining for her affection. Malory convinces Ray (Adam Reed) to take her on an excursion to look for the idol, but not before Charlotte, literally drunk with power, joins them without even changing out of her prostitution outfit. And, on the subject of costume choices, seeing Malory fully decked out in safari garb was adorable.

Meanwhile, Fuchs (Chris Parnell) is frustrated with his lack of progress with the soldiers in his own quest to hunt down the idol. I certainly hope my feelings change, but I personally cannot stand Parnell’s German accent. It’s not that he does a poor job with the dialect, but his character was already annoying when he spoke in his normal voice. Perhaps making his character as unlikable as possible is the actor’s intent, and if so, he nailed it. That being said, having Fuchs straight up murder one of the soldiers for asking too many stupid questions was highly unexpected and really did a great job establishing him as the villain of the season.

All supporting cast side plots out of the way, this was by far and away, Archer, Pam, and Crackers’ episode. After Archer finds himself stuck in quicksand, the remainder of the show felt very reminiscent of the classic Season 2 episode, Pipeline Fever. Not only was some of the funniest dialogue of the season in this scene, but some genuinely moving emotions from both Archer and Pam after Archer finally snaps at her and blames her for everything wrong in his life. Archer has always had an incredibly interesting dynamic with Pam ever since Season 3, and it’s easy to see why they’ve been paired together so much over the years.

Topped off with the cliffhanger of running into the natives on the island, Strange Doings in The Taboo Groves is an outstanding return to form for the season.

Grade: A

A preview for next week’s episode:

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.