This review was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.It’s nearly time for The Agency to take one last trip into the danger zone as Archer returns for its fourteenth and final season. For more than a decade, Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and company have had audiences laughing over the chaotic antics of the world’s most ridiculous group of superspies. Now, Season 14 looks to take the series out on its final set of missions and, if the first four episodes are any indication, we won’t want to say goodbye by the end of it.

After a few more experimental seasons where the series dabbled in alternate universes while Archer was in a coma, the story saw the titular spy wake up to find his friends had changed quite a bit while he was unconscious. Though there are still plenty of new elements to be excited about, Season 14 of Archer certainly feels like a return to form for the series, both in terms of the quality of the comedy and the cohesiveness of the storytelling itself. The series returns with a two-part season opener on August 30 and, while we won’t reveal what happens, it’s easily one of Archer‘s best two-episode arcs in quite some time.

RELATED: ‘Archer’ Season 14: Release Date, Trailer, Cast, and What to Expect

The Agency Finally Lets Lana Lead in ‘Archer’ Season 14

Image via FX

Season 12 of Archer sent Agency matriarch Malory off in style following the death of Emmy-winning actress Jessica Walter. In the wake of her absence, the gang spent the entirety of Season 13 taking turns being in charge, before ultimately winning the agency back from the International Intelligence Agency (IIA) and finally putting Lana (Aisha Tyler) in the leadership role that she’s been destined for since the series’ inception. Seeing Lana take on the new position is a natural next step for the story and the adjustment period leads to plenty of laughs as she makes the role her own. With a literal body in the wall on her first day as the boss, Lana somehow manages to find, not necessarily a perfect balance, but a perfectly Lana-style balance that makes her the best fit to step into Malory’s shoes. Easily the best spy at The Agency, having Lana become the leader has been a long time coming, it’s a shame that we’ll only get to see her in that role for eight episodes.

The two-parter also introduces a new series regular in Interpol agent Zara Khan (Natalie Dew), whose methods make Archer’s typical tactics seem like child play. Zara is a great addition to the series and an excellent foil to the wisecracking spy. Her presence sends Archer off his axis in a way that makes him uncomfortable and has him fighting to prove himself like a new recruit. Only time will tell if his instincts about her are correct, but in the meantime, watching the two of them bounce off of each other adds rivalrous chemistry that many of Archer’s previous foils have been lacking.

‘Archer’ Returns to Its Roots In Season 14

Image via FX

In addition to new characters and power structures, Archer Season 14 also brings the series back to basics. Not only do we see the team spending more time at the office, but each character also revisits the positions they held there when the series began. Putting each of these characters back into that setting highlights how much some of them have changed, while others have stayed exactly as insane as they’ve always been — yes, I’m talking about Krieger (Lucky Yates) and Cheryl (Judy Greer). Krieger is back to cooking up kooky inventions in his lab and disposing of bodies in completely normal, not at all heinously illegal ways, while Cheryl has stepped in as Lana’s assistant proving that her time in the field only served to make her even more deranged. As with every one of her projects, Greer is a natural standout when it comes to comedic delivery with some of Cheryl’s one-liners being the type that leave you gasping for air.

Meanwhile, Cyrill (Chris Parnell) hasn’t changed so much as he’s chameleonized back into his original role after peaking as the world’s best spy during Archer’s coma. Archer himself is somehow more endearing than usual, giving off major himbo spy Kenergy as he drinks, flirts, and flies into the danger zone with abandon. On the other hand, when Pam (Amber Nash) must dust off her desk as The Agency’s entire HR department, it becomes immediately clear how much she’s evolved throughout the show. Now a fully-fledged agent in her own right, Pam, while still knowing the job inside and out, is far more suited to spending her time as a super spy. As a fan of all of these characters, but especially Pam and Lana, it’s tremendously gratifying to see how far they’ve come since Season 1.

The comedy of Season 14 feels refreshing with the show allowing these characters to be as wacky and outlandish as they should always be. The animation style remains classic and crisp, giving the 2D characters a paper doll look that had me thinking “This is what my Barbies would do, in Barbie Land.” Season 14 also brings back several familiar faces that will have longtime fans grinning from ear to ear.

Will ‘Archer’s Final Season Go Out With a Bang?

Image via FX

One burning question heading into the final episodes that doesn’t have a clear answer in sight is whether Archer and Lana will ultimately end up together. Though it seems like their relationship was put on the back burner for quite some time, that will-they-won’t-they energy still hangs over the two of them. It’s also unclear whether we’ll see Pam’s girlfriend Alessia (Alison Pill) again, though the two seemed to be quite happy together at the end of Season 13, so it’s entirely possible they’re still long-distance dating.

While Season 14 is off to an excellent start, it doesn’t quite seem like the series is headed toward its end. The first half of the season has breathed new life into the show and the new team dynamics have an appeal that would certainly outlast the final eight episodes. There’s such little time left with The Agency that it’s difficult to predict how Archer will close out the series, especially given that it’s episodic by nature, with each mission being fairly contained to no more than one or two episodes. Hopefully, by kicking things off on the right foot, it will go out with a bang, leaving fans satisfied with the final adventures of their favorite spies.

Rating: B+

The Big Picture

  • Archer Season 14 brings the series back to its comedic roots with a cohesive and hilarious storytelling style.
  • Lana finally takes on the role of leader in The Agency, proving she’s the best fit to fill Malory’s shoes.
  • The new season introduces a rival character, Zara Khan, who adds a fresh dynamic to the show and challenges Archer in unexpected ways.

The first two episodes of Archer Season 14 will air on FX and Hulu on August 30, with the remaining six episodes airing weekly.

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