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"The Papal Chase" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of Archer.



The ISIS crew heads to the Vatican to stop an assassination attempt on the Pope. While Woodhouse is used as a decoy, Archer and Pam pose as a priest and a nun.


S04E11-Office floor

What's going on?

On the ISIS main office floor, the staff are in a tizzy as Malory yells at Ray for a file. Malory ducks into her office to avoid Lana but her enormously strong hands rip open the magnetically sealed door. Lana discovers that Malory doesn't want to send her on a mission to Vatican City to foil an assassination attempt on the Pope by the Swiss Guard.

S04E11-Archer-Pam-Wood on plane

Why are you still going "Hah!"?

Archer and Pam are Malory's initial choices and they enter her office dressed as a priest and a nun. However, once Malory sees that Lana has language and other skills lacking from the team, she's assigned to go. Cyril stays behind, seemingly terrified of anyone in religious garb. When Lana sees that the Pope looks the same as Woodhouse, she forces Archer to bring him along.


Dios mio!

In Vatican City, Lana deals with Woodhouse, who is withdrawing from his heroin addiction. Archer and Pam meet Cardinal Morelli and reveal their plan to use Woodhouse as a decoy and shepherd the Pope to safety. Given access to the Pope's bedroom, they find him asleep. Worried he might be dead, Pam carries a huge mirror (to see if the Pope's breath fogs it) and drops it on him.

S04E11-Car explosion

Safire in the hole!

Lana arrives with Woodhouse and after the Pope is revived, there's loud banging on the chamber door. Everyone escapes through a window and make their getaway in a very small car. A very long and involved car chase ends when Archer jumps on top of the Swiss Guard's car, puts a flare in the gas tank which then explodes. Although Archer jumped to safety onto the small car, his clothes are burned away.

S04E11-End w Woodhouse-Pope

I have an idea on that.

Lana crashes the car into a bollard which flings Archer onto the windshield of a parked Swiss Guard car. While everyone is treated by paramedics, they learn from a real Swiss Guard commander that those in pursuit of them were the Camorra in disguise. Cardinal Corelli hired the Camorra to kill the Pope as he would be likely to succeed him. He expected ISIS to fail their mission and by hiring them, it would deflect suspicion he was behind the assassination. Lana ensures that Woodhouse gets a vacation.


Cultural References[]

  • Title Explained: The title of this episode is a reference to the film and novel "The Paper Chase."
  • Archer gives a shout-out to Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil, wherein H. Jon Benjamin voices the Devil as well as one of the priests.
  • Archer's disguise is a reference to the classic comic character Father Guido Sarducci. Pam refers to him as Father Guido Sar-Douchebag. It also looks very similar to his "Bob Belcher" alter-ego, but clad in a cassock instead of a shirt and greasy apron.
  • When sitting in the café, Lana asks Woodhouse if there's a particular amount of heroin he can take without getting all Trainspotty, a reference to Irvine Welsh's novel Trainspotting, and the 1996 film of the same name.
  • Punky Brewster: Lana calls Woodhouse "Junky Brewster", a reference to the TV show.
  • Cypher is an X-Men whose special ability is easily understanding languages. Gambit is also mentioned. He is another member of the X-Men who can throw things and cause them to explode, usually cards.
  • Archer sarcastically says to Pam "Nice job Oliver Cromwell". The English ruler was famous for killing many Catholics.
  • While on the trunk of the Swiss Guards' car, Archer says "Who am I William Safire?" Safire was an American author and speechwriter who wrote a New York Times Magazine column called On Language
  • Payne Stewart was a golfer known for his flamboyant clothing.
  • Archer mentions voulges and St. Peter's.

Running Gags / Callbacks[]

S04E11-Lana-Krieger robot hands

Jazz hands!

  • Lana's Hands: After ripping through a magnetic door with one hand, Malory wonders if Lana has been outfitted with robotic hands by Krieger.
  • Lana? Lana. LANAAAA!: This time it's Lana, Malory, and Archer each yelling Pam's name.
  • 934TXS: The imposter Swiss Guard's vehicle plate number is 934TXS.


  • Earlier in the season during the opening of the episode "Legs", Ray finds out the team are going to Rome for "the Morelli thing". Ray unable to go because of his paralysis, complains that he planned the entire operation. It is unclear if this is a direct reference to this particular mission. Although he doesn't show much interest in this case when we see him at the beginning of the episode.


  • The entire episode is a nod to the Robert Ludlum book "The Road to Gandolfo."
  • This marks Pam's first mission as a field agent.
  • A note on the ISIS filing cabinet reads, "Please stop filing snacks."
  • Ron's newspaper headlines are: Sealab Offline (shout out to Sealab 2020), Marco's Machine, & KGB Activity Triples
  • "Operation Bad Habit" is a callback to a scene in "Frisky Dingo" (another Adam Reed show) where the characters plan to attempt a kidnapping dressed as nuns.
  • Cyril acts like he has a phobia of priests and nuns stemming from a past trauma he's uncomfortable discussing. He tells Cheryl he is faking so he won't have to go on any more missions with Archer, but was shown reacting fearfully to Lana in a nun outfit during a flashback to an S&M scene. However, Lana and Cyril are dating during this episode so Cyril could have been faking his phobia outside of work to make his story more convincing.
  • On the plane, and later in a cafe in Rome, Woodhouse is seen scratching, which is used as an indication that he is withdrawing from heroin. Actually, heroin causes users to itch while using, not while withdrawing. This misconception is also seen in the episode, "Blood Test".
  • Pam's comment to Archer in the Pope's bedroom, "Stai zitto, testa di cazzo," translates as "Shut up, dickhead."
  • Archer reveals that Dicky Woodhouse is dead and he not only did not allow Woodhouse to attend his funeral, he has not even told him about it.
  • When Pam asks the Pope, "Can I squeeze in a confession?" he responds in Italian, "Oho, ora dov'e il tuo Martin Luther?"  which translates to "Oh, where is your Martin Luther now?" Pam then responds, "Fine, I'll buy a damn iIndulgence!" Martin Luther is the founder of Protestantism, and scandals over the selling of indulgences set the stage for the Protestant Reformation.
  • Archer lands on the hood of a Guardia Svizzera cruiser in a pose evoking "The Creation of Adam," by Michelangelo, although his left knee is raised instead of the right. Presumably, this alteration is to cover his junk for censors.
  • When Archer sees the pope sleeping, he mentions how he likes to spook Woodhouse by sitting by his bed wearing night-vision goggles. This prank was mentioned in the How to Archer book.
  • The Pope says that Archer really drops the GD bomb, referencing Archer's frequent use of the word goddamn.
  • Cyril reads a magazine with a Sky Air ad on the back while talking to Cheryl.
  • On her way to Rome, Pam is watching "Pink Panther" in the plane. When the episode ends, her victory yell features the same downward glissando that the Pink Panther theme ends with.
  • The Camorra is added to Archer's list of enemies, and the legendary incompetence of ISIS has spread further.
  • The music used during the chase scene in this episode is the exact same music used in the animated short "Here Comes Dr. Tran".


Gallery of Images[]

There are 9 screenshots and images from "The Papal Chase" on this Wiki, visit the category page for a complete gallery.