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"White Elephant" is the premiere episode of Season 5 and the fiftieth episode overall. It first aired on January 13, 2014.

"Well, he died doing what he loved... getting shot."
Sterling Archer[src]



ISIS is raided and disbanded by the U.S. government when it transpires that the agency was never sanctioned by them.


Sterling Archer arrives at the office on his mother's birthday. The office is in blissful splendor before an explosion suddenly rocks the building and it is swarmed by heavily armed and armored intruders. In the ensuing fire fight, Brett is shot and killed before the attackers are revealed to be the FBI. The agents surrender and the lead FBI agent Holly walks in finally announcing their identity, chastising the rest for forgetting to do so at the start. Archer questions why they attacked as Holly places him and the rest of the staff under arrest for numerous charges. They question the charges as Holly arrests Malory, and reveals that ISIS has been operating without sanction or permission from the government. The revelation shocks the agents but Malory is completely unrepentant over lying to them.

In the back of the police van Malory tells the staff not to say anything, as she might be able to keep them from going to prison. Archer and Lana follow her instructions, but Cyril, Pam, Cheryl, Ray, and Krieger spill in exchange for plea bargains, revealing everything that's happened at ISIS. Archer and Lana start fighting in a ploy to lure and knock out their interrogators and free themselves. Still mad, Lana is surprised when Archer suggests she marry him, for the sake of her baby having a father. She rejects the offer by saying "I would rather lose the baby" and he walks out almost in tears, but reveals he's faking, annoying her further.

They free the staff just as they also realize they were not actually receiving plea deals, and bust into Malory's interrogation only to discover her signing a deal to get them off the hook (apparently due to her knowing an extremely influential person, referring to this individual as "him", probably the President of the United States). All the charges against ISIS and its agents will be dropped, however ISIS must close permanently, to which Malory agrees, much to everyone's shock.

Back at the office the staff debate their uncertain futures. Archer halts the conversation asking what they're going to do with the "Elephant" in the room, revealing a massive stash (a literal ton) of cocaine in the wall behind Malory's office. Malory gets an idea and Lana skeptically asks if she actually wants to form a drug cartel. Malory questions how hard it could be. Archer envisions life as a drug dealer (showing highlights for the rest of the season) before he whispers the seasons name "Archer Vice".[1]


Cultural References[]

  • William Tell Overture (1829): The third part of the overture (Ranz des Vaches) plays as Archer first enters the office and interacts with his co-workers.
  • 9/11: The image of smoke pouring out of the windows of ISIS HQ is reminiscent of the smoke rising from the Twin Towers. (The bomb goes off at 1.19, which is 911 backwards).
  • FBI:  The organization which raids ISIS HQ.
  • Starwars / Ninjas: The double reference "Storm-ninjas" refers to the fact that the police look like Stormtroopers (which have white uniforms) only they are dressed from head to toe in black (like actual ninjas).
  • The Muppet Show (1976-81): The 'meep' sound Cyril makes to help with the tinnitus is like the sound made by Beaker, whose name Archer remembers, but spends the rest of the episode trying to remember his counterpart, who is Bunsen (Honeydew).  (For comedic effect, this turns out to be the surname of Brett, which is a gaff as it had already been revealed to be Buckley in an earlier episode).
  • In The Ghetto: Cyril recites the couplet from this song about the young man who steals a car. Cheryl chimes in with the chorus, while reiterating her hatred for Mac Davis, the song's writer.
  • Frisky Dingo: (after Awesome X kills Fat Mike--and a few others--in what he believed was an ambush, more Xtacles are later hired on, of which one is called "New Fat Mike").
  • The Tar Baby: When Malory says that for Ray, prison is "one big, sexy briar patch", she is alluding to this Uncle Remus story, the parallel being that the patch that Br'er Rabbit is flung into is full of prickly briars, which is assumed to cause him pain, just like prison is supposed to be a form of punishment. In the story, Br'er Rabbit is not hurt by the briars as he is able to navigate around them and escape from Br'er Fox, and in the case of Archer, Malory is assuming Ray will enjoy prison rather than feeling punished, because he is gay.

Frisky Dingo[]

  • When Agent Holly chastises the agents about when to announce they were FBI by saying it should be done before "Other Fat Mike" is shot, this is not only a call back to the episode "Midnight Ron" (see below), but also a reference to "Frisky Dingo". After Awesome X kills Fat Mike - and a few others - in what he believed was an ambush, more Xtacles are hired, of which one is called "New Fat Mike."

Running Gags / Callbacks[]

  • LAAANNNAA!!! - Archer's usual battle cry, which is mocked by Malory.
  • Big Dumb Idiot (Asshole) - This office favourite is rolled out by Ray during the shoot out.
  • TinnitusArcher attempts to mitigate recurring tinnitus due to loud explosions by saying "meep".
  • Time Warp - Krieger's fiendish fetishes are alluded to once again - so much so he must erase his browser history.  [anachronism?] Which means it must be pretty bad.  
  • Creepy KriegerMitsuko's habit of reading while Krieger works is called attention to again, with her perusing some yaoi-inspired 'literature': the magazine entitled "GMAN" clutched in hand is no doubt based on a form of homosexual porn fetish for girls. (Photo Ref) When Krieger is jumped by the storm ninjas she can be heard to say splooshingly
"Owwww, G-Man-san!" (translation: "Ow, Mr Gman!") implying that she is aroused when the storm ninjas wrestle the nearly naked Krieger to the ground. (Photo Ref)
  • Agent Holly chastises the agents about when to announce they were FBI by saying it should be done before "Other Fat Mike" is shot, which is a callback to "Midnight Ron" (one of Ron's crew is named Fat Mike). It is also a reference to Frisky Dingo, see above).

Interrogation Scene[]

The scene where the characters are being interrogated in the police station marks a turning point for the series up until this point and is worthy of it's own section.  Forming one long string of approximately 20 callbacks, this section effectively summarises some of the most outrageously stand-out plots of the show so far.  Seemingly disparate events spanning the four preceding seasons are spun into a clever quick-cut sequence which demands the audience to remember and construct a 'mental montage' of the events alluded to for themselves. Even the police conducting the interviews are visibly exacerbated by the extensive (and impressive) litany of felonies.

Once deconstructed, the list is quite impressive:

Ray:  "Miss Archer had an affair with the head of the KGB for 30 years..."
Cheryl:  "hahaha...until he got blown up...which was Cheryl's fault..."
Cyril: " ...because she was busy having choke-sex with a murderous cyborg, who then became the new head of the KGB..."
Krieger:  "...until I built a sexier one out of illegal Soviet parts...and a corpse..."
Pam:  "...there was no shortage of dead bodies around ISIS..."
Ray:  " of which belonged to the Prime Minister of goddamned Italy!"
Cyril:  "Oh Jesus I forgot about the..."
Cheryl:  "...giant pot farm in West Virginia..."
Pam:  "...and this whole other thing with the Yakuza..."
Cheryl glue fbi

Cheryl 'gluing up' in custody

Ray"  "...Irish mob ..."
Cheryl:  "...piracy..."
Cyril:  "...white slavery..."
Pam:  ", actual piracy with like boats..."
Cheryl:  "...I wanna say Burt Reynolds?..."
Cyril:  "...poaching alligators..."
Ray:  "...smuggling Mexicans..."
Krieger:  "...defiling a corpse..."
Cyril:  "...defiling a different corpse..."
Pam:  "...kidnapping the Pope..."
Cheryl  "uh, huh, huh, huh - faking my own kidnapping !.......arson !"
Pam:  "...Bum fights !  You know, like when you pay bums - to [fight...]"
Cyril:  "...destroy an oil pipeline innnn..."
Cheryl:  "...I wanna say Burt Reynolds?..."
Cyril:  "...Turkmenistan?"
Krieger:  "...Odessa - you know, the rat lines"
Cheryl:  "...where you make it look like a murder-suicide but..."
Krieger:  " it murder if they were my own clones?...I'm seriously asking"
Ray:  "...oh, because speaking of sexual assault..."
Pam:  "...which time?  'cos for one of them I've got a pretty good excuse!..."
Agent:  "Can I stop you please?"
Pam:  "That's what he said!  [clears throat]  Inappropriate"
Cyril:  "Jeez, when you just list everything that ISIS has done it sounds - kinda bad!"
Agent:  "...and so if I were you..."
Archer:  "You'd get laid a lot more?"
'Agent:  "...I'd start talking - everybody else is.  They're in there right now saying hes the brains behind ISIS..."
Lana:  "Haaah" [sarcastically]
Archer:   "Exactly, I - hey!"

Archer Vice Montage[]

The highlights montage at the end of the episode runs as a show reel of what to expect in the upcoming sesason, as well as just enough red-herrings and references to iconic film imagery to keep the audience guessing. The majority of the events shown in the irreverent mash-up do actually occur in the course of the season - the first 2/3 up until the alligator scene - and there seems to be a discernible continuity to the story. Misdirection is then utilised in order not to give too much away, as the scenes are shaken up, getting progressively more outlandish and farcical. On first watch, this discontinuity makes it difficult to predict what, if any, will be in the season ahead, giving a sense of chaos and confusion, but ultimately anticipation at the excitement and mad trip ahead.  Scenes which do not accurately foreshadow the season ahead can thus be described as red-herrings, deliberately placed to misdirect, to pay homage (pastiche) and/or to parody a number of other movies:

  • Scarface (1983): Archer buying a tiger, similar to the desire of Tony Montana (parody of the famous fictional coke-dealer as owning a tiger is a symbol of maximum power).
  • Life of Pi (2012): The group get stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger (parody of a contemporary film involving a tiger).
  • The Fugitive (1993): Archer standing in the dam drain with Agent Holly in a reference being hunted down by the FBI (parody of a possible outcome to becoming a cartel boss).
  • Sons of Anarchy (2008-16): Reference during the motorcycle chase.
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991): Archer dressed as the Terminator with Lana on the back of a Harley Davidson is a playful nod to one of Reeds most common references (and probably favourite films). (pastiche)
  • ET (1982): After visually referencing Terminator 2, Archer launches the bike into the air passing a low-hanging moon in homage to the iconic scene in ET. (pastiche x 2)
  • Cheryl/Cherlene's country singer career gets her on to #14 worldwide in rankings (she performs once, then is never shown again). (red herring)

Mention the compass again, see what happens.

  • Lana's water breaks in the San Marcos Airport (whilst unlikely to actually occur literally in Vice, it serves both to callback to an earlier reference to Archer's birth, and foreshadow Lana's giving birth). (red-herring in the literal sense, but not in the symbolic sense).
  • Archer is seen in a jungle. He says that he accidentally invaded Laos. The Asian woman he is with, Chi, also appears in "The Honeymooners" as Archer's manicurist. (red herring)


  • Ray remains in a wheelchair to which he was confined as a result of Archer frying the CPU of his bionic legs by zapping him with a defibrillator in Sea Tunt: Part II (s4e13).


  • Title Explained:' A "White Elephant" is a phrase describing a possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost, particularly that of maintenance, is out of proportion to its usefulness. This describes with particular accuracy the experience the ISIS agents will have with the cocaine throughout the season. The title is also in reference to Archer's comment on the coke being "the elephant in the room" as well to its physical properties (large, heavy, and white-colored). Also a reference to Ernest Hemingway's short story "Hills like White Elephants", which discusses life changing and being unable to return to the way things once were.
  • ISIS is officially shut down in this episode. 
  • Archer briefly breaks the Fourth wall at the episode's end, directly calling the show's 5th season by its name: "Archer Vice".
  • Agent Holly's FBI symbol flips backwards when he accuses Archer and Lana of treason, but corrects itself when he accuses and arrests Malory. This is, perhaps, to symbolize how the FBI has it backwards to arrest Archer and Lana for treason, but they get it right when they arrest Malory.
  • Everyone (except for Lana, Archer and Malory) confessed to the FBI the events of seasons 1-4 as well as some previously unseen events. (Perhaps not unseen, but direct references to events seen. See above).
  • Archer refers to prisons as "unisex" but this is incorrect, as "unisex" implies something that is not gender specific. It's possible that Archer confused its meaning as gender specific.
  • Brett Bunsen/Buckley is shot for the ninth (and final) time.
  • When Cheryl is getting interrogated she says she faked her own kidnapping that one time - Cyril actually kidnaps her for ransom later on.
  • Lana technically breaks the fourth wall after Agent Holly reveals that ISIS has been conducting espionage operations for years with no authority or permission from the government: saying she asked Malory "like 50 times…about that" is a reference to the fact that this is the fiftieth episode of the series.
  • Cheryl mentions J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Malory mentions her memoirs, Secrets and Silk: The Malory Archer Story.


  • There is a continuity error when Brett's surname is revealed to be Bunsen. In "El Secuestro", Brett's last name is listed as Buckley.

First Appearances[]

Characters (in order of appearance)[]



Cheryl: "No! Move! Get away from us!" 
Pam: "Yeah, they're shooting at you!" 
Archer: "Who?" 
Cheryl: "The storm ninjas!" 
Archer: "What? That's not a thing idiot! Oh. I stand corrected." 


Lana: "Son of a... Bitches, I am pregnant!" 
Cyril: "Yes! Who could forget, with the bastard spawn of a total stranger." 
Lana: "Okay, first of all... Cover your eyes and ears!" 
Cyril: "You're not the boss of me! Meep? Meep?" 


Archer: "Well he died doing what he loved... Getting shot."


FBI Agent: "Uh Sir? It's like you said. He's dug in there like a tick and..." 
Krieger: "Never! You'll never take me alive!" 
Agent Hawley: "Okay breach it." 
FBI Agent: "Roger that." 
Krieger: "On second thought, I very much prefer to be taken alive. Just let me clear the ol' browser history and... No, no, no, no, oof! Oh come on!"


Ray: "I said Ms. Archer had an affair with the head of the KGB for like 30 years." 
Cheryl: "Yeah, until he got blown up. Which was actually my fault."
Cyril: "Because she was busy having choke-sex with a murderous cyborg who then became the new head of the KGB."
Krieger: "Until I built a sexier one out of illegal Soviet parts. And a corpse."


Cyril: "Oh, Jesus I forgot about the..."
Cheryl: "Giant pot farm in West Virginia."
Pam: "And this whole other thing with the Yakuza." 
Ray: "Irish Mob."
Cheryl: "Piracy."
Cyril: "White Slavery."
Pam: "No actual piracy. With, like, boats."


Krieger: "Defiling a corpse."
Cyril: "Defiling a different corpse"
Pam: "Kidnapping the Pope..."
Cheryl: *laughs* "Faking my own kidnapping! Arson..."
Pam: "Bum fights! You know like when you pay bums to..."
Cyril: "Destroy an oil pipeline in..."
Cheryl: "I wanna say Burt Reynolds!"
Cyril: "Turkmenistan?"


Lana: "Oh Screw YOU, Mr. 'My mom's a lying bitch and I'm too stupid to realize my life's a pathetic joke!' "
Archer: "Oh, nice to meet you, Mrs. 'Hello My Kid's From A Sperm bank since I cant keep a man, because in addition to my gillion neuroses, l have a weird looking vagina!' "
Archer: "l thought you were going to shoot me"
Lana: "Day's not over"
Lana: "Archer, l can start smoking crack today and he'd still turn out better than you!"
Krieger: "I'll be your doctor."
Lana: "Well if l want Hitlers DNA spliced into him I'll give you a call!"
Krieger: "Yeah I'm around."


Archer: "Oh, my god!"
Lana: "What?"
Archer: "Beaker's boss! Bunsen frickin' Honeydew! Woooooo!! That was figuratively killing me."


Archer: "Archer Vice." 
Lana: "What?" 
Archer: "Nothing. Shut up."

Gallery of Images[]

There are 19 screenshots and images from "White Elephant" on this Wiki, visit the category page for a complete gallery.

Small sample of images from the gallery:

External links[]