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Archer Vice Montage-0

Archer's "Vice Fantasy" refers to the condensed montage at the end of "White Elephant" (s5e1), which foreshadows much of the "Archer: Vice" season.  It was delivered as an unexpected twist at the end of an episode which saw ISIS closing it's doors, seemingly for good, and with no apparent plan for moving forward. The cocaine becomes a Macguffin to drive the plot and introduce new characters, storylines and life-events to satirise - mainly south of the border - such as the Iran-Contra affair, covert CIA operators, and the Cali Cartel.

Keep Them Guessing?[]

On first viewing, all the scenarios in the montage play equally as the delusional and wild fantasies of Archer. However, once the season is viewed in it's entirety, several of the scenarios can be eliminated as little more than deviations of events that didn't make sense to the arc of the season. On the surface, and taken as a whole, the fantasy seems like a fun brain-storming activity on the writer's part - "come up with whatever crazy cocaine-related scenarios you can think of: the best bits will make the season but if they are too whacky, we can always use them in a montage to keep the audience guessing."  Something like that.[1]

Pam cast coke copy
The godmother copy

When examined more closely in retrospect, the montage runs as a show-reel of what to expect in the upcoming season, as well as a few red-herrings and references to iconic film imagery thrown in to shake things up.  This is apparent due to the majority of the events shown occurring 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 utilized in the last 1/3 so as not give too much away: from then on the scenes seem to let loose, getting progressively more outlandish and farcical. This discontinuity makes it difficult to predict what, if any, will be in the season ahead, giving a sense of total chaos and confusion, whilst ultimately creating anticipation at the exciting madness ahead.

Scenes which do not accurately foreshadow the season ahead can thus be described as red-herrings, deliberately placed to misdirect, 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 being hunted down by the feds after becoming a cartel boss).
  • Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014): 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 Reed's most common references (and probably favorite 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)
  • Lana's water breaks in the San Marcos Airport (the outfits and location mean this is unlikely to 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 can be seen in a jungle. He says that he accidentally invaded Laos. The Asian woman he is with, Chi, also appears in Season 4's The Honeymooners episode as Archer's manicurist. (red herring)


  1. A reasonable assumption, based on speculation