'Archer' Season 11 Episode 5 Review: Archer's new valet is dangerous, there is more to him than meets the eye
Spoilers for 'Archer' Season 11 Episode 5 'Best Friends'
Sterling Archer (H Jon Benjamin) is a toxic man who destroys nearly everything he touches, which means the closest relationships in his life are always going to be a mixed bag of love, hate, dependence and absolute frustration. Naturally, the man that Archer finally learns to love and trust after losing Wodehouse is one that secretly plans to kill him, but the experience, at least, teaches Archer a valuable lesson about friendship. Well, it might have, if Archer was at all capable of learning lessons of value.
Aleister (Simon Pegg) is, by all appearances, the perfect valet. Not only is he able to cotton on to Archer's many foibles and eccentricities, but he's efficient, polite and professional enough to earn the admiration of everyone else in the office as well. The only trouble is that perfection is just a cover for Aleister to get close enough to kill the world's greatest spy, who to Archer's indignation, turns out to be Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell). In the meantime, the rest of the office undergoes a fake secret mission because they're all in desperate need of a vacation from Archer himself.
The episode is a wealth of twists and turns, from Aleister's heel turn to the reveal that Cyril is the target as the "World's Greatest Spy", to perhaps the most hilarious reveal of all - that to the outside eye, Archer and Cyril are the very best of friends. Given Archer's twisted approach those he cares most about, this makes a surprising amount of sense, not that it's a truth that Archer would ever accept. Still, it's a truth that cuts straight to the heart of the show. As much as Archer complains about everyone in his life, there's no one he cares more about.
Since his return, Archer has been rather aggressively undermining Cyril's confidence and with this episode we see Cyril return to his pre-coma self - afraid of missions, always ready with an excuse and faking injuries to stick to office work instead of field missions. It's worth remembering, however, that in Archer's absence, Cyril was the best spy that the organization had ever seen, something Aleister definitely takes into account. Cyril's journey has been a steady but subtle one, culminating in him once again embracing his more cowardly nature this episode in a manner that he's more comfortable with.
This episode actually shows just how much everyone in Archer's life has reverted to how they were before his coma. Without Archer's influence, nearly all of them achieved a better version of themselves, something that started to go sour the moment he returned. Whether it's Lana Kane's (Aisha Tyler) marriage, Cheryl Tunt's (Judy Greer) new, better self or Mallory Archer (Jessica Walter) finally running a competent spy organization, it's all gone downhill since Archer's return. As tragic as this turn of events may be, it makes for great comedy.
With Aleister's betrayal and ultimate death, the first person that Archer is able to care about unconditionally since recovering from his coma is gone. A larger man would recognize the valuable lesson that Aleister imparted and begin to appreciate the people in his life a lot more, starting with Cyril. Archer, however, is a far cry from that man and this is likely going to be the start of him closing himself off more than ever.
The next episode of 'Archer' airs on Wednesday, October 14, at 10 pm ET.