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Recap / Archer S 1 E 1 Mole Hunt

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Sterling Archer, suave agent from spy organization ISIS, undergoes a torture training exercise, but causes it to be terminated after complaining about fellow agent Crenshaw's fake-torture tactics. The next day, while trying to get members of the organization to smell his dry cleaning due to its strangely curry-like odor, he is called into the office of Malory, his mother and boss, where he is chastised for misusing his ISIS expense account. He seeks assistance from Lana, his ex-girlfriend, who knocks his donuts on the floor, and Cyril, ISIS comptroller and Lana's new boyfriend, to clear his account, but he refuses. Archer tries getting secretary Cheryl to leave the mainframe open that night, allowing Archer to easily slip in and clear his account, with the excuse that he's hunting for a mole in the organization, but she too denies his request.


Without any options, Archer is forced to break into ISIS's mainframe. He assumes this will be an extremely difficult task, but discovers that actual security is appallingly terrible and he easily figures out the password to hack his account after the first try. While trying to transfer all of his excess expenses from his account to Crenshaw, Crenshaw enters the room and holds a gun up to Archer's head. He reveals that he is actually a Russian spy named Kremenski. Ever since Archer had mentioned the possibility of a mole earlier in the day, Kremenski has been afraid that he will fall under increased scrutiny and be outed as a mole, so he plans on stealing $50,000 from Archer's account and fleeing from the country. Just then, however, Lana arrives and pulls a gun on Kremenski. She and Archer begin to argue and the mole is able to escape.


They pursue him outside, where Cyril and Malory have already arrived. Kremenski grabs Malory and threatens to kill her if they do not let him leave; Archer tries to turn the tables on him by grabbing Lana and threatening to do the same, but Kremenski does not care about her well being. When Kremenski talks about killing Mallory, Lana proclaims that Archer is getting an erection, causing Kremenski to let go of Malory in disgust, allowing Archer room to shoot him several times, killing him.

Cyril comes to the conclusion that Kremenski had been stealing from Archer's account the whole time, thus giving Archer an alibi. Malory notes that she would have known if there was a mole at ISIS, her earlier phone call revealed to have been with Nikolai Jackov, head of the KGB. She changes the subject when questioned, and complains that someone left donuts on the floor attracting ants.


  • Accidental Truth: Archer's lie about the supposed KGB mole turns into the truth when Crenshaw is revealed as one.
  • Brick Joke: Several, setting the trend for the series:
    • The opening sequence involves Archer in a KGB torture simulation with Crenshaw, who is acting as the torturer. By the end of the episode, it's revealed that Crenshaw actually is a KGB mole within ISIS.
    • Early in the episode, Archer accidentally shoots someone in the ISIS office when the bullets he fires reflect off the mainframe door. The offscreen victim yells out "What is wrong with you?!", to which Archer responds "Me? Nothing. You, on the other hand, have a bullet inside you." He repeats the line after he shoots Kremenski, but is cut off by Malory, who is more than upset that her son had an erection from imagining her killed.
    • Before Archer walks into Malory's room, she is seen masturbating to an unknown voice over the phone. The second half of this conversation is shown at the end of the episode to have been with Nikolai Jackov, the head of the KGB in Moscow.
    • Throughout the episode, Archer complains that people are attracting ants by leaving food scraps on the floor. Come the end of the episode, we see where he got the trait:
    Mallory: Do you want ants?! Because that's how you get ants!
  • Chekhov's Gunman/The Mole: Crenshaw/Kremenski.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Lana is complaining to Cyril about Archer:
    Lana: After the lying, and the cheating, and that thing with the mayonnaise...
    Cyril: It's fine.
    Lana: ...not to mention how messed up he is about his mother...
    Cyril: It's fine.
    Lana: You know, he once called out her name while we were f-
  • Danger Room Cold Open: How the episode starts.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Archer is seemingly imprisoned in a Russian cell, near-naked and with a guard threatening to torture him. Archer just snarks at the "guard's" accent and Go-kart (Golf kart) battery, at which point we find out it was all a simulation, which Archer's mother is creepily invested in. This establishes the tone and themes of the entire series; taking every trope you would find in a conventional Spy Fiction setting and ripping the mystique right out of them.
  • Famous Last Words: Kremenski gets "The hell is wrong with you people?!"
  • Foreshadowing: During the torture simulation, Kremenski asks Archer what would happen if he was really a KGB agent. See Brick Joke above.
  • Irony: Archer makes up a Mole Hunt to gain access to the mainframe, only to discover that Crenshaw is a mole named Kremenski, thanks to Pam.
  • Karma Houdini: After being scolded for squandering his bank account, Archer breaks into the ISIS mainframe and decides to move Crenshaw's funds to it. After dealing with Crenshaw, or Kremenski, as a mole, Cyril believes that Kremenski stole Archer's funds.
  • Mexican Standoff: Archer attempts this unsuccessfully on Kremenski. Kremenski holds Malory at gunpoint, and Archer, in an act of "classic misdirection", grabs Lana and does likewise.
    Archer: Looks like we've got a Mexican standoff, Kremenski!
    Kremenski: Wh—? How is this a Mexican standoff?
    Archer: Um...
    Lana: Dumbass.
    Kremenski: I don't care if you shoot her!
    • Played straight earlier between Lana and Archer.
  • The Password is Always Guest: ISIS security is really not great.
    Archer: That is just...Babytown Frolics.
  • Running Gag: Several jokes that will become long-standing Running Gags are introduced here, including:
    • "That's how you get ants"
    • Archer attempting to shoot through an obviously armored door and having the bullets ricochet everywhere.
    • Archer accidentally shooting someone who is off screen (presumably Brett), prompting them to yell "God damn it, Archer!"
    • The password to a supposedly-secure computer system being 'guest'
  • Tempting Fate: "Jesus, what else could go wrong?!" (Cut to Kremenski entering the building with a gun)
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Everyone, including Kremenski, finds out from Lana that Archer was having an erection just after Kremenski threatened to kill his mother. It was enough for Kremenski to be an open target and shot dead, but Mallory doesn't let this go.

Video Example(s):



Archer subverts the entire 60s spy genre within the very first scene. Archer is seemingly imprisoned in a Russian cell, near-naked and with a guard threatening to torture him. Archer just snarks at the "guard's" accent, at which point we find out it was all a simulation, which Archer's mother is creepily invested in.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / EstablishingSeriesMoment

Media sources:

Main / EstablishingSeriesMoment