Sterling Archer is back. Sort of. He's back on our TV, but he's gone into hiding like a sulking fourteen-year-old boy. Not that the title character of FX's Archer was ever known for his maturity.

It's been three months since his fiancee Katya was murdered by his arch-nemesis Barry ("Double Trouble"), and Archer's idea of mourning is to vanish to a tropical island, take up bartending, and bed newlyweds. His mother slash boss, Malory (the always perfect Jessica Walter) is distraught over her son's absence - except for the thirty seconds where she realizes that ISIS has actually made a profit without him. She sends former ISIS agent Rip Riley (Rules of Engagement and The Tick star Patrick Warburton) to bring Sterling back home, whether he wants to go or not.

Thanks entirely to Archer, both of them end up in the custody of pirates, along with a mild-mannered dude voiced by Arrested Development's David Cross. Archer's response to the predicament? Save the day in an unsurprisingly messy way, and then decide that he's going to be the new "pirate king."

Yeah, because that's going to go well.

"Heart of Archness" is a special three-part story that stands on its own, as season three of Archer doesn't officially get rolling until spring 2012. With that in mind, "Part 1" is...well, a part one. Adam Reed and company have roughly twenty-two minutes to explain what's happened since "Double Trouble" and set up the pirate story, so it's not bothersome that this installment has less going on in it than some Archer episodes.

In fact, my favorite parts are the jokes about how things at ISIS have actually improved without Archer around to bully and harass his colleagues. The pirates are a great idea, but I didn't find that element nearly as amusing as Pam wielding her Crock-Pot again and Ray wearing Archer's trusty black turtleneck. They're funny and also sweet in a warped way, as we realize that without Archer, ISIS is not nearly as chaotic or disturbing. He's basically single-handedly responsible for keeping Pam employed.

What I'm definitely curious about is Rip's apparently sordid past with Malory and his ISIS career, which I'm sure will come out over the next two installments. We already know that Archer throws up at the mere idea of his mom's sex life - my favorite Archer scene ever is from "Diversity Hire," where Archer's one burning question to Conway Stern is not anything about his evil plans, but whether or not the double agent slept with Malory - so I can only imagine that his reaction when he finds out about Rip and his mother will be priceless.

"Heart of Archness" is a great start to what's surely going to be a rolling, raunchy three-part pirate saga. Don't miss the next two installments over the next two Thursdays on FX.

(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved.