Archer: Danger Island: Breaking Down That Bonkers Ending

We chat with Archer: Danger Island’s co-executive producer, Casey Willis, about the season finale.

Archer’s ninth season, “Danger Island,” has certainly been an interesting experiment. The characters certainly seem to have more life in them and have more fun than their counterparts back in Archer: Dreamland. This season has been able to provide a tenderly sweet relationship between Archer and Pam of all people, and raises a strong case for the argument that their bond is actually the bedrock of the show, not Archer and Lana or Archer and his mother. 

While a very brief season of only eight episodes, Danger Island builds to all out warfare that goes out with a bang rather than overstay its welcome. The battle royale between cannibals and Nazis was a spectacle to behold, but this finale’s showdown with mech warrior Cyril against Archer and company with some very volatile “death soup” around them all makes for quite the finish. Additionally, the series goes out on its biggest “cliffhanger” yet and finally gives some answers to what’s been going on with this show for all of these years… maybe. 

We got the opportunity to chat with the series’ co-executive producer, Casey Willis, to really break it all down and explore the finale’s big questions, including what the fuck was that ending all about!? 

Archer: Danger Island Season 9 Episode 8 – “A Discovery”

“Archer and the gang enter a deadly temple in search of an even deadlier treasure.”

Ad – content continues below

Written by Adam Reed

DEN OF GEEK: Was an active volcano and booby-trapped temple always the ultimate set piece for the idol? It seems sort of like the epitome of danger and this is “Danger Island.”

CASEY WILLIS: Yes, exactly. The plan was always to gather everyone in the volcano temple and amp up the danger level. The only way it could have been a worse situation for “Archer” is if there had been a couple of crocodiles running around that temple.

Did you guys ever consider making the whole idol artifact angle be misdirection and that this final episode wouldn’t even get to it?

There was always an idol and pretty early on it was decided that it would actually be uranium. Rather than “Fuchs” being interested in the idol for mystical reasons, which is certainly a trope in the pulp genre, we took a slight swerve by making it uranium. We felt it would be more of a real-world threat for the viewer.

On the topic of the idol, is the whole uranium and radiation poisoning angle supposed to be a connection to the number of references throughout the series in regard to Archer’s high exposure to radiation?

Ad – content continues below

That’s a great connection, but the main idea for making the idol uranium was to make it a relatable and historic threat for the viewer. We felt it made “Fuchs” even more dangerous and villainous.

Was disfigured Cyril/Fuchs and his bizarre robot revenge story always the ultimate villain for the season? Did you ever consider Barry?

“Fuchs” was always the villain and we tried to make him do some evil things throughout the season to make the viewers dislike him. “Barry” was always on our mind because we love Dave Willis so much, but “Barry” was also such a large part of Season 8 that we wanted to give his character a break. We are hoping to bring him back for something special in Season 10.

What was the inspiration for that mech suit because it feels a lot like a riff on Aliens…

The Power Loader from Aliens was a big influence. We also researched a lot of German WWI and WWII tanks and armor. We wanted it to look like it could have possibly existed in this alternate 1938.

Those Hobbit references and using its story as the loose structure for the episode is really great. Was that a lot of fun to play with? Was a Hobbit-esque fantasy angle ever on the table for one of these reboots?

Ad – content continues below

It was fun to play with, but my favorite joke is probably when “Charlotte” ham-fistedly gives us the publishing date of The Hobbit. It feels like “Charlotte” was saving us all a Google Search. We’ve talked about lots of Archer dream states and we have entertained a fantasy Archer, but it was more geared towards Knights of the Round Table and we called it… King Archer!

Those moments in total darkness while in the temple made me think about Sealab 2021’s “Fusebox” episode. Obviously the point back then was to avoid new animation whereas now you can pull off beautiful stuff, but would you still do an episode—or at least an entire act—that’s entirely in darkness?

I think we could pull it off. The voice cast and Adam’s writing are strong enough to carry an episode of all audio. However, we aren’t so sure FX Networks would be too keen on the idea.

On that note, there’s also the return of “Master Cylinder” in these final episodes, which was so glorious for longtime fans of you guys who have been around since the Frisky Dingo days. How did this particular reference come about?

There are a couple other Frisky Dingo callbacks like when “Fuchs” says, “What the hell damn guy.” We’ve used that from time to time. We are always open to a callback, but it’s important to us not to force it.

Lord, that ending! So has every single “reboot” just been different simulations that have been playing out and every time that Archer dies a new scenario boots up?

Ad – content continues below

I’m not sure I would use the term “reboot,” but we think of it like a series of dreams. Think about when you wake up and you try to retrace your dreams and they change genres and characters almost midstream. It’s more like that in our mind.

How long have you guys known what the “reality” of the show really is?

Since the end of Season 7, we’ve had a plan for the next three seasons. Everything is playing out nicely and are very excited for the viewers to see where it all leads.

Was there anything else from this “Danger Island” idea that you wanted to put into episodes this year but weren’t able to pull together in the end?

We all would really like to know what happened to that baby monkey. Let’s hope he got some measure of revenge.

That concludes our walkthrough of Archer: Danger Island’s ninth season. The entire breakdown of this season can be found here.

Ad – content continues below