For three years Archer has been playing make believe and testing the audience’s limits of just how long they can go without addressing Archer’s coma, but it’s finally happened. The wait is over and Archer is finally ready to get back to the basics.
This all comes on the heels of the very successful season of Archer: 1999 that did a ton with their new space motif. This season featured many fantastical adventures that allowed the show to have so much fun. The season’s finale, “Robert De Niro” not only sees Archer on trial for his violent actions against Lana, but Barry-6 leads an alien ambush onto the M/V Seamus to take everyone down. It’s a satisfying ending to this season of stories, but in many ways it reflects the sins of Archer’s past (especially against Barry) and how his subconscious has been trying to work through this for the past three years.
“Robert De Niro” once more cleanses the palate, but for good this time as it gets Archer out of his come and returns to the prime timeline for a confirmed season eleven. Continuing with our writers’ room walkthrough of the show’s season, we touch base with Archer: 1999’s executive producer, Casey Willis, to explore the highlights of a season in space, alternative endings, and the importance of Archer’s bond with Malory.
Archer Season 10 Episode 9 – “Archer 1999: Robert De Niro”
“When a trial turns into a party it can only mean that Barry-6 has returned!”
Written by Adam Reed
DEN OF GEEK: First off, why is this episode titled “Robert De Niro”?
CASEY WILLIS: There are a few reasons, but the least spoiler-y one is it is also the name of a Queen Sarah Saturday song that we use in the episode. Astute viewers might connect the dots with a film that may be germane to this season finale.
The final moments of “Cubert” are very huge and finally start to hint at the “prime reality” bleeding through and things returning to “normal.” Was the plan always to tease this as you head into the finale, or were there other approaches to this idea?
It was always the plan to show these flashes of reality popping up. In the finale, I feel there are additional visual representations that are really nice. Some are funny and some are more subtle. We were lucky enough to watch “Cubert” with a large crowd at San Diego Comic-Con and it was so great to hear their reactions to the appearances of Lana in her sweater dress and Pam with her Pita Margarita’s wrap. Oh! And TV’s Michael Gray! The response was perfect and exactly what we had hoped for.
Archer’s guilt over Barry is clearly a large part of subconscious. Do you think Barry might play a role in season eleven?
Barry showing up in season 11 would be great! Dave Willis is so much fun to work with and Barry episodes are always a highlight. We shall see what the future holds.
It’s safe to say that’s Archer’s coma is why this season and the previous two have all ended with Archer’s death? Was that always the known conclusion going into each season?
Dreamland’s ending was a bit different than Danger Island and 1999’s ending, but the overall idea was for each season to be a contained story. There were other ideas for coma seasons (King Archer being a popular one we’ve discussed), but not all of them ended with Archer’s death.
Would you agree with Malory that from the start this has really been a love story between them? The fact that she’s the only one there for him is significant.
This is absolutely a theme that Adam Reed wanted to drive home and that final scene is very touching. I think the love story between Malory and Archer has always been there and it just took a three-year coma for one of them to finally say it.
How did Ray go from a well-ornamented judge to a lowly courtesan, if you were to summarize that life trajectory?
We have to assume, with Ray’s wistful tone and chuckle, that the story involves love, loss and a highly addictive space drug (like what the aliens were collecting in “I Come in Peace”).
What space trope were you the happiest to get to touch on over the course of the season? Space gladiators? Greymalkian ocelots? Mystery cubes?
Space gladiators was fun for everyone and a real test for the artist and animators. Not only the complex fight scenes but populating the stands, fleshing out Bort’s family, robot milk…it was all a fun challenge. That said, I want a plush Space Ocelot in real life! Toy makers, let’s make that happen.
Killface from Frisky Dingo would have really fit in at some point this season, especially in the crowd of the gladiator fights. Was that ever put on the table?
Who’s to say those gladiator fights weren’t broadcast across the universe and somewhere Killface and Simon are kicking back on the couch and cheering on our crew?
If you could hint at season 11 in one word, how would you describe it?
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.