Archer Season 10: Casey Willis Reveals Mr. Deadly Inspiration

Archer EP, Casey Willis, walks us through the philosophically rich latest episode of Archer: 1999 and gets deep on Mr. Deadly .

The following contains spoilers for Archer Season 10 Episode 5.

Archer Season 10 has hit the ground running with its latest facelift. The season is only at its halfway point, but it’s already worked in space pirates, giant aliens, gladiatorial combat, and a maniacal robot bird named Funbeak. 

Archer: 1999 has fully embraced its new space-set science fiction setting, but the season’s newest installment, “Mr. Deadly Goes to Town” may be their strongest episode yet. The episode continues the optimistically aimless exploration of the M/V Seamus, but their latest pit stop introduces an extremely dangerous new addition to their crew, the aptly named Mr. Deadly (Matt Berry). 

further reading: Archer Season 10 Review

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Mr. Deadly is an apocalyptic doomsday device that’s also been granted free will. This leads Archer and company into some gray moral territory as they attempt to show this entity whosepurpose is to obliterate life the joys of what that life can bring. It’s surprisingly deep material for the series, but with this being Archer there’s of course plenty of bonkers inappropriate space madness thrown in for good measure, too. 

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 origins of Mr. Deadly, if the episode always followed the same trajectory, and further insight on Pam and Kreiger’s mix tape.

Archer Season 10 Episode 5 – “Archer 1999: Mr. Deadly Goes to Town”

“Archer and the crew pick up a hitchhiker and try to convince him to turn his life around.” 

Written by Mark Ganek

DEN OF GEEK: There’s such an interesting crossover of sensibilities with this episode where the crew tries to help a sentient doomsday device experience life. It’s almost like a vintage Star Trek episode. How did this story come about and evolve?

CASEY WILLIS: We were definitely thinking about those old Star Trek episodes and even Lost in Space or The Twilight Zone for inspiration. The sci-fi trope of the hyper-intelligent trickster was something that we wanted to explore and play with. Making Mr. Deadly a giant bomb just upped the ante.

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In some ways this feels like a riff on Ridley Scott’s more recent Alien prequels, but the first thing I thought of with an “evil black hole” in outer space is Event Horizon. Were there any temptations to seriously touch on that film at all throughout the season?

We are trying to pull from every sci-fi sub-genre, so both of those films (or collection of films) were on our minds while making this episode. Additionally, it won’t be that last time this season where we dip into those buckets. With Danger Island being such an adventure heavy season, it was interesting to us to dabble in some darker stories. Sci-fi horror really interested us and we wanted to integrate into this season.

The whole Temporary Singularity Grenade is really beautifully animated and a crazy weapon to bring out here. Was it always the solution to this problem?

It was always the solution as we wanted Archer to have to make that decision between saving everyone and summoning one of his greatest fears. I guess the only weapon that Archer would fear more would be an alligator launcher.

Lana’s “sacrifice” when she takes a bullet for Mr. Deadly is really touching. Was it always Lana that took this leap for him?

Yes, it was always Lana. However, I think what is lost on Mr. Deadly is Lana was also protecting all the others as well. If Mr. Deadly dies, everyone blows up. Mr. Deadly seeing it as Lana saving him, thinking just of himself, that self-centeredness might be the most human thing he has ever done.

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Was Mr. Deadly’s passion for whisky in the script before Matt Berry became attached to the role, or was it added after the fact?

It was in the script before Matt was cast. When recording him, I didn’t dare ask him to give me a read of “Whisky!” like he did in Snuff Box. However, some of the reads had a fun emphasis on the word “whisky” and that made us happy.

Mr. Deadly is definitely a fun and volatile addition to the M/V Seamus crew. Was the plan always to have be a one-off character or did you consider keeping him around for the rest of the season?

It was always the plan to have the episode end like it did. It’s always tricky to add characters to the mix, especially for season long stories because we don’t want to take time away from our main cast. I don’t want to spoil too much, but there may be characters that will come back later in the season.

Thomas Lennon’s Charles character kind of returns here, which feel like a particularly random character to bring back. How did his return come about and were there other old characters that you discussed working into this season, but ultimately didn’t?

Charles and Rudi were in Season 1 and Season 5 and we have wanted to work with Thomas Lennon again for a long time. We also like to bring back characters that have a special place in Archer’s psyche (like Trinette in Archer: Dreamland). It just made sense to bring Charles and Rudi back and have some fun with their names and appearances.

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Are there any titles from that mix tape that you can officially go on the record with here?

Not really, but I can say that I would love to record a rap album with Amber Nash and Lucky Yates. We made the final song sound quite stiff, but there are plenty of takes that have more enthusiasm and they are quite funny. Remix!!!

Lastly, were space mummies ever something that were legitimately on the table for this season?

Everything was on the table, but space mummies do border on a Scooby-Doo villain… Well, unless we were doing something Stargate related. Oh wow! With Pam in big Anubis armor and Archer walking around with a P90. Shit! Is it too late to make another episode for this season?!

Our behind the scenes coverage of Archer: 1999’s writing process will conclude with the season finale. The first installment can be found here.

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.

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