Archer: What Does the Future Hold for The Agency?
The Archer production team outlines the traitorous events of the season 13 finale and ponders the future of the show.
This article contains spoilers for Archer season 13 episode 8.
It’s extremely rare for a television series to turn out its best material in season 13, but there’s a strong case to be made for how Archer‘s latest episodes are a rejuvenated return to form that’s the most exciting the show has been in years. Archer season 13 has pushed the series and its characters to look deeply inward and the results have been enlightening for the long-term fans, but still carry weight for curious newcomers.
This season’s finale, “Dough, Ray, and Me,” carefully brings together a season’s worth of subterfuge as Archer and company are forced to confront impossible realities as they collectively figure out their personal and professional futures before martial law consumes the country. Executive producer Casey Willis and producer/director Pierre Cerato break down the events of this revelatory finale, including the trying topic of betrayal, AJ’s role in the future, this year’s increasingly chaotic action set pieces, The Agency’s new leader, and future plans for Fabian and beyond
DEN OF GEEK: The structure to this season that culminates in Fabian’s betrayal and The Agency getting set up is really satisfying. Was this the type of situation where the whole arc for the season was plotted out first?
CASEY WILLIS: Absolutely. Mark Ganek did a lot of great work to shape the season and have it culminate with Fabian’s (and Ray’s!?!?) betrayal. We really wanted to have the story feel like our gang was fighting uphill the entire season and then realize that Fabian played them the whole time.
Ray’s status among The Agency has been a rewarding thread to tug at for several seasons now. Did it feel important to pay that off in a big way here as the characters, for one last time, question his loyalty before any sort of “Ray-demption?”
CW: We enjoyed playing with this aspect of Ray’s character for a few seasons now, but it felt like time to wrap the story up. That’s not to say that folks might be wary of Ray in the future. Ray may still need to prove himself to his friends.
The return of Slater builds off of the ending of this season’s penultimate episode. Why did it feel like the right time to bring him back?
CW: We liked the idea of the CIA going after Fabian as his crimes were bigger than our gang could really handle. The best part of bringing Slater back was recording Christian Slater again. It was such a joy and he is genuinely an Archer fan, so it was nice to hear how excited he was to rejoin us. He also nails it every time!
This season has been deeply fulfilling when it comes to Archer’s character, especially with revelations that he’s been in therapy. Do you think he’d have been better off if he left with Mallory–not his mother–and is that “happy ending” still a possibility for him in the future or something that’s fully passed at this point?
PIERRE CERRATO: I don’t know that we are past that point or that there isn’t a happy ending awaiting Archer down the road. I think as long as people want to see where we are going next, we are happy to put them in a Krieger van and let it rip.
It’s equally exciting to have Pam in a healthy relationship with Alessia. That’s not focused on much in this finale, but is that territory that you’re excited to explore further in the future?
PC: We love the character of Alessia and Alison Pill really brought that character to life. We would certainly love to explore that a little more in the future.
CW: Alison was fantastic! She was so prepared for the episode recording. Far more prepared than we were, haha. She really brought so much personality to that character.
This season also makes the most substantial use of AJ and she really comes into her own as a character. Do you hope to make her a steady presence in future seasons as well?
CW: We shall see what develops. We liked the idea of AJ being back in the USA and Lana having to take care of her while also going through her messy divorce. We wanted to put a lot of pressure on Lana so that she could come out of it all stronger. I think we achieved that.
In these final episodes, Cheryl is fully back on the team after a temporary exodus from The Agency lot. What prompted the decision to briefly take her out of the picture before her explosive return?
PC: Cheryl is an agent of chaos and she may have been busy taking community college classes throughout the time she was absent.
There are some truly creative combat and chase sequences in this finale. There’s a real artistry to the action in this show and I’m curious how thoroughly these moments are described in the scripts or if they’re opportunities where the artists and animation department really get to build upon them and take some liberties.
PC: It kind of depends on the script. Sometimes a two-minute sequence could just be a line in the script that says “and the chase begins.” Our Art Direction team, in conjunction with our Storyboard team, lay the groundwork for us and we’ll evolve the sequences as we go. It’s hard to tell just how successful something will be until you get a ﬁrst pass from animation.
CW: Like Pierre described, it really is a team eﬀort and we are constantly blown away by what the talented artists and animators put into the show. We talked amongst ourselves about how the magnet episode really showcases all the imagination and creative problem solving of our entire team.
The conclusion of this season seems to mark a definitive end to Fabian Kingsworth, yet bigger villains in the show’s history have gone on to return. At this point, do you see this as Fabian’s end or do you still see more places that he could go in the future?
PC: We love working with Kayvan Novak and I have personally grown to love hearing Fabian’s voice.
CW: We have plans for Fabian. I don’t know when or where he may show up again, but he was so impactful over the past couple of seasons. Just like Slater, when we feel like the time is right, he may return.
The final decision to instate Lana as the head of The Agency feels like the best use of her character based on the arc that she heads down this season. Talk a little on that development and how it’s set to change the status quo as the series moves forward.
CW: Again, this was something that Mark Ganek worked very hard to put into the season. We knew Lana was best suited to end up in the chair, but Lana had to get to that realization as well. We started her oﬀ in the season having too much to deal with, wanting to just do her job and go home. However, that’s not really her personality, so it was a constant struggle for Lana. I love that in the end she wanted to be in the lead chair and was excited for the future because we are excited too!
On that note, do you have any idea where you’d like to take a season 14? The serialized structure to this season seems to have worked quite well as a formula and do you see yourselves sticking to this model?
CW: Oh, I have some ideas…
PC: Wait, why did you pause like that? We all agree that was weird, right? Just a weird pause.
Season 13 of Archer is currently available to stream on FX and Hulu