Archer is no stranger to reinvention.
At thirteen seasons and still going strong, the show has had about as many seismic overhauls as an anthology series like American Horror Story. It¡¯s a strategy which has allowed the team behind the show to flex their muscles, writing their irreverent characters into retro settings with the quintessential Archer humor still at the heart of every season-long comatose fever dream themed to the beloved genres of yesteryear.
With each new outing requiring such a drastic revamp, certain features¡ªlike the now-unnamed agency¡¯s ¡°commitment¡± to environmentalism¡ªmight not necessarily survive into the next season.
¡°You say ¡®committed,¡¯ as though they were ever really into [environmentalism] to begin with,¡± says Lucky Yates, the voice of series mainstay Dr. Algernop Krieger. He¡¯s joined at San Diego Comic-Con by fellow cast members Aisha Tyler (Lana Kane), Amber Nash (Pam Poovey), and Chris Parnell (Cyril Figgis) to speak with Fandom about the upcoming season 13 of Archer, which takes place in the modern day (more or less).
¡°Lana is the only environmentalist on the team,¡± says Tyler. ¡°And she¡¯s looking around, and the world¡¯s on fire, and she¡¯s like, ¡®I might as well get mine and jam, ¡®cause we¡¯re all going down in a ball of flames.¡¯ We¡¯re all dying inside a little bit this season, I think.¡±
Meet the New Boss
That trajectory isn¡¯t totally surprising, given everything they¡¯ve been through. Notably, the arrival of a new antagonist is sure to keep the team on their toes.
¡°We have a new guy, a new boss that we don¡¯t like,¡± explains Yates, ¡°so that kind of ups our game of taking out The Man.¡±
¡°We have a common enemy we can all rally behind,¡± says Nash.
They¡¯re referring to Fabian Kingsworth (Kayvan Novak), head of the IIA and now the agency itself, making him the show¡¯s true BBEG. Through masterful manipulation, he¡¯s managed to take over in the absence of Malory Archer, played by the late and legendary Jessica Walter after the show¡¯s heart-wrenching send-off to Sterling¡¯s prickly mother.
With or without Fabian, Malory has some big (and probably expensive) shoes to fill.
¡°We¡¯re all sort of vying for the leadership role,¡± teases Parnell. ¡°It¡¯ll be interesting to see how that plays out.¡±
Coming Together (Phrasing!)
Naturally, our heroes will have to go through major growth and changes if they¡¯re going to eventually fight the good fight from the inside. Right?
¡°¡®Changes?!¡¯¡± Yates says incredulously.
¡°They¡¯re the same assholes they¡¯ve always been,¡± confirms Nash.
Tyler agrees. ¡°No growth. No progression.¡±
Well, in that case, how might Fabian¡¯s expanded role affect the rest of the group¡¯s dynamic?
¡°He¡¯s pitting us against one another,¡± says Yates. ¡°Well, nobody wants Krieger to run the place, but it¡¯s like, who¡¯s going to be the new boss of this agency? And he runs us through a series of really grueling missions just to test our mettle. But all that really ultimately does is form a bond between the group that¡¯s stronger than before.¡±
¡°If you can even imagine we could get any closer than we¡¯ve been the past twelve seasons, we¡¯ve come even closer,¡± says Tyler.
¡°Get ready for Season 13: The Closening,¡± Yates says, ominously.
Despite their reluctance to change, it¡¯s not like the characters lack dimension. Spending thirteen seasons in their roles has given the cast plenty to chew on. When asked if she thinks Pam¡¯s struggles with mental illness, drug abuse, and gambling addiction might raise awareness and support for people with similar conditions in the real world, Nash is frank:
¡°I don¡¯t think Pam was ever meant to be a role model, but she is the role model we deserve. Oftentimes people ask who the heart of the show is, and Pam is kind of that. She¡¯s really relatable, so people are like, ¡®If Pam can get through this drug addiction, maybe I can, too.¡¯ I hope Pam is able to do that for people. But I don¡¯t know that she will.¡±
Tyler admits to being a bit of a Pam stan. ¡°I think Pam is everybody¡¯s favorite character,¡± she says. ¡°Remember when AJ was under threat and Pam turned into, like, Queen Kong, galloping through offices, destroying things to save a baby? She is the heart of the show, the most compassionate and sweet, and the most buffeted about by exterior forces.¡±
¡°I¡¯ve never gotten asked that nice of a question about Pam,¡± Nash admits.
Yates leans in. ¡°The Closening,¡± he repeats.
¡°If anyone would like to get obscure literature tattooed on their back,¡± says Tyler, ¡°she¡¯s also a good role model for that. Any biblical passages or Chaucer you¡¯d like to ink permanently on your body, Pam¡¯s your girl.¡±
Life Imitating Art
Are the actors anything like their onscreen counterparts? To some degree, perhaps, as Tyler explains when asked if she¡¯d have as violent an allergic reaction to a fur coat as Lana would. ¡°That¡¯s a good question, because nobody wears fur anymore, and it¡¯s so shocking to see on the street.¡±
¡°You just don¡¯t hang out with the right crowd,¡± insists Parnell.
¡°That¡¯s it,¡± agrees Tyler. ¡°I¡¯m out on the street with the poors, so I¡¯ve never seen a fur coat in real life. But I have seen a couple of little old ladies wander by and I think I should go up and fling blood on them, but I never have an available container of fresh blood in my pocket ¡®cause I didn¡¯t plan.¡±
Her character may be the most competent spy in the agency (don¡¯t tell Archer I said that), but she doesn¡¯t think that necessarily makes Tyler the best spy candidate in real life.
¡°I kind of think it would be Chris,¡± she says. ¡°Chris has this even-keeled demeanor and he¡¯s so nice and genuine that he couldn¡¯t possibly be up to no good, and you wake up in the morning and you¡¯re missing a kidney. And it was Chris.¡±
¡°That¡¯s what spies do,¡± says Parnell matter-of-factly.
Combat, I¡¯m Ready For Combat
Interviewer Bailey Meyers wants to know which of the agency¡¯s missions have been each actor¡¯s favorite.
¡°I loved Papal Chase,¡± says Nash. ¡°That mission where they went into Rome.¡±
¡°That was the first time Pam went into the field,¡± says Yates.
¡°I literally remember nothing else about it,¡± admits Nash.
Tyler¡¯s memory is a bit more detailed:
¡°Season 5, Archer Vice, was the cocaine season, and that was my favorite season. Sorry, kids out there. And not because of the drugs, but the wildness and the lawlessness and the complete rule-breaking of that season. That was when Pam had her drug issue. Which she was very creative with! She was making, like, whipped cream and cupcakes and mayonnaise out of it. We made a country album together. We ruled a banana republic. Was that the season AJ was born? So a lot happened to our characters that season. But it also referred to all the shows and themes that I loved in my youth like¡¡±
¡°Cocaine,¡± interjects Parnell.
Tyler doesn¡¯t miss a beat. ¡°Cocaine, and Burt Reynolds, and trucking convoys, and cocaine.¡±
¡°My favorite episode is the one where we all get trapped in the elevator together, but it¡¯s not really mission-based,¡± says Yates. He¡¯s referring to the brilliant bottle episode from season 6, where the team has to spend some mandatory quality time with each other and seeks help from Milton, the copier/toaster hybrid. ¡°I mean, it was going to be a viewing of¨Cwhat¡¯s the Matthew Modine movie¨CVision Quest! Hey: Season 13: The Closening: More Milton.¡±
¡°Season 13: The Toastening,¡± says Tyler.
¡°Oh shit!¡± says Yates. ¡°We just leveled up!¡±
¡°I like when Cyril gets to be the dictator guy,¡± says Parnell. ¡°That was fun.¡±
Yates adds excitedly, ¡°When Archer came out of the coma, and Cyril was a buff super-agent, and talented in the field, and doing everything right¡ and then along came Archer to turn him back into the same old Cyril.¡±
It sounds like team punching bag Cyril might have a fan in Krieger after all. For whatever that¡¯s worth.
Anything else to add about the show?
¡°Here¡¯s something I would like the fandom to know about the show and this cast,¡± says Tyler solemnly. ¡°We¡¯re much nicer than we appear on camera. We¡¯re nice people. I know that¡¯s not really apparent from our behavior this morning, but we¡¯re very nice.¡±
¡°We¡¯re just like you! Don¡¯t worry about it!¡± Yates assures us.
Cue clip of Krieger shooting an intern.
Season 13 of Archer (no subtitle, Closening or otherwise, at time of publication) premieres August 24 on FXX.