Is the world’s best secret agent actually … gasp, mortal?! Despite six previous years of suggesting otherwise, Archer‘s season seven premiere seemed to prove that shocking fact when the opening moments revealed that the body floating in Hollywood icon Veronica Deane’s (Mary McDonald-Lewis) pool is none other than Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin). The former secret agent turned private investigator was found floating face down in the movie star’s pool with multiple gunshot wounds a few hours after the murder occurred by two detectives called to the crime scene (voiced by J.K. Simmons and Keegan-Michael Key). Whoa.
After that shocking cold open to the season, which moved the show to Los Angeles after the team was blacklisted by the CIA and unable to work as spies anymore, the story flashed back in time and hasn’t touched back on the deadly twist since. Has that been frustrating? Definitely. Compelling as hell? You bet. It’s a creative twist fans never saw coming, and the intrigue has only grown with each episode that has aired since. What or who is going to kill Archer?!
If you ask Archer creator/executive producer/writer Adam Reed, the answer is simple: working as a waiter. No, seriously. The showrunner spoke with Nerdist at length about Archer season seven, including that deadly premiere twist, the new location/theme for the show, his favorite guest stars and more, and somehow wound up revealing that the only job that could actually kill Archer is that of a waiter. Who would have guessed?!
Check out our full Q&A with the Archer boss below now!
Nerdist: First let’s talk about the decision to serialize this season into Archer P.I. like you did with Archer Vice. Is this something we can expect more of in future seasons?
Adam Reed: I think it’s probably going to become more regularly serialized moving forward. There will still be cases or misadventures every week, but with a longer storyline that we will touch on and revisit throughout the season.
Does serializing the season present any challenges for you creatively?
I prefer it. Partially because … out of laziness. [Laughs] Dipping back into the story and doing callback jokes that you’ve already established. But I think also most writers probably feel that way. We want to tell a story. A 10 episode story is more rewarding to write than a one episode story. But it is harder. There’s more stuff to keep track of, but our producer Casey Willis keeps track of all that stuff.
When did the idea to move the show to Hollywood first come into play?
At the end of the previous season, season six. We felt it was time to shake things up. I got really nervous and wanted to sit FX down and tell them about this idea. I was really dreading the conversation, and they just went, “Yeah, that’s fine.” It was a lot easier than I had anticipated.
Have you ever faced any resistance from FX for any of your ideas?
The only time was when Archer was going to throw a baby at a gunman, and they said, “We don’t throw babies here.” It was an easy fix. We just had him throw something else besides a baby. It didn’t really change the story that much.
Making the team become private investigators was a smooth transition from espionage since their new careers essentially use the same skills, but did you consider any other career paths for them?
I really wanted them to all open a restaurant together but FX wasn’t interested in that. And then Jon Benjamin probably doesn’t want to be on two shows that revolve around a restaurant.
I can definitely imagine Archer screwing up things in a restaurant.
Oh yeah, he’d be terrible. But I think he probably couldn’t work in an atmosphere that was that high pressure. It’s too stressful.
But saving the world is totally in his wheelhouse. It’s just such an easygoing, relaxing task … ?
[Laughs] Yeah, but for him, he doesn’t stress about that. But the pressure of actually being a waiter would kill him.
Speaking of what would kill Archer …
I see what you did there [laughs].
I know you can’t say too much about the premiere twist where Archer is floating dead in a pool, but talk me through why you wanted to open the season like that?
Well, wasn’t it the perfect attention-grabber? I’m a big fan of Sunset Boulevard, and I think it really stamps, “Hey, this is Hollywood.” I guess all those reasons.
Is that story going to play out throughout the back half of this season, or are you saving that for the finale?
That story crops up throughout the season, but it’s dealt with the most in the last two episodes.
I love how the two cops from the premiere played by J.K. Simmons and Keegan Michael Key return in this week’s episode, “Bel Panto: Part II.” I think they might be my new favorite characters on the show.
They’re great, aren’t they?
They’re amazing. Are we going to see them more going forward?
Yes. The Figgis Agency keeps bumping into the police, and not in a good way. The two detectives recur throughout the season.
Their back-and-forth dynamic couldn’t be more … well, dynamic, for lack of a better word!
It’s so great. Their voices really complement each other well. What they decided to do with the two cops who on paper seemed interchangeable, and now they’re completely different personalities, it turned out so much better than we could have hoped.
One thing I always thought to be true about this show is that Archer can’t be killed, so that twist totally blew my mind. I have so many theories.
It’s exciting! [Laughs] And this is the first time I’ve written a season knowing how the season would end. That was new for me.
Did that change up the creative process for you of writing the season?
Not really. I guess it was just always in the back of my mind knowing that, no matter what happened throughout the season, we had to get back to a certain place. You can’t just wander off through the woods. [Laughs] It didn’t really come up until the last two episodes. And then it was like, okay, now you’ve started this thing, you have to tie it up neatly. You have to look like you know what you’re doing.
I’m also loving Patton Oswalt’s recurring shady lawyer, he’s hilarious!
Oh man, he’s great. It’s been such a joy to have him on the show. I feel very, very lucky. I can just gush about him.
Was that character written with Patton in mind, or did he want to join the show and the part worked out perfectly for him?
No, I wrote that for him and said, “Would you please ever consider doing this?” And then it was just a, “Yeah, sure.” He knows the show. A lot of famous people come on and they ask a million questions, like, “What is this? What am I doing? Who are these people?” It’s nice to have somebody who’s [laughs] actually seen the show!
Now let’s talk about this two-part episode story we’re in the middle of, “Bel Panto: Parts 1 and II.” Usually you save these two-parters for the finale to get the entire group out in the field together for a crazy caper. Why did you decide to flip the script and pull off a two-parter in the middle of the season?
It was to pull Veronica Deane back into the mix, and also malevolently drive a wedge between Archer and Lana [Aisha Tyler]. We wanted to drive that wedge in a little deeper.
What does this mean for this season’s finale, will it still be a two-parter or are you going to do something else?
It is still a two-parter. We have two two-parters this year. The finale has a murder, lots of cops involved, some mystery, some sex, and some danger.
Sounds like the perfect tagline for Archer.
[Laughs] Some sex and some danger.
Archer’s interest in Veronica Deane seems really genuine, seeing as how her presence instantly makes him vulnerable, which is rare to see from him. That makes me think she might actually pose a real threat to Archer and Lana’s relationship. Is that a good assumption to make?
Yeah, he genuinely has it bad for her, in spite of himself. It’s great to hear Jon’s voice, since it’s so smooth and cool normally, when he pretends to be flummoxed as Archer. It just delights me.
What does this mean for Archer and Lana’s relationship going forward?
They’re heading for some rocky, rocky roads. It’s going to be a tough season for Archer and Lana.
There have been some truly awe-inspiring visual moments in every episode this season so far. Do you have any visual moments from the entire series that always stick out as your favorite?
The last two episodes of this season take place on a movie set and our artists really do an incredible job with that. But there’s a lot of them. A lot of times there are sight gags that get added that weren’t in the script that are great, like the simple things like in Krieger’s [Lucky Yates] laboratory, just the way he’s labeled boxes in all caps on a printed piece of paper, which is exactly what my mom does. That just cracks me up.
What episode are you most excited for fans to see from the rest of this season?
The two-part finale, for sure. The finale – well, they don’t blow up a guy’s head this year. That’s been done. I think I need to send them on a submarine trip, a real life submarine and not a miniaturized one in a human body. There’s not really many places left for them to go, though.
That’s true. They’ve been to the moon and back, literally, so … where else can you possibly take them?
Yeah. I don’t know, maybe a pirate ship? [Laughs] I could see Archer adapting well to that.
Archer airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX.