Adam Reed walks us through Archer’s third season (Part 2 of 3) 

Adam Reed walks us through Archer’s third season (Part 2 of 3) 

Archer creator Adam Reed recently spoke with The A.V. Club about the third season of his show. Following part one, this section covers episodes six through nine, beginning with “The Limited” and ending with “Bloody Ferlin.” 

The Limited” (February 2, 2012)
The gang from ISIS crowds onto a train—owned by railroad heiress billionaire Cheryl—to prevent a Canadian terrorist from escaping as he’s escorted back to his homeland. Add in an ocelot and Archer’s desire to fight on top of a train, and things go about as well as you’d expect.

The A.V. Club: This episode seems like a pseudo-sequel to season one’s “Skytanic”— 

Adam Reed: [Laughs.] How would you even… they’re so different! One was on a blimp, and one was on a train!

AVC: What do you enjoy about outmoded forms of transportation?

AR: Oh, I love trains. I’m crazy about trains. I haven’t been on a blimp, but I would really like to go on a blimp. I think in L.A., you can just get on a blimp and ride around. A rigid airship, actually. And I would really like to do that. But I think we might have used them all up. Well, you know what? We should do a steamship. A luxury ocean liner. That would really be like “Skytanic.” Yeah, they were very similar. 

But my grandfather worked for the railroad.

AVC: What did your personal history bring to your enjoyment of trains?

AR: A love of trains. [Laughs.] He was a conductor, and so when we were really little, every once in a while we’d get to go and ride on the train and sit on the dashboard of the locomotive, which is pretty mind-blowingly cool when you’re 4. 

AVC: This episode also works in Cheryl’s family history. How much do you know about the Tunts, and can we expect a The Tunts spin-off?

AR: I don’t know about a spin-off, but one of the things I’ve been trying to do forever, and we’re going to do it in season four, is, Cheryl’s brother Cecil, who she hates, is going to need ISIS’ help doing something billionaire-y. We’re going to have, if he’ll still do it, Eugene Mirman play Cheryl’s brother.

AVC: This episode is filled with story elements that come together in surprising ways, like the terrorists and the land-speed record. How do all those disparate elements mesh for you?

AR: You got this train, and you’re forced to have those characters there, and conveniently, you say, “Oh, well, we talked about Cheryl being a billionaire, and her family owns a bunch of railroads, so yeah, they’d have their own railroad cars,” and hook those cars up. If you put the right ingredients in the soup, it’s going to be good even if the cook doesn’t necessarily help that much. It’s like, “Well, obviously they’re going to go for the speed record.” I think it’s luck from having done a bunch of episodes where you can pick and choose and call back conveniently to, “Let’s talk about how this person knows how to do this.”

AVC: Do you know what’s going to work and what’s not going to work at this point?

AR: I would like to say I do, but no, I obviously don’t. I’d like to think I do, but obviously everything doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped it would. And I’m very bad at articulating what those things are. Basically, when we’re talking about what we’re going to do, I’m terrible at saying what I like or don’t like about it. Casey Willis is great at that. 

In a lot of ways, I guess it’s like what you do. I can’t watch an episode of TV and tell you why it was good or bad; I just know that I liked it or didn’t like it. I read reviews all the time of movies I will never, ever go see, or movies I’ve seen a long time ago, just to see it well-written about. But I’m terrible at that. I can’t even answer a question about it, apparently.

AVC: This episode ends with Archer fighting somebody on top of a train. How do you come up with the action sequences on the show?

AR: A lot of times, I’ll just have the broad strokes there, and sometimes I’ll write a little more detail in the action, because I want the characters to end up doing a certain thing, or I’ll think of some things that can happen during the action sequence. But a lot of times, I’ll just say to our storyboard people, “So they have this big fight, but it’s at a spa, so it should have a lot of spa things.” Then they just do that. 

A lot of times, the dialogue will fully reflect what they’re doing. But then a lot of times, they’ll be talking about something entirely unrelated to the action. Like the big snowmobile fight [in season two’s “Swiss Miss”], they were talking about this girl being a troubled teenager while all this murder and mayhem was going on. When that happens, I’ll just write, “Fight sounds,” and we’ll record a bunch of “oofs” and “pows.”

AVC: One of Archer’s most consistent character traits is that he’s really fond of animals, like the ocelot Babou. Where did that come from?

AR: [Laughs.] I don’t know. I think the first time we did it, you know, [H. Jon Benjamin’s] voice is so deep that he sounds so suave, and then whenever the first time we talked about an animal, he gets this giddy, higher-pitched voice, and he sounds so genuinely stoked to see whatever animal is there that I really laugh. Now I love to have it in there, that he’s just delighted by all animals, and I think it probably stems from not being allowed to have even a hermit crab as a child. You know, just so deprived of pets. 

AVC: What do you know about Archer’s personal backstory?

AR: Not tons. Whenever I think about it, it’s always very bleak and rather sad. His mom was almost never around, would sort of breeze in for holidays and then bail halfway through the holiday because some handsome dude showed up and wanted to take her to a nightclub or something. She was sort of tousling Archer’s hair and telling him to be good. Pretty sad. And then, whatever, 15 years of boarding school.

AVC: Is it hard to contrive reasons for all of the characters to be in the same place when you do an episode like this?

AR: It is. It’s easier when there’s one big mode of transportation that they all need to be on, because then it’s just the Lucy Ricardo stowaway trick, which writes itself. It’s hard to do it, and especially by now, that’s not, “Oh, here comes the stowaway gag.” Yeah, it gets harder every time.

AVC: The plot in this episode is actually fairly complex, because you have all of these different groups of Mounties double-crossing each other. How do you go about breaking a story like that, especially in 20 minutes?

AR: Sometimes you have to know right from the outset that you’re going to have a double-cross. I think I always know ahead of time if there’s going to be a double-cross—otherwise it comes across as such an eye-roller, like, “What?!” But then the trick is having a double-cross without tipping your hat, but putting enough clues in there so that it’s plausible. Encyclopedia Brown, I hated, because there was no way he could have known that. 

AVC: Have there been times when you’ve had a story that you’re working on and it shifts quite a bit?

AR: Yeah. I don’t know about in this season. I guess the “Lo Scandalo” script this season was going to be more about Malory with this dead Italian prime minister, and Archer and Lana having to help her, and then everybody got invited over to dinner to help cover it up. Well, I guess Krieger, he blabbed to everybody. But that became more of an ensemble piece I really liked, rather than, it was just going to be Malory and Archer and Lana. 

Because once you get these folks in the room, it’s just so easy and fun to have them start talking to each other. The problem is usually, when I write the teaser, I think, “There’s no way I can fill 36 pages with this story. It just can’t happen.” And then I realize that because I’ve had them just chattering and bickering, I’m on page 34 and I still have eight pages to finish the story. Happens every time.

Drift Problem” (February 9, 2012)
For his birthday, Malory Archer gets her son a tricked-out Dodge Challenger, meant to be the perfect spy car. When it’s stolen, he’s forced to turn to Pam to help him win it back in a race against the Yakuza.

AR: [Wistfully.] The much-reviled “Drift Problem.”

AVC: What do you like about this one?

AR: One thing I would like to say is, not a single penny changed hands between any entities whatsoever with this episode. Except for the normal ones. Dodge didn’t give us any money for this. But I’ve been bugging FX, since season one. I was like, “Dodge Challenger: It’s awesome. It’s new but it looks old, just like Archer. Call them. They should be the Archer spy-car guy.” And FX was like, “They’re not going to be interested. Quit bugging us about it.” 

So for years, I’ve been bugging them, and then this seemed like the perfect time to do that. But Dodge didn’t give us any money. I guess there was no way to preface the episode with that, or to mention it. [Laughs.] We did kind of mention it, but it sounded like it didn’t land, really. But yeah, in defense of this episode, Dodge did not give us any money. And we didn’t ask for any money.

AVC: Do product-placement opportunities exist for animated shows?

AR: They do. I’ve been approached a surprising number of times about that. [Beat.] If you would be surprised by the number two. 

AVC: Is that something you’d ever consider?

AR: Yeah, and it would depend on the product. There’ve been a couple of weird, brand-new liquors whose names I forget and shouldn’t mention anyway. They’ve come to FX and said, “We would like this to be Sterling Archer’s liquor of choice.” But it’s just brand-new, and nobody’s heard of it and they’re obviously trying to do this hip, weird viral marketing or product-placement or whatever. And I would say, “Look, if Johnnie Walker came to you and said that, or Jack Daniel,  or some old established thing that would have been around in 1960, ’70-whatever, then yeah, that’d be great. Give me some of the money.” But yeah, it’s usually only weird, new things. You know, like personal body-groomers or body sprays. 

AVC: This episode again is sort of an Archer solo story for quite a while. What do you look for when you’re making an Archer story, just about him?

AR: I like a lot of talking to himself. Well, I guess they’re all about him doing something ill-advised, but when he’s by himself, he tends to do things a bit more ill-advised than normal. 

AVC: You’d been waiting to do a spy-car episode since season one. What about the idea of a spy car, or just big car chases in general, appeals to you?

AR: Well, you know, the spy car is awesome. I had a little Corgi James Bond Aston Martin when I was a little kid, that the stuff would actually pop out. It was tiny, but the little machine guns would pop out and the hood would open. It’s such a classic. Is it a trope of the spy genre that there’s an amazing car that can do anything? And I like that idea. I’ve always wanted Archer to have one, and we just never got around to it. 

Originally, in the very first art we turned in to FX, when the working title of the show was still Duchess, the car was the focal part of the artwork. But then the show became less about a spy driving around in his spy car doing spy things. So then by the time we got around to it, it seemed like it would be good to give him this and then instantly rip it away.

AVC: Do you have other classic spy tropes you’d like to get to?

AR: There’s so many. I don’t know if you could get to them all. But yeah, it’s like, anything we could think of has already been in some spy movie or book somewhere. I’ve yet to come up with something, even when I’m not intentionally doing it, whether it’s a fight sequence or a gadget or a plot, where somebody’s not like “Oh yeah, that’s like episode 162 of Get Smart,” or whatever. It’s all been done. 

AVC: This is a big episode for Woodhouse. Where did that character come from? He also seems to be infinitely old. What’s humorous about that?

AR: About him being 100? For me, I like that he’s 100 and has probably been doing a shitload of heroin for 80 years. With really no ill effects. And I really like, for me, that he’s basically Archer’s parent, and he not only is he not ever thanked for it, but he’s absolutely reviled by Archer. And if Archer owes anybody in the world his love and respect, it’s Woodhouse, and he’s the last person he would ever give it to. Which cracks me up. And it’s so mean. [Laughs.]

AVC: Especially as the office-comedy aspects of the show have really evolved, it seems like Archer’s personal life and his home life have been downplayed a bit. Has that been intentional?

AR: No, I think it just sort of happens where we’ve got all of these great characters in the office. So as a writer, I tend to gravitate toward them and listening to them talk, rather than dealing with Archer bringing home women or whatever.

AVC: This has been a big season for Pam in a lot of ways. How do you approach writing that character and her vast enthusiasm and appetite for everything?

AR: She is a woman of large appetites. 

Early on, after FX said, “We want this show to be grounded in reality, maybe more so than you’ve been used to in the past, and these characters, we want them to have motivation for what they’re doing, and it needs to make sense,” that was hard for me to get used to. It was like someone saying, “Okay, Adam, dunk a basketball.” I’ve never done that. I don’t know what you’re saying. So that was a hard shift to make in the writing. 

But pretty early on, somehow, Pam and Cheryl got a pass on that, and they could just be crazy and comic relief. So I think of them a lot in my subconscious as R2-D2 and C-3PO. They’re doing their own fucking weird thing, and everywhere else, serious stuff is happening, and they’re totally goofing around. It’s really liberating, and a lot of times they don’t forward the story, and then it’s such an opportunity for these little sight gags that a lot of times weren’t in the script, like Pam being this secret tagger of everything, and you start seeing her tags. That just cracks me up.

AVC: This episode also deals a lot with the relationship between Archer and Malory, and how dark and twisted it is. Do you think there’s a core of love and respect between these two?

AR: Oh yeah. 

AVC: How do you write to that and still keep it as dark and twisted as it is?

AR: I think on this show, whenever anything is threatening to be nice [Laughs.] or respectful, someone always ruins it with some shitty comment. 

Lo Scandalo(Feb. 16, 2012)
Malory calls Archer and Lana to help her with a problem: Assassins have broken into her apartment and killed her lover, the prime minister of Italy, who’s tied to a chair in bondage gear. As the episode progresses—and more of the ISIS staff get involved in the story—the true culprit becomes clear.

AVC: This seems like it’s going to be a sort of a closed-room mystery. Is that a genre you enjoy?

AR: Oh yes. If Murder By Death is a closed-room mystery. No, that’s like a dinner-party mystery. Is that the same deal?

AVC: It’s essentially the same concept.

AR: It’s similar. That’s one of my favorite movies of ever. I’m just crazy about it. 

I think a lot of the movies I saw as a kid in the theaters have really stuck with me, even maybe unconsciously, as I’ve grown up and started writing for a living. Going to the movies was one of my favorite things in the world to do. To sit in there on a Saturday afternoon and just watch a movie really stuck with me. 

AVC: Are there movies you saw in that time period that you would like to work into Archer and just haven’t yet, or ones that inform the show in ways that aren’t as immediately obvious?

AR: Corvette Summer comes to mind. But I didn’t actually see it. [Laughs.] What comes to mind? I can’t think of anything, offhand. Star Wars was a pretty big deal. That was a game-changer. [Long pause.] Yes. Closed-room mystery. Love it.

[pagebreak]

AVC: This was one of the big favorites of the season. What was the process of writing this one?

AR: Well, you know it’s based on a true story.

AVC: Really?

AR: Yeah. In, I want to say France, there was a billionaire [Édouard Stern] from a pretty prominent family who was murdered in exactly that same way, wearing whatever that thing is called, that cat suit, with a marital aid in his rectum, and he was shot to death while tied to a chair. True story. Not that long ago. Just like four or five years ago, maybe. 

It totally rocked France. It was just this giant scandal. And it was, I think, his girlfriend that shot him after he was tied up. She got caught, instantly. But her defense was that it was rough sex that got out of hand, but I think the fact that he was tied up didn’t lend to that. But yeah, totally true story, and then I just tweaked it a little by making the guy the prime minister, because Berlusconi had just been in the news a bunch. Then the sinister backstory of all the fascist stuff just sort of wrote itself. And then: boom. Dinner-party scene.

AVC: Do you spend a lot of time combing news sites and newspapers for stories?

AR: No. Definitely not the news. It’s all Wikipedia, basically. Just clicking, clicking, clicking and then, “Whoa, here’s this dude that got murdered in France with a dildo in his bottom. That sounds like an idea for Archer.”

AVC: Have you ever found something that seemed particularly interesting, but you just couldn’t find a way to make it fit?

AR: Yeah, that probably happens a lot, but I’ll just file it away in my brain. Like the episode where Archer mentioned his fear of alligators and listed all the alligator attacks [“Pipeline Fever”], I read so many accounts of alligator attacks, and they were just horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I spent hours reading about that stuff, and it gets boiled down to like, 10 seconds of screentime. But now I know lots, lots more about alligator attacks.

AVC: So the dinner-party scene in this episode, so much of the humor is in the actors’ phrasing, like the way Judy Greer says “elegant dinner party,” among other things. When you’re writing a script like this, how do you indicate how you want them to speak?

AR: A lot of times, I’ll just tweak the spelling a little bit, like I’ll spell party  “P-A-H-T-Y” and just give a hint of it, and then let them take that in whatever direction they want. And then a lot of times, if they’re not speaking like their normal character, the first time they might do it one way and we’ll go, “Oh, that was fantastic and unexpected, could you do it 20 percent more weird and old-lady-accent-ish? Oh great. Can you just pull that back a tiny bit?” 

AVC: The end of this episode is pretty unexpected as well. At what point did you realize Malory was going to be the murderer?

AR: Oh, since the very, very beginning. It was, “Oh, Malory killed this dude, and she’s hoodwinked everyone into helping her.” But that’s interesting. Did you really not think it was her the whole time?

AVC: It just didn’t seem like something a network would do, let one of your main characters be a cold-blooded murderer. 

AR: [Pleased.] A murderer. An actual murderer. Yeah, she was an assassin. I guess if you’re a head of state, you’re assassinated. [Laughs.] Yeah, no, they were totally fine with that. The only thing they’ve ever said I couldn’t do was throw a baby. 

AVC: Speaking of which, is that baby ever going to come back?

AR: Oh yeah. Season four. 

AVC: You bring up another one of Malory’s long line of suitors here. Do you think there’s a limit to her past?

AR: I’d tend to think not. Because I figure she’s probably been doing this for, let’s say, 40 years. So, you know, even at just one dude a year, that’s 40 guys that could show up from her past. I think we haven’t even scratched the surface.  

AVC: When you came up with the end of this episode, when her whole plot is revealed, was that difficult to put together?

AR: No, this one was a lot easier to write than some of the other ones. It really just sort of clicked in a very short period of time. Like just a couple of days, “Here’s your draft.” 

AVC: Did you have her entire plan in mind from the start? 

AR: Oh, probably not that. No, that was probably later in the game. I knew she had done it, but the actual smiley-face map and everything, no, that was sort of a latecomer to the whole thing. 

AVC: This episode also has a lot of Malory, Archer, and Lana time, and that is a relationship that you keep going back to over and over. What about that trio works for you?

AR: I think they’re really good together. It’s the same thing about how Lana almost ends up being the mom in those scenes where they’re all three together, because Malory and Archer can’t have an adult conversation with each other, really. So Lana sort of referees their griping and bickering, and then Lana might say something that’s well-reasoned and makes total sense, and then either one or both of the other two will tell her to shut up. They’ll totally crap on whatever she comes up with, because, you know, they don’t listen to her. 

AVC: This is another episode that has a lot of Krieger in it. Is he another character you feel like you can do slightly stranger, more disturbing things with?

AR: Yes, yes. We set the bar pretty high with him early on, with his whole weird thing with breast milk, so nothing he would do would surprise me. In the outer-space episode, we find out he’s basically been telling the bad guys stuff about Archer just for money to trick out his van. Which was almost crossing the line for me, because it’s like, he’s not necessarily evil, he’s weird, but he does like the other people. But nobody seemed to mind really, that he did that. 

Bloody Ferlin(February 23, 2012)
Ray’s family is in trouble with the law back in West Virginia, so he recruits Archer and Cheryl to come with him to help out. 

AVC: In this episode, you reveal Ray wasn’t actually paralyzed. What was behind that reveal?

AR: That reveal was so that at the very end of season three, he could get paralyzed again. [Laughs.] So I knew going in, pretty far in advance, that Ray would be un-paralyzed and then, pow, re-paralyzed. Or, I guess, just for the first time. 

Yeah. This was weird. I hadn’t seen this episode of Justified, “Bloody Harlan,” but I grew up in North Carolina, and the county next to mine was Madison County, and it was known as “Bloody Madison” because of this Civil War massacre, and it was also sort of known as this moonshining, pot-growing, lawless place. So FX was like, “Is this Justified? Why are you calling it this?” And I didn’t know what anybody was talking about. 

AVC: Have you seen Justified? Was that something you had referenced, or was this all just from your past?

AR: No. I mean, I have seen Justified, but this was all quite similar to White Lightning, the Burt Reynolds movie. Which was the prequel to Gator. So yeah, all from my past, as it relates to watching Burt Reynolds movies every single day of my childhood.

AVC: This is an episode that plays off of something that you mention offhand about a character’s past in prior episodes. When you make a mention like that, how do you know when it’s going to open up a lot of story for you?

AR: I don’t think at the time that I necessarily do. We had talked for a while about doing a Gillette-centric episode where you learn more about his backstory, like we’ve done for almost everybody else, and the network is crazy about Gillette. What I think is also kind of neat, because most of the other characters are New York born and raised, is to have this guy be from just a shithole and then reinvent himself as the sharpest-dressed guy who ever lived and totally turn his back on everything, it’s really interesting. And remarkably common, I have found, as I’ve gone through life. 

AVC: You voice the character as well. Does that change in any way the way you write for him?

AR: I try to write for him less because I really feel like I suffer by comparison to the rest of the cast. I really try to minimize the Ray.

AVC: How did that evolve, you playing that character?

AR: You know, I forget even his first appearance. It was one of those things where I’ve got a Southern voice, so we were going to have him be Southern. It was sort of a throwaway thing. I guess it was way back in season one, and I can’t remember what it was, but I did all the voices on Frisky Dingo, basically. So I’m really comfortable just getting in the V.O. booth and knocking it out. Not that I’m necessarily great or very good at it, but I know how to do it. I know how to get in there and shut the door and talk into the microphone. I think it was a thing where we needed an agent to just stick his head in, and I was like, “Eh. I’ll knock it out. We’ll never see this guy again,” and then the network liked him.

AVC: How often does that happen, that there’s a random background character that the network or somebody gets interested in?

AR: It happens a lot of times with the guest billings. The network’s always saying, “When is Conway [Stern] coming back? Write a Conway episode.” I guess more with the guest voices than with other random characters. That guy Brett, who gets shot all the time, is our art director, Neal Holman, who we just love shooting. I don’t know if we even record Neal anymore. I think we’ve got so many sounds of him getting shot that we just drop those in like a sound effect now. 

AVC: I should have mentioned this in “Drift Problem,” but you have a cameo in that episode from a Frisky Dingo character. Do you think of that show and this show as sharing the same universe, or was that just a fun Easter egg?

AR: An Easter egg, yeah. They don’t share the same universe, for a number of reasons. Mr. Ford was the character on Frisky Dingo, and he’s played by a man named Mr. Ford, and he wasn’t actually Mr. Ford in Archer, he was just some other guy, but we used his voice, because Adult Swim owns the character of Mr. Ford. 

When we were making Frisky Dingo, we made it out of this tiny brick house in a neighborhood in East Atlanta, and he was our neighbor. We moved in, nobody was living there, it was just computers, and we would all show up at 9 o’clock in the morning, eight white guys. We’d park in the driveway, in the yard, go in there, close the door all day, and all leave at 6 o’clock. And he was head of the neighborhood watch, so after about two weeks of this, somebody was pounding on the door, which was like this iron grate, and he was like, “What the hell is going on in here? Are you all cooking meth?” And we’re like, “Oh, no. No sir! Please come in; we make cartoons.” And he said, “What in the hell is this?” He wasn’t super-stoked on us illegally running a business out of the house across the street, so we asked if he’d like to be in an episode, and he became, basically, the Pam of Frisky Dingo, that everyone wanted to see more of.

AVC: So when you say that Adult Swim owns Frisky Dingo, I assume that means Archer is never going to fight Killface?

AR: [Laughs.] Only in some fanfic. That I might write under a pseudonym. 

AVC: How did your experience at Adult Swim inform Archer?

AR: Well, one way, we learned to make what I think were good shows pretty quickly and pretty inexpensively. And I learned to write economically, I guess. We’ve always owned a separate production company, and the network is our client, so we try to maximize our profits by doing things as cost-effectively as possible. We did 52 episodes of Sealab [2021] and 25 of Frisky Dingo, and we made them all pretty fast, and we made them all here in Atlanta with small staffs. So I guess we learned how to hustle.

AVC: What is that production company and network relationship like? 

AR: The way we’re set up, I don’t know how actual TV works. I know the words that they use, but there’s the network, then there’s the studio, then there’s, I think, also a production company? I honestly don’t know how it works. For us, we’re the production company, but FX is also the studio, but they’re also the network. I’m not sure how the whole studio idea gets shoved in there. I don’t understand it. But for us, it’s us, and we hand in our tapes to FX, and they put them on television. 

AVC: When you were coming up with Ray’s backstory in this episode, how did you arrive at what his family was like, and his brother, and all that?

AR: That happened as I was writing it. I met lots of people when I was living in New York that you would think were born in Paris and then moved to New York to become a fashion model or whatever, but it turns out they’re from a tobacco farm in Virginia. I think a lot of people, when they leave their hometown, reinvent themselves. Maybe they didn’t have the happiest childhood or high school, and they get to a big city and have this cool job, and they try to avoid talking about their origins. It’s like it never happened. And that always fascinated me, because I also knew a lot of people who would have some glamorous job in New York and say, “Oh yeah, I grew up chopping tobacco in Virginia, and it sucked.”

AVC: You mentioned you grew up in North Carolina. Is your background a rural one?

AR: No, I’m from a small town, though, in the mountains, but it’s sort of a hippie town. It’s called Asheville, and it has become a sort of destination. Groovy people have discovered Asheville. When I was a kid, it was not necessarily that. The downtown has now been revitalized, and it’s this totally happening place to be. Huge bands play there in these small venues just because it’s Asheville, but when I was a kid, a lot of it was boarded up, and one of the best band venues now, when I was a kid, was a porno theatre. It’s sort of the reverse of Back To The Future, I guess. It was crappy then, now it’s super-nice. 

AVC: What do you think pop culture gets right and wrong about the South? 

AR: Popular culture in general: Using y’all as a second-person singular. Drives me insane. I’ve never ever heard it done in real life, but it happens on TV all the time. Also, bad Southern accents drive me pretty crazy. And there are some really bad ones out there. 

AVC: Will we be seeing more of Ray’s past, or do you prefer to keep some of these elements mysterious?

AR: I like to keep them mysterious, and that’s sort of the problem with doing these origin episodes for these characters, because once you do that, you can’t parcel out these tiny little hints and clues about their past anymore. From now on, whenever Ray says some little thing about growing up, you can instantly picture the house where he grew up, and it’s not this weird mystery anymore. It’s sort of a double-edged sword: It’s fun to do, but you lose being able to tease it out over a long time. 

AVC: Is there anything in the show that you think would really be hurt by you spelling it out?

AR: Maybe who Archer’s dad is, which again, I totally know who it is. 

Tomorrow: the final part of this walkthrough, covering the last four episodes of the season. 


Part one

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