Spoilers for Archer, up through the Season 9 premiere, below.
FX and the creators of Archer brought a special treat to New York Comic Con 2017: the premiere episode of Archer Season 9, another anthology-style departure for the show. The season's been dubbed "Danger Island," and it sees the core characters re-imagined as the owners and managers of an island-based hotel and charter plane company.
Despite being slightly unfinished--the episode ran with time codes flashing along the bottom--the premiere delighted the audience at the Hammerstein Ballroom with everything Archer fans have come to expect. That includes Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) sleeping around and ruining lives, irresponsible firearm use, Aisha Tyler owning every scene she's in, dysfunctional relationships between family members and co-workers, cameos from actors like Eugene Cordero and Jon Daly, and copious amounts of drinking.
But it didn't answer Archer fans' most urgent question: Is Archer still in a coma?
As a re-imagining of Archer's core characters and settings, Archer: Danger Island may take place in an alternate timeline, in Archer's coma dreams, or somewhere we can't even imagine. (Although the show's co-executive producer, Casey Willis, dropped a big hint later in the panel: "Being in his coma subconscious, all the people that he cares about are what shows up," he said.) But its premiere episode, at least, doesn't address Sterling Archer's fate, seemingly leaving the main series' story on the backburner for another season.
Archer Executive Producer Matt Thompson took the stage after the episode and explained why the show's creators have leaned into these anthology seasons, which let them explore new stories outside the spy genre. "We kind of learned a little bit when we did the cocaine season," Thompson said.
"Archer: Vice," Tyler, who plays an island princess in the new season, interjected, laughing. "We shouldn't call it the cocaine season."
"What it did, really, was re-energized us," Thompson resumed. "I don't watch a lot of TV shows that are in their ninth season, because at some point, for me, the storylines kind of run themselves out."
"It's exciting for us as creators because I'm not just trying to figure out how to tell you another spy story today," he continued. "And I think my partner, Adam Reed, just couldn't bring himself to writing another season of a spy thing."
"We may have lost some viewers," Thompson admitted.
"But f*** those guys!" Tyler exclaimed. The crowd erupted.
Whatever Archer's creators may prefer, it's clear that the show's viewers are as eager for the main story to resume as they are to find out what Danger Island has in store. As soon as the panel opened to audience questions, Thompson had to acknowledge whether the show will ever get back to reality.
"We're going back to all that. We're gonna get to everything--hopefully," Thompson promised. "We won't leave it hanging."
Archer: Danger Island sees Sterling Archer, his mother, Jessica Walter's Malory, and a new, more muscular version of Pam (Amber Nash) running an island hotel and charter plane company somewhere in French territory. Cheryl (Judy Greer) plays a newlywed who sleeps with Archer, ruining her marriage, while Tyler plays a savvy island princess trying to convince Chris Parnell's new character--whose name seems to rhyme with "Ducks"--to purchase land within the island's dangerous jungle. And Lucky Yates' Dr. Krieger has transformed into a parrot named Crackers--about which Yates shared a fun story.
"When I was three years old, my parents were still trying to potty-train me, so they bribed me with a parakeet," Yates said. "They told me if I pooped into the potty they'd get me a parakeet, and I was on the sh**ter within five minutes dropping a sweet deuce." They followed through, and he named the bird Crackers. His character in Danger Island was named in that parakeet's honor.
Another audience member brought up the possibility of an Archer movie.
"Anything could happen, right? We just need to talk to the right people at FX," Willis, one of the show's executive producers, said, half-joking--given how many executives from FX were likely present.
"I heard Harvey Weinstein might not be doing anything," he added.
Archer returns with Archer: Danger Island some time in 2018.