Archer returns for its 12th season on August 25, and from the looks of it, the FXX animated series will still be riding its second wind after last season’s revitalized approach (after a trio of ambitious but ultimately so-so seasons played out in the mind of the comatose main character). More old-school-style Archer means more espionage hijinks and international escapades, but it also means more of the show’s signature snarky, racy (yet full of oddball references) humour — and nobody’s better at that than Malory Archer, voiced by the late, great Jessica Walter.
Walter fans — and who isn’t a Walter fan, really? — will be glad to know all of her lines had been recorded for season 12 before the actor passed away. That means we’ll be getting a full season of Malory, Sterling’s (H. Jon Benjamin) mother and boss, and her wonderfully abrasive, elitist, dismissive, withering, borderline offensive way of being, almost always with a cocktail close at hand. Today we’re celebrating some of our favourite moments when Malory tossed off a cutting insult, made an outrageous statement that only she could make, proved herself to be absolutely iconic, or did something that would be utterly offensive in any other context (or…all of the above at once). We’d love to know your favourite Malory moments in the comments below!
We’ll begin with the moment depicted above which makes use of one of Malory’s favourite threats, and comes after Ray (Adam Reed) has gone undercover (as Malory) to try to recover the agency’s 401k money (after Malory “borrowed” it) in season two’s “Jeu Monégasque”: “First of all, if that’s my Chanel suit, I will have your guts for garters.”
“Classic Irishman’s Dilemma”
In season three’s “Lo Scandolo,” we get a flashback explaining exactly why Malory doesn’t enjoy running into her apartment building superintendent. After he humbly asks her for a Christmas bonus, she instead hands him a potato, snappily remarking “So once again you’re left with the classic Irishman’s dilemma: do I eat the potato now, or do I let it ferment so I can drink it later?” The camera pulls back and we see the man’s Tiny Tim-esque son, destined for an early grave thanks to Malory’s cruel stinginess.
“Why was I dressed as Hitler?” Archer mused about this Halloween memory, which pops up as a flashback in season two’s “Jeu Monégasque.” As Malory recalls it, it was the only time she’d ever seen Archer, as dedicated a tippler as she is, barfing-into-the-toilet drunk. “Can’t play cards, can’t drink… what the hell good are ya?” flashback Malory slurs at her son, while present-day Malory also wonders “Why was he dressed as Hitler?” Her Elvira costume, however, is exceptional.
Malory on Los Angeles
In season seven, the agents — after being blacklisted by the CIA — head to the West Coast and form “The Figgis Agency” (also the episode title), working as private investigators. Malory’s not a fan of the career change or her new city, since the fact that you can buy liquor at the grocery store in California is “literally the only thing about Los Angeles that doesn’t make me want to vomit.”
“A Fat Widdle Baby”
In season six’s “Edie’s Wedding,” there’s an amazing aside when Malory starts to give her granddaughter, A.J. a loving little pet, then stops short to ask A.J.’s mum, Lana (Aisha Tyler) if her “boobs are full of corn syrup, because she feels chubby!” After further calling A.J. “a fat widdle baby” (in baby-talk voice), she sighs, “Fast-forward to me buying her liposuction for graduation.” Who dares fat-shame a six-month-old? Malory Archer does, that’s who!
Malory vs. Moonshine
Season four’s “Sea Tunt, Part II” gave us the immortal sight of a thirsty Malory guzzling some of Pam’s (Amber Nash) moonshine and cheerfully giving it her blessing: “God bless corn subsidies.”
“Absinthe makes me blackout!”
Season one gave us “Job Offer,” in which Malory — distraught that Sterling has taken a job at a rival agency — gets progressively more and more inebriated, to the point of making the drunkenly emotional decision to send out a worldwide “Burn Notice” on her own son…and later hysterically regretting it…then gleefully gloating when it gets him kicked out of the rival agency.
Elaborate voicemail hoax
In season five — the Archer Vice season — “Smuggler’s Blues” shows Malory fall prey (again) to another of Archer’s signature voicemail pranks. She actually calls Ray’s phone, and looks incredibly worried when Ray picks up, only to start yelling and get cut off amid a hail of gunfire. Then when the punch line is revealed, all thanks to an elaborate Sterling scheme he details in the next scene, the groaning noise of disgust she makes is epic. Jessica Walter’s delivery is everything, and she doesn’t even need words to get her point across.
Malory on PBS
In season five episode “Southbound and Down,” Malory let us know how she really feels about PBS, in a speech that sums up her political point of view both accurately and hilariously: “It’s public television. They don’t pay anything! All they do is suck money in. They take our taxes…” (Lana breaks in to add “or donations” before Malory continues.) “Of pre-tax dollars! From pot-taking, Bolshevik lesbian couples! Then PBS mixes it all in with their huge NEA grants, launders it in inner-city methadone clinics, and pumps it right back out to pro-abortion super-PACs!”
Season 10 — Archer: 1999 — sent the gang to space. In the previous “coma seasons,” Malory appeared as a crime boss named “Mother” (Dreamland) and a morally shifty South Pacific hotelier (Danger Island). The uneven 1999 season, however, gave her the best alter ego: the sentient AI on the spaceship where almost all the action takes place. Sometimes she appears as a ball of light; other times, as a futuristic (but still hard-drinking) version of the Malory we know and love.
Surprise! Malory isn’t a (delightful) bitch all the time. When Sterling finally wakes up from his three-year coma, not only is his mother right by his side, we’re shown (in the season 10 finale “Robert De Niro”) that she’s been basically camping out in his hospital room the entire time. Then comes an entirely uncharacteristic Malory speech: “I wanted to be here when you woke up … The important thing is that you’re back and we’re together. After all, the real story has always been about you and me. Which, when you think about it, at its heart it’s really a love story. It’s true.” Aww.