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How Jessica Walter's Passing Affected The Approach To Archer Season 13

For 12 chaotic seasons, super-spy Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and company churned out offensive and immensely uncouth jokes amidst the espionage and animated action. As sharp-witted as the writing of "Archer" was, though, one thing that they didn't anticipate, however, was the tremendous loss of one of its core cast members, Jessica Walter. Since the beginning of the series, the former "Arrested Development" star had been the voice behind Archer's mother, Malory, but sadly died peacefully in her sleep on March 24, 2021.

It was a massive loss for both the show and fans. Walter had made Malory a firm favorite in the series as the loving, but overbearing mother to the world's greatest spy. The consistently inebriated boss of the agency was a core component that made the show as great as it was, and it was left to the show's creators to write an unexpected exit that wasn't just empathetic but airtight as part of the show's story. Thankfully, well-deserved respect was given to their late cast member in the finale of Season 12, and according to the show's creators, plans are in place to ensure that Season 13 of "Archer" would contain just as much.

Archer's creators will use their hearts and heads when they return for Season 13

In an interview with Collider, "Archer" executive producer Casey Willis revealed that Jessica Walter may have gone, but the cast and their respective characters would still remember the prickly and brilliantly funny personality. Before the next season was confirmed to return, Willis spoke about what details were being considered in the world of "Archer" without mother dearest in its future. "We have ideas of how we want to proceed with it. And we're talking about how the characters are going to react and how we even want to portray it," he said.

It's delicate territory to take on when any show cast member passes away, but even more so for a comedy series. Lean too far into the emotional element and the laughs won't feel strong enough. Go for too many gags and it takes away the grief that should understandably be present. Thankfully, if the finale of Season 12 was anything to go by, "Archer" will be handled just fine, especially when those behind that heartbreaking but humorous moment reflected upon it.

The Archer team had one mission to accomplish when writing Malory out of the show

During their appearance at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, the "Archer" cast and crew openly discussed the hole left behind by Jessica Walter's viper-tongued alter-ego and her exit. At the end of Season 12, it's revealed that Malory has left the agency to Sterling, who reads a farewell letter from his mother. The final scene ended with both Malory and Ron Cadillac (voiced by her late husband, Ron Leibman) sipping drinks by the beach and ensuring absolute tears for viewers. Casey Willis deemed it a fitting send-off that managed to accomplish a rarity for some — bring laughter through the tears.

"It was a difficult thing to write. It's a difficult thing to reform. I think Jon [Benjamin] did a very good job," Willis told Gizmodo, thinking back to one of the show's rare profound but equally sweet moments. "Listen, I did a very good job with that scene, because it was supposed to be, we had one job. Is it still to try to be funny?"

Thankfully, all the essential ingredients were there to make this more than a goodbye, but a great one. "Jon had a really nice quiver in his voice that I really liked. And Mark Ganek, our co-EP, did a really nice job with that," Willis added. Mission accomplished? Most definitely. It's fair to say even mother would be proud.