How 'Archer' Paid Tribute to Jessica Walter in an Emotional Season 12 Finale

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Jessica Walter in Archer
Getty Images/FX

There’s no doubting that Jessica Walter made a lasting impression as the acid-tongued Malory on Archer, FX’s adult animated series about an elite team of spy operatives. Prior to her death at the age of 80, the actress managed to finish recording season 12, which came to an end with “Mission: Difficult” and marked her final performance as the overbearing owner of the top spy agency where her son, Sterling (H. Jon Benjamin), also worked as a secret agent.  

While the season featured several touching moments and highlights for Malory, including a trip down memory lane for the matriarch and a few opportunities to kick a**, the season finale brought her story to an emotional close, providing a touching tribute to Walter.  

Archer
FX

After Malory spent all of season 12 struggling to keep her agency open as the big-box spy operation IIA encroached on her business, she was noticeably absent from the beginning of the finale as Sterling fought for his life after being kidnapped by IIA owner Fabian Kingsworth (What We Do in the Shadow’s Kayvan Novak).  

As the episode plays out, Malory, in full spy getup, suddenly appears in Fabian’s office to rescue Sterling. She eventually finds him, along with the rest of the gang, trapped in a basement fire, where she helps them fend off Barry (Dave Willis) yet again.  

In the end, despite fending off Fabian, it’s revealed that IIA has acquired their business. With that, Malory has disappeared, but not before leaving a letter for Sterling.

“I thought it was time to make my own exit. In my own time, on my own terms, and in a way I can never be found by my enemies or all my lovesick paramours, who are literally countless,” she wrote. “And so, I’ve decided it’s time to pass the torch. Try not to burn yourself with it. And I know my decision may seem abrupt, but we don’t always get to choose the perfect moment.” 

“From wherever I am, I will be watching over you,” the letter ends as it is revealed that Malory is sitting on a remote tropical beach and sipping a cocktail before she berates a local waiter. “If I see this glass empty again, I’ll be very unhappy,” she says.  

The episode then ends as the camera pans over to see Malory sitting with Ron Cadillac, who is voiced by Walter’s late husband, Ron Leibman. “And how is my lady love?” he asks.  

“Infinitely better now,” Malory replies, before the episode fades to black and reads, “In Loving Memory of Jessica Walter.”  

Archer
FX

Ahead of season 12, executive producer Casey Willis and Benjamin opened up to ET about how the series would pay tribute to the star. “There’s definitely an episode that highlights her and shows a little bit of her past. And also, even in that present day, we see her being kickass in that time as well,” Willis said of the episode, “London Time.”  

While not wanting to give anything away at the time, “We're planning a really nice scene at the end of the season that’s going to hopefully be a nice tribute to her... I believe it’s going to be nice,” he said of the finale before adding, “We feel like we’ve put together something that’s touching and we hope that viewers are equally as touched as we are when we made it because we put a lot of heart into it.”  

“It’s understated in a good way,” Benjamin said. “Malory was such a central figure in the show and it will be hard to do the show without her, but I think the way they ended it was good.”  


Archer is now streaming on FX on Hulu.

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