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Archer's recurring fear of robots or "robophobia" is a running gag originating from his hoover-assisted onanistic misadventures as a child which traumatised him for life. The incident goes a long way to explaining Archer's fear of cyborg Barry Dylan as well as his generalised fear of robots - he frequently refers to Skynet from the Terminator movies - and causes him understandable cognitive dissonance when the love of his life, Katya is reborn as a cyborg at the hands of Krieger.

The Hoover Incident[]

When Archer is reunited with cyborg-Katya in in Skin Game (s3e11), he tries to get her a job at ISIS. This perplexes Malory as she was sure he is scared of robots:

Archer: Really? Katya can be an ISIS agent?
Malory: Probationary. But if I find out the KGB is behind this...
Archer: You won’t! They’re not!
Malory: ...I’ll part her out and sell her for scrap. And I thought you were scared of robots…
Archer: I... no... Well not Katya, she’s different.
Skingame archerflashback

Archer Flashback Triggered

It is revealed during two flashbacks what may have lead Malory to that conclusion: a traumatic incident which occurred in Archer's past. The first flashback is triggered when Archer attempts to make love to the newly reanimated cyborg version of the love of his life Katya. Her red terminator eyes and "robo-gina" trigger repressed memories of his "interaction" with an Electrux hoover in his youth:

Skingame archerflashback1

Archer Flashback 1

Archer: Ah, ee, ahhh, ohhh by.
Katya: Darling, are you alright?
Archer: Yes. No. Yes. Yes - a lot of feelings coming together, just trying to process. Not gonna lie - having some deja vu here... which, if I gave it any real thought, would probably explain a lot. [Flashback 1]


After brushing her teeth the next morning, Katya left her "appliance" in the sink, causing Archer to freak out and be driven to drink. Whilst at work he resorts to drinking Cyril's expensive bottle of Glengoolie Blue. Archer vividly describes what he saw to Cyril:

"In the sink Cyril! In the sink! It’s like a transistor radio and a veal cutlet had a baby!"

In a piece of cross dialog, Katya expresses her concerns about Archer's reaction:

Katya terminator eyes

Katya's Terminator Eyes

Katya: …could I have done something wrong?
Pam: Besides leaving your cooch in the sink?
Lana and Ray: Pam!
Pam: What? That just sounds considerate…
Katya: It’s just, I know he has very good reason to hatepeople like me.

The following scene shows Archer vomiting into a waste-bin and reveals his "very good reason":

Skingame archerflashback2

Archer Flashback 2

Archer: …but I mean Barry did murder her... [vomits ...and my possibly my father. And more importantly, tried to murder me.
Cyril: Because Barry is a psychopath- doesn’t mean all cyborgs are like that.
Archer: But Cyril - machines can hurt people. [2nd flashback]
Cyril: Well, you lost me there. Thankfully.

Resolution[]

The episode finishes with Katya realising she is better off with Barry: "we like two mermaids - we must swim together." With heart thoroughly broken and mind traumatised, Archer turns to his mother knowing he will get no support:

Archer: Well mother, go ahead and say it…
Malory: Oh Sterling, you’ve just had your heart broken - you don’t need a smug “I told you so” from me. And smug it would be because tell you I most certainly did. Just like that Electrolux all over again.
Lana: Sooo, I know that sucked…
Archer: Vacuum cleaner puns…now? Really?!
Lana: No idea thankfully about any of that, but if you really did love Katya, you’ve gotta be happy that she’s happy…
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