Marston, you're a public menace; we should have had you killed.
Archer Fordham


Archer Fordham is a recurring character in the Red Dead series. He is a supporting character and a secondary antagonist in Red Dead Redemption, and makes a cameo appearance at the end of Red Dead Redemption 2.

History

Background

Archer is a young, sturdy, and keen-eyed government agent. He is Ross's right hand man and he is very ambitious and aggressive.
GOTY guide description.

Fordham joined the Bureau of Investigation at some point in or prior to 1907. Still a junior agent by 1911, he is the protegé of senior agent and director Edgar Ross.

Events of Red Dead Redemption 2

In 1907, Fordham and Ross find Micah Bell's corpse on the top of Mount Hagen, and travel to various locations whilst interviewing citizens, in an attempt to find the killer. They eventually find the ranch at Beecher's Hope, where they spy John Marston teaching his son Jack how to brush a horse. Convinced that they found the killer, Fordham and Ross nod to each other and leave to plan their next move.

Events of Red Dead Redemption

In 1911, prior to the events of Red Dead Redemption, Fordham and Ross take John Marston's family away from him in order to strong-arm him into hunting down some of his former comrades from the Van der Linde gang. Following the abduction of Abigail and Jack Marston, the two agents are seen escorting John Marston to the train station in Blackwater, during the opening credits of Red Dead Redemption.

Nuevo Paraíso

Fordham is not seen again until much later in the game. After the player captures or kills Javier Escuella in the mission "The Gates of El Presidio", they are required to meet Fordham and Ross at a bridge crossing between New Austin and Nuevo Paraíso. Depending on whether Escuella is alive or dead, Fordham will commend John for a job well done, or criticize him for killing Escuella. Either way, Fordham reminds Marston of his obligations and tells him to return to Blackwater as soon as he deals with Bill Williamson, before he and Ross drive off with Escuella.

West Elizabeth

Once John arrives in Blackwater, Fordham and Ross directly work with him to track down his former gang leader and mentor, Dutch van der Linde, who has formed a new gang of disaffected Native Americans. After rescuing their informant, Nastas, from the Wreck of the Serendipity and attempting to prevent Dutch and his gang from robbing the Blackwater bank, Fordham participates alongside John and Ross in a climatic assault on Van der Linde's camp with the assistance of the U.S. Army. During the assault, Marston corners Dutch, who chooses to commit suicide by throwing himself from a cliff, declaring to John that their time is up, a reference to the federal government's manipulation and the pursuit of outlaws like them. Following Dutch's death, Fordham and Ross meet with John one last time at the bottom of the cliff, where the former thanks John for his assistance and tells him that he's made his country proud. The agents then part ways with Marston, informing him that he is free to return to his ranch, where his family is waiting for him.

Fordham is not present in the final mission of the game, "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed", where Ross betrays John and launches an all-out assault on his ranch to kill him. It is unknown whether Fordham simply had other matters to attend to at the time, or refused to participate out of respect for Marston, who had been nothing but useful to him and Ross.

Character

Personality

Archer is characterized as being assertive and exceedingly capable at his profession, yet more hot-headed and impulsive than his cold and calculating mentor.

Fordham unwaveringly supports Ross in his dishonorable methods. However, unlike Ross, Fordham appears to develop a respect of sorts for Marston during the last few missions he is in, and thanking him for his help after Dutch's death. Participating in a handful of engagements with Dutch van der Linde, Fordham demonstrates himself as exceedingly capable in combat.

Appearance

As of 1907, Fordham is a young man with a clean-shaven face. He is seen dressed in a formal business suit with a black tie and a black bowler hat with gray trimmings.

By 1911, Archer is slightly leaner and sports an immodest, lighter three-piece suit with a black tie. In addition, he wears a different bowler hat with darker black trimmings.

Mission appearances

Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption 2

Quotes

You've done well, Mr. Marston. Now, Javier here gets to see how far the hand of justice can reach.
Fordham to John Marston, after the latter turns Javier Escuella in alive
He's not looking very... healthy. We told you to keep them alive.
Fordham to John, if the latter kills Javier
Like you always say, sir, the higher the stakes, the smarter you have to play the game.
Fordham to Edgar Ross
It ends when we say it ends. You're in no position to make demands.
Fordham to John
See, this is what happens when you fraternize with savages. How could you ever follow a man like that?
Fordham to John, about Dutch van der Linde
Thank you, Mr. Marston, for everything. I know this wasn't easy for you, but I have to say, you've done your country proud.
Fordham's final words to John

Trivia

  • Fordham's mother, Maybelle, has been dead since July 24th, 1900, and is buried at Blackwater cemetery. The game files contain a quote for NPCs regarding Fordham's mother's death. The quote is listed as "I hear that Bureau fella's never been the same since his mother got shot in the massacre". Due to the fact that the Blackwater Massacre occurred in 1899, it is possible that she was injured and later died from surgical complications or infection.
  • If Marston captures Javier Escuella, Fordham seems to have a more positive feeling towards Marston during the first two cutscenes in which he speaks. If Marston brings in Escuella dead, Fordham will show less appreciation to Marston, due to the fact that he instructed Marston to bring him alive.
  • Fordham uses a Cattleman Revolver in the earlier missions but later uses a High Power Pistol, just as Edgar Ross did.
  • Even though Fordham is Ross' partner, like Jonah and Eli, they actually contrast. Ross wears light clothes while Fordham wears dark clothes, Ross is old while Fordham is young, Ross is short while Fordham is tall and, most importantly, Ross is deceitful and sardonic while Fordham is honest and blunt.
  • During "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed", Fordham is not present. However, a Marshal, Isaac McKinnon, is often mistaken for Fordham as he bears a striking resemblance to him and is seen close to Ross' side.

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