At its core, “Double Trouble” has lots in common with that most debated of James Bond films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Sterling Archer has pulled a Lazenby and genuinely fallen for Russian agent Katya Kazanova. He’s even stopped drinking for her! And what’s more: She, too, has fallen for him. Never mind the fact that her KGB file says she’s a double agent, tasked to penetrate deep into ISIS and take down the organization from within. And never mind the fact that Barry has been turned into a cyborg agent with one mission and one mission only: Kill Sterling Archer. These two crazy kids are gonna get married, no matter how skeptical Lana is and no matter how little Malory would like to see it happen.
“Double Trouble” is a strong finish to a terrific season of television. I’m not sure Katya’s a strong enough character to completely buy that Archer has fallen for her so completely, but she certainly SEEMS like the kind of woman he would fall for. She knows her way around a gun, she’s one of the best spies in the world, and she’s incredibly, incredibly hot. Also, she calls Malory his secretary the first time she meets her, which is an added touch. Still, I liked the gag, which doesn’t just riff on Secret Service but also on any number of other spy movies where the spy falls in love with the woman who works for the opposing agency. (And I DID almost buy the scene where he falls even harder for her because she shoots so well.) Like the best Archer episodes, this one works its way to a pinnacle of absolute, ridiculous lunacy (complete with the return of Krieger’s computer bride), then ends on some of the best jokes of the episode. Every character gets something great to do, and it’s a good way to leave us hanging until the fall.
The central question of the hour is whether Katya is a double agent, as Malory is certain she is, or whether she’s really in love with Archer as she claims to be. Now, the KGB file on Katya says that she’s a double agent, but as Gillette points out, they probably changed that file once she left the Soviet Union, just to cast extra suspicion on her. (It’s pretty much counterintelligence 101.) We know that Katya has actually defected because we see that Nikolai knows all about it and wants to ensure that she never tells the West that she saw him involved in a “lemon party” (if you don’t know, look it up… IF YOU DARE). Also, when she first saw the photo of Archer as the “most dangerous spy in the world,” she fell instantly in love with his chiseled visage. On her side, at least, this is genuine.
This all culminates in Archer running off with Katya after Malory and Lana see her file and try to apprehend her, making him seem like he’s been flipped to the KGB. They trace him to his apartment, where Woodhouse is delaying him on Malory’s orders, and there’s a huge shootout between the two groups… that ends as soon as it starts, practically, because everybody fires every bullet they have and doesn’t hit anything. Except Malory has one last bullet, and she aims it at Katya. Archer, however, steps in front of Katya, ready to sacrifice himself to save her, which gives Malory pause. And then it turns out that Katya was spying on Krieger’s secret project because he was planning his wedding to his computer bride, and she wanted to take it over so she could marry Archer.
That’s quickly what happens. And just before the two can enter wedded bliss, Barry arrives, turned into the Six Million Dollar Man, and while Krieger is saddened by how the Russians have already gotten to his secret project well before he was able to finish it, Barry tries to take out Archer. Instead, Katya leaps from the roof of the building with him, landing on a van parked below (and you can just about guess who it belongs to). Barry, for once, survives the long fall with no problems and races off into the night. Katya looks very dead. And as Archer mourns her and Krieger mourns his van, we end the season on a high note.
I really liked this episode because it combined the craziness of the best spy mission episodes—like, say, Barry becoming a cyborg or Nikolai’s paranoia—with the office comedy of the workplace episodes. Any episode where we see Nikolai’s right-hand man talking in a very good imitation of the Six Million Dollar Man credits voice and learn that Barry’s name is now “Sy Berg” but where that’s right next to Pam trying to crap out several pool balls she accidentally swallowed the night before (because she has a giant mouth, y’know) is going to be a good one in my book. And I also really liked the way that Lana seemed to genuinely be a little jealous, even if she’d never admit it. Plus, it was an episode where lots of the storylines from earlier in the season—like Archer’s introduction to gambling or the cancer sex Archer and Lana had a few episodes ago—returned for a brief mention or two. Even though every episode of this show is mostly standalone, I love the amount of continuity it has, and this episode was like a great tour of the many fun things the series has done this season.
While I liked Archer season one, I wasn’t entirely sure the show could sustain that kind of absurd tone, mixed with consistent character interaction, for all that long. Instead, season two somehow both doubled down on what we learned about the characters and on the weird gags. This has been a good year for comedy on TV, but Archer has made a good case for itself as being one of the best ones out there, if not THE best. And it’s done that by remaining true to both its voice and its strangeness. Last season, I wrote a lot about how the show was trying to mainstream the adult swim aesthetic. And I’d say that with this season, it’s more than realized that goal.
- Is it wrong that I like Barry much better now that he’s a cyborg? And are we going to have to go through another season of this, “Who’s Archer’s dad?” drama? Because I’m not sure how much I’ll like it beyond this year.
- Gillette ripping off his shirt to reveal a priest’s collar really makes me want to see his inevitable flashback episode.
- I feel kind of bad for Krieger’s computer bride. Even if I can’t remember her name for the life of me.
- Line delivery of the night: Jessica Walter’s tossed off, “Called it!”
- Secondary line delivery of the night: H. Jon Benjamin’s casual, “Awesome,” after Katya accepts Archer’s proposal.
- We’ll be back in the fall because, as mentioned before, Archer will be paired off with It’s Always Sunny for a few weeks next fall, almost certainly.
- And for the last time, here’s half the script printed out for your enjoyment and perusal.
- "What in the name of pre-paid venereal disease do you think you're doing?"
- "Phrasing, mother!"
- "It's OK. We can hear from out here!" "With our earballs!"
- "Right? Almost as cool as my van."
- “PLEASE tell me you’re into Rush.”
- "Womp womp."
- "Krieger-san. My cherry blossoms… are wilting!" "But society couldn't DEAL with it."
- "More like lemon party, chairman."
- "And this deuce ain't gonna drop itself!"
- "You swallowed a pool ball?" "I wish just one. And I still got two to go, so if you don't mind…"
- "Something about stripes and solids?"
- "It's OK. It was just cancer sex."
- "Oh, you are just your mother all over!"
- "Don’t engage him. From there, it's just all orcs and Gollums and balrogs."
- "They think I'm a lot of shitty things."
- "After Slutya Slutsakova did this!"
- "If you don't find that bag, I will empty the contents of your body and use your leathery skin as a replacement."
- "But even with money and passport…" "And mustaches."
- "I want to see this… Bionic Barry!"
- "Thanks! Or Shalom or… whatever it is we say."
- "You've sown the wind and now you shall reap… the Barry."
- "This van's like probable cause."
- "All ashore from the SS Date Rape!" "Toot toot!"
- "I just thought you were… well, slave's not the right word…"
- "Totally being sarcastic about the Georgia O'Keeffe posters. DO NOT DO THAT."
- "Not really the explosive climax I thought it was gonna be."
- "I am afraid that was a lie." "Called it!"
- "We will talk about it in the van!"
- "How 'bout a disgraced former minister?"
- "I am still licensed by the state to perform marriages, the irony of which is not lost on me."
- "Because the Russians turned me into… the unholy abomination of metal fused with flesh which now stands before you!"
- "Yeah! One for three on the roof, bitch!"
- "That was my van."