A couple of weeks ago, I praised Archer for keeping its bite, and resisting the urge to devolve every relationship into a soft-edged series of “Hey, we’re all a family” moments. And yet I have to admit: Seeing the entire Figgis Agency—even, eventually, Malory—leap to Pam’s defense tonight brought a warm, fuzzy feeling to my black little heart. It doesn’t hurt that tonight’s episode spent the 15 minutes leading up to its big bar fight earning those feelings, with a heavy focus on watching all of the show’s characters interacting as friends. (Or at least as close to friends as these people can get.)
The premise for this extended hang-out session—as laid out in a cold open that’s not nearly as fun as everything that comes after, despite some beautiful Cheryl passive-aggression—is that the men and women of the Agency have split up, each group getting hired by one member of the rich, sleazy Zissner family. That’s husband Don Zissner, producer of the Sharknoid movies, and issuer of frankly unpleasant skull-rape threats, and wife Barbie, who each want their chosen private eyes to seduce their spouse and capture it on film. As characters, the Zissners are pretty flat—and the twist to their mutual infidelity is annoyingly easy to see coming—so it’s to the episode’s credit that we don’t spend much time dwelling on them. Instead, “Double Indecency” barrels right into the meat of the episode, a parallel series of bets between Ray and Archer, and Mallory and Lana, to see who can ensnare their quarry first: Cheryl or Pam for the ladies, and Cyril and Krieger for the lads.
Here’s a confession, one that hopefully won’t get me drubbed out of the Archer fan club: I find Krieger incredibly hit-or-miss. When he’s on, he’s great (as is Lucky Yates’ performance), and he’s led to some of the show’s best digressions and cutaway gags. But that emphasis on weird asides just underlines that he’s fundamentally a joke character, with very little actual depth. I can’t imagine Archer getting away with implying that Pam, or Cyril, or even Ray—who’d be a main cast member if he was voiced by literally anybody but series creator Adam Reed—had been replaced for two seasons by a clone. But you can do that with Krieger, because he’s less a character, and more a framework for the show to tell a specific brand of very weird jokes.
Which would be a more worrisome complaint if the Krieger jokes in this episode weren’t so damn good. The series of reveals of the good not-that-kind-of-doctor’s makeover—from navel-bearing jumpsuit, to inexplicable afro, and then to him karate-chopping around the room during the big final fight—are works of art. (They also set Pam up for the line of the night, when she describes him as “Evel Nazi Bob Ross Knievel.”) His excitement at being included in the seduction plan also taps into his puppy-dog enthusiasm, which is his most pleasantly consistent, non-mad scientist trait.
Meanwhile, Cyril gets another reminder of just how little his relationship with Lana mattered to her, Cheryl gets a very Cheryl runner about the vial of vole’s blood she keeps in her purse, and we find out Archer has a standing order to keep a Barbicide container of blue Curaçao on hand at his local barber. In other words, nothing much actually happens, which would be a much worse thing on a show with characters that were less infectiously fun to watch as they aimlessly shoot the shit. And the plot device of the betting—and its subsequent doublings and attempts to renege—keeps the dialogue moving forward nicely, eventually bringing everybody to the big rendezvous at the Swindon Hotel.
Unsurprisingly, that’s where we learn that the Zissners aren’t really cheating on each other. Or rather, they are, but with each other’s consent, as Cyril once again uses his encyclopedic knowledge of porn to identify them as cuckold fetishists, who’ve hired The Figgis Agency as unwitting accomplices in their homemade sex tapes. Then Don Zissner calls Pam “Baby Huey,” a bottle of germicide goes flying, and we’re into the bar fight portion of the evening’s events.
As far as animation setpieces go, the climactic battle can’t hold a candle to last week’s brutal throwdown between Archer, Lana, and Pam. But it’s still full of great moments, most especially Krieger almost saving Archer from one of Zissner’s goons, before “Shoop shoop shoop”ing his way across the room. We also get the sight of Cyril trying to fight, and Malory smashing a champagne bottle, threatening to show one of the mooks the inside of his own stomach. (I am a big fan of badass Malory.)
In the end, it’s yet another Archer shaggy dog story: the Zissners get away without paying, Archer and crew are arrested, and nobody learns much of anything. But hey! Archer managed to drink an entire big thing of germicide without dying, and we got one of the most consistently funny episodes of Archer all year. That’s not nothing.
- I love the idea of Alternate Reality Games—or online scavenger hunts, if you’re less of a big gaming nerd—but am always too dumb to actually solve them. Archer ran one last season, though, and is running another one this year. Uproxx has a pretty good look at its opening stages, while you can check out all the progress players have made so far—including a game where you have to drive Milton the toast-making robot across the country—at http://figgis.agency/deane/
- Pam has the best reaction to the Zissners’ sex life: “God daaaamn, I wish I was married!”
- “Do you have change for 10—let me finish—drams of vole’s blood?” I don’t know what’s funnier, the “let me finish,” or the drams.
- “Wait, what are you all doing here?”
Master spies, ladies and gentlmen.
- Also, this is another episode that’s light on serialized elements, although Lana’s still pissed at Archer for kissing Veronica Deane (and not all that impressed that he mostly remembered not to cheat on her with Barbie Zissner.)
- The LAPD will be hearing from Archer’s online reviews.
- “The quarry may change, but never the hunt!” Ray would make a great dating coach. (Meanwhile, of course Cyril is familiar with PUA terms like “negging.”)
- Obscure reference alert: Archer starts off with an easy one, referencing vaudeville duo Wheeler & Woolsey. Later on, he calls the bellboy at The Swindon “Spirou,” as per the classic Franco-Belgian comic. Lana names Bond crooner Shirley Bassey as a black Welsh person, Krieger catches a couple of Bob Ross jokes, and the episode title is a reference to Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (the second Wilder nod this season, after the Sunset Boulevard imagery from the premiere.) There’s also a complicated misunderstanding between Henry David Thoreau and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. Oh, and Lana throws out “Ron Measley” and “Gluella De Vil,” although those are pretty much softballs.
- Thanks to commenter PedanticEditorType—their words, not mine—for pointing out that Krieger’s also working on a Voight-Kampff machine from Blade Runner. Between the skin-suits from “Motherless Child,” and the diagrams on his chalkboard tonight, I feel like the show’s hinting toward a really odd, Krieger-y explanation for Archer floating in that pool.
- We also get a “Boosh. “And or, ka-kow,” from Cheryl and Pam, referencing Frisky Dingo yet again (but never often enough.)
- Line of the episode: Archer’s “Silver lining: Bet I could eat a whole big bowl of germs right now,” (and Ray yelling at him later for killing all his good flora) is great. But you can’t beat “Evel Nazi Bob Ross Knievel.” Pam Poovey for the win, yet again.