This Archer review contains spoilers
Archer Season 7 Episode 7
I’ve developed a bad critical habit of writing about how old Archer is in each of my season seven reviews. Maybe it’s because of my limited millennial sense of time or maybe it’s because I remember watching “Skytanic” with some friends huddled around a tiny TV in a college dorm as if it were three lifetimes ago.
The truth is, Archer isn’t that old of a TV show, especially for an animated show. Good animated shows measure lengths in terms of Presidential administrations, not years. I think my own sense of Archer’s advanced age is because, after viewing two lackluster seasons in a row, I had few expectations to be surprised and delighted by it again.
But here we are, seven episodes in, halfway through the season and I’ve been surprised and delighted over and over again. The “Bel Panto” sequel felt like the apex of what was already a very good season. Now the episode after it, “Double Indecency” effortlessly wrestles the title of season apex away from it.
“Double Indecency” is just an absolute delight of an episode and maybe the show’s best one in years. Every decision it makes plumbs comedic and dramatic premises so well, you become astonished that the show hasn’t done it before. Having a character need to seduce a client for a mission is a great idea. Having two of them do it as part of a childish competition is even better. Having four characters agree to seduce two clients independently of one another is just flat out amazing.
Season seven has been an immediate improvement over the two seasons that preceded if for no other reason than its serialized, season-long story. Here is an episode, however, that exists as a one-off, outside of all the Veronica Dean nonsense and it’s still just amazing. This is largely because of the group’s transitions from international spies to private investigators.
The spying industry by default often involves missions of some importance: protect this ambassador from assassins, overthrow this South American cartel, go undercover in a gang, etc. The private investigation industry has provided Archer and crew to indulge “missions” that are wonderfully, gleefully meaningless. In “Double Indecency,” that means figuring out if a famous shark movie producer is cheating on his wife and vice versa. Or as Cyril later works out, merely be unwilling participants in an elaborate cuckolding fetish.
The inherent meaningless of the team’s mission, combined with their tendency to turn even the most mundane activity into an elaborate dick-measuring contest is a simple formula for comedic napalm. The men decide to pit Krieger (supported by Sterling) and Cyril (supported by Ray) against each other to seduce the beautiful starlet, while the women decide on Pam (supported by Lana) and Cheryl (supported by Mallory) to seduce the producer, Donald Zisner.
Each combatant has something going for them … and plenty against. Pam is an outgoing freak but also makes observations like “Oh man, lousy timing, my bush looks like I’m sitting on Jerry Garcia’s face.” Cheryl is pretty but has a crippling glue addiction. Krieger knows his way around a ’70s jumpsuit and afro but also seems a little too concerned about finding out if he gets to have sex with a “person.” Cyril is just unlovable. “More like ‘Rico Not Suave,” as Archer puts it while under the influence of barbershop germicide.*
The entirety of the episode deals with all the various combatants preparing while their “coaches” nervously try to double or take bet their initial bets. They never actually get around to trying to seduce their marks as all hell breaks loose outside a hotel bar when Zisner and his wife meet and the cuckolding truth comes out.
“Double Indecency” is amazing not just because every character is involved and operating at full capacity but also because they’re all involved in reaching the same goal. The best episode of Archer last year, “Vision Quest,” in which the whole office was trapped inside an elevator and forced to interact with one another, was similar invested in using all of the characters and revealing their bizarre idiosyncrasies. But it’s a lot more fun when those idiosyncrasies are out in the world and forced to be put to good use in a mission. In short, “Double Indecency” has Krieger in a ’70s costume practicing exaggerated karate moves while an actual fight rages on behind him, “Vision Quest” does not.
It’s also satisfying to see the Archer gang come to the defense of their own. After all, seven seasons in Archer is, if nothing, else a workplace sitcom. And these co-workers are so strange and off-putting that the only people they can hang out with and appreciate are one another. So spending six hours in a jail cell is a small price to pay for vengeance when Zisner calls Cheryl and Pam “Scarah Fawcett and Baby Huey.”
Or perhaps germicide-drunk Archer is just mad someone has bested him yet again in puns. Those are the only two crimes in Archer-land: making Pam cry and coming up with better puns than Sterling.
* “Double Indecency” is another excellent episode in the long, proud canon of Archer drinking alcohol that should kill him but somehow doesn’t.