After last week’s intense clown hostage crisis, the Archer crew needed a little downtime. In “Double Indecency,” the season’s seventh episode, a pair of new clients gives them their chance: Donald Zissner, open-collared, “skull-raping” Hollywood mogul of Sharknoid fame, and his primped-up pinup wife Barbie have mutually accused the other of cheating — and want the Figgis crew to intervene.
Only, in L.A., it’s not enough to snap a few compromising photos and call it a day; they want the Archer PIs to seduce their spouses — and to capture it on film. Rising to the challenge, the Agency’s girls and guys split up, and the competition for top seductor and seductress escalates into a series of She’s All That-like bets. Can Ray and Archer groom Cyril and Krieger into ladykillers before Malory and Lana workshop Cheryl and Pam into sultry sexpots? Alas, we never get to witness the transformees in action; a good old-fashioned bar brawl, triggered by a cruel comparison of the newly made-over Pam to Baby Huey, ends the mission before the tapes start rolling.
But, as with all great nights out, the fun happens before the main event. The thin premise of the episode is just a vehicle for the Archer gang to hang out in the real world, doing hilariously real-people things. In the dressing room of a chic L.A. boutique, Malory and Lana attempt to prep a newly waxed Pam (“My bush looks like I’m sitting on Jerry Garcia’s face”) and a glue-eating Cheryl into ladies who might stand a chance with the admittedly handsome sleazebag Zissner.
Meanwhile, Archer and Ray have their work cut out for them trying to turn Cyril and Krieger — “Sex with a human?” — into a pair of Don Juans. As the stakes keep escalating, all attempts to Henry Higgins their Eliza Doolittles appear less and less feasible. Krieger, wary of dipping his toe into the Sapiens dating world (“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” he says, quoting Thoreau), is far too fond of his new afro and zippered pantsuit (“Thoreau is a fucking idiot!”), and Cyril, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out negging.
Standalone episodes like this one remind us that Archer owes its longevity to its ability to eke humor out of nothing, which in turn banks on the strength of its cast. Overarching storylines are secondary — the Zissner plot was the only thread tying the episode to the season’s L.A. digs — because Archer’s brand of humor isn’t context-specific but character-based. Cheryl’s inexplicable 10-dram (dram!) vial of vole blood and Cyrils encyclopedic porn expertise (it’s “basic cuckold fetish porn,” duh!) would have made perfect sense in the series’ ISIS, CIA, or Archer: Vice chapters. Adam Reed’s true genius lies in his cast’s ability to essentially create comedy in a vacuum.
Admittedly, it was disappointing that we didn’t get to watch the seduction phase of the episode play out. Call it creepy, but the animators made it clear that Cyril and Krieger were packing heat; it feels like we missed an opportunity to see them put their romantic skills to work. Still, the brawl scene is one of the series’ best, and, with the team banding together to defend Pam’s honor, a nice counterpart to the melee in last week’s episode that pit the crew against each other. Lana, showing off some terrifyingly serious hops, sends a kick flying sky-high, and even Malory gets in on the action, threatening to shank baddies with a broken champagne bottle. Meanwhile, Krieger’s pant-suited kung-fu is the cherry on top of the absurdity of the night, earning him the episode-ending comparison to “Evel Nazi Bob Ross Knievel.”