“The Double Date” is Archer at its very best, and there’s no such thing as too much of it.
This recap of Archer season 11, episode 6, “The Double Date”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Archer at its best is effortlessly funny in a way that very few shows on television could ever aspire to be, and “The Double Date” is Archer at its best. As is becoming a trend with this latest season, it pretends to be a classic installment, almost a straight-up bottle episode, but then you realize as it progresses how deeply predicated it is on the new developments to the show’s post-coma canon – it delights in forcing its dysfunctional characters into incredibly close proximity, but two of those characters are brand new, and the rest are working through issues stemming from 10 seasons of prior development being undercut by a three-year time-skip.
“The Double Date” is fittingly titled, since the initial premise is that Archer has childishly engineered a date for himself and his new Lana-lookalike squeeze Gabrielle (a guest-starring Nicole Byer), as well as Lana herself and her aging horndog husband Robert (a slightly more regularly guest-starring Stephen Tobolowsky). Archer’s incredibly pleased with himself because Gabrielle is a dead ringer for Lana but also happens to be smarter – at least on paper. This is actually put to great use throughout the episode, which eventually morphs into a more traditional mission-of-the-week with some obvious tweaks since she’s not just excited by all the spy shenanigans but able to put her neuroscientist expertise to work in diagnosing the group’s various problems.
The spy stuff comes about because Mallory and Cyril gate-crash dinner in pursuit of a Russian hacker who frequents the restaurant, which also allows “The Double Date” to become a classic “Cyril has a breakdown” episode as well. The subversive twist on the usual formula is that Gabrielle is really as smart as Archer thinks, which means she’s also a lot smarter than everyone else. She holds her own against Lana’s petty insults – which are limited, given how much they look alike – and she eventually quite calmly and maturely says farewell to Archer after realizing that he’s still obviously in love with Lana. This obviously works as a joke in itself, but it also prompts Archer and Lana to go some way towards working on their longstanding issues, and suggests Lana might do well to look at her husband in a slightly more critical way.
Meanwhile, Cyril goes bonkers having been stiffed with the restaurant bill, once again thoroughly ignored and abandoned even after he went to painstaking lengths to plan out the mission. This helps to bring Pam, Cheryl, and Krieger into the fold, and Cheryl in particular gets a ridiculous moment of glory by feigning sexual assault to get the bill waved away. It’s a bit tasteless, sure, but it’s so Cheryl.
So much else of “The Double Date” is so Archer that you can scarcely fault the episode. It’s genuinely great all the way through, packed with good gags but also genuine moments of introspection and really clever setups to the punchlines. This is Archer so sure of itself that I’d happily watch an episode a week of it for the rest of my life.
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