Double Decker! Doug & Kirill
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 15 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?
These extra episodes of Double Decker definitely exist for the sake of fanservice. The first one was about getting to relax at the bar with our favorite (?) group of super-detectives, as the titular Doug and Kirill deepen their (professional) relationship. And if previews are anything to go by, the third one of these will be a hot springs episode. So in between we've got this episode, playing right into Kirill's uke femininity, which had already been something of a running gag in the show. That's right, in this episode we get to see Kirill in a dress!
This isn't the first time that's happened, of course, and the post-credits scene makes it clear that this takes place prior to the infamous wedding dress scene from episode 10. But instead of a one-off gag, Kirill's cross-dressing is the sustained center of the plot this time around. One thing that's nice about that the show has to actually do something with the material instead of just mining some quick laughs out of it, but there's also cheap laughs aplenty to be had on the side. Some of the bits are actually funny, like Travis playing off Kirill's enthusiastic pursuit of detective-story tropes to get him to say yes to the dress. Other parts merited some serious side-eye, like Valery being the one to teach Kirill the right mindset to "pass" as a woman. The final say on Valery seemed to be that his cross-dressing was purely utilitarian, to hide his identity from the space Illuminati, but this might have been an interesting opportunity to delve deeper into his mindset. Instead, his time with Kirill ends up imparting a more general lesson that carries through the rest of the episode.
Valery's seemingly simple advice about how to stay true to one's self is what leads Kirill to the rather unexpected emotional highlight of the episode, when ‘Olivia’ bonds with his target at the party his team is infiltrating. Yusef's a nice character; cute and affable, yet vulnerable and receptive to Kirill's character development with some strong chemistry. Parts of this of course fall into the fanservice well, like the story needed a way to demonstrate that Kirill might actually be into dudes. But for all the gay teasing jokes (and that ridiculous romantic insert song that keeps playing), there's still some strong emotional sincerity coming through. It's significantly classier than I expected from the show, at any rate.
Yusef's heartwarming changeover at the episode's climax lands well as a result of all that build-up, and we even get a decent action sequence out of the deal, which is nice after how low-key the previous episode was. This predictably gets tied off with more gags teasing Kirill about the cross-dressing and Yusef's sincere affection for ‘Olivia’. I almost wish the show had just committed to the whole situation and let the fanservicey entertainment speak for itself. Having Kirill's embarrassment and anger at the whole affair be the butt of the joke feels like a completely unnecessary "no homo" caveat.
It's difficult for me to have an immediate takeaway from this episode's central point about not pretending to be someone you aren't, when it's specifically built around a man in a dress trying to ‘pass’ as a woman. Double Decker's stance on queer issues has always seemed at odds with itself, featuring a whole lot of gay coding and a pair of characters all but confirmed to be in a lesbian relationship, plus a sympathetic presentation of a trans character in one backstory. But then it repeatedly ducks back to the well of jokes about Kirill's feminine appearance, Valery ‘tricking’ people like Derrick, or the numerous gags in this episode about Kirill having a vulnerable moment with another man while wearing a dress. This is Double Decker, so I do know at this point I can't take it too seriously. The general tone seems to just be about getting Kirill into these scenes for simple fanservice reasons. If you're in the audience for that, you probably won't have as many issues with over-analyzing the show's stance like I did. But while I did enjoy the core points this episode made along the way, maybe they would be more salient if they'd committed to the theme a little harder.
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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