Double Decker! Doug & Kirill
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?
I was looking forward to this episode of Double Decker! The other characters in Seven-O have rotated in to develop alongside Doug and Kirill's main focus, and Max and Yuri were an intriguing pair waiting their turn. So it's too bad that this turn came as the show continued to stumble through a low point. The biggest problem continues to be a lack of confidence in the storytelling; the show simply doesn't seem sure of what it wants to do with these characters and ideas. We're supposed to be learning more about Max, but for all the episode's efforts to put her in the spotlight, we still come away with frustratingly little insight.
There are a lot of general issues with this episode, but that's the major one. The setup seems to be trying to do for Max what the previous episode did for Doug, by explaining her personality and mannerisms as stemming from a single developmental event that affects her some way in the present. The problem is that unlike Doug, we haven't spent huge portions of the show getting to know Max. So any points of characterization that need to be clarified also have to be introduced to us in the first place this week. Thus, a whole lot of dialogue is taken up making sure we know that Max really hates proms and high school. It's not something that's ever been brought up before, but it's relevant to the subject matter of this episode, so they drive it in hard.
Unfortunately, that subject matter is pretty pedestrian, even by the standards of Double Decker. The serial slasher attacks that kick things off seem to lend the situation an edge, but cycling things back to a prom queen promotion ploy makes the plotline come off more petty than intended. The notion that letting a single night dictate your worldview is unhealthy isn't a bad message, so there at least seems to be a solid concept here of dismissing the institutions that pit these kids against each other, which could even tie back into that whole classism angle the show keeps touching on. And the idea of Seven-O infiltrating the school under cover of a D.A.R.E. presentation was a cute touch. But then the revelation of the actual Anthem-using perpetrator suddenly turns back on her and the particular kids who warped her worldview. The show seems to completely miss the possibility of tying its themes of toxic structures into each other, and instead just blames these specific mean kids and one girl who got fat-shamed into doing drugs.
This rounds back to the muddled points on Max's characterization that make this episode such a letdown. We get hardly any expansion on her relationship with Yuri, which was all set to be a draw for viewers interested in these characters. All we really get is that Max likes Yuri compared to how she doesn't like many other things, specifically proms. We find out that Max doesn't like proms because of how she and her high school friend were treated badly by mean kids at their prom for not being gender-conforming, which led her friend to do drugs and eventually disappear. So Max doesn't like proms or mean teens, until she finds out one of the mean teens used to be a nice teen who was bullied by even meaner teens. It comes off as too complex, circuitous, and ultimately shallow. I think the majority of people could agree that high school sucked in one way or the other, and Max hasn't even come out of it with any interesting perspectives, just a list of things she doesn't like in place of an actual personality.
There's not enough in the basic plot of the episode to discuss in detail. It's a decent procedural mystery in a high school setting, with some obvious hooks, misdirects, and a red herring in the middle to pad out the runtime. The episode also doesn't look as sharp as Double Decker has before, with some off-model character shots. It also makes apparent that the 3D character models look weirder when you get a bunch of them moving in one scene together. They don't even do anything with the overdosed Anthem-monster idea, opting instead for a tired high school Queen Bee visual metaphor. It's frustrating since Double Decker has shown an interest in tackling bigger issues and more interesting plots previously, but it all just feels phoned-in this week. And it's worse that the opportunity to develop a potentially-cool character was wasted this way.
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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