“Like any drug, it gives you a sense of omnipotence and pleasure…”
Due to a clerical error, it seems Kirill was never supposed to be on the Seven-O team, to begin with. Thinking on his feet, he challenges the chief to a friendly wager: if he can prove his worth in one week, he can stay. If not, he’s out on his ass. After securing the bet, Kirill sits around for about five days, not encountering anything of note. Luckily, Seven-O is tasked with stopping a prison break that may be connected to their jurisdiction of Anthem users. After trading backstories with Doug, Kirill finally finds the addict. He leads Kirill and Doug on a high-speed car chase, but Doug eventually proves his prowess and puts the user down. While he was only a bit player in the bust, Kirill’s bravery was enough to earn him a permanent spot in Seven-O.
After last week’s breakneck survey of the world of Double Decker, the time for deeper explorations into character, plot, and theme has come. I can’t say I liked even a single bit of what I learned this time around. I forgot to mention this last week, but a nitpick I had about the first episode was Seven-O’s jurisdiction. They aren’t allowed to intervene in any sort of crime unless it’s Anthem related, and not only that but in the second stage or higher of symptoms. This is very strange. Most special task forces, even seemingly militaristic ones would have some ability to intervene if a serious crime were in progress, but it seems that Seven-O doesn’t even have the power to make a citizen’s arrest. Last week, this seemed like a small thing that might have even been the result of a bad translation, but in this week’s episode, they literally let murderers run free because it’s out of their jurisdiction. This lack of seeing the forest for the trees became a bit of a motif for the entire show.
This episode has two purposes. The first is to deepen the bond between our two leads, and the second is to train the audience to understand the rhythms of a typical case for Double Decker. The show follows a pretty typical procedural structure. They get the case in the first act, the follow leads in the second, and by the third, they’ve found their man, probably due to a piece of information gained but misunderstood at the beginning of the show. This is mostly fine, and it works as a grounding force in this high-concept world. It’s maybe the only thing that has been fully gamed out in Double Decker.
What the show hasn’t thought through could fill a book, but there are a few circles that Double Decker is going to have to square sooner rather than later if it wants any chance at coherence. Firstly, why has Kirill never heard of Anthem before? I know it’s so it can be explained to the audience, but his ignorance is a bridge too far. It’s a popular street drug and he’s a police officer. Kirill isn’t a complete rookie; he has informants, and he grew up impoverished and possibly homeless. It’s ludicrous there’s a drug that he has absolutely no knowledge of. Even if he hadn’t heard about it as a child in the streets, because it’s an upper-class vice, surely it would have been covered in basic training. There’s no such thing as a secret drug that also causes violent outbursts, mutations, and massive property damage.
Secondly, and more importantly, Doug’s motivation is seriously misguided. Doug became a police officer because he wants to rid the world of the concepts of class and poverty. There’s so much wrong there I don’t even know where to begin. As a police officer (one funded by the military, no less!) he is a direct tool of the system that will and does, stratify the very society he’s trying to equalize. The series even admits that, much like in the real world, a criminal record makes job prospects tough. Yet, Doug gives this no thought as he continues to send more and more people with treatable conditions to jail.
I believe that this is going to prove to be a fatal flaw for the show. Without proper understandings of prison abolition, restorative justice, addiction, or the historical purpose of the police, it’s platitudes about equality and sentimental flashbacks will always ring hollow, if not outright hypocritical. I mentioned last week that it seemed like the Anthem addicts were from a completely different show than the wacky police officers, and it turns out I was right on the money. The show has Delorean cop cars with nitro boosters, but it still wants to talk about the class disparity. I’m not saying high concept and high-mindedness are always at odds, (Bojack Horseman or Rick and Morty are prime examples) but this show leaves itself completely unexamined at the beginnings of what seems to be at least a season-long crusade against injustice.
I like that shows are starting to realize that it pays to have progressive values. It means that they will, at least on the surface, have their hearts in the right place. But there’s nothing worse than seeing something you love done badly, and Double Decker is proving to be a just that. Showing two men kissing, as this episode does, isn’t progressive. It’s a start, but if you’re going to take on such serious topics on your madcap adventure, you’d better be prepared to do some deep reckoning with every aspect of what you’re putting on screen.