Episode 6: Up Close and Personal! 24 Hours with the Lisvalletta Police!
After the mad plot juncture of last episode, we are setting Esperanza aside for a brief recess, but it’s not quite filler, either. Double Decker delivers its staple amenities: narrative subversion, Doug’s raging coolness, and Kirill getting figuratively slapped around just slightly more than he deserves.
Doug and Kirill are following up on leads Zabel dropped them last episode when they get called in to check out some shitfaced asshole screaming about being the leader of a crime syndicate. Sounds like a normal Tuesday night, but this time it’s happening in the swanky well-to-do district of Luminox Port in Marinaurbem, so naturally, it’s making headlines. No, really: the incident is filmed for a segment on a cop procedural reality TV show, starring Doug and Kirill.
Appearing in knockoff Cops has always been Kirill’s dream, so he tapes the broadcast and watches it repeatedly, until he notices someone who looks just like his lost sister Milla in the background. Kirill, who hasn’t seen Milla in a decade, hurricanes back to Seven-O HQ, and before he can explain the situation, Doug reveals he, too, noticed this mysterious person on tape, and has already tracked their location. Touched to blushing that Doug thought of him, Kirill deliberates over how to break the ice with his sister while they set out to follow Doug’s lead.
The narrator croons about the obvious misunderstanding when they kick the door in on a random criminal. Kirill is bummed, but Doug, to his credit, offers to help him locate Milla by utilizing the talents of Apple Beiber, Seven-O’s resident IT dude. Apple, of course, conveniently has access to all security footage ever (Lisvalletta doesn’t give a fuck about your privacy laws) . They identify the woman Kirill spotted, who seems to be cautiously hiding her face, but Apple is unable to track her down after she disappears into a bathroom.
Dejected, Kirill self-medicates with alcohol as the Seven-O agents take him to Derick’s pub to smash some liquor. Derick introduces his brand new part-time employee – and, as fate would have it, none other than Milla. Suddenly confronted with her return, Kirill can’t find the words to say, and gets drunker. After awhile, he goes to the men’s bathroom to take a piss, only to find Milla using the urinal next to him.
Oh yeah, about that, says Milla, revealing not only is she at least biologically male, her name isn’t even Milla, it’s Valery.
WHATCHA GONNA DO, WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU
The reality cop procedural gag goes on for a full third of the episode, which drags even as a joke, especially considering everyone’s faces are blurred and distorted. The purpose of the segment is realized when it leads to clues about Kirill’s absent sister, but a few red herrings are chucked at the viewers as well when the drunk man blabs on about strange and ominous happenings. As he utters cryptic nonsense like coming from a world up above, people here are merely test subjects, and not to mention almost dropping the name “Esperanza”, there’s a chance we should glean more from this than just Kirill’s sister. But then again, this is a narrative that takes sadistic pleasure in twisting and subverting the usual tropes, so maybe not.
A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR KIRILL
You have to kind of feel bad for the guy. Double Decker spares no expense in mocking him for his sentimentality. He gets a little narrative pat on the head during the slivers of his backstory about growing up in poverty, but the trauma of his only family member beyond an elderly grandfather leaving him as a kid is played out for laughs in real time. Even the narrator steps in to taunt Kirill at every turn.
Of course, Double Decker is needling the usual formula of hefty backstories and hyperbolic angst. Still, a bit of a dumbass or not, the kid is our protagonist, so it constantly kicking him down is difficult to swallow without empathy. Perhaps the smackdown precede an ultimate ascension of character. Then again, this is Double Decker!, so maybe not.
ON FAMILY (AND KIRILL BEING A DUMBASS)
Milla/Valery’s reveal is a shock to Kirill, but shouldn’t surprise viewers. His absent sibling has consistently been portrayed as a question that Kirill doesn’t have the courage or sense to ask. The initial fact that his sister walked out on her underprivileged ten-year-old kid brother and disappeared for a decade sets the stage for suspicion, which is further realized when Apple notes that she seems to be hiding her face in the camera footage. The issue at hand is whether or not Valery really is the Milla of Kirill’s past, and if so, what that means.
The gender reveal may be unexpected, but does not occur without precedent. Kirill’s feminine looks have been noted virtually every episode, but rather than offhand mockery, it morphs into a hint when his sibling shares this androgynous appearance. Furthermore, Milla/Valery has a notably masculine, albeit soft-spoken, voice, and while Milla/Valery certainly has a feminine appearance, in Kirill’s memories, she or he is portrayed as wearing only gender-neutral clothing. Is she a transgender woman? Or has the sibling been male this whole time, and Kirill, a chronic dumbass, just misunderstood the gender and name of his own brother? (Somehow, knowing Kirill, even this would not be surprising, and there’s a wicked bit of irony in Kirill resenting others misgendering him for his feminine face, only to misgender his brother for the same reason.)
None of this changes the fact that I don’t trust Valery. Apple Beiber noted that he hid his face from the cameras as though he wanted to avoid detection. And though Valery turning up randomly in Kirill’s life is possibly a sheer coincidence – and it does seem apropos of Double Decker!’s storytelling to chalk it down to hilarious happenstance – if there is something nefarious about this character, it’s sure to indicate trouble that he deliberately revealed himself to Kirill.