Rapidly approaching the half way point of Season Two, Archer gives us a glimpse into the storied history of Sterling’s faithful butler, Woodhouse. It’s no secret that Archer truly shines when the majority of the action takes place in the ISIS office, and that I disparage episodes lacking in that regard, but this week we make an exception. Because let’s be honest, Woodhouse is awesome.
Episode Five, “The Double Deuce,” opens with Woodhouse’s discovery of the death of a former squadron mate. Apparently, members of the Royal Air Force Squadron 22, the Double Deuce, have been meeting their end, all under mysterious circumstances with foul play suspected. As it happens, during the war, the members of the Double Deuce entered into a tontine, a pool of money where people buy in for a certain amount, interest is developed, and the money is paid to the last living person. The latest death makes Woodhouse one of three remaining members of the Double Deuce—and the tontine.
When the tontine began, each member of the Double Deuce bought in a mere 50 pounds, but thanks to the wonders of compound interest, the amount now totals nearly a million. Naturally, it seems one member of the Deuce has been killing off the others, bringing him one step closer to the money with each mysterious death. Woodhouse suspects Skripes, the “toughest man in the squadron” and successor to Captain Reginald, Woodhouse’s commanding officer. However, Woodhouse’s impending doom isn’t what made this episode great; it’s his exploits of the past.
In the Royal Air Force, Woodhouse served as personal attendant to Captain Reginald Thisselton. “Reggie,” as Woodhouse fondly referred to him, is the second allusion to Woodhouse’s homosexual tendencies. The episode is filled with slight jabs at his sexuality, most notably his rage of asskickery incited by Reggie’s death. Powered by a thirst for blood and vengeance, Woodhouse goes all Inglorious Basterds on the enemy, coming home with enough scalps to make a blanket. His subsequent discharge landed him drifting through life, mourning Reggie’s death while fighting for his life. It was during this period of time that he met Malory and subsequently joined the Archer family. If single-handedly killing and scalping 50 men with naught but a knife wasn’t enough, what about delivering baby Sterling Archer on a tavern bar moments before gunning down a group of enemy spies? Yeah, Woodhouse is a badass.
“The Double Deuce” provided some welcome backstory to one of the show’s most interesting minor characters. It’s nice to see that Woodhouse got to kick some ass earlier in his life before being constantly berated by Sterling. It remains to be seen just why he is so devoted to the Archer family, and will be an interesting avenue for the show’s creators to explore in the future. For now, the look backwards is more than sufficient, giving a world of depth to what previously served only as a means for a joke. Oh and the mysterious deaths ended up nothing more than media sensationalism. No Double Deucers were murdered, and Skripes wanted nothing more than to mourn with his comrades. Luckily, Archer made quick work of him, saving Woodhouse from an untimely accidental end. Wait, oops…