Mild Spoilers Follow
In the second episode of ‘Archer: Dreamland’, titled ‘Bernice’, we were treated to the classic odd couple pairing that showrunners so often implement remarkably well; this time around, the pair in question were the, mostly, straight-edged Archer, and the bizarre, loose-cannon that is Cheryl. The narrative that unfolded over the course of this 22-minute episode can only be described as ‘if Weekend at Burnie’s was combined with the noir styling and mystery of the 1940’s’. Cheryl, wanting to fake her death in order to escape from her “Quasi incestuous family”, murders one of her maids and seeks out Archer for help in staging an elaborate death in order to fool those who would want to find her. Suffice to say that given the incredibly high calibre of the writing on this show, this was a plot device that was implemented incredibly successfully.
Given the frequently outlandish nature of Cheryl in seasons gone by, you would be forgiven for worrying that this pyromaniac may come across a little too garishly in comparison to her fellow stars era-appropriate re-imaginings: this is not the case, however. Cheryl, like the rest of the cast, has been given a fresh lease of life in Dreamland, and her bombastic nature toned down. This, in turn, has allowed to Cheryl to gain back some human qualities lost in recent seasons, and positioned her as more of a sociopath, rather than flat out psychotic; a change that means she now comes across as more creepy than unhinged when she, for example, insists that her dead maid must be carried, a la ‘Bernie’s’, up to her hotel suite, through a busy foyer to be dressed. It is this new found creepiness and the way H. Jon Benjamin’s Archer bounces off this new Cheryl, played by Judy Greer, that really carries the episode.
Despite this, however, I do feel as if there was a problem with the pacing of the episode. I loved the Archer/Cheryl give and take, but because so much of the episode focused on this one task, it, unfortunately, meant that the overall narrative of ‘who killed Woodhouse’, started in the previous episode, seemed to take a backseat for the most part. With all that said, what little progression we did get from the story and side characters did a great job at setting up questions such as; how crooked is Cyril? Where do certain characters allegiances lie? And who actually broke into Archer’s office?
Whilst not as strong as the premiere episode of this season, ‘Bernice’ offered jokes and character progression aplenty, as well as offering a new take on the Archer/Cheryl dynamics that fans of the show have come to know and love. Seeds of doubt were sown for various individuals in the show, and left us questioning just where certain people’s loyalties lie; the revelations of which, I’m hopeful, will be coming sooner rather than later. Alike to the first episode, we ended on a cliffhanger that left me wanting more; more answers, more one-liners, and most importantly – more Archer.
Episode Score: 8.8
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