Mild Spoilers Follow
Continuing on directly from the last weeks episode, ‘Ladyfingers’ picks up where we left off with the newly captured Cheryl Tunt being held hostage in the Dreamland nightclub. Mother, now armed with the knowledge that her rival Len Drexler had intentions of ransoming Cheryl out to her family in hopes of a big pay out, plans to do the same thing. And so, still in need of her assistance in finding out just who killed his partner, Archer unwillingly agrees to help Mother by being the in between man for the hostage taking. While this structure may seem a little underwhelming at first, it in fact allows for some great character interactions between the pairing of Archer and Pam, as they work not only around, but against the unwitting Cyril, as each party vies for the same goal.
Whilst I enjoyed the plot of this episode quite a lot, I mentioned in my last review that I was beginning to tire of this secondary plot taking precedence over what is assumedly the main narrative – the Woodhouse murder mystery. The same can still be said now. Let me be clear, this was a perfectly serviceable episode in and of itself, with the series high standard of witty dialogue being ever present here; the foreshadowing joke of needing ‘a good finger’ was a particular standout. However, I cannot help but feel that it is only counterintuitive to once again focus on a sub plot when a completely viable, and I would argue, better narrative was set up impeccably in the season eight opener. My fear is that we will inevitably spend half of this season wrapping up this current sub plot only to focus on what I believed to be the main narrative in the latter half of the season. Alternatively (and my preferred outcome), would be for this current narrative to end up intertwined with the murder mystery in a way that I don’t suspect, and that pays off for both stories. If this turns out to be the case, I would happily eat a large slice of humble pie for doubting the showrunners. We shall see…
One thing Dreamland has been consistently getting right, however, is the way each episode has been a spotlight for certain side characters. The second episode was for Cheryl whilst the third was for Lana and Ray. With the fourth episode, we were given perhaps the best tertiary narrative yet as Dr. Krieger (brought to life by Lucky Yates) came under the microscope as we looked back at his time in World War II. Given that his contemporary counterpart was often speculated to be a clone of Adolf Hitler, it was most intriguing to see his position within the Nazi regime detailed. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into it any further, but what I will say, is this supporting story is by far the standout piece from this week’s episode. With that said, I believe that both long time fans of the series and newcomers alike should get a real kick out of the outcome of Krieger’s short secondary narrative.
Overall, the fourth episode of Dreamland left me with mixed feelings; on one hand, I really enjoyed the retrospective side story that focused on the era-acclimated Dr. Krieger, learning about the ways he helped and hindered the Nazis from within their ranks and the reasons as to why. On the other hand, the prolonged shelving of the main narrative is not only starting to frustrate, but also result in pacing issues, with the titular Archer even asking at one point during the episode – “so, when are you going to help me find who killed my partner”, a question that I too, definitely want answered. My hope is that this seemingly unrelated side plot will resolve with the revelation that it is, in fact, connected to the main narrative after all.
This has been the weakest episode of Dreamland so far, but in spite of the flaws mentioned previously, it was the usual high quality of writing and action this week that prevented ‘Ladyfingers’ from falling off of a cliff completely. And while I understand that, alike to seasons prior, we may not get answers until later on in the season, I hope that we get at least a somewhat sizable titbit of information soon so as to satiate our appetites.
Episode Score: 8.0
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