All we have to do is dream.
Archer continues its “Dreamland” story arc with the hilarious episode “Bernice.” It resumes where “No Good Deed” left off with a mysterious woman, Charlotte Vandertunt (Judy Greer), hiring private investigator (P.I.) Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), to fake her death. In exchange, Archer gets $10,000 and sex with Vandertunt. Still reeling from a pain in his ear after getting punched during “No Good Deed,” Archer and Charlotte head to a diner for a slice of pie and a plate full of codeine pills.
Archer questions whether Charlotte has fully considered the plan to fake her death, commenting that they’ll need a body. Vandertunt shows Archer a body in the trunk of her car, a maid which her brother impregnated. This kickstarts an epic Weekend at Bernie’s romp where Archer and Charlotte bungle their way through a series of close calls trying to dispose of the maid’s corpse, appropriately dubbed “Bernice.” Meanwhile, Len Trexler (Jeffrey Tambor) is distraught over the loss of trafficked Chinese women at the dock. Trexler demands that Poovey (Amber Nash) and Figgis (Chris Parnell) locate the missing women by the end of the week.
The “Archer in Dreamland” narrative lends a refreshing take to the series. While certainly not stale, it’s neat watching a 1940s take on the spy series. It’s Archer meets Chinatown and the deco aesthetic works. Additionally, “Dreamland” is somewhat a reverse Dallas situation wherein audiences are fully aware that the events during this season remain a dream. I enjoy how “Dreamland” persists in portraying Poovey as a male. In “Bernice,” Poovey is even shown with shaving cream on her (his in “Dreamland”) face. The “ba-dum tsh” rimshot is still after jokes a lot in “Dreamland,” and this gag fails to get old.
Pop culture references, like Weekend at Bernies in “Bernice” are on point. I’m admittedly a sucker for pop culture nods, but “Bernice” is a gem. Further, there are some dream/reality crossovers. For instance, Charlotte Vandertunt is the heir to the Vandertunt publishing fortune. In reality, Cheryl is heir to the Tunt Railroad fortune.
Witty comedy and banter further makes “Dreamland” a masterpiece. Season 8 follows a bevy of Archer material, and the noir elements combined with Archer‘s characteristic dry humor make “Dreamland” highly enjoyable. It’s neat watching characters transformed into different personalities, there are several concurrent plots strings, and the writing is marvelous. Overall, “Archer in Dreamland” is thus far at least, a dream come true.