Archer Season 8 Episode 2 Review: Archer Dreamland: Berenice

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The streak continues with another solid episode, as Archer Season 8 Episode 2 shines the spotlight on Archer and Cheryl.

Honestly, I can't tell you the last time I enjoyed Cheryl this much in a single episode.

Of all the different themes that this show has visited, this is easily the best take of Cheryl.

Follow Through - Archer

Cheryl isn't my favorite character. While I find her insanity hilarious, there were times in the past few seasons where she just became too much for me.

I did not enjoy her iteration as country singer Cherlene (I found "Outlaw Country!" grating), and, to be truthful, I don't remember her being that outstanding in Archer Season 5 or when they joined the FBI.

Cheryl Vandertunt, publishing heiress, is an incredibly interesting version of the character. There are things about her that remain the same: her penchant for sadomasochism, her flight of thought and flippant tangentially. Typical Cheryl.

Archer: Putting aside why you'd want to fake your own death --
Cheryl: BECAUSE I have to get away from my family. They're a seething cauldron of neurotic, alcoholic, narcissistic, quasi-incestuous megalomaniacs!
Archer: (pause) How quasi?
Cheryl: I don't know, a 4?
Archer: Out of what?

She's just as crazy as Cheryl has ever been, but this time there's a semblance of coherence to her character that's fascinating.This new quality of hers makes her a fantastic foil to Archer.

Their banter was hilarious, his exasperation with her was even funnier. When he banged his head on the steering wheel trying to figure out her hotel, I could not stop laughing.

Then there was when she outed his crush on Lana:

Cheryl: Oh my God, you have a crush on her!
Archer: What?! No I don't, I...
Cheryl: Yes you do! That was the cutest thing! And I think SHE has a crush on YOU.
Archer: No, she...wait, really?
Cheryl: Absolutely!
Archer: Why - why - why do you think that? Did she --
Cheryl: Just admit that you like her!
Archer: Well, yeah, of course I --
Cheryl: (yells to room) Hey! Yeah! Me and him, we just f*****d!!

I could watch the pairing between these two all day long, and I truly hope there will be more of them together as the season goes along.

Cheryl, or another dream version of her, was also part of probably my favorite scene: the war flashback. In this flashback, Archer is hurt, and a French-speaking nun (that looks like Cheryl) calms him down as she defends him with his own firearm.

I wonder if these flashbacks are Archer giving himself clues about Woodhouse's death. I don't know. All I know is I am utterly LOVING these flashbacks and I can't wait to find out more about their origin.

Archer: (grunts in pain)
Cheryl: (flashback as a nun) Shhhh-shhhh. Calmez vous. Vous mettez plus en danger.

Cheryl, for all her insanity, raised a good point about Archer's office being ransacked. While it could have been assumed that a private investigator would be out of his office at night, it was also plausible that the office was targeted while Archer was out.

If, indeed, someone took advantage of the knowledge that Archer was out of the office, the list of suspects is pretty long.

Mother knew, for one. He flat out told Lana that he was doing PI work that night, with Krieger within earshot, so they both knew.

Krieger has turned out to be a double agent who does work for Len Trexler, so he could have told Len, who could have told Figgis. Really, the only people off the hook are Cheryl and Poovey.

Len Trexler with Figgis and Poovey - Archer Season 8 Episode 2

Let's talk about Poovey a.k.a. Pam. In my last review, I forgot to mention how androgynous the Amber Nash silhouette was in the opening sequence.

Also, my editor pointed out that she's only ever called Poovey, which I also noticed but didn't think much of since Cyril was only ever called Figgis. I just figured everyone was referring to the cops by their last name.

I still think that's right, but it's clear that's on purpose. Given the fact that Poovey walked out of the bathroom with bits of shaving cream on the jawline, it's pretty clear now that they're keeping Poovey's gender ambiguous.

This in itself is fascinating. Poovey, so far, has the personality that's most like her real world counterpart. A bit brash, inappropriately disinhibited in conversations, doesn't back down from a fight.

It remains to be seen whether there will be any more subtle changes her personality in the dream world, but I think it's a wonderfully daring concept to challenge viewers to see a character as the same person regardless of what his/her gender might be.

Oh Adam Reed, you are amazing.

Lana and Archer at Dreamland Season 8 Episode 2

Archer himself continues to show facets of his character that were mostly hinted at in the real world. In his own dream world, he's not rich but middle-class, and his empathy for the family of "Berenice" was lovely.

His inability to get himself together in the presence of Lana Kane is another completely adorable trait. Wow. He could not even form a sentence.

I know it's early to even be thinking this, but I wonder who Archer is going to be when he emerges from this coma.

Some other Archer notes:

Running Jokes:

  • Oh my goodness, that rim shot with Ray in the background will never get old.
  • The delayed last slap is back!
  • The extended chugging-from-a-flask is back!
  • Cheryl ripping her shirt open -- some things never change.
Archer taking a long swig Season 8 Episode 2

Shout-outs:

  • Cheryl's shirt scene is also reminiscent of Judy Greer's character from Arrested Development, Kitty Sanchez. "Say goodbye to THESE!!"
  • Speaking of Arrested Development, how AMAZING was it to hear Jeffery Tambor voicing Len Trexler again? Looking forward to his scenes with Jessica Walter.

Callbacks:

  • It was about time a bottle of Glengoolie Blue made an appearance.

Cultural References:

  • Berenice is from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, in which the title character slowly deteriorates, but her teeth remain healthy, and they become the unhealthy obsession of her husband-to-be. Which is why that was the "obvious" name for Cheryl's dental doppelganger.
  • Cheryl's grandfather started the Spanish-American War of 1898. Apparently, it was not about sugar.
  • Archer was about to make a reference (sounded like he started the word "French") when he was interrupted by Cheryl's ramblings. Interesting that he had a French flashback later...
  • Also notable is the nondescript surroundings in the dreamworld.  All the stores are simply named after what they sell. "Apparel." "Shoes."

So what did you guys think? Which version of Cheryl has been your favorite so far! Leave a comment, let me know!

Also, remember you can always watch Archer online.

Archer Dreamland: Berenice Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.9 / 5.0 (11 Votes)
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Archer Season 8 Episode 2 Quotes

Archer: For starters, even if you pull this off, what are you going to do for money.
Cheryl: Well I...I shall work, of course!
Archer: (scoffs) As what?
Cheryl: Um...One of those! A food perambulator.

Archer: (grunts in pain)
Cheryl: (flashback as a nun) Shhhh-shhhh. Calmez vous. Vous mettez plus en danger.