Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 4, “The Last Picture Show”

Grade: B (good, but filler)

The town of Riverdale unfolds with every episode, the corners of the map stretching farther and farther, wider and wider. This is the first week where the drama took place almost entirely outside of the high school, and just that shifted the entire tone. In a lot of ways, the episode was just like the drive-in movie, the last one before the theater shuts down. You’re watching the drama, and even when the tension gets racheted up, you feel largely cossetted and safe. You know that what you’re watching won’t leave the screen, but you can’t shake the feeling of melancholy with the knowledge that as every second slips by, the movie is getting closer and closer to the end.

Side bar: The tone of each episode oscillates wildly. So while I enjoyed this episode, it was a total filler episode after last week’s LITERAL INSANITY. #StickyMaple

Rewatching last week’s promo for this episode, the CW definitely fucks with your head. They made it seem like Grundy was a psycho-killer, who killed the real Geraldine Grundy and took on her life like a snake slithering back into a dry, papery shedded husk. But tonight the drama was minimal—especially compared to episode three, the fourth episode was decidedly placid. The tension was eerie and achey. Within the span of hours, multiple main characters found out about the relationship between Archie and Ms. Grundy.

At the end of last episode, Dilton Doiley told Jughead and Betty that he had spotted Ms. Grundy’s car on the banks of Sweetwater River the day Jason Blossom was supposedly killed (we know now that Jason died almost a week later). Betty knows that Archie was also at the river’s edge that day, and quickly puts together the obvious. I mean, she didn’t witness the two idiots making out in band room like Jughead did, but she’s not dim.

But once Betty knows, the entire cast of characters glossed over the whole “statutory rape” aspect of Ms. Grundy and Archie’s relationship real quick, if you ask me. Like, I don’t mean to cause drama, but if it had been Mr. Grundy and Archina, I’m betting Grundy would be hogtied in someone’s car trunk by this point. But that’s just my opinion.

Because Archie is actually maybe an idiot, Betty takes it upon herself to dig into Ms. Grundy’s past. She finds that there is no trace of her from beyond a year ago—the only Geraldine Grundy she found was an elderly woman who had died previously. SpOoKy. And using journalism as a cover for a probing investigation—jorunalism is really given a bad rep in this show, no thanks to the fucking Cooper family—Betty discovers something quite…interesting.

Jason Blossom was a private student of Ms. Grundy’s last year. That Jason Blossom.

The episode strengthened the tacit parallels between Archie and Jason, something I no longer think is coincidence. It happens first when Grundy drops the knowledge that Jason was a past student of hers, the overarching question of, “What kind of relationship was it?” And later, Betty and Mrs. Cooper are at odds in Betty’s bubblegum-fantasy room when Betty makes her mother say her name.

“Elizabeth Cooper,” says Mrs. Cooper, in the only real emotion I’ve seen on her face.

“Not Polly Cooper. And Archie is not Jason.” But the parallelisms are already in place: the world sees these two redheaded boys (one decidedly brawnier and hotter than the other: spoiler, it’s not the one in white kid gloves) as mirrors of each other.

I always begin every episode thinking Betty is so cool and fun, and end every episode thinking she should be committed. This episode was the rare exception, but I’m not holding my breath. Whether she’s breaking into Ms. Grundy’s car and finding her real ID (Jennifer Gibson) AND A GUN or trying to get Archie to see that Grundy is, like, definitely a child predator, Betty was MVP this episode.

An example of this would be this small exchange when Betty is trying to convince Archie to open his eyes. She has found the gun and the real ID.

BETTY: You didn’t ask anything about her name? Where she had been before this? Why not?

ARCHIE (in his head): Um she’s a teacher sleeping with a student; kind of assumed it was obvious she’s a creep.

ARCHIE (out loud): She’s not doing anything wrong.

In the B-plot, essentially every parent in Riverdale is the absolute worst. Veronica, shoved to the backseat this episode, witnesses her mother do some shady dealings with Riverdale’s local gang—the South Side Serpents. Just a comment, but even the gangs in this town sound like something out of West Side Story.

Hermione Lodge tries to convince her daughter that everything is fine, but after a shady dealing with the mayor—Josie’s mom—we learn that from jail, Mr. Lodge has been paying the South Side Serpents to terrorize the drive-in theater, depreciate its value, and then snap it up for real estate development. Remember this—I can’t even do math without a calculator.

Side bar: When someone says “When have I ever lied to you” when assuring someone they’re telling the truth, you can almost be certain that they are lying to you right now, and probably every other moment of your life.

In fact, all the parents are the worst tonight. The Serpent who was threatening Hermione is Jughead’s dad. Josie’s mom is engaged in backdoor deals. Alice Cooper finds Grundy’s gun hidden in Betty’s room and characterizes it as “just for starters” as wrong. JUST FOR STARTERS. And my favorite (sarcasm) gay (only gay) on the show—Kevin Keller—finally gets a storyline (making out with a gang member). And guess what, it’s about dudes. Kevin asks for the truck and his dad, Chief Keller, is like “please no more cruising.” If my dad had found me cruising guys in the woods and later I asked for the truck, he would be like, “What truck” because we don’t own a truck. But then he would break my legs. Who are these parents?!

Finally, Alice Cooper tells Archie’s dad that Grundy is sleeping with his son. They go to the school—WHERE ARCHIE HAS JUST GIVEN GRUNDY A GIFT—and confront her. Alice says the magic words, “Child predator”—the ones that no one has thought to say before this—and is just about to ruin both Grundy and Archie when Betty steps in.

Side bar: What is with the victim-blaming on Riverdale? First Grundy says that if they come clean, Archie will get expelled? And now Mrs. Cooper is blaming Archie for sleeping with a predator? Guys, let’s have some chill.

Betty threatens that she’s pretend she made the whole thing up and confirm everyone’s worst fears—that Betty is crazy like Polly, and Alice drove her to it. thankfully, the small part of Alice Cooper that is still human recognizes her daughter’s resolve, and settles for just driving Grundy out of town.

BETTY ROCKS.

This episode was largely a stand-alone—it hardly dealt with the murder. But to keep the thread strong, the last scenes of the episode are the Kellers’ arriving back home from the movie to a door slightly ajar. Papa Keller’s murder collage for Jason Blossom has been ripped down, and the mystery of Jason’s killer continues. Overall this episode was a yaas.

NEXT WEEK: The funeral of Jason Blossom, redhead at large.

STRAY OBSERVATIONS

  • Archie wasn’t shirtless at all. And we had to see him crying. Double boner killer.
  • Presented without comment: Jellybean Jones.
  • Not thinking ahead is kind of what fucks over every statutory rapist in the end—when it comes down to the brass tacks. Also the whole “fucking an underage kid” thing. Who am I to judge? Love is love. Except when it’s, you know, not.
  • This time I’m on Betty’s side. “I’ll prove that crazy runs in the family.” UM HENNY U ALREADY DID THAT LAST WEEK.
  • Kevin makes eye contact with a gay snake, AND a homosexual South Side Serpent (self-five).
  • ARE. A. CHILD. PREDATOR. JENNIFER. And stop wearing those Lolita heart-sunglasses, dick.
  • Mrs Cooper says CHILD PREDATOR: but then she’s a freak about Archie. For one second I was on your side, Alice!!! Fuckk
  • I thought that either the SSS was stabbing Kevin or fucking him, and I can’t decide which I would rather see less. Of course, the serpent’s name is Joaquin, because why not.
  • Jughead is homeless!!!!
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