television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 5, “Heart of Darkness”

Grade: B

Out of all the horrors incurred upon Jason Blossom—shot in the face, forced to wear white, having creepy-as-fuck parents, bound and tortured for a week—perhaps the greatest one is the sickly-sweet nickname that Cheryl has for him: “JJ.”

Jason Blossom, whose previous acting credits include being a beautiful mannequin and “playing” “football,” is most definitely not a “JJ.”

This episode was all about the Blossoms—Penelope, Clifford and Cheryl (and also Grandmama Blossom)—living on the creepy Thornhill estate, the “house that all the kids avoid” (according to Jughead). The Thornhill estate includes: one massive mansion, an enjoined cemetery, and creepy-beautiful flowers that have flourished from soil nutrient-rich from decaying Blossom carcasses. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Blossom to blossom—haven’t we all heard that before? And even though the body of Jason is being laid to rest in the ground this episode, the questions surrounding his death are scraping their way to the surface.

After waking from a nightmare where—I swear to God—I thought Cheryl was going to climb into Jason’s coffin, Cheryl finds her mother staring at her. Cheryl has taken to sleeping on Jason’s bed to get inspiration for her memorial speech. Well, not too fast, because Cheryl won’t be speaking at Jason’s memorial, according to Penelope.

However, with the help of Veronica—who we’re calling “Ronnie” now? Unclear—“Hermes” Lodge, Cheryl gets her groove back. She invites Veronica over for a “sleepover” the night before the memorial—a sleepover that Veronica soon finds involves no one else but a dinner with the Blossoms where Mr. Blossom makes cruel digs over Hiram Lodge’s imprisonment. Sounds like a dinner at my house. But when Veronica finds out that Cheryl has been banned from speaking at the memorial, she resolves to help Cheryl. Any way she can.

“Heart of Darkness” saw the return of Shirtless Archie. He’s beating up a punching bag (is it redundant to say “punching a punching bag”?) in his room. He wants to get football captain, because getting captain gets him a scholarship, which gets him into college, which gets him into studying music. Has he thought of YouTube tutorials? One taught me how to knit, so I’m sure one could teach him about song-writing. Archie and Reggie square off to see who will be the captain. Spoiler alert: Archie gets it because despite being wildly sleep-deprived and under-qualified and young, the hot white guy always gets it. He’ll turn it down for music so that Reggie can have it—but Archie gets it first.

But because Riverdale is cruel, while we do have Shirtless Archie, we also have “Brooding Weirdly” Archie, and “Archie Together with Val of the Pussycats” Archie. Val gives Archie the connection to a new music tutor—Richie from HBO’s Looking—who, like everyone else, treats Archie so mean about his music. Archie is a gorgeous, strong-jawed musical athlete—HOLLYWOOD WILL SNATCH HIM UP. WHY IS NO ONE REALIZING THIS? DID NONE OF YOU WATCH GLEE?

Archie’s main task of the week is to write music, you know, while Veronica helps Cheryl get over the death of her brother, and Jughead and Betty try to solve Jason’s murder. Because you don’t always get the same as your friends.

Remember last week when I said that the tacit connections between Jason and Archie are becoming obvious to me? Well I was sort of right all along. Archie reveals—to Music Teacher Richie—that he began writing songs over the summer, and the first one was about Jason.

Side bar—wouldn’t it be amazing if Archie turned out to be bisexual and previously dated Jason?

But because we live in a gross world, I doubt that’ll happen, so Archie is just a murder-obsessed freakazoid. It’s like how Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker and you forgive the fact that he’s an egomaniacal killer because he’s gorgeous. Hot people get an unnecessary amount of passes—and I know this because if I didn’t look the way I do, I would’ve been citizen-arrested by now.

The second instance is at the memorial. Archie has been wearing Jason’s number (oh that too) but retires it into the care of Mrs. Blossom. Penelope, who has been literally a monster, falters at the sight of Archie in his letterman jacket and red hair. She reaches up and caresses his face.

“You’re so much like him.”

That one small moment humanizes Penelope as more than a heartless bitch. She’s a woman who lost her son horribly, whose daughter lied to her, whose husband has an unfortunate haircut. There’s only so much one woman can take.

In the Adventures of Betty and Jughead (and I guess Kevin), they’re working on replicating Chief Keller’s “murder board.” Betty is going on a “date” with Trav, who was friends with Jason. Kevin wants to know if it’s more than a date—because gay people just exist to ask their straight friends about dating!!

Petty B and Juggie decide that during the memorial, they’ll sneak into Jason’s room for clues. Because the dead may tell no tales, but their browser histories do. Mine doesn’t, because I use Incognito, but the main search engine in this town is something called “Sleuthster” so all bets are off. They learn from Trav that Jason was selling off his possessions before he disappeared, and he was also selling drugs. The plot thickens.

MEMORIAL. Cheryl shows up in a STUNNING WHITE DRESS—the same one she was in when she last saw Jason. Archie is wearing a letterman’s jacket because he has no respect for fashion rules. Betty and Juggie sneak upstairs where they loudly open drawers until the Blossom Grandmama reveals herself from the shadow.

She mistakes Betty for Polly and drops the major bomb that Jason and Polly were engaged. But Jason and Polly got into a fight, Polly tried to kill herself and was carted off to an asylum. It’s revealed that Hal Cooper—Betty’s dad and someone who I have NEVER seen before—knew all this. Hal’s anger over the Blossom family turns out to be incredibly deep-rooted. Generations ago, Great-Grandfather Blossom and Great-Grandfather Cooper were in the maple business together. Blossom didn’t want to share his profits so he murdered Cooper—duh. Murdered over maple. It’s a blood (maple) feud that tried to keep Jason and Polly apart.

In not even a B-plot (maybe a lowercase “c”) Fred Andrews flirts with Hermione Lodge, who shuts it down until the South Side Serpents threaten her with a live snake and Fred comes to her rescue.

Overall, the Sleuthsters determine that Hal Cooper is the one who stole the murder board from the Keller’s house. And now Hal is a suspect in Jason’s murder, with motives old and new.

Maybe this call is coming from inside the house.

And in the last moments, the Sleuthsters realize that they need to talk to Polly. YES. FINALLY.

NEXT WEEK: Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!

 

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 4.54.24 PM.png

Source: CW//RICHIE

  • The characters pronounce Music Teacher’s name—Mr. Castillo—with such a forced foreignness, it’s bizarre.
  • This dialogue: VAL: “I heard Ms. Grundy used to tutor you.” VERONICA: “Understatement of the year.”
  • How many different-colored veils does Cheryl own?
  • Why are we not surprised that Archie has a punching bag in his room?
  • “She’s sick, and Jason made her sick.”
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