The plot thickens.
Riverdale’s got its very own serial killer!
While the first three quarters of the episode were fraught with multiple storylines, the last fourth of the episode coalesced into something ooky-spooky: Riverdale, in addition to being swamped with corruption on every level, is also home to its very own serial killer.
It’s a smart move to extend beyond the very singular and impactful storyline of season one (the murder of Jason Blossom), but setting up all these pins that will eventually be knocked down is getting a little exhausting. There’s Archie needing stimulants to stay awake, Archie wanting a gun, Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe going under, FP Jones facing a twenty-year jail sentence, drugs, and the Lodges being shady (plus all the trappings of high school! How Cheryl can go back to the River Vixens is some mastery of compartmentalization).
As Archie fumbles to fix his dad breakfast (how terrible he is at this only tracks if you remember that he’s literally fifteen), we see him chugging down some energy drink. Whether it’s makeup or KJ Apa lost some weight in the break between filming, Archie is looking straight-up haggard this season. Or, as haggard as you can look when you have model-good looks – essentially he has some stubble and his eyebrows are currently the heaviest thing on his body.
And because Betty is a creep but they belong together, she noticed that Archie’s bedroom has been devoid of activity lately. Too bad she doesn’t have eyes on his shower, though. That place is bumpin’. So Veronica goes (even though Betty lives next door?) to check on him, where he answers the door shirtless for no reason. Thank you, CW. She tells him to go to therapy, but he’s content to badger Sheriff Keller, flood his dad with theories that place Archie at the center, and buy drugs from New Reggie (who was replaced from the previous actor. Both are hot).
Ronnie, in addition to saying things like “Park Avenue drama,” is embroiled in her own family drama. She’s refusing to forgive her recently released-from-prison father for…it’s unclear exactly what he did, but it was bad. And her mother is trying to gaslight her into them being the perfect little family again. A family where everyone seems to want to bang each other – no one calls someone “Daddy” that much in real life. Although Veronica bores me, her family drama is possibly heating up into something much more interesting.
It’s obvious that her parents had nothing to do with the shooting of Mr. Andrews, but Hiram’s nefarious business dealings seem to be only increasing now that he’s back. While in prison, he sent Hermione to pay the Serpents to desecrate the drive-in so that he could buy it anonymously. Now that he’s back, what will he do? Well, since the diner has been a focal point so far, it’s obvious that he’s going to do something.
By the way, looping FP and the diner together is a very weird mix. When Juggie and Betty go to Mayor McCoy to plead to save the diner, he randomly also throws in his father. I don’t see the connection: one is a diner that someone was shot-in (although, like, not the milkshakes’ fault so stop punishing them, Mayor McCoy) and the other was a person who was an accessory to a murder. If memory serves, FP kidnapped Jason for Clifford Blossom and helped, with Joaquin, to dispose of the body. That’s not…nothing.
Still, can someone remind me what shady business Mayor McCoy was engaging in last season? Was it that she was in cahoots with Hiram Lodge in buying up the drive-in? Because I need to THROW that in her face when she walked away from Juggie and Betty. Your coiffed hair can’t hide all your secrets, Mayor McCoy.
But the Sleuthsters decide to save the diner (and somehow FP) regardless of the obstacles thrown in their way. Betty decides to throw a River Vixen-staffed party at the diner and Jughead visits the Snake Charmer Penny Peabody, a Southside Serpent-turned-lawyer. BTW I love the Southside Serpent tattoo of the two-headed snake! I thought it was going to be too Death-Eater but it’s actually adorable. Penny tells Jughead that his best bet is to get the Blossom family to publicly forgive FP. And since Cheryl has also commandeered the Vixens again, all roads lead back to her.
After visiting her at Thistle Hill (WHAT A NAME), her new home, Jughead and Betty appeal to both Cheryl and Penelope, who has gone full Burn-Victim-Little-Edie with a bejeweled turban. Both Blossoms refuse to forgive FP, saying that to have a living link to the “darkest chapter” of their lives walking around wouldn’t provide closure. Without blackmail, it’s a dead end.
It’s not until Betty corners Cheryl in the locker room (who is in full lingerie, of course) and threatens to digitally release the video of Clifford killing Jason that Cheryl acquiesces. I knew that once Jughead suggested blackmail, that it would be something but I didn’t expect it to be this something. Betty is at her best when she’s Dark Betty and Cheryl is at her best when she’s complex. She publicly testifies, and when prodded, lies under oath and says that Clifford threatened Juggie’s life to get FP to agree.
Later, after providing backup for the Pussycats, she sits her mother down to watch that video. What Cheryl’s end goal actually is is unclear: does she want to provide the closure that they both desperately seek, or is this a new way to torture Penelope? Either way, the backshot of them watching the video, both frail and slender like two little lizards was chilling. They’re the last branches of the Blossoms, and they seem close to snapping.
This is getting SO LONG and convoluted, so I’ll try to speed things up. See, this episode was way too complicated, needlessly. FP tells Juggie to stay away from Penny Peabody. Whilst buying drugs from Reggie, Archie releases that you “don’t bring a baseball bat to a gun fight.” The possibility of Ms. Grundy’s ex-husband being the killer is surfaced and then discarded (it’s a good theory, but if it were true, way to blow your load by killing your ex as the second person…Serial killers need to learn pacing). Hiram bought the diner, which brings Serpents to Riverdale, Alice witnesses several drug dealings by New Reggie, and Archie gets a gun from the resident Riverdale arms dealer, actual teenager and Boy Scout Dilton Doiley.
And like last week, the last scene of impact is of our killer. In a forest, Moose (WHO IS GAY, OR AT LEAST BISEXUAL) and his girlfriend Midge are trying some drugs in the car (jingle-jangle) so that they can…fuck for hours? Just as things get hot and heavy, like any classic horror movie, Moose hears a noise. And emerging from the mists (of course there’s mists) is our hooded killer, who comes up to the window and shoots them at point-blank range.
The shooting (though not confirmed deaths) of Midge and Moose shakes Archie’s theory off the rails (that the killer is focusing on the people around Archie) and complicates everything: Midge and Moose are not visibly connected to Archie in the same way that Mr. Andrews and Ms. Grundy were. So was that just a random coincidence? Is the serial killer not targeting anyone in particular? Or are these deaths the latest in a larger conspiracy?
And so the takeaway of this episode is that I can’t believe that Moose never fully hooked up with Kevin Keller before his death!
I’m giving this episode a B because while it had some great drama, it was literally so complex and complicated that I’m out of breath from writing this recap. And I’ve been sitting for all of it.