Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE Ch.18, “When a Stranger Calls”

Somehow Riverdale did the impossible – they made sex, drugs and murder boring.


Grade: C+

The episode conveyed as if they had taken the A-plots from three separate episodes, edited them down to fit into forty-two minutes and hoped that no one would notice. So many of the scenes lacked context or buildup; they were all just heightened emotion, which, without context, just reads as campy. And it’s a shame because the most compelling (and I’m supposing actual) A-plot, Betty, was lost in the shuffle. And interesting potential plot points, like Alice going off the rails were completely truncated. The separate subplots of this episode – Jughead’s initiation, Veronica sinking into her family business, and Betty grappling with the Black Hood – could not have felt more distant from each other.

I truly feel like I’m missing something while watching this episode. The scenes followed each other sloppily. We barely saw Juggie’s initiation, we just heard about it after. Then suddenly Jughead is halfway through his initiation and Toni is in his trailer trying to warn him.

Out of nowhere, the Lodges are having cash-flow issues and it’s falling on Veronica’s shoulders to secure an investment from the visiting St. Clair’s. I was actually paying attention and have no idea who the St. Clair family is, except that they have the much-needed capital, and in a social climate of sexual predation, it’s weird that the St. Clair son, who is now a “music producer” (?), is flirting with Veronica, who is a sophomore. Weird and gross and weird and creepy.

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Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE CH.17, “The Town That Dreaded Sundown”

For an episode so focused on the Black Hood and the Red Circle, its anticlimactic plot-points gave us all blue balls.


 Grade: B

Now that I’ve decided that Archie is an idiot, it’s literally the lens I see every action he makes through.

I understand for the show that Archie needs to go dark. And while there’s nothing hotter to me than an Archie on the Edge, I really don’t think that anything he does is going to draw the Black Hood out of the shadows. In fact, all he’s succeeded in doing in alienating Veronica, pissing off the Southside Serpent and threatening his academic standing at school. And rightly, he should not be bringing a gun to school. There are times when a show that is filmed months ago uncomfortably bumps against the real world, and that happened a few times with this: calling the Red Circle Neo-Nazis, as well as any mention of guns. Also the rampant scapegoating of an innocent group – a.k.a. the Southside Serpents (WHO ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BLACK HOOD).

While there hasn’t been any good Cheryl Blossom content is now two episodes, this episode did a lot to progress the storylines of Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper. Veronica has gone full Bonnie Parker and Betty is suddenly finding herself at the nexus of the Black Hood mystery.

I can’t really understand the motivation behind the Lodge family, and I’m sure it’s meant to be mysterious but it ends up feeling like lazy storytelling. So Hiram told Archie to form the Red Circle so that he had an excuse to make Veronica break up with him? And he’s evil…because he’s evil? Because he wants to buy up real estate? I don’t get why Hiram would target this bumblefuck town to funnel drugs through real estate? Go for the coasts; go for the big cities! I’m almost mad at his lack of clear ambition.

And Hermione? Now she’s evil too? Or is she just playing Hiram at his own game? Her little soliloquy about blind loyalty rang a little too “people in glass houses” for me; it’s almost as if she’s warning Veronica about Hermione herself. And possibly hinting, though Veronica won’t ever understand, that Hiram is evil and Hermione is keeping her enemy closest.

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Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE CH.16, “The Watcher in the Woods”

Riverdale’s residents are playing with fire.


 Grade: A-

Before we get to the Kevin Keller of it all, let’s dive into this episode. Everyone in Riverdale seems to be entering dangerous territory: Archie’s deep in the Lodge lion’s den, Juggie is trying to navigate the gang-riddled waters of Southside High, Alice is facing a dangerous proposition and Kevin’s literally cruising in the woods.

At his new school, Jughead is at ground zero for gang violence and drugs (Jingle Jangle, which is such a stupid name that it veers out of stupid and into acceptable). Because he’s a better and more driven journalist than I’ll ever be (I spent my high school career stalking this one hot guy during free periods) he approaches his English teacher (after learning about Fahrenheit 451) to restart the Red and Black, Southside’s answer to the Blue and Gold.

Also at Southside, Jughead meets Toni Topaz, who I LITERALLY love already. She’s a Serpent as well (everyone cool is a Serpent, I want to be a Serpent). It seems that they’re positioning Toni as a way of complicating Bughead, but I would like to posit another theory. Allegedly Cheryl will be getting a love interest in Season Two. Could she be into Toni? The only man we know she’s had feelings for is her brother, and he’s dead, and also her brother and also dead. I don’t know which is a greater barrier for their love: honestly, it might be the dead thing.

Side note: Toni said, “Have fun in your safe space, snowflake,” to Jughead re the Red and Black. So Trump exists in the same space as Riverdale? Who did everyone in Riverdale vote for?
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Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE CH.15, “Nighthawks”

The plot thickens.


Grade: B

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.

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Review, Riverdale CW, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE Ch. 14, “A Kiss Before Dying”

Who is the green-eyed man?


Grade: A(yyyyyyyyy)+

And we’re back! After what feels like the blink of an eye but was actually five months, we’re back in the town of Riverdale. So let’s sip some milkshakes, shake the dust off our pearls and GET BACK TO IT.

Overall, the premiere of season two was BEAUTIFULLY-SHOT (ouch, no pun intended) and brought the drama. It felt a little messy and unfocused, as well as advancing storylines like Juggie’s in a forced way, but it accomplished what all premieres should accomplish – it made me desperate to watch the rest of the season.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At the end of last season, Archie was clutching his bleeding father to his chest after a lone gunman stormed Pop’s Diner and shot Fred.

Now, Archie is driving like a maniac – he does not have his license, because he is so young (if the show’s absence has made you forget the pure ickiness of Ms. Grundy and Archie) – through the streets of Riverdale while Fred Andrews is turning the inside of their car – and then the hospital steps, hallway and everything else – into a Jackson Pollock painting. A hospital, by the way, whose ‘50s décor did not inspire confidence.

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Source: The CW

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Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 13, “The Sweet Hereafter”

Better the sweet hereafter than this awful limbo. 


Grade: A-

Giving this episode a high grade because yes it was good but it wasn’t as good as last week. In a similar way to Game of Thrones, the penultimate episode is the most dramatic and the finale serves more to tie up loose ends and set up new storylines.

So what are the storylines being set up for Riverdale Season Two? Well mama, read to find out!

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Source: The CW // I didn’t even know t-shirts could fit that well.

In the aftermath of Clifford Blossom’s suicide, Chief Keller (who is…hot. Have we talked about what a DILF he is?) discovered parcels of heroin packed inside the maple syrup barrels. It seems that the Blossom family business smuggled heroin from Canada into the U.S. Are we not even making our own heroin anymore? What has happened to American manufacturing?!

FP Jones is still in jail for being an accomplice in Jason’s murder and is being pressured into giving any information on Blossom’s heroin distribution. Because, obviously, in the town of Riverdale, only one group can be responsible for drugs—and that’s the Serpents. FP maintains that the Serpents don’t deal in harder drugs, and he refuses to be a snitch even when Keller offers him a plea deal. Damn, son.

To recover and save face from the fact that a pillar of the community murdered his own son and smuggled heroin into the town, Mayor McCoy is throwing all her efforts into the 75th anniversary of Riverdale, the Jubilee, and using it to highlight some of Riverdale’s best and (pardon the irony) brightest—Archie and Betty. Betty, who has psychotic breaks, and Archie, who fucked a teacher. Apparently that ranks higher on the list of Do’s than wearing a beanie, or being Latina. Betty is frustrated. How can Riverdale move forward, she wants to know, if they refuse to acknowledge the past?

Some people in town can’t imagine moving forward. Penelope Blossom is distraught and broken over the loss of her son and husband, and utters, “Maybe your father had the right idea. Better the sweet hereafter than this awful limbo.” The notion of the future, and coming to terms with it, plays heavily into this finale. It makes sense—when all energy is focused on solving something from the past, you are forced to live in the past. And when that’s over, all that energy might cause you to tumble over from the sheer momentum.

Archie and Veronica move forward into their future. Jughead has to switch schools and leans into his Serpent legacy. But Betty refuses to move forward without acknowledge the past—the mayor and the town won’t even talk about how Clifford Blossom did anything; it’s all about the Serpents. So she takes to the true hero of this season—journalism—to write about Riverdale’s need to forgo convenient amnesia. It ends with someone scrawling “Serpent Slut” and hanging a Betty voodoo doll from her locker—but the truth is rarely without cost.

This episode serves to end the awful limbo that this season has been trapped in, by going back to the beginning. Archie and Veronica solidify the passion they felt at first sight. Betty leans into the mantle of journalism her parents had laid out. Alice reveals that she, like Polly, had gone through the cycle of teenage pregnancy—one that ended with a baby boy given up for adoption. Veronica says what we’re all thinking, that that kid must be a 20-something “blonde Adonis” by now. And Cheryl—Cheryl ends this season where she first began.

On Sweetwater River.

After a farewell text to the girls, Cheryl made the journey to the frozen surface of the river. As the gang raced through snow to her, she flung her fists against the ice over and over and over. Her red hair was the only color on the bleached-white landscape. And as she heard the voices of the Sleuthsters, she rose and turned to them just as the ice gave way beneath her feet.

Underwater, she saw a vision of Jason—the bullet-piereced corpse of her brother—and it all became clear. She could go into his embrace and die, or she could finally let him go. And above her, another Hot Redhead shatters bones and sprayed blood as he slammed against the ice. Archie broke it open and dragged the languid body of Cheryl Blossom out. And when she coughed up water, she was halfway towards rebirth.

The other half came later, as she dredged her house in gasoline and set it ablaze. The last chill left her body as she watches Thorn Hill engulf itself in flames.

That entire sequence was probably the best of the entire season, and I still get chills thinking about it.

To move forward, you have to do two things. One, you have to decide to move forward, like Cheryl did. You have to choose life. And two, you have to accept the past.

Betty—after another one of Archie’s “songs”—said as much. “Veronica Lodge is Riverdale. Archie Andrews is Riverdale. But FP Jones is also Riverdale. We banish the truth when it’s too ugly. The truth that Clifford Blossom was also Riverdale. If we don’t face the reality of who and what we are…then what happened to Jason could happen again, or, God forbid, something even worse.”

And as the flames consume Thorn Hill, and Veronica and Archie, and Betty and Jughead “consummate” their relationships, everything seems, for once in Riverdale, seared clean. But when an armed robbery in Pop’s ends in Archie cradling his bleeding father, that cleansing has not scoured every evil from Riverdale.

Riverdale’s Gilded Age of Innocence has been shattered, marked by an “act of violence that was anything but random.”


So that’s it for my recaps. I can’t say I’m not glad that it’s over. Mama’s tired. But hopefully we’ll meet again—when we meet Betty’s hot brother, and Veronica probably DILFy father, and the probably sexy possible-murderer of Fred Andrews, and every other slutty villain in the greater Riverdale-Southside area!

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REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 12, “Anatomy of a Murder”

Poison Root


Grade: A+

The root of “anatomy” is the Greek word “tome” which means to cut, or to break. To sever. And in “Anatomy of a Murder” the cutting open and apart is not just the murder of Jason Blossom, but the fabric of Riverdale itself.

Everything about this episode was so deliciously drawn-out that after it ended and the credits began, I sat there for a second and just breathed out—the air I had been holding inside of me for the last hour. Every actor, but particularly Cheryl, Jughead and FP, acted to the very edges of their skill.

Archie, Veronica and Betty (and Kevin? Was Kevin there? Who is Kevin?) spent much of this episode trying to prove that the gun found in FP’s trailer, the same gun that killed Jason, was planted in an attempt to frame FP. But as Mary Andrews, played by Molly Ringwald, who is apparently a “lawyer” their testimony is inadmissible because they broke into the trailer. Sorry hon. Side bar—Molly Ringwald looks amazing in black.

Before they can do anything else, FP confesses to everything. He confesses to the murder of Jason Blossom, he explains his motives, and even confesses to stealing the murder notes from Sheriff Keller. Wait, hold up, what was that last one? We know that Hal Cooper was the one to steal those notes. FP had nothing to do with it.

“Everything is tied up in a nice, little bow,” says Alice Cooper. “Too tidy, if you ask me.” She’s right, like she occasionally is, the truth is rarely tidy.

Hal sneaks back into his house to destroy those notes because, as he explains to Alice (holding a gun) and Betty when they catch him, he’s nervous that the connections between the Blossoms and the Coopers could be misconstrued as motive.

“That Great-Grandpappy (we need to discuss the familials in Riverdale—Mommy, Daddy, Grandpappy, Nana) Cooper was killed by a Blossom all those years ago?” asked Betty.

And then Hal is forced to divulge that that’s not just it. because, really, there never was anyone named Great-Grandpappy Cooper. He didn’t exist because…he wasn’t a Cooper. Betty’s great-grandfather and Cheryl’s great-grandfather were brothers, and Cheryl’s ancestor Cain-and-Abel’ed Betty’s. After the murder, the Abel branch of the Blossoms struck themselves from the family tree and remained themselves “Cooper.” That’s why Hal felt that the Blossoms had stolen the maple syrup business out from his hands.

That’s why he wanted Polly to get an abortion. Because she and Jason were third-cousins. And so it turns out that there is a little Blossom-loving going on, it’s just not between Jason and Cheryl.

Ew, even though I Googled it and third-cousins are totally kosher (and apparently actually kind of ideal for reproduction). Those Blossom-Blossom babies are gonna be superhuman and they’ll kill us all. The Coopers (the Blossom-Coopers? The Bloopers?) rush to Thorn Hill and take Polly back with them, who has just learned that she was fucking her cousin.

The Blossoms know this, and are pretty chill about it. Penelope even praises it a little bit, thus eliminating tentative incest as a motive for the Blossoms killing their son. Eugenics? More like Ewgenics!!

So with the knowledge that FP lied at least about the stealing, the Sleuthsters decide to explore other avenues. They discover that FP’s one phone call from jail was to Joaquin, the Serpent who is “dating” “Kevin.” Why would that be? Well, as we find out, because Joaquin helped FP dispose of the body of Jason Blossom.

This episode purposefully had us moving in circles because it’s confirmed, at least, that FP was on-site for the murder, and that it took place in a Serpent-owned bar. So part of FP’s confession, that he and Jason had struck a deal for Jason to smuggle drugs in exchange for a getaway car, and that FP realized that ransoming Jason would be a much more lucrative payoff, is truthful. So while things aren’t looking awful for FP, they’re still not looking great.

Joaquin, with a quick side-tour to an OD’ed Serpent named “Mustang” who had a bag full of Hiram Lodge blackmail money under his bed (Oops!), leads the Sleuthsters to FP’s “contingency plan” in the form of a certain murdered redhead’s letterman jacket. And in the Andrews garage, Betty makes Archie put on the jacket, because Archie looks amazing in blue. She runs her hands along the hard lines of his muscular torso until she finds a small hole in the lining of the pocket. She reaches in and fishes out one small silver hard-drive.

And they learn the truth about Jason’s murder.

The truth is twisted, like the convoluted roots of the Blossom family tree which fractured after a murder so many generations ago. The truth is messy, like the pool of sticky maple syrup spreading like infection on the Blossom barn floor. The truth is that Clifford killed his son.

The truth is often fruitless, because while one question has been answered, a thousand other ones pop up. Why did Clifford kill his son? What did Jason actually see that made him want to run away? What happened?

A murder destroyed the Blossom family tree all those years ago. And another murder has ruptured it even further. The poison root might be cut off at the surface, but there are other pieces in the earth that remain to flower in poisonous blossoms.

And the truth is often incomplete, because the one person who had all the answers now hangs from a rope in the Blossom family barn, while barrels of maple syrup have cracked open beneath him, spilling truth, maple syrup and strange brown parcels wrapped in plastic.


Next week: “The Sweet Hereafter”

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