Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 11, “To Riverdale and Back Again”

Coming Home


 Grade: B++ (Not quite an A, though hon)

I really enjoy these episodes where the majority of the tension and drama is centered in a single night. Last week it was “The Lost Weekend” and Jughead’s birthday; this week the nexus of the episode is the Homecoming Dance. As someone who went to private school, I don’t know what a “homecoming dance” is, so I Googled it. according to Wikipedia, it’s in many ways essentially a fall prom, taking place in September-October, and the “homecoming” part is welcoming back alumni to the fold. So I guess that makes sense that it was held in the gymnasium, which I previously thought was rude that the chairs of the homecoming committee couldn’t spring for a second location. Hindsight.

This episode is the return of Archie’s mom Mary, played by Molly Ringwald. For some reason, it was this character that really solidified—paired with the homecoming theme—the reason for the Brat Pack casting. I mean, actually I think only Ringwald is part of the Brat Pack. But several of the actors playing the parents were well-known teen actors in the ‘80s: Molly Ringwald—Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles; Luke Perry—90210; Madchen Amick—Twin Peaks; Skeet Ulrich—The Craft (!!). The point of hiring these actors (in my mind) allows for unspoken history to be added to their backstories. You have the faint whispering in the back of your head that you’ve known these people since they were teenagers, so when they return as the parents of a new generation, the overall sense is that of a continuing story.

As Betty plans the homecoming dance and tries to balance her loner boyfriend and her Mommy Dearest mom, Veronica is trying to…prove her father is a murderer? The end result is a little murky, but the driving motivation—to learn the truth about her father—pushes Veronica into uncomfortable and gripping places. Because to discover whether or not her father is a murderer requires her to implicate FP Jones—Jughead’s dad—in the process. It’s a Catch-22: to save her own image of her father, she has to destroy someone else’s.

This more dangerous side of Veronica—she says to Alice Cooper when offering her help, “I don’t feel the same kind of loyalty to the Jones family that Betty does”—peels back the “reformed bad girl” persona that she has crafted upon her arrival at Riverdale. Not saying that this means that she’s a bad girl, but her actions prove that there’s something dark and steely underneath her glossy black curls. She’s not afraid of the consequences. Archie goes along with her because—despite having just left a relationship because he was too inattentive—he wants to be her boyfriend. Ronnie, understandably, is like, “Hon, we might be about to prove that my father murdered the town golden boy—I’m kind of busy right now.”

But since Archie’s storylines are generally direct results of his various relationships—see Ms. Grundy, Val, Betty—he decides to help her break into FP’s trailer (tragic) to find any evidence connecting him to Jason. They come up empty because, remember, FP smuggled Jason’s letterman jacket to Joaquin already. He took the jacket, we can assume, while burning Jason’s car of any evidence of Jason’s drug-smuggling for the Serpents.

Betty discovers that Archie and Veronica are investigating FP because none of them are particularly sneaky, and she’s outraged. Personally, I’ve never found Betty more boring than when she’s dating Jughead (whom she “loves” now). I hope they break up and Betty lets Petty Betty rise again like a phoenix from her ash-blonde roots.

In an adjacent plot, Preggo Polly is blundering around Thorn Hill mansion looking for any evidence that the Blossom Parents murdered their son. While snooping, she stumbles upon Cliff Blossom and his wig (!!?) collection. That prompts a chastising from Mrs. Blossom when she’s delivering Polly’s daily milkshake. They will later use that milkshake to roofie Polly, but who didn’t see that coming? Ever read Hansel and Gretel?

Don’t trust sweet treats from evil people, hon.

But when Polly convinces Cheryl to forage through Mrs. Blossom’s jewelry to find something for the dance—pre-roofie, obvs—Cheryl discovers the ring Jason proposed to Polly with. Now, here’s the intrigue—Jason would’ve supposedly never let go of that ring willingly, and technically it’s rightfully Polly’s. So how did Mother Blossom come by the ring?

Cheryl tells her parents that she flushed it down the toilet after finding it, to erase any trace connecting her parents to her brother’s murder. But in the last frames of her in this episode, we see her staring at the ring resting on her alabaster palm before curling shovel-tipped nails over it. What is Cheryl planning?

Overall, this episode was juicy. As Ronnie and Archie sing, “Kids of America” (kill me, shoot me—oops, too soon—make me deaf), the scene intercuts with the Riverdale police force searching FP’s trailer—guys, this is feeling very Making A Murderer to me—and finding the revolver used to kill Jason. The intercutting did not have quite the impact I think the editors intended, probably because that song is horrible, but I can understand where they were going and, hon, I got in that car.

And while we think that FP is a murderer for a hot two minutes (Jughead has a meltdown) Archie and Veronica track down Betty to tell her something: That revolver was planted there. This is so Making A Murderer I can’t deal! Except FP Jones is way hotter than Steven Avery. WAY HOTTER AND WAY MORE INNOCENT. Actually, I have no opinion on the Avery case. I did have to write a paper about their slightly problematic editing.

Overall, even though this episode forced us to listen to an cover of “Kids in America”, we got several seconds of Shirtless Archie (second week in a row; we’re back people!) so can I really even drag it?

NEXT WEEK: “Anatomy of a Murder”


And one more Shirtless Archie for blessings on your family:

Standard
Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 10, “The Lost Weekend”

Agents of Chaos And the Plot Thickens

Grade: A

The trap that CW shows fall into sometimes is “adulterizing” their shows. “Teenagers” (aka twentysomethings with young faces and six-packs) deal with very adult situations in very adult ways, in very adult clothes. It’s the trap that Riverdale has fallen into, mostly because the actual adults in the town of Riverdale are absentee at their very best, and downright maniacal at their very worst. But this episode, framed similarly to a “bottle episode,” brought out a much more teenager-y vibe. And as someone who is definitely no longer a teenager but still acts like a child, I really appreciated that.

When you mix a bunch of people whose brains haven’t finished forming with alcohol and cake, you get essentially what last night’s episode was—secrets spilled like the syrupy margarita mix spreading across the table like a bloodstain, emotions running high, and no one eating the cake. Tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

It’s Jughead’s birthday and for semi-unspecified reasons, he hates his birthday and no one knows about it. He says it’s because his family dynamic was so messed-up but for one “arbitrary” day, they would click together in artificial happiness—ostensibly to make him feel better when it actually just made him feel worse. I can totally sympathize with the notion of holidays getting you down—Instagram is the fucking worst.

Archie lets it slip to Betty that it’s Juggie’s birthday and wanting to be a Good Girlfriend, she arranges a small party of the Inner Circle. The “Inner Circle”—a phrase that gets annoyingly tossed around, like, eight times this episode—consists of Jughead, Archie, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Kevin’s boyfriend Joaquin, and Ethel Muggs. What a fucking rager. Jughead said it best later in the show when, in a rage at Betty, he says that he would’ve actively avoided people like Veronica and Kevin before they became friends with Betty. Kevin barely appears in the show, so the fact that he’s Inner Circle means that, quite literally, Jughead has no friends.

This episode also was really rude to its Hot Redheads, and for a show that started out with the bullet-to-the-face murder of a Hot Redhead, that’s saying a lot. Cheryl is challenged by Veronica for control of the Vixens (operating essentially as surrogates for their respective fathers), and Drunk Archie has a beer thrown on him when he bugs Val to talk. As a Hot Redhead, this episode—obviously—made me uncomfortable.

The party was supposed to be small but the resident Agents of Chaos—Cheryl and Chuck, who’s back from his suspension—crash the Inner Circle with two kegs and bad intentions. Cheryl ropes everybody into a game of Secrets & Sins—like Truth or Dare but sluttier and more dangerous—where multiple different episodic threads come undone in one moment. Chuck reveals that Betty roofied him and went Zero Dark Betty. Dilton Doiley reveals that he saw Ms. Grundy’s car at Sweetwater River the day Jason died and that Archie was there too. Veronica basically reveals what we all thought—that Cheryl was twincestingly in love with Jason and killed him. It’s fucking twisted and gnarly and perfect.

All these concentric circles have been spinning around each other, inches apart. And now—thanks to Cheryl—they’re beginning to bump into each other and cause ripples of chaos. And though this operated largely as a bottle episode contained inside the party, I think the effects of this night will play out over the last three episodes.

The end of the show sets up too parallelisms, two sets of couples both preening in their own destructiveness. Jughead accepts Betty back into his arms only after realizing her dark side (which is problematic, but I can’t deal with that right now) and Veronica and Archie bond over their parents’ messed up relationships. Sadly, I thought this episode would have more Shirtless Archie (we only got a brief glimpse at the beginning and at the end) and Cheryl, but the Cheryl that we did get (Evil Fur Cheryl) was spectacular.

This episode very strongly brought back Zero Dark Betty, which I’m hoping they delve more deeply into. It’s the only interesting facet of Betty, and semi-mirrors the outwardly dark-sided Cheryl. Really, they’re the only two characters that display some sort of nuance other than a base drive. Jughead (a hot, cis white guy) is the Weirdo. Archie is the Artist-Jock. Veronica’s the Reformed Bad Girl. Kevin is the Gay. Cheryl and Betty—tied together by the death of Jason and the life of Polly—are the only ones that teeter between multiple depths at all times. And if Riverdale was smart, they would capitalize on that.

All in all, this episode brought me everything a CW show should—teen drama, salacious scandal, alcohol, hot guys (not shirtless enough, but still hot) and murder. In an ever-mutating world, it’s nice to have at least one thing to count on.

Next Week: “To Riverdale and Back Again” (Only three episodes left!

 

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • The return of Psycho Betty
  • The return of Shirtless Archie
  • UGH THAT TOO-TIGHT HENLEY
  • Is that true about the Three Musketeers? That there were four?
  • Veronica wears GLASSES
  • Cheryl wearing a shirt that says HBIC on the back
  • CHERYL IN A FUR IS MY GOD
  • Spooky threatening note by Hiram
  • Drunk Archie makes me feel…things
  • “Oh, it’s Kevin…”—Juggie
  • BETTY IS A FUCKING CREEP WHEN SHE’S SINGING
  • “Now we’re here…in the middle of a Seth Rogen movie.”
  • Archie wears…a lot of cardigans. A lot of tight, tight cardigans
  • Kevin wants to fuck on the banks of Sweetwater River, like really bad
  • Alice Cooper=full Rear Window
  • I HATE when hot, cis white guys are like “I’m a weirdo; I don’t fit in” I wear beanies and write weird stories on my laptop
    • “Have you ever seen me without this stupid hat on? That’s weird!”
  • Alice is from the south side, potentially was a Serpent
  • Veronica & Archie kiss—no sex—Veronica wears NYLONS
  • I want to meet Hiram
  • MOLLY RINGWALD
Standard
Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP.9, “La Grande Illusion”

Sins of the Father 

Grade: A

Honey never goes bad. And because it never spoils, it can be used to preserve things indefinitely. There was a myth once of a Greek king whose queen died tragically. To cope with the pain, he entombed her body in honey—thus preserving her forever. It seems like the Blossoms are trying the same—preserving Jason’s memory by suffocating Archie in sweet maple syrup. But the problem with preservation is that that thing you’re trying to keep will still be dead when you uncover it.

In fact, this entire episode centers around preservations of things gone spoilt. Betty struggles to hold together her family, Veronica is trying to reconcile her father as the parent she loves with the monstrous businessman in the shadows. The beginning of the series delved into the dysfunctional mothers of Riverdale, and now we’ve moved onto the fathers. Fred Andrews, Cliff Blossom, Hal Cooper. Speaking of the last one, Hal Cooper is totally a concussed football troll gone to seed.

In the A-plot, Archie is being roped into the Blossom family drama. The members of the Blossom Maple Farm board are descending upon Thorn Hill for the annual first tapping of the maple tree. With the scandal of Jason’s murder, and his role as the heir presumptive of the family business, the board members are trying to edge the Blossoms out of the company. The entire first half of the episode is dredged in layers of sexism as Cliff Blossom tries to coil his meaty, rosacea hands around Archie’s broad, sculpted shoulders. Cliff wants Archie to temper out Cheryl’s irrationalness and erraticism. She is, apparently, not even remotely being considered to run the company. Let’s not forget that Jason was a drug-mule and knocked up his high school girlfriend, and he—as a boy—was still considered more stable than Cheryl. Sexism.

This was the first episode that I got a slightly lower register on the Cersei scale from Cheryl. Yes, her obsession with her brother verges on pornographic, but something was illuminated for me. Jason was the golden child—in the eyes of his parents, the school, in sports. And he was always the biggest champion of Cheryl. She was always tolerated because Jason marketed them as a package deal. Without him by her side, she’s back to being the pariah.

Like Jughead analogizes in his last voiceover, Cheryl is a hurricane about to bear down on Riverdale. But as much as that works for her potential destructiveness, it also serves to elucidate her role as the center of Riverdale. Everyone this episode operates in her orbit. The Blossom family board underestimate her. Archie uses her for her parents’ connection to some top-tier music program. Polly is using her to find out if the Blossom parents had something to do with Jason’s death. Only Jason never asked anything of Cheryl—never wanted her beauty, or her crazy, or her connections. Only Jason wanted just her. And unmoored, without Jason, Cheryl is cracking in the most interior parts of her soul.

In the accompanying B-plots, Veronica tries to balance the karma scales by being especially nice to Ethel Muggs. Ethel’s father, Manfred Muggs, tried to commit suicide because he invested money with Hiram Lodge and lost everything. Subsequently, the Muggs are going to testify against Hiram in court. Something that wasn’t said, but could be possible given Hiram’s far reach from prison, is that Manfred’s “suicide” attempt might have been a little…induced by Hiram’s machinations.

Betty and Alice try to bring Polly back, unaware that Polly is at Thorn Hill as a spy. Their plan is to write a scorched-earth exposé of the Blossoms—how Cliff Blossom is the one who put Hiram in jail, their treatment of Cheryl, the circling vulture movements of the family board. It comes to a halt when Hal, a human erectile dysfunction commercial, cuts Alice off from the Riverdale Register. Alice then throws a brick through the front door of the newspaper office—go Alice—and later, Jughead suggests Alice write for the high school newspaper. Madchen Amick, who plays Alice, is a great actress so her scenes are electric, but I was mostly bored with the Cooper subplot. Sorry babe.

The episode’s cliffhanger is the addition of a new suspect. We learned from Archie’s overhearing that Clifford Blossom put Hiram Lodge in jail, thus “shattering” his family. We’ve seen Hiram’s ability to enact his will from jail, so is it possible that he made his own revenge—shattering the Blossom family with the murder of their most prized possession?

Intrigue.

Veronica learns that trying to preserve her family legacy doesn’t always work. Betty realizes that in times of strife, people either come together or fall apart. And dear, dear Cheryl. As she sobs, scrawling over Archie and Polly’s faces in a photograph with a red Sharpie, Polly knocks at the door. Cheryl hastily wipes up her tears and spreads a smile across her full, syrupy-red lips. In a hurricane, the center is often the only part that is not seized by wild winds. But that calm center belies the most dangerous part of the storm. Beware of Cheryl. And beware, Cheryl. As she preserves her rage behind layers of clear gold maple syrup, she could be entombing herself in the process.

Next week: “The Lost Weekend”

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Everyone in this episode was wearing Ralph Lauren Polo
  • “Mrs. Lodge, this Quiche Lorraine is to die for!” –Kevin Kevin, setting back gays for decades to come
  • Kevin truly just exists at Veronica’s beck-and-call.
  • “Mr. Andrews, nice haircut—looking extremely DILFy today,” Cheryl Blossom, bringing the gays back from the setback Kevin caused
  • “That was a joke, you hobo,” Cheryl is SLAYING QUOTES this episode
  • I love how Archie needs to have a serious conversation with Cliff at the tailor, but can’t be bothered to put on pants to do it. No, seriously—I love it.
  • Val and Archie break up because…when were they ever together?
  • Fred showed his dark side this episode, strong-arming Hermione into twenty percent of the profit in return for his continued support. Also, they’re done. #AndrewsBoysBreakUp
Standard
Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 8, “The Outsiders”

Grade: A

After a multi-week hiatus (and a much-needed break for me) Riverdale is back and stronger from its absence. In an episode that catapults off the character introductions of the previous few episodes (something that seemed tedious in the moment), the drama is H.E.R.E.

The last few episodes dragged because they were building character backstories. We met Polly and FP and Mr. Cooper and the Blossoms (even crazy Nana). So when everyone appeared in this episode, there wasn’t the need to have a lead-up. We know these people. Things have been teed and now Riverdale is winding up to hit it out of the park.

Andrews Construction is going through a tough time. Clifton Blossom has stolen all of Fred’s crew out from under him—forcing Fred to halt breaking ground on the drive-in property. That way, Fred and the mysterious buyer (the incarcerated Mr. Hiram Lodge) will be forced to sell the property, which Clifton will promptly snap up.

And as Fred popped open another beer to sip, I watched his sad turtle face and wondered if he had voted for Trump. I believe he did, and I don’t begrudge him for it. Middle America, single father, working class. Few jobs, struggling to make ends meet for his gorgeous son—I could believe that Fred would fall for the Trump rhetoric.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 12.04.57 AM

Source: The CW// It’s the Gangbang Boys, ready to start drilling!!!

However, Archie and the Gangbang Boys show up to work as Fred’s crew—Archie, Juggie, Kevin (remember her?) Moose (remember him? He and Kevin almost fucked in the woods before Jason’s corpse cockblocked them—corpse-blocked?) and Random Extras 1-3. It’s never fully addressed if they should be in school, only that they’ll do work after football practice and weekends. Because that’s what back-breaking construction work should be—an afterschool hobby.

“Come on,” Hermione says, trying to convince Fred, “desperate times…” She trails off, and I have to wonder exactly what she would’ve ended that sentence with. “Desperate times…call for a disregard for child labor laws?” Where is Lewis Hine when you need him?

After a hard day at work, the boys file into that work-cabin-aluminum-can thing for some ice-cold sodas. Kevin pushes back his gelled hair away from his dirt-smudged face, looking like Lumberjack Ken—the doll that young gay boys everywhere would’ve wanted for Christmas—when Moose, looking for his phone on the lot, stumbles upon some thugs smashes a crowbar into the…electric-thingy? Unclear. They beat up Moose, and I totally thought Kevin would cradle Moose’s head in his lap and do a Spiderman-kiss, but that didn’t happen so I’ll have to find something else for my “Sad Gay Spank Bank.”

Sad Gay Spank Bank is sponsoring this post and has incredibly reasonable rates. #SponCon #Ad

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 12.07.47 AM

Source: The CW// “Keller High Water” coming soon

In my head, the reason why Kevin has been so absent—so absent that it’s revealed that that Southside Serpent he hooked up with at the drive-in is his boyfriend now—is because he’s off filming an entirely separate show. It’s just him and Serpenty (Joaquin?) sipping phosphates at Pop’s and searching the shelves of Riverdale’s version of CVS for generic-brand douches. It’s called Keller High Water and I’m working up a spec script to pitch to the CW. But back to our regular programming.

Actually, this entire episode had a very political, us-versus-them undertone. When Chief Keller rolls his stubbly face to the scene, he really “can’t do much.” Archie points out that if this were Clifton Blossom asking for help, Keller would help. And that, Archiekins, is the premise of the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

While the Gangbang Boys—Archie, Moose, Kevin and KEVIN’S BOYFRIEND—go to a Southside Serpent bar, for…reasons (?), Betty, Veronica and Juggie throw Polly a “You’re a Teenager but We Have No Concept of Age-Appropriate Behavior” baby shower.

While there, before Cheryl BURSTS in with a black Gothic pram, Polly asks Betty to be the baby’s godmother.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 12.09.32 AM

Source: The CW// Tag yourself, I’m Nana

“Me?” asks round-eyed Betty. “Yes,” answers Polly. “If anything happens to me, I want you to raise the baby.” I’m unclear about the legality of “godparent” in general, since my godmother only sent me the occasional birthday card and I was the altar boy in her wedding, but how binding is this proclamation? Especially when both people involved are not even 18?

Archie and the Gangbang Boys stomp into the bar—and side bar, Archie really knows how to wear a pair of jeans. Like those are definitely an athletic cut, and his muscular thighs are filling those things To. The. Brim—to ostensibly look for the thugs who beat up Moose. Because they’re stereotyping (political commentary) and assume the Southside Serpents are evil. Archie gets into a fight with a guy in a beanie (dark) and as it gets physical, Beanie says, in a brief moment, that Archie isn’t the first little prep to come in here causing trouble.

*gasp*

Jason? Rememer when Jason was dealing drugs—yeah that was for the Serpents. So it seems like FP has a motive for burning up Jason’s car; no trace, no conviction.

The boyz find out that Juggie’s dad is a Serpent—which, duh—total drama. Archie bursts into Polly’s shower to reveal Jughead as a lil baby ssssnake. This isn’t even the most dramatic thing about the shower. Polly screaming at Mrs. Blossom and her mother is the most dramatic thing, followed closely by the creepy-as-fuck rocking horse that Madame Blossom gifts to Polly. Fuck.

After a terse resolution, Polly reveals to her mother and Betty that Mr. Cooper tried to convince Polly to get an abortion. Alice is horrified and shocked—and this is a woman who claimed that she was pissed she didn’t murder Jason Blossom—and eventually throws her husband out for it. But the rift between the parents Cooper pushes Polly into the cold, creepy embrace of the Thorn Hill Blossoms. And as the grand mahogany door closes, you can see the white skullish face of Mrs. Blossom in the crack.

The episode seemed largely stand-alone, but that’s because you didn’t let me finish, hunhy. In back-to-back scenes, we get a whiff of some nefarious action from darksided DILF FP Jones. He gives Kevin’s twunk boyfriend the task of hiding Jason’s jacket, when we find out that FP is the one behind Kevin’s burgeoning new relationship—entirely to get to Chief Keller. Poor Kev. He really has had a rough go of it. Then FP offers himself and his dudes as Fred’s crew. Uh-oh.

Now what Riverdale has to do is begin to tie together the threads they’ve laid out. This will be a 13-episode season, so we’re well past the halfway mark. What sort of security does Jason’s jacket provide FP? What did Alice mean when she said she was “capable” of things? Who told Hiram Lodge about Hermione and Fred, and is that really why he sent thugs to the site? Why does Betty keep wearing blue? Does Jughead have a bald spot from wearing that beanie? Did he get his beanie from Beanie Guy?

Next week: La Grande Illusion

 

STRAY MOMENTS:

  • Is it winter in Riverdale? Is there a reason that we are being punished with no Shirtless Archie?
  • Polly went from being, like, 8 months to 3 months. Seriously, she was so pregnant at the asylum.
  • “Nana has dementia…and gypsy blood.”
  • “Do you think you can waltz in here with a bedbug-infested rocking horse, wave a blank check around, and steal my daughter?”
  • Cooper tried to get Polly to have an abortion
    • A WOMAN’S CHOICE (SOCIAL COMMENTARY)
  • Archie would be SUCH a DILF—I can’t handle it omg
Standard
Review, television

REVIEW of RIVERDALE EP. 7, “In a Lonely Place”

Grade: C+/B- (Because it’s getting better)

This episode was titled, “In a Lonely Place”, but it could’ve easily been an homage to The Searchers. Everyone is drifting restlessly—the Cooper & Co search brigade looking for Polly, Jughead going from the drive-in to the high school to his home to Archie’s, Veronica torn between dueling familial loyalties, and Polly, hiding in the Cooper attic because no one thought to look right under their noses. Even The Blossom family, who show up to the Find Preggo Polly Forest Walk with Ramsay Bolton’s hunting hounds (chic), are somersaulting between cartoonishly evil and mournful.

For the past few episodes, I’ve been sorely disappointed in Riverdale. All the drama and progressiveness that they promised (and delivered) in the beginning have dusted over and I’ve been lagging in enthusiasm for the last few weeks. But this episode I realized the overall structure. The first episodes were the first foot dropping—the loud clang of Jason Blossom’s murder, the salacious affair of Archie and Ms. Grundy. But these last few weeks have been dredging up an undeniable dread as we wait for the other foot to drop. If that first foot jolts you out of hazy slumber, then this is the heavy pause as we wait to find out if it’s just the creaking of the wooden floorboards, or if someone unwanted is just on the other side of the door.

And judging from the person watching from the bushes, there is.

In a welcome change of pace, we’re shifting our focus this week from tyrannical moms—your Mayor McCoys, your Alice Coopers—to hot, deadbeat dads. We were introduced to Fred Andrews a while back—“you gotta choose between music and football!”—and now we’re getting acquainted with Juggie’s adorable, alcoholic father, FP Jones.

As Jughead intones in his voiceover about the concept of home—he’s currently sleeping Harry Potter-style in a Riverdale High closet, we are treated to a 1950s dark-thriller version of Riverdale. The characters are in their classic comic couture, except Archie has a massive steak-knife in his back. And given what’s later revealed, that knife might’ve landed in the wrong person. Jughead’s secret was apparently well-hidden until Archie, sweaty but NOT shirtless, found Jughead brushing his teeth in the boys’ locker room. That catapults the main drama of the episode—getting FP a second chance at Andrews Construction and letting us know the scraggly, sexy Southside Serpent a little better.

I feel like we’re losing touch with Archie, and that makes me sad. The writers have a hard time balancing characters, because the people I was most interested in, Archie and Kevin, have faded to the background (Kevin completely) when other characters are brought forward and fleshed out. Archie is stagnant in character development—he’s largely reactionary—while we’re getting deeper into Veronica’s vulnerabilities and loyalty to her father, and Jughead’s family life, and Betty’s steel core about her sister. Kevin has disappeared completely—possibly he has been stabbed to death by the Southside Serpent he made out with—when it’s easily possible for him to be tagging along with the gang solving this murder. Has he been busy with Calculus?

But the Prodigal Gay returns in the only way Riverdale seems aware of how to deal with him—as a prop. In retaliation for Hermione forging Veronica’s signature on the paperwork to give the drive-in lot to Andrews Construction, Veronica goes full Cady Heron-house party. She gets her best black friend, the TRAGICALLY UNDERUTILIZED Josie McCoy, and a hot meathead, Reggie Butler, and the town gay, Kevin, to go out with her to—I’m assuming—a teen club to make her mom jealous. Using minorities for plot progression obviously works, because in the end, the Lodge household is hunky-dory.

But that’s (maybe?) the B-plot. Honestly, there are so many different threads it’s impossible to keep track. But in dueling lowercase a-plots, the boyz are trying to get their fathers back together, while Betty and Cheryl figure out what to do with Preggo Polly and J.J.’s baby. Just kid stuff. After Preggo Polly Hulk-Smashed her way out of a two-story asylum room, her family was understandably concerned. Did she land on her feet, the ground beneath her cracked at the impact? Did she rise up, flipping her gossamer blonde hair out of her face, readjust her headband, and waddle away like the Marvel superhero she is? Because that’s the only way Polly wouldn’t have had her legs shattered from the impact of being a heavily-pregnant teenager dropping twenty feet in the air.

Cheryl is down to help with the baby because she’s Cersei-obsessed with Jason, but realizes too late that her parents have more sinister machinations at hand with the Coopers. So the girls decide that Polly can’t be out in the open, so they ship her to the Pembrooke with the Lodges.

Archie and Jughead get their fathers together where it comes to light that Andrews Construction was co-founded by both men until Fred bought FP out of the business while the latter was in jail. The action was taken to protect the business and the Andrews family but, as Archie points out, unhooking yourself from a drowning man doesn’t mean that all the innocent (i.e. Jughead) get saved.

And as The Tragedy of Jughead continues, Chief Keller unfairly and stereotypically attempts to pin the murder on Jughead. He and Betty both had prints at the car, but since Jughead is a latchkey kid, Keller pulled his file to find out that, AS A TEN-YEAR-OLD, Juggie was playing with matches and almost burned the school down. That, alongside Jughead’s bad grades, record of being bullied and unfortunate first name, means that he is the only one to be able to commit Jason’s murder. Because when in doubt, blame a victim.

This is ludicrous, of course, but this is coming from a man who had a laissez-faire attitude towards his son cruising for dick in the woods and let himself be bullied around by Penelope Blossom. It goes without saying that Chief Keller, like all the adults in Riverdale, is incompetent and just plain bad at his job. Without siding too much with a child rapist, it almost makes sense why Ms. Grundy dated a kid—all the adults are committing fraud, or adultery, or just plain bad decisions.

And in the last few scenes, we’re treated to concrete reasons as to why the dads on this show are as bad as the moms. While Chief Keller is busy victim-blaming innocent teenagers, Fred Andrews is manipulating timecards to provide Jughead with a false alibi and FP, that sexy serpent, is drunkenly lumbering around his (I’m assuming) trailer.

He stumbles, beer in hand, across a room littered with old bottles and unwashed plates piled high in the sink. The camera slowly pans over broken sofas and clothes strewn across the floor to an open wardrobe. And there, nestled between old Ed Hardy t-shirts and ragged flannel, is a pristine, royal-blue letterman jacket. It smells faintly of gasoline, smoke and sweat. And embroidered cleanly on the breast in golden-yellow thread is a name.

Jason.

So we might’ve found the person watching from the bushes. And with one question answered, a host of new ones crop up. How? When? And Why?

*****

Next week: “The Outsiders”

 

STRAY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Did anyone else notice the weirdly-inappropriate background music?
  • #ShagginWagon
  • “My mom sat me down on the edge of my canopy bed…”
  • ARCHIE: “Hey Mr. Southside Serpent, what did you mean when you said my dad owed you? You have a rage problem and got fired for stealing, but can I ask you this inflammatory question?”
  • Fred Andrews looks like a sad, sexy turtle
  • This interaction:                                                                                                                                                                       CHIEF KELLER: You’ve been bullied a lot.                                                                                                    JUGHEADYeah, my name is Jughead.
Standard
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.”
Standard