Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Chapter 13 – The Sweet Hereafter

Oh how I’m going to miss writing reviews for this show, it leaves a chill running up and down my spine, like my entire body was thrust intoice water … I suppose I could just light a fire to warm up? <nudge, nudge, wink, wink> Riverdale ended its thirteen episode first season tonight and it ended with a bang. No, really. Quite literally a bang. A bang that left one of my favourite characters, and who I still believe to be the only truly good person in Riverdale, lying on the floor of Pop’s bleeding to death. And then . . .  credits. But naturally a lot of things happened before that point so let’s jump in and take a look at this first season finale. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead!

The Sweet Hereafter may be one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read. Fortunately, while some elements crossed over with tonight’s episode, the show was far from depressing. It tied up a few loose ends, treated us to a few more juicy secrets (something Riverdale does not lack in), and steamed up the windows a little with some inevitable pairings.

Cliff Blossom’s motive for killing Jason was explained away in the first minute of the episode. Jason discovered that maple syrup wasn’t the Blossom’s main commodity so Cliff killed him to keep him quiet. Case closed, all wrapped up in a pretty bow topped with a strange-looking redheaded toupee. Let’s move on to something more interesting.

Chery’s character arc this season has been a series of ups and downs, marked with the occasional moments of bitchy wonder. I’m not going to lie, I love that character and I love Madelaine Petsch’s portrayal. Maybe her story in this final episode was a little too obvious and her final cry for help in the form of a text to Ronnie’s phone was a little too convenient, but to finally tie up her emotional journey was a reason to celebrate. And how better to celebrate than setting a mansion on fire? Cheryl’s failed suicide attempt and subsequent rescue by Archie (by the way, Arch, ever considered using your feet to stomp through the ice rather than punching it? Just a suggestion for next time . . .) gives us that balance I mentioned back in the episode when the Blossoms were courting Archie to join them. Having lost her brother, Cheryl needs a sense of moral balance that she’s unable to reach on her own. Once again, Archie provides the required counterweight, saves her life, and Ronnie’s good heartedness ignites some inspiration in our favourite Blossom and she torches Thornhill in order to start fresh. Here’s hoping Granny Blossom made it out okay.

The town hates FP, though I’m not sure why anymore. He didn’t kill Jason, maybe they just need someone to hate? I’m assuming we won’t be getting Skeet Ulrich back for season 2, which is a shame because he’s been spellbinding this whole time. Upon being offered a plea deal to turn in some serpents, he turns it down, even if it means Jughead has to move to the wrong side of the tracks. There are some nice father and son moments though ultimately we don’t get to a see a final resolution to the Jones’ family issues. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of old FP.

Archie has been hailed numerous times this season as an idiot. While he doesn’t display anything close to genius in this episode, his true colors shine through in the form of his love for his friends. Sure, we’re going to be watching that Betty, Archie, Veronica love triangle play out time and time again, but our fave redhead’s (second fave really, Cheryl is #1) penchant for going above and beyond for his friends despite difficult circumstances is admirable. He tries to keep Jughead from being fostered and switching schools, he saves Cheryl’s life, he cares about Betty’s feelings enough to (finally) be honest with her, he puts his sentiments out there in the form of a song. And if there’s one thing Riverdale needs, it’s a central emotional character for the force of good. He truly is Archie Andrews.

I have a bit more of a hard time buying ‘Bughead’ as a thing. Betty is too girl next door, and Jughead is too awkwardly different. This is clearly displayed when Jug goes to the new school and while we momentarily think he’s in for a rough time, he actually fits in perfectly. This relationship is doomed. When they’re about to get it on, their encounter is interrupted by the serpents who want Jughead to be one of them and he happily agrees. This is who Jughead is in this world, a world that Betty will have a hard time occupying and you can see the distaste on her face at the end when he dons the serpent’s jacket. This all comes after Betty’s rousing speech about choosing to make Riverdale a better place, a point that, for all his insight, Jughead may have completely missed. By the time Jughead realizes he’s not actually that person and it’s not really his world, it’ll be too late for Bughead.

And finally, though early on I really thought I couldn’t, I can actually get behind the Varchie scenario, and I’m glad they didn’t bother dragging the sexual attention out forever. Will Archie always be with Veronica? Hell no. But it was a nice ending for them relationship-wise. However, nothing puts a damper on a fun-filled late night coitus-filled liaison like your dad getting shot.

Which brings us to season 2. Is Fred dead? Probably not, it’d be a weird way for the show to go. Was the shooting intentional? It appears so. Was Hiram Lodge behind it? I’m going to place my bet now and say no. I think it was Hermione and the attack was meant to be a warning to Fred to back down but things got lost in the heat of the moment. Will we see Hiram Lodge in Season 2? Almost certainly! Will he like Archie? Not a chance in hell. Will Jughead remain a serpent? Probably not, and it’ll cause mass conflict. Will we see Betty’s long lost brother? This little factoid was almost buried to the point that I wouldn’t have given it a second thought had Betty not spelled it out to Archie and Ronnie. I’m assuming the eldest Cooper sibling will pop up at some point. Finally, will we get to see a certain teenage witch in season 2? Rumors suggest that it’s a distinct possibility . . .

Many thanks to everyone who has been reading and sharing these reviews. Particular thanks to the writers and producers of Riverdale who brought this show to life and to the actors, KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, and Casey Scott for embodying these characters that I’ve loved since I was a pre-tween.

Roll on season 2 . . .

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– Valerie kept her cool, despite her past with Archie she seemed calm and aloof to her former squeeze and his new girl sharing stage time. Good for her. However, I still think she’s boring.

– Ah the famous old Alice Cooper “I have a secret, I’m not going to tell you, fine I’ll tell you,” trick.

– Yay! The return of zombie Jason!

– Not one hilarious Kevin Keller quip this week! Missed opportunity, Riverdale!

– It may have got him shot, but Fred standing up to Hermione was a boss move.

– Betty’s speech was good, but it lacked a solid conclusion. I think that’s why it took the clapping a while to get started. No one knew she’d finished.

– Congrats Archie! You wrote and played a song that didn’t make people want to staple their genitalia to something solid.

– HOTDOG! Finally!

 

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Chapter 12 – Anatomy of a Murder

SPOILER ALERT – Murderers and accomplices were revealed on the latest episode of Riverdale and they’re included in this recap and review. If you haven’t watched it yet, I suggest you do so before continuing.

Game of Thrones meets Riverdale on this week’s episode ‘Anatomy of Murder’. Sure it wasn’t golden-haired creepy rich twins incest, but after this week’s revelations, the Coopers and the Blossoms move one step closer to the iron throne. Now if we could only get some dragons having a burger at Pop’s Diner . . . but I digress.

I truly thought we’d be waiting until the season finale before Jason’s murderer was revealed but apparently we didn’t have to wait that long. I’d like to take this opportunity to a do a small ‘told ya so’ dance. Small because I incorrectly predicted that Joaquin was the one who pulled the trigger, but a dance nonetheless because I did state in my last review (find it HERE) that Clifford Blossom was behind the whole thing. And lo and behold, the creepy wigged one was indeed the trigger man. Let’s dive in . . .

We can probably gloss over the more melodramatic points this week. Alice tends to over-react and point fingers in the wrong direction, Jughead is (believably) upset, Archie is determined, Veronica likes to lounge around in silk. I think I’m digressing again. The point is, a lot happened in this episode but what it all boils down to is this: Clifford Blossom killed his own son.

Before we get to that point, FP confesses to everything, and I mean everything. He spills his guts in magnificent fashion and in such a calm way that a detective who was good at his job would likely begin to think something wasn’t right. But not Sheriff Keller, he likes an easy clean open and shut case. Even if we’re starting to question that maybe Archie and Ronnie did miss finding that gun in the closet, we, the audience, know that FP is lying thanks to Mr. Cooper being the one that stole the murder wall from the Sheriff’s house. So we’re left with a dwindling amount of suspects. A friend told me it could be Hermione and it’s actually not a bad theory as she’s been known to break the law, but she was in New York when the murder happened. It could certainly be Hiram Lodge who we now discover is out of jail and I really, really, REALLY hope the season finale ends with him showing up in Riverdale. But he’s not the killer, the motivation is too vague. After some fairly weak sleuthing from Archie and the gang which involves chatting to Joaquin, we end up at another crime scene.

The serpent that Joaquin overheard speaking to FP is conveniently dead of an overdose which leaves us at another dead end. But that’s okay because we have at least ten minutes of film to kill here so we’ll just keep chasing our tails for a while and we’ll even have Mr. Cooper show up to remind everyone that he’s the one who stole the murder wall and that’s all. Oh no wait, there’s that little matter of INCEST! Apparently the Coopers aren’t Coopers at all, they’re Blossoms. Wait. What? This is an unusual leap because why even bother throwing this tidbit into the mix? It doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than to get Polly out of the Addams Family Mansion.

We’re left with a few loose suspects, no plausible motive, and nowhere for this episode to go. But wait! Joaquin is back to save the day. And it’s true. This episode was only moved along by one character: JOAQUIN! (I feel I deserve a few points back from mistakenly accusing him of being the murderer) Archie’s mom discovers FP’s only phone call from jail was to Joaquin. Joaquin was the one who revealed details of the clean up, and led Archie, Veronica, and Kevin to the Mustang murder scene. He’s also the one who tipped off Kevin where to find the jacket which conveniently includes video footage of the murder. Sure, FP could have just given that information and evidence up when he was arrested, but why bother making things easy?

For all the plot conveniences of how we got to the actual murder in this episode, we’re treated to some great performances in the form of reaction shots when Betty and Co watch the murder video. Jughead returns to his narrator roots and leads us down the path to the big reveal that Clifford Blossom was the murderer all along. I’m hoping it’s not a cop out on the part of the writers that we never get to discover the true motivation behind the murder and I’m assuming that’s what next week’s season finale will be about.

When the police show up at the Blossom mansion, the haunting image of Cheryl and her mother directing the police to the family barn is quite chilling. Clifford, being the criminal he is, pulls a 13 Reasons Why minus the lengthy recording sessions, and hangs himself.

One more episode to go and I’m guessing it’ll end on a neat little cliffhanger. Season 2 starts shooting in a few weeks and instead of 13 episodes, I hear we’re getting a full 22(ish) episode season. This can be good or bad. On the good side, YAY More Riverdale! On the bad side, TV shows can sometimes get a little drawn out and boring when pushed to a full season order. In the end I don’t care, because I’m more focused on the former in which we get more Riverdale. Cue my happy dance . . .

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– As she’s a lawyer, I wish Archie’s mom had been a little more involved in this episode. We didn’t even get to see the scene between her and FP. I feel like Skeet Ulrich vs. Molly Ringwald would be an epic battle.

– Goodbye, Joaquin. We’ll miss you being a convenient plot device 🙁

– If you call your kid ‘Mustang’ he’s almost guaranteed to join a biker gang. It’s like calling your daughter ‘Candy’. Congrats, you’re the proud parents of a stripper.

– Did Cliff actually take the easy way out and hang himself or are the Blossom women the far more fearsome of the species? Look into the eyes of evil, and you tell me . . . ?

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Chapter 11 – To Riverdale and Back Again

I have a theory on who killed Jason and why. But you’re going to have to read to the end to hear it. This week’s episode handed us a murderer wrapped up in a pretty little Skeet Ulrich bow, smoking gun in his closet, and nefarious partnerships with a well-known biker gang and an evil millionaire to cap it all off. Could Riverdale be so bold as to hand us such an obvious murderer? In a word . . . No. No they could not. Because in one single episode we’re led to believe that FP is Jason’s Killer but before the credits roll, the whole thing is washed down the drain.

Let’s discuss . . .

Molly Ringwald as Mary Andrews is just pure gold. Kudos to whoever casts this show because they do a fine job, not necessarily of matching the actors with the source material, but in the way they match the actors to the characters that Riverdale needs them to be. Archie’s Mom is in town to . . . hang out? It’s not really explained other than as a reaction to Archie’s drunk dial in the last episode. Either way, she sticks around to hear Archie play some music (that doesn’t suck or make you want to staple your own genitalia to a chair) and invites Archie to move to Chicago with her. Clearly he won’t. He’s Archie. The way she handles Hermione, even with the knowledge that her and Fred have been fooling around, one would suspect that Mary is a bit of a player herself. Even cooler is how she puts Alice Cooper in her place. Something not many people do successfully on this show. It’ll be a shame to see Mary go when the time comes.

The through line of this episode is the theory that FP was hired by Mr. Lodge to kill Jason Blossom out of some sort of retaliation over Clifford Blossom getting Ronnie’s dad thrown in jail. It’s plausible. FP is known to be sinister and Mr. Lodge is in prison so nuff said on that matter. It makes sense, if it wasn’t too obvious. Alice Cooper, determined to prove the theory, enlists the help of Veronica and Archie. The former is enticed as she wants to know the truth about dear old daddy, the latter is enticed due to Veronica’s enticements and Archie can’t resist a damsel in distress . . . especially an enticing one. They search FP’s trailer while Alice brilliantly distracts FP at a dinner for Jughead and Betty. Nothing is found in the trailer and despite us, the audience, knowing that FP had Jason’s jacket, we’re led to believe he’s innocent.

That is until the cops show up on an anonymous hint, search FP’s trailer, and find what is believed to be the weapon that killed Jason Blossom. This is all wonderfully spliced with Archie and Veronica’s cover of ‘Kids in America’.

Meanwhile, Betty begins to realize that things are being kept from her and I have to throw some credit at Lili Reinhart because she plays a very subtle crazy and she play it very well. You can clearly see Betty is upset before the water works begin but as she watches her mother speak with Veronica and Archie, and then the same pair talking to Jughead, you can practically see the wheels of paranoia spinning out of control. Here’s hoping we see ‘Dark Betty’ emerge from the shadows in the near future.

We get some rapid fire line-crossing at the end of the dance with Betty confronting Archie and Veronica, Jughead finding out his friends went behind his back, Jughead blaming Betty even though she’s clearly not at fault, and Betty confronting her mother about the anonymous tip. Conflict is what makes this show great and we all thrive on it. It’s like watching a car accident, we’re just waiting for the blood. Jughead runs off into the night and throws a bit of a tantrum that’s emotional and dark, and Cole Sprouse continues to deliver these great emotional moments with sincerity. I do kinda wish we could see more of the lighter side of Jughead but I don’t think it’s meant to be. At least not in season one. He really wants his dad to be a nice guy and for his family to get back together but it may be that we’re simply destined to see the ‘broken’ version of Jughead and we may never see the whimsical burger-munching side of him. I can live with this as long as we get to see Hotdog at some point. Take note Riverdale writers, we want Hotdog!

Why was Cheryl angry at the dance? I couldn’t figure it out. Was it because she was jealous of Veronica being with Archie? Was she upset because her pregnant date was unconscious? Did she not like the song? After storming off, she does two things . . . 1) She checks to see that Polly is alive. 2) She sees her mother freaking out while her father consoles her. These are important, bear with me . . .

The final twisted reveal . . . (on a side note, has anyone else noticed that the narrative has gone?) A dangerously angry Betty runs into Veronica and Archie at Pop Tates where it’s revealed there was no gun in the closet when Archie and Ronnie searched the place and that FP is being framed. Dun dun duhhhhh!

WHO KILLED JASON BLOSSOM – A THEORY

It wasn’t FP. We can get rid of that altogether. He’s a patsy, that’s his job. Now, it’s entirely feasible that FP planted the gun in the closet to implicate himself as the murderer. Why? Maybe he’s being paid to take the fall. BUT I don’t think that’s what actually happened, even though it doesn’t change who the murderer(s) is/are. And sure, maybe Alice Cooper had her husband plant the gun so they could get a good story out of it but it seems too contrived.

While Polly’s digging revealed nothing except the presence of her engagement ring, there was a clear absence of some people at the homecoming dance. This is important because someone had to plant the gun in the closet and they had to do it between Archie and Ronnie leaving and FP getting home. Everyone was at the dance at this point. Except two people: Penelope and Clifford Blossom . . . and maybe one other.

Cheryl nonchalantly checks to see if Polly is still alive when she returns home. This indicates that even their own daughter wouldn’t put it past the two senior Blossoms to commit murder. Penelope even recounts to Cheryl how Jason had turned away from the family which gives Cliff Blossom the motive to take out his own son. BUT, I don’t think he pulled the trigger. I believe Cliff Blossom hired Joaquin to kill Jason and then frame FP to take the fall. But wait, Joaquin was at the dance! True, he was, but not at the beginning of the dance. When Archie and Veronica show up, Kevin is alone. It isn’t until the duet that we see Joaquin. Where was he before that point?! Planting a gun maybe, while Clifford Blossom phones in an anonymous tip?

The plot thickens. And with only two more episodes to go, it’ll be interesting to see how everything gets tied together so Riverdale can move on and become the idyllic little town it’s supposed to be. Who are we kidding? Imagine how boring that would be. Not to worry, dark and twisted Riverdale won’t be going away anytime soon.

 

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– Cheryl wins the award for best insults. She calls Polly ‘Gollum’ after she makes a snatch at the ring. But the one that made me laugh out loud was when she called Betty ‘Nightmare Smurf’. I don’t even know what that means, but it’s hilarious.

– Joaquin could easily pass for FP’s kid. Same bone structure. And he has that same ‘I’m handsome yet potentially extremely unstable’ look about him.

– I LOVE that they made fun of Archie’s original songs in this episode. “Your songs make people want to slit their wrists,” says Jughead, “In a good way!” Classic.

– Cheryl is extremely flexible. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter. Also, this picture . . .

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Chapter 10 – The Lost Weekend

I’ve often complimented the CW shows on their ability to tie up dangling plot points and sub story arcs in a timely manner. Many shows prefer to drag things out for multiple episodes and sometimes entire seasons (*cough* The Blacklist *cough*). This can get arduous and can result in story fatigue. Don’t laugh, it’s a real condition, 1 in 10 Netflix subscribers suffer from it on a monthly basis. The CW on the other hand loves to introduce some juicy sub story and then tie it up in a neat bow and move on to the next. The latest episode of Riverdale was no exception. They even had a party so they could tie up loose plot points. A party! Genius.

Let’s get to it . . .

Veronica states close to the end of the episode that “we’re all messed up,” while she’s trying to talk Archie down. This nicely emcompasses the whole episode because everyone, even supporting characters, are messed up. Everywhere you looked, someone was messed up. Throw a rock, hit a messed up person. Veronica herself is particularly messed up in this episode, and for good reason. Her Dad threatens her from a distance to coerce her into testifying on his behalf along with her mother. What’s weird is that she goes along with it. And why? Because Smithers claims Hermione is a good person. I’d say that flies in the face of her actual actions over the course of this season, but what do I know? Smithers is clearly a knowledgeable footman/butler/maid/doorman. Thanks to a bit of super sleuthing, Ronnie pulls an Angela Lansbury and digs up a connection between her father and the Blossoms, unfortunately it also ties Mr. Lodge to the murder of Jason. So did Veronica agree to testify because a) She wants to help her dad or b) she wants to tie her dad to Jason’s murder or c) making out with a redhead messes with your mind and she’s just plain confused.

Normally there are clear sections to these reviews but the party took up so much of the episode and contained most of the story for this week so let’s just take a walk through Jughead’s nightmare.

Cheryl is back to being evil Cheryl (and she has the nerve to accuse Betty of a slippery mental state) and enlists the now purely evil and freshly unsuspended Chuck Clayton to crash Jughead’s birthday bash. Why does the fiery haired one do this? Because she lost the dance off. I know I always get a bit antsy when I lose a dance off so this is perfectly acceptable.

Jughead doesn’t want a party. It’s clearly stated. He says it. Archie says it to Betty a couple of times. Jughead repeats it. Mr. Jones reiterates it. So Betty takes the only logical course of action and throws Jughead a party. He reacts . . . badly. Big shocker, it wasn’t without warning. And he has a good reason too. His childhood sucked. He was raised by Skeet Ulrich and there were few happy memories so he suffers from some sort of childhood PTSD. This action says more about Betty than it does about Jughead and the latter actually sums it all up nicely when they’re arguing in the garage. Betty does appear to be a little on the crazy side. The evidence was presented in episode one with her mother giving her prescription pills, then we saw the black wig incident in episode three, and there have been a few other little tell-tale signs along the way. Betty jabbing her nails into her own hands and confronting Chuck in the cafeteria all point to a wonderful instability. There’s ‘Girl Next Door Betty’, there’s ‘Dark Betty’, and there’s ‘Slightly Unhinged Betty’, as displayed by this picture:

Could this be the face of a murderer? I still say no, partly because she’s too obvious but mostly because she’s a main character and I doubt they’re going to be getting rid of Betty.

Jughead’s summation of the ‘Bughead’ relationship is an accurate one. They’re completely different people and while opposites attract, Jughead does represent a sort of pet project for Betty. What’s strange about all this is that it was Jughead that moved in on Betty in the first place and not the other way around so I can only conclude that his big push back is because he really, really, REALLY does not like parties. And why would he? He gets punched at this one.

Chuck and Cheryl show up with half of Riverdale High in order to cause chaos, and they succeed. Chery’s representation of the ‘devil on the shoulder’ (see my review of episode 9) is solidified here because she doesn’t have an ‘angel’ to balance her out. She’s running unleashed and even has a co-pilot in the form of Chuck Clayton who has an axe to grind anyway. As mentioned previously, the ‘truth game’ covers a number of storylines that have been left to dangle for a while or have been waiting to be revealed to the right people. Dilton spills the dirt on Archie and Ms. Grundy, Cheryl takes a swing at Veronica but gets beautifully backhanded by being accused of ‘twincest’, and Chuck paints a scary picture of one of Betty’s personalities (yeah, that’s right, I’m digging back into that multiple personality theory). Everyone heard it so all the cards are now on the table.

Standing creepily in the background is Jughead’s dad who appears way too comfortable hanging out at a high school house party. Points to Betty for getting Jones Senior to actually show up but then he doesn’t leave, has a quick pow wow with his man on the inside, is spotted by Mrs. Cooper, and then in a shocking display of character actually acts like a father. When everything goes south, he throws Chuck out and then convinces Jughead to do the right thing when his son’s natural inclination, much like his father’s, is to run away. Say what you will but that’s a pretty big development for the Jones family in terms of functionality.

Archie makes out with Veronica. No big shocker, it’s been coming for a while now. It’s actually kind of cute that they wake up in the same room but clearly didn’t sleep together, shows a mutual respect on both sides of the fence or maybe they were just too drunk and passed out. Either way, Valerie is way out of the picture and in the past few weeks Archie has made out with, kissed, or slept with Betty, Cheryl, Valerie, Veronica, and Ms. Grundy. He may want to reign it in a little. He’s going to burn through all the Riverdale girls in season one. Run, Ethel! Run for your life!

Finally, we see Jughead without the hat, which admittedly disappointed me a little, especially since he pointed out earlier in the episode that he never takes it off and that’s weird, but that’s who he is. Mere minutes later and he’s not wearing it. I suppose in a way it’s a pay off so I’ll let it slide, but put the damn hat back on! Betty and Jughead’s acceptance of each other’s quirks might make or break their relationship. On the one hand, two people with dark secrets can likely survive quite well together as they’re bound by a common weirdness. On the flip side, having a crazy blonde for a girlfriend can play havoc on your stress levels. Whatever the outcome, Bughead remains intact for another week.

I’m only touching upon the Fred and Mary storyline because it introduces us to Molly Ringwald as Archie’s mother, but really it served very little purpose other than to give Archie a good reason to get drunk. I can’t imagine she’ll be coming on as a season regular so don’t expect her to stick around but, c’mon, it’s Molly Freakin Ringwald! I look forward to the next episode, which we sadly have to wait two weeks to see.

In closing, yes, everyone in Riverdale is messed up to some extent. Maybe it’s an accurate observation of the human condition or maybe it just makes for really good television. I’m inclined to side with the latter. Seeya in 2 weeks . . .

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– You can take the serpent out of the southside but you can’t take the southside out of the serpent. So Mrs. Cooper did some slithering in her past life . . . interesting . . .

– Archie’s drunken stupor had a very Twin Peaksy vibe to it. Trippy, weird, and involved drunk dialling (was there drunk dialling in Twin Peaks? I’ve honestly never seen an episode).

– Betty’s crown sweater was pure gold. I want one and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

– Don’t make Betty angry, you won’t like her when she’s angry. You’ll unleash DARK BETTY! She’s fearsome! She even wears a wig.

– “And the plot thickens” has been said more than once this season. Are the writers repeating themselves or are they trying to create a recurring catch phrase? Discuss.

– All disagreements should be settled with a dance off. Think how festive life would become.

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Chapter 9 – La Grande Illusion

There are a number of universal truths in this world. Unbreakable and unbendable facts that shape our humanity in a physical, mental, and emotional sense. Water is wet. The sun rises and sets. Snow is cold. Cats have no souls. Pop Tarts are the best breakfast snack food ever created. And so on. However, there’s one universally acknowledged truth that shouldn’t be ignored: You never, ever, ever, ever, ever, mess with a redhead. However, due to the unusual abundance of gingers in Riverdale, it’s impossible not to have a run in with one or more on a regular basis, or so this week’s episode teaches us.

**It’s important to note at this point that I have a weakness for redheads. I’m married to one and, consequently, also have a red headed daughter who can wrap me round her little finger just as well as her mother. Why tell you this? Because if it seems like I’m going easy on Cheryl in this review, it’s because I kinda adore her. Let’s proceed . . .

First let’s get the other stuff out of the way because nothing really compared to the main storyline this week.

I’m going to make a story prediction, and maybe it’s slightly obvious, but Hiram Lodge isn’t going to end up in jail. The charges will be dropped, he’ll get away with whatever it is he’s being accused of, and he’ll come to Riverdale and cause all sorts of problems. He’s the perfect bad guy for the show and he’s simply got too much potential to be a faceless name. Mr. Lodge is coming. Maybe not this season, maybe even not next season, but he’ll arrive eventually. Prepare yourselves accordingly.

A weird thing happened in this episode. I found myself liking Betty’s mother. She’s gone from a crazy, over-protective, controlling, psycho to a loving, crazy, over-protective, controlling, psycho. That’s a big step. With her relationship with her husband falling apart and her pregnant daughter seemingly abandoning her, it’s not surprising that she’s starting to crack. But that led to a sense of reversal in this episode with Betty having more of a controlling influence over her mother than vice versa. A journey that ends with Mrs. Cooper working at the school newspaper. In what world does a grown adult work at a school newspaper, you ask? Riverdale, that’s where. Mrs. Cooper’s discovery that Polly is nothing more than a chip off the old crazy blonde block, and is only siding with the Blossoms in order to infiltrate their inner circle gives mommy dearest a great foundation to build from. She could actually be good and decent if she really worked at it. Let’s face it, you can’t throw a rock in Riverdale without hitting an insane manipulative parent (see what I did there? With the rock? The throwing? No? Fine). It’s nice to see at least one parent develop in a different direction.

Back in the slut shaming episode when we first met Ethel, there was a singular shot that had Ms. Muggs peering through a crack in a door at the torture of Chuck Clayton with a look of sheer evil glee. This made me think there was more to Ethel than met the eye so I’m actually a little disappointed in her character development. Am I wrong to hope that every character in this show has a dirty dark side to them? Yeah, I probably am. In the end, her story is more about Veronica striving for redemption from the sins of her family while dealing with the ever-growing guilt that seems to come hand in hand with having the last name ‘Lodge’. Her treatment of Ethel is Ronnie’s own cry for help to escape the life she seems to equally love and hate. On the other side of that same coin we have her mother, Hermione, trying to do her own soul searching quest for truth by confessing to Fred Andrews what’s really going on with the drive-in land and the Blossoms. Veronica fairs a little better than her mother with Ethel accepting her attempts, while Fred simply breaks up with Hermione and adopts a cold business like attitude that he’s too good of a person to maintain for too long.

And this brings us to the main storyline that harkens back to that universal truth I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Archie is an idiot. We’ve learned this time and time again and I’ve defended it before as I’m going to defend it now. He’s supposed to be an idiot. He was in the comics, why not in the TV show too? Cheryl even said it herself in this episode he’s the “last decent person in Riverdale.” Well, he’s not. There’s Pop Tate, Mr. Weatherbee, Fred Andrews, Kevin, Moose, Jughead . . . but for arguments sake, let’s say he is. It’s Archie’s fundamental flaw that he’s good and wants to see good in everyone else. Hell, he sees good in Cheryl who is clearly gloriously evil and doesn’t even try to hide it most of the time. Archie represents a naive, somewhat ignorant, archetype who really wants everyone to actually be good and get along. Not in Riverdale, my friend. That maple syrup-drenched town is a cesspool of evil, corruption, and manipulation.

However, Archie will continue to survive because he’s consistent. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body to not be. He agrees to help Cheryl with a bit of light prodding from Mrs. Blossom and continues to help them due to coercion and vague promises until he actually begins to feel sorry for Cheryl. At which point he genuinely tries to help the Blossom Princess but to absolutely no avail. He’s not capable of surviving in that world, a fake corrupt world controlled by Cliff Blossom, and Cheryl isn’t able to separate herself from her family. The result is what anyone would expect. A redhead plus a redhead equals a complete disaster.

While I suspect a lot of this storyline was to get Archie into a position where he could hide behind a bush and overhear that Clifford Blossom was responsible for getting Hiram Lodge thrown in jail, therefore adding another (unlikely) murder suspect to the murder wall, I think Cheryl’s development was the actual focus of this whole episode. “But you have a weakness for redheads!” you scream. Well you only know that because I told you, and if I’d known you’d throw it back in my face like this, I would have kept it a secret!

In a lot of ways, I think Cheryl wants to be Archie. She wants to be decent. But she doesn’t know how and can’t seem to shake the affliction that is her family. Archie and Cheryl truly represent the angel and the devil on each shoulder and the more ‘good’ Archie becomes, the more ‘evil’ Cheryl will have to be. Which is why we find her angrily scratching out people’s faces in the family picture after Archie realizes the error of his ways. That redhead will be seeking revenge, and it won’t be pretty.

Actually it’ll be gorgeous because, let’s face it, Cheryl is absolutely stunning. Yeah, yeah, I know! Weakness for redheads. Shurrup.

Next week’s episode looks like an epic party followed by Molly Ringwald . . . personally I think all parties should be followed by Molly Ringwald, but that’s just my opinion.

Until next time . . .

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

–  I’ve never liked Valerie. There, I said it. She’s a boring character so I’m not disappointed in the breakup.

– Red is not a good color to wear if you’re a redhead. Apparently it causes some sort of a clash that affects the very fabric of the universe.

– How many times can you say Archibald in one episode? I counted 14. Also, who calls their son Archibald? Fred, Mary . . . Archibald. It doesn’t fit.

– The classic pearl beads slowly dropping on the floor made me wonder if a Wayne had just been murdered.

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Chapter 8 – The Outsiders

There quite literally is not one happy marriage happening in Riverdale. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the maple syrup, maybe it’s the disturbing amount of redheads . . . but relationships are not meant to survive in that town. Tensions ran high in this episode with double crosses and back alley deals happening all over the place. Riverdale is a dangerous place to live. But they do have Skeet Ulrich, so there’s that. Let’s get to it . . .

 

How many times can you reference abortion without actually saying the word ‘abortion’? I counted five times, but I may have missed one. I’m assuming it’s a CW censorship thing, but I was surprised they had to avoid the word as it’s absence made it all the more obvious, but I suppose that was the point. This week, Mr. Cooper became oh so much darker than just some guy who breaks into the Sheriff’s house to steal his murder wall. He’s harboring such a hatred for the Blossoms that he actually wanted his daughter to abort the baby. The guy is certainly carrying enough hate to push him over to the darkside, but his banishment from the Cooper household says a lot more about Alice Cooper (the blonde chick, not the guy who used to bite heads off chickens on stage) than it does about him. Mrs. Cooper has always seemed so controlled in her insanity, however we certainly saw some cracks as she tries to deal with the Blossom family now trying to steal her daughter, while also revealing her own shadowy past, also at the hands of her husband. There goes another Riverdale marriage.

Polly herself is still severely lacking as a character and I think it’s partly due to us not really knowing her. The reason we care so much about who killed Jason, and not about Jason himself is because we never got a chance to know him. All we really know is he had terribly fake-looking red hair and apparently he was a mute. The same almost goes for Polly. We met her at the mental asylum where she was hysterical and she hasn’t really calmed down since. Okay, so the father of her child was murdered, her dad tried to have her abort her baby, the father’s family want to keep the baby, her parents sent her to a mental asylum, and now she’s back, there’s a power struggle over this child who will undoubtedly have fake-looking red hair. Okay, fine. She has every right to be hysterical. Unfortunately, her lack of grounding as a character is making it really hard to sympathize with her. Maybe that’ll change now she’s a member of the Blossom household. By making the choice to join the Blossoms, she’s effectively shunning her own family. And who can blame her?

 

Speaking of the Blossoms, let’s take a moment to appreciate just how awesome Granny Blossom is. Come on, that crazy old lady is great. Part horror story cliche, part gypsy, part crypt keeper. She keeps getting better and better.

Fred Andrews and his business woes seeped throughout most of the story this episode. With the Blossoms wanting to buy the old movie theatre land, and Mr. Lodge being the secret buyer, and Hermione knowing this but not telling Fred, we can clearly see another relationship is about to go down the toilet. It all makes for interesting TV though, so who cares? Fred confronting Clifford Blossom was a nice scene but it felt a little empty with Fred not really having a good threat to come back with. Too bad he doesn’t have a biker gang working for him . . . oh wait.

It was a touching moment when Archie and his pals came out to work for his dad, even more so when Fred and Archie have their heart to heart in the kitchen later. While I didn’t love this episode as much as past ones, I did love this scene. And it wasn’t just Luke Perry’s sincere delivery, it was the balancing out of Fred and Archie’s relationship. While Archie’s legacy speech was a bit on the flawed side, the messaging was still solid and the Andrews boys still represent a united front that doesn’t appear to exist anywhere else in town. This is of course after Fred tries to solve the problems he’s experiencing himself, and Archie walks into a biker bar. We’ve yet to see Mary Andrews but we know she’s coming (bring it on Molly Ringwald), so we’ll likely see that balanced father/son relationship shaken again very soon.

 

Skeet freakin Ulrich as Jughead’s dad is fast becoming one of my favourite characters. After we saw all his misgivings in the last episode, it was nice to see him find a bit of redemption here. His volunteering information to Jughead and Betty regarding Jason and then rounding up a crew to help out Fred proves that Mr. Jones isn’t all that bad of a guy. Well, except for him having Jason’s jacket, and that he uses teenagers to sell drugs, oh and he’s the leader of a violent biker gang, and that he has Joaquin (who I’m still saying is Jason’s murderer) cozy up to the delightful Kevin . . . so yeah, never mind, he’s a bad guy.

STORY FLAW ALERT! – Mr. Jones tells Hermione that it was likely Mr. Lodge who had people disrupt the construction site and beat up Moose. He blames it on Hermione getting frisky with Fred and someone ratted her out (Veronica, clearly Veronica) and that the incident was part of a jealous attack? On property he owns? Disrupting the building of his weird hipster community housing? Where he stands to make a lot of money? And didn’t Clifford Blossom all but admit to being the culprit in order to bleed the owner of the land dry? Something isn’t adding up there but maybe it’s all a bunch of red herrings. Or trout. Or whatever fish happens to be native to Riverdale.

 

This was a setup episode, inserted so we can get from here to there. The Jason story got moved along with Mr. Jones and Joaquin (the murderer) hiding the jacket. Polly moving in with the Addams family effectively destroys the ‘Stepford Family’ archetype that the Coopers had been trying to project. Fred and Mr. Jones getting the band back together means it’s being setup to be broken apart again later. And the looming threat of Mr. Lodge stretched its shadowy tendrils a little bit further.

Next week sees the return of Ethel (finally!), though it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting an answer to the burning question on everyone’s mind: Where is Hotdog?

 

Until next week . . .

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– Valerie was there, but . . . not really there? True, there wasn’t much room for development of Varchie? Valerchie? Archerie? (we’ll need to work on that) Hopefully we’ll be able to see more of that relationship over the coming weeks.

– Same goes for Bughead. Not the best way to start a relationship, amid a murder investigation and a crazy pregnant sister, though we’d still like to see some development happening here. And more than just ‘yeah, my Dad’s a biker’.

– Sheriff Keller – Absolutely terrible at his job. Fortunately for him, he appears to be the only law enforcement agent in all of Riverdale so he’s got great job security.

– Was anyone else hoping that Moose would lay some smack down on those two guys? I mean, c’mon, he’s Moose!

– Archie and Jughead’s ‘bro moment’ was underwhelmed by the lack of conflict. Archie got a little angry, Jughead got a little sad, and then all was well again.

– I kinda love how much Kevin loves the Lodges. From his awe over Veronica’s party invites to complementing Hermione’s shoes. Yeah he’s a walking gay stereotype, but he’s adorable.

The ‘Who Killed Jason Blossom?’ Suspect List – March 2017

This again? Yes, this again! There’s still a killer on the loose and with new evidence comes new suspects. And as we’re sadly without a new episode of Riverdale for a couple more weeks, now seems like the perfect time to take a look at the current list of likely (and unlikely) suspects.

**Spoilers Ahead! – If you’re not up to date on the latest episode of Riverdale, turn back now while you still can. You’ve been warned**

Here’s what we know:

  • Jason disappeared on July 4th but the autopsy revealed he was killed a week later.
  • There’s a generational feud going on between the Coopers and the Blossoms over maple syrup . . . that’s right, maple syrup.
  • Polly is preggers with Jason’s baby and, for reasons that are not entirely clear, they were going to run away together.
  • Jason’s hidden car was discovered and was found to contain drugs along with his jacket.
  • Jason’s jacket was spotted hanging in Mr. Jones’ closet.

So, Who Killed Jason Blossom? Let’s take a look at the suspects . . .

‘UNLIKELY SUSPECTS’ LIST

Jughead Jones – Although he was arrested ever so briefly, and his dad is the leader of some shady biker gang, Jughead is the most unlikely of suspects. However, he’s yet to provide an alibi for his whereabouts on July 4th. But let’s face it, he’s a main character, and a fan favourite. It’s not him.

Fred Andrews – Not a chance. Nicest guy in Riverdale. Not a murderer.

Archie Andrews – Main character of the entire show and he was far too busy nailing his music teacher on July 4th. Sadly, this also means Mrs. Grundy is also off the hook.

Veronica Lodge – Wasn’t even in town. She shouldn’t be on this list. But she’s awesome and worth mentioning.

Mr. Jones – Riverdale is full of twists and turns and Jason’s jacket hanging in Mr. Jones’ closet seems to be damning evidence. He’s a biker with a gang, he’s been arrested a number of times, and he looks a lot like Skeet Ulrich. However, it’s the jacket being in his closet that breaks the deal for me. It’s too obvious so it can’t be him.

Cheryl Blossom – It was a possibility early on but Cheryl went from being too obvious of a choice to being too broken to be a suspect. Jason was her only form of stability at home and with him gone, she’s likely to go crazier as time goes on. But for the time being, she’s off the list.

‘POSSIBLY A SUSPECT’ LIST

Betty Cooper – She’s almost off the list because she’s a main character . . . but then again, she has that weird disassociated dark side that we’ve yet to deal with. Could Jason have been killed by a blonde wearing a black wig, armed with a bottle of maple syrup?

Mr. & Mrs. Cooper – These guys fall under the ‘too obvious’ category even though they’re clearly slightly unhinged. They have the motive thanks to the family feud and Mr. Cooper was the one to destroy the murder wall in Sheriff Keller’s house but there’s too much evidence against them so it can’t be them. Can it?

Polly Cooper – I really didn’t think Polly even existed but it turns out she’s real and pregnant. Did she kill Jason and then lose her mind and get committed to the asylum, or is she truly the love of Jason’s life? If she’s the killer, what’s the motive? She stays on the list.

Kevin Keller – Kevin should be on the list because he’s simply not an obvious choice. I can’t think of any motive he would have to kill Jason but that’s just the sort of twist the writers of Riverdale would throw at us. I love his character though so I sincerely hope it isn’t him.

Granny Blossom – Sure, she’s in a wheelchair but she’s scary as all hell. Like crypt keeper scary. Yeah, it’s probably not her . . .

Mr. & Mrs. Blossom – They’re far too attached to their kids, and Jason seemed like he was the golden boy in that family so I can’t imagine it’s them, although Penelope gets points for being extra bat-s**t crazy.

Chuck Clayton – After Chuck was exposed as a slut shamer, there was a closing narrative that suggested there would be consequences in the weeks to come. Does this mean more will be revealed about Riverdale’s former football star? Maybe the revelation of a dark past? He stays on the list.

MY THEORY

It changes week to week but at the moment I feel Joaquin is the most likely killer. Who’s Joaquin? He’s the Southside Serpent that made out with Kevin at the drive-in! The Southside Serpents are clearly the bad guys of Riverdale and Kevin’s new love interest is perfectly positioned to plant a jacket in a fellow gang-member’s closet. Being the love interest of the Sheriff’s son would also cause lots of drama if he was convicted and would cause conflict between Kevin and his father. My money’s on Joaquin . . .

Who do you think’s the most likely suspect?

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Episode 7

That 50’s style comic book opening scene with Jughead wearing his crown and Archie in the sweater with the bowtie was beautifully shot, iconically accurate, and all sorts of creepy. This is something that Riverdale does well, I’ve seen it since episode one and they’ve managed to maintain it almost every single week so far: they commit to the weekly theme and they hit it hard right on the offset. Sure, they’ve only got 42(ish) minutes to work with so there’s no time to beat around the bush, but major props have to go to the producers, writers, and showrunners for consistently hitting the right notes in what’s become an almost perfect symphony of characters and story arcs. This week’s themes of ‘home’ and ‘hope’ are driven like a knife through Archie’s back during that opening sequence that narratively asks the question as to what a home truly is. We’ve seen so many different homes in Riverdale already, it’s easy to see why that particular theme probably gets revisited more than most but it was especially poignant this week with Jughead’s story. So let’s get to it . . .

I feel Archie redeemed himself a little this week after last week’s severe dip in his collective IQ. While he doesn’t shine through as being incredibly intuitive (he managed to ignore the fact that Jughead was homeless for how long?) he grabs some major points for having a heart of gold. He feels bad that he wasn’t there for Betty during her time of need and he fights to help Jughead by arranging for Mr. Jones to go back to work even though he doesn’t even have the full back story yet, he just wants to help his hurting friend. His dedication as a friend despite differences or awkwardness actually gave him a few moments to shine. Yes, he’s completely overshadowed by everyone else on the show but I still feel he gained a little ground this week.

After Polly’s magical escape from the mental institution, she sneaks (like a ninja) into her parent’s attic only to be found by Betty. All the characters in Riverdale have such strong personalities and stories, I’m having a little trouble getting behind Polly though. While she’s obviously not the ‘party girl’ that the Blossoms paint her to be, there’s something not quite right about that girl, and her continuing to cling to wanting to go live on a farm somewhere just doesn’t seem grounded in reality.

Either way, Betty helps her, first by appealing to the Blossoms via Cheryl, and then by Veronica’s intervention to move her into the Lodge residence. The Blossoms once again reiterated that they’re the big, evil, rich family of Riverdale by pulling a Rumpelstiltskin. They want Jason’s baby but they couldn’t care less about Polly, and I can’t completely blame them for that because we really haven’t been given enough reason to sympathize with Polly just yet. The Blossoms want the baby, but Cheryl, in an off-character moment of morality, wants what’s best for Jason’s unborn child and turns on her own family to place Polly in a safe place. This is sure to cause even more conflict in the Blossom household but it looks like Cheryl is beginning to hold her own against her deranged mother, which is nice to see.

We should get this out of the way before I get into this next story point. I love Veronica. Not the character as such, but more Camila Mendes’ portrayal is just so spot on that it’s scary. Which is why this one is tough to write about because her grandiose sweeping gestures and on-point wordplay has been stunning so far. But this week our dear Ronnie headed into some cliche-ridden waters and it was a shame because the character deserves better. Veronica holds a grudge against her mother for forging her signature, not because it was wrong, funnily enough, but because it would paint her in a negative light with her father (daddy issues much?). She proceeds to head out for a night on the town (Riverdale has a nightclub? And a busy one? On a school night?) with Kevin, Reggie, and Josie in order to defy her mother into negotiating with her. It feels like a classic rich girl move and that is too much of a departure from what we’ve come to know about Veronica. While it represents her past life, it’s a life she’s determined to leave behind but goes ahead with it anyway. In the end, all it boils down to is a quick convo with her mother, and all is well again in the Lodge household. Although it will be interesting to see how Mr. Lodge reacts to Hermione’s deception.

Hats (and paper crowns) off to Skeet Ulrich for almost completely dominating the performance side of this episode of Riverdale. I say ‘almost’ because Jughead is the one that steals the show and delivers the feels. Jughead has pulled a Harry Potter and now lives under the stairs at school. We learn the reason why is because his Dad is somewhat of a deadbeat and his Mom and sister have left town. Father/son stuff always rips my heart a new one so I fully felt the story this week. Jughead wants his Dad to get his act together and he’s holding onto hope that it can actually happen and that it will eventually lead to a happy home, in one form or another. After Archie and Jughead get FP his job back, it all seems to be going well, until they head out for dinner and old demons join them at the table at Pops. We learn the backstory of Fred and FP’s friendship, their doomed partnership, and the clear signs that they hold each other responsible. I think Fred comes out on top here as FP obviously has some issues when it comes to making the right decisions above his own self interests, but they’re both a little at fault and I was shocked that Archie actually cut through the crap and addressed the issue with his Dad. Sure, FP was bad for business but did Fred ever consider what it would mean for Jughead’s family? In true Fred Andrews fashion, he quickly redeems himself by inventing an alibi for Jughead to help prove he’s not the murderer.

Jughead getting taken downtown and questioned was a bit of a leap for Sheriff Keller but I think he’s really grasping at straws at this point. The killer is in town, we’ve already met him, but no one knows who it is. There were a lot of great scenes between Jughead and his Dad but their relationship, and the weekly themes, are driven home by the confrontation behind the police station. We can truly believe that FP wants to clean up his act and wants Jughead to be proud of him, but he lacks the motivation and willpower to do it and prefers to continually blame others for his actions. Jughead on the other hand clings on to hope that his Dad can turn his life around and rebuild their home as a family, but it was clear in that scene that Jughead doesn’t truly believe it to be possible and, furthermore, his Dad knows it too. Which is why Jughead moves into the Andrews household and FP willingly lets him go.

This week’s cliffhanger piece is the sight of Jason’s jacket hanging in Mr. Jones’ closet. We last saw that jacket in the hidden car last week so it could be that Mr. Jones torched the car, Jason had multiple jackets, or someone else fired up the vehicle and then planted the jackets in Mr. Jones’ trailer <insert dramatic music here>. Mr. Jones is too obvious to be the killer so we can scratch him off the list. (As my Polly/Betty multiple personality theory got shot all to hell, I have a new one . . .  which I’ll share before next week’s episode. Stay tuned!)

What is a happy home in Riverdale? It almost doesn’t exist because every household is so rife with drama and problems that it seems impossible. But this episode was all about hope for a happy home and we can only assume that our dear characters will find exactly that, in one form or another. Even if it’s just an air mattress on a friend’s floor. Just hopefully not anytime too soon because the drama on this show is just so much wicked freakin fun!

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– Polly jumped out of a window and, despite there being blood on the glass, she survives completely unscathed. I think it’s safe to say that Polly is a mutant/immortal/vampire or something to that effect.

– The Cooper’s attic is the place scary things go to die. What’s with those freakin dolls?!

– The Betty/Jughead (Bughead as the kids are calling it online) is still pushed to the back of the bus again this week. Juggie putting his arm around Betty causing Archie and Ronnie to address the gesture brought some of it to the surface but it’s still not sitting at the forefront of the story. Understandable though as there’s a ton of other stuff going on.

– The Team Blossom hunting crew has actual hunting dogs. Dogs are well known to be very useful when tracking pregnant teenagers.

– I’m seriously looking forward to when we get to see Mr. Lodge in the flesh. It has to happen. We all know it!

– Mr. Blossom’s wig disturbs me more and more every single week.

– Alice Cooper continues to be evil. Not Penelope Blossom evil. But evil. Press conference outside the church? What? Why? Worst mother of the year award goes to . . .

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Episode 6

Parental dysfunction was alive and well in this week’s episode. Add to that a healthy dose of fear, performance anxiety, adults pushing their insecurities onto their kids, and teen pregnancy,        well . . . it’s just another week in Riverdale.

Right off the bat I’m going to have to admit defeat. I was wrong about the split personality theory and I’m fairly certain that Polly is no longer just a figment of Betty’s imagination. We got to meet Polly, it finally happened. After an awkward breakfast and an over-emphasis of the word ‘Jughead’ with Mrs. Cooper, Betty and Jug succeed in discovering the location of Polly. She’s sitting uncomfortably at The Sisters of Quiet Mercy: Home For Troubled Youth (beautifully shot at the abandoned Crease Clinic at Riverview Mental Hospital in Coquitlam BC. How do I know this? Because I shot a short film there a decade ago on the heels of Ashton Kutcher’s ‘The Butterfly Effect’).

Polly is all you’d expect: blonde, beautiful, pregnant . . . wait, what? Yes, pregnant! Score a point for teen angsty drama goodness. So Polly isn’t crazy, or is she? It’s actually unclear but the show finally revealing Polly in all her glory gives an interesting amount of validity to the pure evil of the Cooper parents. Polly was going to run away with a redhead. Not exactly grounds for committing someone to an asylum. I should know, I’m married to a redhead. The scene in Betty’s bedroom when Mrs. Cooper busts out her best evil laugh is chilling and I was half expecting a ‘yeah, I killed him, what of it!?’ moment but it didn’t happen. However, I think the Cooper parents are still off the hook because they’re too obvious to be the killers.

Polly’s pregnancy reveal and admittance that her and Jason were going to run away is all great fodder for the continuing ‘who killed Jason’ storyline though it opens up questions that the show has yet to answer. The biggest one being, how did Betty not know? How did she not know that Jason was the love of her sister’s life, that they were engaged, that he knocked her up? Betty seems to be among the more savvy of the characters on the show and yet she seems oblivious to anything that happened before July 4th. Either way, her jaunt with Jughead and their discovery of Jason’s car, some drugs, and the consequent burning of said car moves along the season’s main story at a nice pace. The complete glossing over of Jughead and Betty’s kiss though . . . it was a lovely moment that was ruined by Betty’s investigative mind kicking into overdrive. Will they end up as a couple? I guess this version of Jughead doesn’t hate girls? He sure loves pancakes though.

The final shocker this week is Polly’s escape from The Sisters of Quiet Mercy. A smashed window, blood on the glass, and somewhere out there is a pregnant blonde running to . . . who the hell knows where?

Archie finally got to stand in the lime light this week though he did so with a quickly diminishing IQ and I have to wonder how he has any friends at all. Archie’s not stupid, but he lacks a certain amount of empathy and . . . okay fine, he’s kinda stupid. Which is a legitimate throwback to the original comics where Archie really wasn’t ever the sharpest tool in the shed. This week he stood at the centre of controversy with Valerie quitting the Pussycats only to be replaced by a jilted Veronica after she takes her misplaced anger out on Archie. Misplaced? Maybe not the right word. Archie did happily accept Ronnie as his co-star and then ditched her like a slutty music teacher ditches town after she’s discovered to be, well, a slutty music teacher.

“I was born alone. I’ll die alone. I’ll sing alone.” What?! I’m not even sure I fully understand what that means. No one is born alone, we literally come out of another human being. We may die along but that’s not something you’re going to discover for a while. All in all, a pretty dumb statement. Add to that his dismissal of Veronica’s feelings, his uncertainty that Mr. Lodge is in prison, his failed attempts at interesting conversation at that awkward-as-hell dinner at the Lodges . . .  let’s just agree that Archie isn’t playing guitar with a full set of strings and leave it at that. He manages to pull it all together to perform in front of the school, followed by another throwaway kiss between him and Valerie. At least he got to be more interesting this week.

Speaking of kisses, I don’t understand Veronica fighting with her mother over the makeout session with Fred Andrews (workplace sexual harassment much?). Mr. Lodge has already proved to be ethically unhinged, so is Hermione locking tongues with a genuinely nice guy all that big of a deal? Veronica’s anger seems misplaced and Hermione completely fails to placate her daughter and instead decides to piss her off further by arranging for Fred Andrews to win the construction project his company so badly needs.

And while we’re on the subject of Fred, there really isn’t a nicer guy in Riverdale. From him awkwardly telling Archie that he has a thing for Hermione, to his support of his employees to the point where he’s almost bankrupt. Yes he’s almost as oblivious as his son, but he’s still the nicest guy around. Raise your hand if you wouldn’t date him. See, not one hand.

And finally, we got to see a pure example of the standard Riverdale parent-child relationship in for the form of Josie and her dad, Miles. The reason Josie is so bitchy is because her dad is in town and she places a lot of weight on his opinion of her. This is not only a teenage cliche, it’s also a straight up truth. Most kids want to live up to their parent’s expectations. It’s the level of those expectations that can often ruin a young teen’s life, and that’s what we’re watching happen with Josie. Miles expects far too much of his daughter and it bleeds all over the dinner table at the Lodges, right on through to the concert, and ends with Josie crying in a bathroom.

Expectations run high in Riverdale. Mrs. Cooper expects Betty to not be crazy (or maybe she fully expects her to actually be crazy, it’s honestly hard to tell.) Hermione expects Veronica to accept her and her father’s actions no matter how ethically and morally bent. Penelope Blossom expects Cheryl (curiously absent this week) to be the perfect daughter but will never compare to her brother. Fred expects Archie to not nail anymore of his teachers (low expectations on that one).

And me, I expect Riverdale will keep getting better and better.

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– “The last guy I fired, it didn’t work out so well.” – Referring to Jughead’s father I assume. No serpents this episode, hoping they’ll slither back next week.

– Is it just me or is Archie’s music, well, kinda terrible. Not ‘I’d rather be torn apart by wild badgers’ terrible, but definitely in the realm of ‘I really, really want to go full John Belushi in Animal House on that guitar.’

– The werewolf masks! Imagine how elated I, an author of teenage fiction centred around a werewolf, was when they kept flashing to people wearing werewolf masks! Let me tell you, I was pretty happy.

– Classic teen movie/tv show slow motion walk down the hallway scene. Gold.

Riverdale Recap and Review – Season 1 – Episode 5

RIVERDALE – Chapter Five: Heart of Darkness

I had a real blonde (Betty) moment today when I suddenly realized that all the titles of the Riverdale episodes are named after movies. I went to film school! How did I not catch that?! But enough

about me and my shortcomings. We have another episode of Riverdale to rip to shreds and it’s full of gothic goodness!

This episode served to give us a proper introduction to the Blossom family. Other than Mrs. Blossom bitch-slapping Betty’s mom a couple of episodes ago, most of our experience with what is clearly a very well-adjusted family (of psychopaths) has been through Cheryl. But they’re so much more than we expected! Not only do they live in a creepy mansion on the edge of town, but they’re all evil and crazy. And that grandmother (shudder) . . . what is with Granny Blossom?! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at the other main stories first.

I fully understand that Archie is our main character but the show is truly an ensemble with no actual clear protagonist and it’ll be impossible for every story to have the same impact. For me, Archie’s story is getting a little buried under all the death, drama, and scandals. However, it’s no less heartwarming as our fave teen deals with the dilemma of football vs. music. Veronica points out that we are now living in a PG world – Post Grundy. The shockwaves felt by Grundy’s departure are all purely living inside Archie’s head, and he has a hard time coming to terms with who he is and what he wants to do now that his muse has driven off into the sunset, likely to prey on some other unsuspecting teenagers.

Enter Valerie and we have a new female looking to set Archie on a particular path. That’s right, Archie has moved from a cougar to a pussycat (**that was low hanging fruit and I apologize).

Even in the source material, Archie is a character of choices and balance. Betty and Veronica, Jughead and Reggie, Football and Music . . . he exists in a constant state of decision-making. It was refreshing, and reassuring to see his final decision in this episode to give the captain position over to Reggie. Archie truly is a good guy who really doesn’t want to hurt anyone. That kind of nobility is endearing. And in short supply when it comes to the town of Riverdale.

This is more nitpicky, but the acting in this show is pretty solid across the board with a few people truly shining (Archie’s Dad, Veronica, Jughead) so when someone is missing the mark entirely, it stands out like a dead Jason Blossom interrupting a gay rendezvous. Oscar the college music mentor is the aforementioned metaphorical floating corpse in this episode. His performance was exceptionally wooden and I found the scenes a little jarring. But I digress . . .

Jughead and Betty are in full investigation mode this episode, seeking to hunt down Jason’s killer. I’m disheartened to have to let go of my Betty/Polly split personality theory but it appears the show has proven me wrong. While we haven’t actually seen Polly yet – but wait, what about the home video of Polly as a kid? – You mean the little blonde girl? – Yeah, that one – That could have just as easily been a young Betty! Okay, so I’m having trouble letting go of the theory. Maybe Betty and Polly aren’t the same person. Maybe Betty is just forming a Polly ‘personality’ to let out her dark side ala Norman Bates? But why can’t Betty see Polly? Why did Mr. Cooper lie about Polly attempting to kill herself when she was really engaged to Jason? It still doesn’t add up. And that brings us to what was possibly my favourite scene this week: Enter Granny Blossom!

This woman was creepy on a number of levels. Thornhill is already one disembodied hand away from being the Addams Family Mansion as it is! Granny Blossom acts in an expository fashion to reveal two things: 1) Jason and Polly were engaged. 2) Betty and Polly look identical. Maybe because they’re the same person!? (Okay, okay, I’ll let it go) Jughead’s reaction to the old lady rolling out of the darkness (“The horror, the horror!) was beautiful and provided one of the few comedic relief moments of what was otherwise a dark, mist-clad, episode.

Penelope Blossom makes Betty’s mom look like a girl scout leader. From the highly uncomfortable dinner party, to her verbally ripping Cheryl a new one, and her ulterior motive of using her son’s funeral to bring all the murder suspects into one place is downright chilling. Jughead referring to Cheryl as a Gothic Heroine is well-placed because that’s exactly what she becomes in this episode and it’s not just the creepy setting of Thornhill that cements the title for her. Cheryl has her own demons, as revealed by her eulogy, and suffers at the hands of her demented family, and all of a sudden her entire character makes perfect sense. Sadly it means we have to remove her from the list of murder suspects because it now truly makes no good logical sense that she’d have killed her brother who was clearly the only good thing in her world.

Veronica is finding a place for herself as the town’s do-gooder and while her witty banter and perfect pun delivery is on point, she truly carved out her role as ‘supportive friend’ this week. Normally she plays off of Betty but this time around she becomes Cheryl’s shoulder to cry on and, albeit briefly, a bit of a compass for Archie. It’s her interactions with Cheryl and her ability to relate to the misunderstood rich girl that drives the story forward as the remaining Blossom twin struggles to find the best way to say goodbye to the dearly departed. For someone who is supposed to be shallow, Ronnie constantly shows shades of being the bigger person and it’s an interesting tact for the show’s writers to take. Eventually we’re going to see evil Veronica and I expect it’ll be both spellbinding and devastating.

This was a great gothic episode that highlighted an even darker side of Riverdale and its nefarious maple syrup drenched murderous past. And now I have a craving for pancakes . . .

STRAY THOUGHTS OF AWESOMENESS . . .

– Snakes in a Box! Someone call Samuel L Jackson. Scratch that, call Fred Andrews. Know why? Because he continually crushes it on every level.As both a father and a friend, Mr. Andrews represents something noble and hardworking in a town of misfits, thieves, and murderers. And it looks like Hermione is beginning to notice.

– Blood feud and Maple Syrup – Grandfather Blossom killed Grandfather Cooper. One of the few times anyone has been murdered over sticky sugar. Again, someone bring me pancakes. Now!

– “Yeah, KJ, listen, we’re going to need at least one scene per week where you don’t wear a shirt.”

– Zombie Jason!