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.