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 …