Five Thoughts on Riverdale‘s “Biblical”

By | June 27th, 2022
Posted in Television | % Comments

Welcome back all you Riverdale fans! Christians, secular or otherwise, in all seriousness I need to know: do y’all not know what the ten plagues are or are the residents of Riverdale just that oblivious? Because if there was a single Jew in this town, they would’ve clocked that shit from day one.

As always, spoilers ahead.

1. Cecil B. DeMille’s Riverdale

As the episode title, and my question above, suggests, “Biblical” centered around Riverdale being struck by a series of plagues caused by Percival in order to break the strike against his railroad. While it’s made obvious to the audience, I’m shocked no one picked up on the pattern when the river ran red like blood. Like, the flies and the frogs and the lice weren’t exactly subtle but you don’t miss an entire river running red AFTER all three and go “eh, I bet it’s a coincidence.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve heard the story a million times, and at least twice a year, but I would be a little more freaked out than the crew is considering what the final plague is. The second I saw the title I kept my eye on what they were doing with Baby Anthony. It turns out I didn’t need to worry – a good bait and switch, by the way – but oof, these people clearly haven’t internalized the plagues like I have.

One other weird gripe I have is that Betty, being the only one who researched this for some reason and who also brought in Revelation because of course the show would use that as the endgame, mentioned a few plagues that, uh, aren’t plagues. Earthquakes, fire from the sky, and one other I didn’t catch? I assume she’s just using the “signs” of Moses’ power as examples or extrapolating from midrash since, as we all know, according to Rabbi Jose the Galilean, they were hit by 50 plagues at the red sea (the hand of G-d vs just the finger) and according to Rabbi Akiva they were hit by 250 plague (for each plague was G-d’s wrath, anger, indignation, trouble and a band of evil angels)!

I’ll save you the exegesis and conclude with saying Betty was wrong, there were only three plagues left because the writers decided that Arov means flies and not “wild beasts” and they had not yet had locusts, hail or the death of the first born. Blood, Frogs, Lice, “Flies,” Pestilence (which they called corruption,) Boils, and Darkness had all happened. By the episode’s end, we got 9 of the plagues. Come on writers, give us some flaming hail at least!

2. Celebrate Good Times Come On

Amidst all these terrible plagues, there is some hope. Toni & Fangs’ wedding is going to happen and so the B-plot revolves around getting it ready. It’s…well, it’s an odd plot only because it feels kinda inconsequential? Because it’s so rushed, within universe too, there’s an airy feeling to the whole proceedings, not helped by it being squished into an episode with at least two or three other narratives happening at once. It’s also more of a vehicle for Veronica to rediscover herself after the slow isolation she’s been undergoing.

The ceremony is lovely, the rehearsal dinner is…weird and uncomfortable – great singing though, and the afterparty is fun while it lasts but rather than being a triumphant finger to the darkness that’s cut tragically short, it just kinda is. It’s an excuse to have Cheryl finally demonstrate her growth – which also manifests as looking much more demure than usual for some reason – and, again, for Veronica to figure out that she lives for her friends now. It’s just kinda killing time until the big drop at the end of the episode and while that’s not bad, it’s certainly not very interesting.

Kevin’s song from “The Wedding Singer: The Musical” was lots of fun though. My brother played that character!

3. The [Not Suitable for YouTube] of Babylon

I laughed so hard when they showed the illuminated bible and it said “The Harlot of Babylon.” I know it’s a minor, minor, minor thing, and not actually very funny, but I love when the verisimilitude of a show breaks, like with obvious product placement. Because this is Network TV, I don’t think they are allowed to say or show the word “whore,” which is traditionally what I’ve heard the phrase as. It feels more derogatory that way and “harlot” feels like a Ctrl+R from a thesaurus.

Continued below

Edit: I have been informed while writing that it could also simply be a translation choice, as some bibles have it one way and some the other. I still was distracted enough to forget that the TBK scene where that was last said was in Rivervale, hence Betty’s description of it as a vision. Whoops.

4. What Says the Weirdo Child?

Jughead seems like he’s on the verse of unlocking the secrets of the universe via his typewriter in his preppers bunker. I cannot believe that this is where we are with this series and I kinda love it? It’s so out there I am enthralled and need to know what’s coming next. Are his stories bringing Rivervale back to life? Is it giving them a chance to rest? Are they simply his brain’s way of working out his newly jammed open psychic powers? Who knows! It’s got my attention and I’m here for the ride.

Quick side note: The transitions in this episode were also top notch. Very fun, willing to get experimental, this might be one of my favorite episodes of the season presentationally because it feels like it’s taking risks.

Of the four visions Jughead has, I think I found the cheeseburger to be the most ominous and the funniest. When was the last time we saw Jug really chomp down on a burger? That’s an essential character trait! He can’t just forget that. Just like he can’t forget the doppleganger that showed up as he was dying of First Born-Itis.

If only it were narrator Jughead. Then he’d have been safe.

5. And The People Did Feast Upon The Lambs, And Sloths, And Carp, And Anchovies, And Orangutans, And Breakfast Cereals, And Fruit Bats, And Large Chulapas

This is why you line your doors with the blood of a goat during the 10 plagues people. You’d think a witch like Heather would know that. No wonder Percival escaped his stockades and all the first borns died.

Oh. Yeah. That happened. Riverdale, after being pretty mild on its cliffhangers this season, decided to go all in this week and killed off, like, 90% of its cast. At first, I thought only Nana Rose would bite the dust seeing as how she caught fire after Cheryl’s spell backfired but nope, she lived until Percival murdered her to kick off the plague of the first born.

Can I say: I’m not going to say it doesn’t feel deeply weird to have the plagues, which were a tool of rebellion from an oppressed people, used as a stand in for “evil shit” but I’m willing to read it as Percival co-opting their symbolism instead, which is truly heinous shit right there.

Anyway, yeah, as of right now, there are only a handful of characters left alive in Riverdale, including, somehow, Baby Anthony. Do we have any idea if this will stick? Nope! I kinda hope it does but I also know it won’t. Still, it’ll be fun to see how they get back them all back to life. Maybe season 7 will be the long awaited “Afterlife with Archie” season.

That about does it for now! What did you all think of the episode? Was it appropriately biblical for you? Let me know in the comments and let me know how excited you are for the next episode because SABRINA IS COMING BACK!!!!! Redeem yourselves for wasting her episode before Riverdale! Ahh, I can’t wait for next week.

Wait. What do you mean there’s a break and I have to wait two weeks for the THIRD time in a row?


Best Scene of the Night:

Percival talking to a locust on his hand while he’s in the stocks. It’s just…so charming.

//TAGS | Riverdale

Elias Rosner

Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. Co-host of Make Mine Multiversity, a Marvel podcast, after winning the no-prize from the former hosts, co-editor of The Webcomics Weekly, and writer of the Worthy column, he can be found on Twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his profile photo again.


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