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    Five Thoughts on Riverdale‘s “The Blackboard Jungle”

    By | January 18th, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    Welcome back. Did ya miss me? No? That’s fair enough. Did ya miss Riverdale? Cool. It’d be very weird if you didn’t and were reading these. Winter break is over and the Black Hood is dead. But not everything is going back to the way it was as the FBI come to Riverdale, the Southside Serpents transfer to Riverdale High and a new potential evil rears its head. Does all these and more provide for a succulent return? Hmmmm. Well, let’s see. . . .

    1. Quickly, Let’s Recap

    The first ten minutes of this episode is a rapid-fire of plots. The Southside High School has been closed down after the discovery of a drug lab in the basement, causing some of the students to come to Riverdale. This turns out to be a ploy by the Lodges, offering a large political contribution to Mayor McCoy to close the school in order to get to the land. Fred Andrews medical bills were paid off by the Lodges, who manage to get a share in the Andrews construction company. We have Veronica becoming more embedded in the more dastardly aspects of he family’s dealings. Oh, and Mrs. Blossom is a . . . hmmm . . . lady of the night as the show puts it to be able to afford the place her and Cheryl are in. This all happens incredibly quick. Show. Let me breathe.

    2. Integration

    The first of a great deal of plots deals with Jughead, Toni and a couple other Serpents coming to Riverdale High and the friction is causes. I say “friction” and by that I mean Riverdale is going to try and talk about gentrification, conformity, socio-economical class interaction, and gang/mob mentality. This doesn’t come as a surprise. This is something even the creators of the show said they were going to do before even the season began and felt nervous about back then. This really doesn’t do much to alleviate that.

    Like, you have Cheryl pretty much going Make Riverdale High Great Again with these kids and the continuing taunts from Reggie and the continuing demands from Principal Weatherby (it should be noted that really the main Serpent that gets the focus of the attention is Jughead), it really is done with the tact of a sledgehammer. It’s Jughead, the white kid, that is the least willing to go with this while the other Serpents kind of jumped quick to it for a time. Look, I can’t say I’m fully equipped to talk about these topics, but a show that is so over the top nonsense as Riverdale really isn’t either.

    3. Brother Cooper

    Another plot thread that saw some forward motion was for the third Cooper child. After Polly’s brief moment home, looking really well for someone who gave birth to twins (by the way, the twins names are Juniper and Dagwood. Jesus Christ, there is not enough twee in the damn world) to get some of her stuff before going back “to the farm.” It’s apparently some kind of convent or something. Trust me it’s very rapidly discussed. But anyways, the Cooper son. Betty manages to track him down. Charles, or “Chic” is not exactly pleased at first to see Betty or Alice, especially when he has a “client” coming for “fantasy fulfillment” (this show really seems to be into its sex workers), but an attempted assault on Chic brings him closer to the family and into the Cooper home. I won’t say much more because there is a spoiler for the end of the episode and to be fully honest, this is the weakest plotline right now because it is just starting and the ending provides some interest… but considering Chic’s occupation, this is a turn that is gonna be rife with problems.

    4. Archie Andrews: FBI Snitch

    So the Black Hood is gone (maybe, as Archie’s not so convinced) but there is the whole “Hiram Lodge most definitely has criminal connections” that brings Archie into an encounter with Special Agent Adams of the FBI who is investigating Lodge and asks for Archie’s assistance. In exchange for protection for his father, Archie agrees and they start with what happened with Nick St. Clair, chief Asshat McRapist and the “accident” that befell him and his parents. All of this seems to… easy. Not the Archie goes to pretty much interrogate Nick. The whole Special Agent side. This guy is too shady. A lot more is going on here and it’s going to be something to watch out for.

    Continued below

    5. A Good Return?

    If I’m being honest? I didn’t like this episode.

    It had a lot going on, as a mid-season premiere probably needs to do. And maybe it was the month we had off that has cooled me down a bit on Riverdale, but a lot of it felt cringey and what was once tropey camp is feeling stilted. Like I said, while I enjoy the show, I don’t really trust it to talk about major issues in ways they need to be treated. That cliffhanger with Chic leaves a lot to be desired and the FBI plotline does feel like a major driving force but not fully enough to give this episode a clear pass.

    So yeah. Not a great episode. Hopefully we’ll recover. Hopefully.

    //TAGS | Riverdale

    Ken Godberson III

    When he's not at his day job, Ken Godberson III is a guy that will not apologize for being born Post-Crisis. More of his word stuffs can be found on Twitter or Tumblr. Warning: He'll talk your ear off about why Impulse is the greatest superhero ever.


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