Welcome back all you Riverdale fans. As you’ll no doubt have heard, Ken had to take a couple weeks off this show so I’ll be filling in for him on the weird and wonderful world of Riverdale. Last week ended on a murder, so let’s see if Riverdale can keep up the trend. As always, some spoilers are ahead.
1. One true death
If you had told me that a comic book property would kill off a whole bunch of named characters, I would have look at you with mild skepticism. Going into this episode, however, I was ready to change my tune but Riverdale has, unfortunately, not alleviated that skepticism. Of the four characters who’ve been attacked and teased to have been killed off via cliffhangers, only one is demonstrably dead.
However, for the story Riverdale is telling, this doesn’t matter so much. The terror comes from the fact that anyone can be attacked, at anytime, anywhere and that, as soon as you’re alone (even if being alone is two people being alone together), you are a target.
Fred Andrews was only saved because Archie was there to get him to the hospital, Midge only escapes unharmed because of Moose and Moose only survived because Kevin happened to be there. Grundy died because she was alone and, while it does make the threat of death less potent, it reinforces a central theme of this episode – that being alone can be deadly.
2. The Lodge Family Ambition
Oh my goodness, the Lodge family just keeps getting more and more devious. It’s a viper’s nest and watching Archie get sucked into this world (unwittingly led into it by Veronica) is painful in the best of ways. We can see the machinations of Hiram throughout the whole episode and while his end game is still unclear, he’s so deliciously conniving that it doesn’t matter, we know it’s going to lead to something farther down the line.
There were a lot of great scenes with the Lodge’s this week and watching these three play off each other, trying to out manipulate the others in the room, makes for a tense watch. Will Hiram out-manipulate Hermione and Veronica or can one of them undermine him? (Spoiler-alert: he always wins…for now). It’s such an interesting dynamic that we didn’t get to see so much during the first season as we didn’t have the charismatic con-man who seems to be leagues above everyone else.
It’s unfortunate that Hermione isn’t being given as much to do now that Hiram is here but I think that it is building to something as well. She doesn’t seem like the type of character to suffer under the thumb of this man now that she’s tasted freedom. She’ll start plotting something like Veronica seems to be doing now.
Also, Hiram keeping a portrait of Veronica in his study but not allowing her in is twisted, showing his need to domineer over everyone in his life.
3. Kevin’s development
Kevin has taken a bit of a backseat this season, owing a lot to the focus on Jughead, Archie, and Veronica but now we get to see him again and in a much more prominent role. The main sub-plot of this episode is on Kevin’s late-night attempts to find someone to hook up with in the woods. It sounds simple but, considering Kevin’s first season role as borderline stereotypical gay best friend trope, seeing him have his own troubles and seeing more of how he has to live makes for some effective drama.
We saw a lot of Kevin through the eyes of Betty and now we’re confronting that. We’re confronting the realties that Kevin has to deal with on a daily basis and the fears he has and the decisions he has to make because of what the town is. It’s not as much as we could have gotten so I hope we get more of Kevin in the future.
4. The Wave….I mean, The Red Circle, rises
Archie, what are you doing?! Don’t start up a vigilante squad! That’s how we get some of the worst parts of world history. I was getting some serious The Wave flashbacks. For those who haven’t read or seen it, The Wave was a novel about a teacher starting a club called The Wave, which was a school police force, to explain how it was possible for normal, “good” people to join the Nazis during the party’s reign.Continued below
I hope this does not go that far but it could. Either way, we will be getting a militant Archie and the fallout from that will be devastating. Archie will not be the same and neither will his friends or family.
Riverdale continues to use its properties in this show in the strangest of ways so seeing a title from their failed superhero imprint return as the inspiration for this militant squad in addition to the Black Mask being a straight up villain (as far as we know) instead of some drugged up vigilante, as in the Sienkiewicz series, is odd. And here we thought that the afterlife was coming for Archie.
5. Sneaky, Sneaky Cheryl
I wish, oh how I wish, I could have said that the Cheryl plot this week was beautifully executed. Don’t get me wrong, it was great, but it could have been so much better. We are first shown Cheryl as she’s walking in the background behind Betty and Kevin as they talk. She’s kept out of focus and while she’s obviously framed, she’s obscured enough that you might not catch her or you might just write it off as populating the world.
Then she’s gone and the scene continues. Right before the end of the scene, she walks back into frame, fully in focus, heading off camera, in the opposite direction from where she was going before. Ok, fine, it would have been sneakier if she wasn’t returned to the shot but it raised enough questions that I was ok with it.
But then they had to ruin it by focusing on her each time she does her spy thing on Kevin. How much better would the confrontation scene have been if we had merely kept her in the background, no focus shots, don’t draw the audience’s attention to it but always have it in view so it could be puzzled together. Keep the audience guessing!
However, given what we got, I’m content. Cheryl is extra unsettling this season and could rival Hiram in the manipulation game and beat him in the unhinged game. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for her.
So, with that, the first of my two fill-in thoughts are over. Sorry that went a bit long. If you hop over to Supergirl, you’ll see I usually have a lot to say but what did you all think? Did I frame something in a way you don’t agree with? Did I miss something? Let us know in the comments and I will see you all next week for some more murder-y, teen drama goodness.