We come at long last to the final Five Thoughts on Riverdale… written by me. That’s right, I’m going to be catching the last bus out of town like Joaquim did and going to be stepping down as the weekly reviewer. And I suppose it’s fitting that I’m leaving on an episode that has Riverdale at its bests and worsts.
0. The Name
Being that we are a comics website and all that, it’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the title of this week’s episode is also the same as the Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie hit “The Wicked + The Divine.” And there are some similarities: while there isn’t any overt supernatural elements in Riverdale, they are both young adult series, dealing to a degree with the loss of innocence. Also, both casts are filled to the brim with people who are assholes. You love it!.
1. Don Lodge
So, there is no more ambiguity here. Hiram Lodge is a crime boss. They’re not beating around the bush with it anymore. It’s not just what is said, but also the visual references and tropes. You have a small-town kid falling into crime in Archie (albeit with the somewhat twist of him working for the Feds already) and it includes a visual shout-out to Goodfellas with Archie running Hiram’s errands around town. And fair credit to where it’s due: Mark Consuelos and KJ Apa do have a good rappaport together, and that does protect from some flaws, like Archie being closer to Fredo than he ever will be Michael, but Hiram still seeing potential in him.
2. Veronica the Mob Princess
With Riverdale dropping the ambiguity about Hiram Lodge, this does bring into question something: How the hell did Veronica not know about her parents? Like, I’m watching this scene with Veronica and the Mob Wives of the Lodge Family (including her abuelita, who was great in this episode) and I recall back at the beginning of this season and last season of how she felt very in the dark about her parents business and just seeing how utterly-butterly blatant it is that Hiram is a crime boss and how allegedly intelligent she is that it feels very off.
3. A Snake Amongst the Serpents
Meanwhile, over in Serpent Territory, we have Jughead and the return of a big problem: Penny Peabody is brought in by Tall Boy after Jughead and a bunch of the younger Serpents excommunicated her via tattoo flaying and she and FP are not happy about this. As the Serpents debate cutting Jughead out of the gang entirely, Jughead and Betty are in search of the head of the General Pickens statue that Mayor McCoy and the police are using to further persecute the Serpents.
This whole plotline not only serves to tie back to Hiram Lodge, but it also drove something home for me: I’m ready for Jughead to leave the Serpents. I feel like it is really run its course and it piggybacks on what I said last week: he is so desperate to be part of them and it’s so obvious he isn’t one of them and I was hoping this would be the moment that he could be removed and perhaps develop him a bit more. But it did not happen and it’s really disappointing that a character I liked in the first season has become so unbearable now.
4. I Vomit a Bit
Sooooo…the stuff with Chic and Betty with the webcam stuff. As I said last week, (via Broken Matt Hardy-isms) that I was hoping this show wouldn’t go there with this plotline. To it’s credit, it doesn’t go anywhere near as far as when Betty, the high schooler remember, did I striptease some episodes back, but it does very lightly push into that camgirl plot and I keep thinking to myself: WHY?! Why did we have to do this? What is the point of this? You can’t even say it’s to develop Betty or her relationship with Chic because neither of those happen (her and Chic barely have a scene in this episode). Listen, I’m not some prude who thinks teens don’t get it on. Obviously not. But on top of the aforementioned striptease and last season with Archie and the freakin ephebophile, this show really needs to get to fuck with some of this stuff. It wants to be Twin Peaks but no CW show could do any of this stuff with the tact it requires and it really shouldn’t be trying to do these plots.Continued below
5. Highs & Lows
So, if that little rant in the previous thoughts didn’t give it away, this episode left me with mixed feelings. Perhaps it’s appropriate that this episode was written by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa because it’s very demonstrative of the highs and lows of Riverdale itself. The taking of such a “wholesome” series like “Archie” and injecting some darker twists like the Lodge Crime Family while also being campy and wearing its influences on its sleeve. However, it also doesn’t have the… well… intelligence to pull off some of the more sticky tropes it wants to play with.