Last night’s Riverdale featured many choices that could be characterized as “deals with the Devil.” But whose soul is really on the line here?
As tensions continue to rise in town, one of its centerpieces — Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe — is threatened by closure as customers flee following the shooting of Fred Andrews. That’s intolerable to Berry Cooper. Jughead’s father F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) is facing 20 years in prison because of his involvement with Jason Blossom’s murder. That’s devastating to Jug, but also intolerable to Betty.
And speaking of intolerable situations, Veronica finds the dynamic at home with Hiram and Hermione to be — well, you know already. Thankfully, she has plenty to keep her out of the house, like trying to convince Archie to go to counseling and joining Betty’s crusade to save Pop’s.
Instead of counseling, though, Archie makes the first deal of the night, agreeing to buy chemical aids for his late-night vigils from Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton); who has been re-imagined as the school’s primary source for illicit substances. He offers Archie a number of different drugs to keep him alert, but it seems the town is hooked on something called Jingle-Jangle; a coke-like designer narcotic with qualities of an aphrodisiac. It’s notable that Reggie essentially alphas Archie out of walking into the counselor’s officer and into getting some Jingle-Jangle. Not that Archie ever takes it, mind. Reggie later delivers the drugs wearing his approximation of the killer’s black hood. Archie nearly strangles him and Reggie suggests a better deal for Archie’s anxiety: a gun.
The potential for violence continues to escalate with Jughead’s deal. One of the Serpents suggests he should go to a “snake handler” to help his father. As it turns out, this particular handler is a lawyer and a Serpent by the name of Penny Peabody. She suggests getting the Blossoms to forgive F.P. in open court for his role in the cover-up of Jason’s murder. In fact, that’s all she suggests. She also refuses payment from Jug, noting that she will one day ask for a favor. You don’t have to be a veteran TV or film watcher to know exactly what that means. Nevertheless, the threat there is only underscored when F.P. calls Jughead and warns him not to to talk to Penny again.
Yeah, that’s never a good sign.
But as in the first season, the soul most in danger from these deals is Betty. Just when it seems like Pop’s will close and F.P. will go to prison, Betty channels some of her mother’s wrath to convince Cheryl to help F.P. and bring the Riverdale Vixens to her “Save Pop’s” event. I have to admit Betty’s capacity for underhanded dealings is one of the more interesting things about this version of the character. Her intentions are always good, but her methods can be so questionable. Then again, her mother runs the town paper the exact same way. And while there are other deals with the Devil to be had in the episode — Pop Tate accepting the Lodge offer to buy the shoppe, Archie buying a gun from Dale Debner, Veronica giving her parents another chance — Betty is the only person dealing with a devil inside of herself.
I mean, Cheryl is also her own devil, but that’s really not the focus this week.
And while not dealing with a devil, we should talk about the Angel of Death — or the Black Hood as he calls himself in a preview of next week’s episode. While it seemed as though he was choosing targets related to Archie (leading me to believe Mary Andrews had hired someone to kill Fred and Ms. Grundy), his real motive may be more mysterious. His latest victims — Moose and Midge — recall one of the Zodiac slayings and have no connection to Archie except as fellow classmates. Then there’s that name. It’s a callback to the superhero character occasionally published by Archie Comics, but the shout out may also be a clue. If a character with the last name of Burland suddenly arrives in town, that person will be highly suspect.
But let’s ponder those things as we watch the preview and fear for Ethel.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.