Let’s Ponder Sweeteners And Gaslighting In Riverdale

by Erik Amaya

 

You have to love the Jingle Jangle at this point. Riverdale works so very hard to make it a thing. It makes sense why they’d create their own designer drug. It allows them to make statements like “it stays in your system for three days” and create something which has any narcotic effect the writing staff needs. It also makes the drug sort of harmless. You can play at Riverdale‘s style of corruption without being too pointed about a drug and face the serious implications of, say, heroin addiction.

But the show still finds ways to make serious, pointed comments in its teen soap universe. Example: Everyone gaslighting Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). The way her MOTHER, the Lodges and Nick St. Clair all deny what happened is textbook. Even Cheryl herself attempts to gaslight herself until confronted by Nick at Pop’s. Oh, and I forgot to mention Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens) dismissing the attempted assault because all the Riverdale High kids (except Betty) were on Jingle Jangle the night before. It’s all sickening, but it lead to, perhaps, the most successful Cheryl story on the show to date. Working toward discovering the identity of the Sugarman, she also comes to realize how alone she’s been at Thornhill. Her mother never had her back and a lot of Cheryl’s behavior makes sense in the context. And while her mother will undoubtedly disappoint her again, Cheryl grew as a character for once. All too often, she comes off as a prop to be villainous or victimized as the plot requires.

And then she becomes a prop again for the drag race.

There’s probably a deleted scene somewhere along the way, but her participation in Jughead’s Hail Mary play against the Ghoulies seemed so out of place in the context of her story. But considering how closely Betty, Veronica and Cheryl were working this week, there was probably a discussion between them.

Speaking of the drag race, it would seem Archie made a bad call alerting Sheriff Keller. The Ghoulies will be out on the streets in no time with a new target in the sights.  Beyond that, it’s interesting to note the way the race was presented, returning the show to something more innocent than it tries to be. Maybe a car crash would’ve built some character for Jug and Archie. Then again, it looked as though Jughead as the need for speed.

Also, there will never be enough Mechanic Betty for me. She’s my favorite new wrinkle in the Cooper Enigma.

Besides revealing her interest in cars (and fixing Reggie’s ride for the race), Betty also took a major step toward freeing herself from the Black Hood. She’s patched things up with Jug and Veronica — in a way that made last week’s drama a damp squib — and fought back during her last phone call with the killer. Betty Cooper, Teen Detective is one of the best aspects of the show and her bonafides seemingly put the fear in the Hood. She will find him.

It won’t be as cut and dry (and disappointing) as the Sugarman turning out to be Jughead’s English teacher at Southside High.

But let’s ponder these things as we take a look at a preview of the next episode. The show is taking a one-week break for the Thanksgiving holiday, but its return may be a major turning point for the Black Hood story. Oh, and maybe Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) will finally get something to do on this show.

And take a close look. The killer might be hiding in plain sight.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.

Erik Amaya

Host of Tread Perilously and a Film/TV Writer at Comicon.com and Rotten Tomatoes. A former staff writer at CBR and Bleeding Cool, and a contributing writer at Fanbase Press and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Voice of Puppet Tommy on The Room Responds. A seeker of the Seastone Chair and the owner of a Legion Flight Ring. Sorted into Gryffindor, which came as some surprise.