Let’s Ponder Teen Love Stories And Riverdale’s Vicious Circle

by Erik Amaya

 

It had to happen at some point. Riverdale is returning to The Triangle.

One of the show’s great strengths was kicking the classic Betty/Archie/Veronica tension to the curb in the first season. It gave the world a Betty and Jughead relationship it didn’t even know it needed and made a fairly strong case for Archie and Veronica. But teen love stories are not meant to last — and in the case of Archie and Veronica, that word is poison — so the show appears poised to finally address one of the oldest conflicts in the annuls of Archie Comics.

But will the show be able to do anything with it that’s innovative and interesting?

To be honest, the short Bughead breakup a few episodes ago muted the impact of it happening again. And while high school relationships have that on/off dynamic, the show does not exist in conventional reality. It’s a very heightened reality where high school kids are taken seriously by local police and often spearhead major investigations into crimes around town. Hell, Jughead’s attempt to create a peace between the Southside and the Northside tells you just how far into fantasy this show can be. But it’s clear the producers and writers of the program want this tension to play out in fans’ minds over the winter hiatus; or, at the very least, the next week. Bughead supporters are already livid while others voice their hope of seeing Betty and Archie together at last. Which, oddly enough, is very high school. So, I guess bravo to the show for finding a place where real high school drama and the travails of Riverdale can meet: with the spectators.

Of course, it could all be a huge fakeout with the pairings finding each other again after Betty faces the Black Hood. That investigation, spearheaded by Archie and Veronica this week, led to the revelations that Mr. Svenson, the school janitor, was a survivor of the Riverdale Reaper attack. It even put him in the suspect pool for a short time until he revealed that he identified the Reaper as a traveling preacher for a group of angry townsfolk. They quickly served mob justice upon the preacher and the town covered up Svenson’s involvement in the grisly affair.

It could just be a very convincing tale, but Archie positively eliminated Svenson as a suspect because his eyes are not those of the man he saw at Pop’s when this whole mess began. Nevertheless, there is still the possibility that the Black Hood is more than one person and a subsequent shot of Svenson eyeing an old photo suggests he knows more than he told the kids.

Meanwhile, you have to love the way history repeats itself. The show previously hinted at history between F.P. and Alice, but their past together is now text. It explains why Alice has always been so mean to Jughead and suggests that Betty and Jug could eventually find themselves as equally bitter as their parents. In fact, it echos the situation with the Riverdale Reaper and the Black Hood. Just, y’know, in a less lethal way. That said, there needs to be more opportunities for Alice to let loose. Her Southside persona is awesome. And it echoes Dark Betty.

Unfortunately, the lives of older Riverdale folk offer no insights into Cheryl’s recent turn into Crazytown or her unsettling obsession with Josie.

But let’s ponder these things as we watch a preview of next week’s mid-season finale. Bitter feelings are already taking root and it seems to be leading Archie and Betty to one another. And if you look closely, you’ll see the show quoting a Killer BOB moment from Twin Peaks.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.

Erik Amaya

Host of Tread Perilously and a Film/TV Writer at Comicon.com. A contributing writer at CBR, Fanbase Press, Monkeys Fighting Robots and Rotten Tomatoes. 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.