While Archie (KJ Apa) may still wonder if he really found the Black Hood, Riverdale‘s murder rate continues to climb. There’s Papa Poutine, there’s the Shady Man, there’s the victim at the motel Kevin (Casey Cott) was talking about. There’s always Jason Blossom and his father. Lots of bodies drop in this supposedly quaint, uneventful town.
Which is sort of the point of Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) preambles.
But with this week’s episode, that murderous tendencies of various Riverdale families came to the fore. Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) apparently shot the Shady Man when he accosted Chic (Hart Denton). Or maybe Chic shot him and Alice is covering? Either way, the incident revealed a couple of things to Betty (Lili Reinhart): Chic’s kind of a bad dude and Alice desperately wants to avoid the police. You have to wonder if her fear has something to do with her Southside past. Maybe she has two strikes against her? It is also possible that this is the darkness again. Notice how she was feeding Chic after she and Betty cleaned up the mess? That recurring image means something.
The darkness is also in Betty, but it seems to have taken a break this week as aiding the cover-up was not an easy thing for her. Like Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), there’s interesting layers to Betty. She’s a righteous reporter, a would be dominatrix, a sweet girl trying to right by her family and someone trying to figure out who the hell she is. In short, she’s a human being.
Which isn’t to say that Cheryl is a human being. She’s still caught in that V.C. Andrews novel despite trying to reach out with empathetic concern, as seen in this week’s episode. If the show ever gets to focus on it, there’s something interesting to be said for the “heroes” constantly swatting back at Cheryl’s attempts to be humane. Despite all the awful things she can do, this seems to be her real center. Hopefully someone will notice and nurture it before she tries to immolate her mother again.
Come to think of it, why does Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) think her thing with Hal (Lochlyn Munro) is real when she has no such allusions about the other men she entertains? Is there more secret history there? I’d love to see a Riverdale 1980s flashback with all the parents playing out familiar roles in an Aqua Net daze. But considering that Hal is part Blossom — and I think we can safely say Penelope is as well — the ick factor between Cheryl and Jason would present itself in that possible teenage courtship as well.
Finally, crime is the big theme here and it is represented best by the underhanded dealings of the Lodges. From Hermonie’s (Marisol Nichols) test of Archie’s resolve to Hiram (Mark Consuelos) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) lying to one another, they’re not just a family who commits crime — they are a crime family. Words like “capo” and “omerta” even entered the conversation. And while Veronica used the Lodge talents to minimize the damage for Sierra McCoy (Robin Givens) in convincing her to step down, it is clear her parents wanted to savor the character assassination they were planing for the now former mayor of Riverdale. Which makes me wonder if Hiram will use those weapons against Jughead now that his expose is a known element? As I mentioned last week, Hiram and Jug are the real opponents in this struggle and probably have been since the Drive-In was sold to Lodge Industries. But does that put Jughead’s life in jeopardy the closer he gets?
Then again, this is Riverdale. Despite all the corpses, it’s still a show where teenagers can easily schedule appointments with the mayor. And let’s ponder that clash of tones as we watch a preview of next month‘s episode. The show is going on a February hiatus and it appears everyone is putting their plots on hold for sex when the show returns. Also: Dark Betty introduces herself to Jughead.
Riverdale returns March 7th on The CW.