And so Jughead (Cole Sprouse) found himself pitted against the person he least suspected.
After weeks of devoting our Riverdale pondering to Archie (KJ Apa) and his, frankly, dumb decisions, the show finally remember Jughead is a more viable character with a lot of interesting material to explore. One such facet is his relationship to his mother Gladys (Gina Gershon). As Jug points out this week, the two have not had a conversation since she rolled back into town. She barked some orders to him, of course, but the sort of sit-down they had when he visited Toledo a few months back have been in short supply.
Of course, considering what Jughead learns about her later on means any sort of heart-to-heart will not be forthcoming.
The eventual confrontation between mother and son is set against the notion of the American Dream with the former Cooper house shoving the idea down the viewer’s throat. And, yeah, we get it. Betty’s house has always played up the Blue Velvet style allusion to rotten things at the core of white-picket-fenced homes and the traditional family unit. Curiously, the show began with only the Coopers representing this “stable” ideal. The Andrewses were already divorced. Gladys was long gone from the trailer park. Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) was in jail. Dilton Doiley’s dad was dead and the Blossoms were, well, the Blossoms. Then Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro) turned out to be the Black Hood and the house further curdled into the sickness of the American Dream. But with the Joneses moving in, we see the other great American ideal — criminality — infecting the north side of town. Granted, the criminal ambition has always been there with the Blossoms and the ugly history of Riverdale’s founding. Nevertheless, Gladys brings a new stripe of crime to the area even as she tries to sell the traditional American Dream as the very thing F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) always wanted.
And if the story was handled with a little more finesse, it would be really compelling. But this Riverdale and it must be as loud and silly as possible.
It seems Gladys, ultimately, does not care about Jughead. She makes no attempt to deny his accusation that she is taking over the Fizzle Rocks operation in town — even to spare his feelings. And that means they are on a collision course even if they both tacitly agree to keep their war away from F.P. But one wonders how long they can possibly leave him in the dark. He is the sheriff, after all.
Meanwhile, Archie seemingly dealt with the Red Paladin business by punching every single person who received a “Kill the Red Paladin” quest card from Hiram. But the game has a way of taking on a life of its own and we suspect Archie will not be free until the real Gargoyle King is revealed. Also, Hiram’s strange contriteness when talking to Archie left us wondering if he’s still working an angle or genuinely turning over a new leaf. Giving Arch the boxing gym could just be the latest play.
Also, we’re sad to see Toni (Vanessa Morgan) and Cheryl’s (Madelaine Petsch) relationship further disintegrate, but maybe Toni is correct and all they needed was a little more time apart. Cheryl is a Blossom after all and they can be a smothering sort of presence. But let’s ponder the couple’s prospects as we watch a preview of next week’s show. It’s finally time for the yearly musical, but it seems Kevin’s (Casey Cott) production of Heathers will lead to more people becoming Farmies. Will Cheryl be one of them?
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.