While the conclusion to this week’s Riverdale may not be as shocking as the end of last year’s musical episode, it certainly was chilling.
But before we get to the strange applause for Heathers: The Musical and the newest person to enter town, let’s discuss the very brief, but dramatic, break-up of Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan). As predicted, the issue came down to the way relationships were modeled at Thornhill. Cheryl grew up in a house of intense love and intense hate. Over the last few months, we’ve since that intense adoration smother Toni. And when she finally worked up the courage to say something about it, Cheryl switched poles to hatred instead of hearing her girlfriend’s issues and talking about it. As Kevin (Casey Cott) noted, this meant reverting to her H.B.I.C. persona and focusing much of her rage on Toni. It isn’t hard to imagine Cheryl seeing things like this growing up with Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) and Clifford (Barclay Hope) overtly warm and affectionate until an argument led to a few weeks of war between them. Presumably, they also raised their children in a similar manner; sweet one moment and brutal when the kids stepped out of line. When I talked to Boltt last year about life in Thornhill before Jason’s murder, she suggested there was a love there, but tempered by Penelope’s own experiences and background. Of course, this was before anyone knew she was brought to Thornhill as a child and groomed to be Clifford’s eventual wife. That sort of thing is only going to screw someone up.
And if we assume this has been the Blossom way for generations, then there is some hope in this story as Cheryl appears willing to break the cycle and Toni is willing to stick around and get Cheryl to talk about it. In the real world, it would be a heroic thing. On Riverdale, it’s Wednesday.
Meanwhile, it’s time to consider just how outclassed Betty (Lili Reinhart) is this year. While she normally has an a pretty good route to dealing with very bad men, what can she do when the bad guy is spread across hundreds of people all over town? The Farm has turned out to be a worthy adversary as an idea is much harder to stop than one terrible man. As evidence, we can look at her horrified realization that Principle Weatherbee (Peter Bryant) has been co-opted by The Farm. He’s never exactly been her ally, but he was always ready to look at the evidence and draw the correct conclusions. Now that he’s openly a Farmy, no amount of proof will sway him.
The situation leaves Betty with one choice: go after Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray) directly. If she can prove some criminality on his part, it may be enough to diffuse The Farm’s power over the townspeople swayed by its message. But then again, as Jughead (Cole Sprouse) has learned, ideas can outlive charismatic leaders. Of course, we’re going to assume Riverdale will tie this up in a bow and reveal Evernever as the Prime Gargoyle King responsible for Principle Featherhead’s death and the resurgence of Gryphons & Gargoyles in the last year. We’re even inclined to believe he was one of the Quiet Mercy kids who helped author the game in the first place.
Which brings us back to the curtain call. Edgar Evernever has finally made his first appearance in town. And with him, a lot of people openly admitted their Farm status by joining him in a slow clap and all-white clothing. The iconography has been there for months, but to see it spill forth from the sea of color in the auditorium was a great effect. It could only be improved by other named characters besides Weatherbee also revealing their status. Imagine the shock of seeing Penelope or Reggie’s (Charles Melton) dad standing up in the Farm’s non-color.
Come to think of it, where was Alice (Madchen Amick) in The Farm’s display of numbers? Let’s ponder her absence while we watch a preview of next week’s episode. Cheryl becomes The Farm’s next target — or are they her next conquest? — Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols) also finds herself targeted while Jughead and the Gargoyles tussle … but his mother really running the show?
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.