Okay, Riverdale has not outgrown its need for a serial mystery.
Despite getting the sense that the show was ready to drop the season-long thriller, last night’s episode introduced us to a Voyeur with an Andy Warhol sensibility. So far, all they have done is tape the houses of prominent Riverdale citizens and send copies of the footage — on VHS no less! — to the victims. It’s definitely an unsettling idea. And as Jughead (Cole Sporuse) pointed out, the use of antiquated video cassettes means something to the perp. And even though tapes continued to be sent to homes throughout September and October, the townsfolk still decided to celebrate Halloween.
In this, the show deployed one of its strongest narrative devices: the disconnected anthology of stories. Betty (Lili Reinhart) faced a prank caller with a fondness for When A Stranger Calls, Jughead found himself the protagonist in a boarding school hazing version of The Cask of Amontillado, Archie (KJ Apa) continued his superhero origin, Mr. Honey (Kerr Smith) established himself as a creep, Veronica (Camila Mendes) fed a serial killer, and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) took on a Blossom version of The Conjuring.
This last one was the most absurd as it asks the audience to believe Toni would be as understanding as she is about Cheryl’s (Madelaine Petsch) fascination with Jason’s corpse. Sure, that became the point of the story as it became clear Cheryl is both gaslighting and manipulating her into letting the body stay in the basement, but one would thing this is the thing Toni would not abide. Then again, they make a great Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, so maybe a constant horror movie trope is the price one pays for love.
Additionally, we hope the notion of Julian Blossom — a third child Cheryl absorbed in the womb — continues to be a thing. It’s perfectly twisted and a wonderful addition to Nana Rose’s (Barbara Wallace) collection of weirdness.
In the Betty storyline, we enjoyed her dressing up as Laurie Strode, the prank caller, and Jellybean’s (Trinity Likins) bloody fake-out. But the story also imparted some clues about the Voyeur — that call to Shady Pines was way too convenient — and gave us a prime suspect in the Voyeur case: Charles Smith (Wyatt Nash). Betty and Jug’s half-brother straight up mentions a desire to be part of a regular family. He also has surveillance equipment on hand as part of his trade. Additionally, that Junior FBI program is so silly that he has to be making it up just to keep eyes on Betty.
At the same time, Mr. Honey’s knowledge of Reggie (Charles Melton) and Kevin (Casey Cott) suggests he likes to watch as well. And Smith gives him such a creepy vibe that something has to be loose in his soul.
Then again, Charles and Mr. Honey are obvious possibilities. If the Voyeur continues to be the show’s running threat, it may be helpful to watch them as both red herrings and suspects. So let’s ponder their culpability as we watch a preview of next week’s show. The “serial killer gene” comes back into play as Charles starts to undermine Betty’s confidence. Is it all part of his plan to supplant her place in the Jones-Cooper household?
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.