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Everything’s Riverdale: S2E8 House of the Devil

Love! Sex! Death! Car dealerships! Amateur porn!

Everything’s Riverdale!

(But hold the worm)

YOUR PALS

 

Margaret Howard believes that her father was driven mad by the mystery of the Devil’s House, dragging himself back there there “day and night for hours,” scratching and searching for that one clue that might yet make sense of it all.

Sheriff Howard returned to the Devil’s House every year. Every year. Day and night. Hours and hours. That one elusive detail forever out of his grasp.

Veronica finds it in exactly one minute and fifty-nine seconds. In the dark. Without her Sleuthing Cloak. She used counting.   

I am being unfair, of course. Sheriff Howard did know there was a third Conway child. It’s just that, unlike Veronica, he never thought to ask that child what happened.  

Sheriff Keller can rest easy, knowing that history will not remember him as Riverdale’s most useless lawman.

Portugal. The Man perform ‘Feel it Still’ over a scene in this episode. But which scene? Let me just look it up on the Riverdale Wiki. Ah. Here it is. “SCENE: Jughead narrates as Archie and Veronica have sex.

Jughead narrates as Archie and Veronica have sex. What a way to behave! Even if he is pledged to write every day, the subject matter was left open. This is a striking choice for him (How was the data even gathered?) and it’s a striking choice for the show, as to have a series of saucy scenes narrated by a third character, to make a third character dramatically present in those moments, is no small thing. Archie and Veronica having a lot of sex becomes nowhere near as interesting as why and what Jughead is thinking about Archie and Veronica having a lot of sex. What mystery is he trying to solve today?

Betty is not having a lot of sex. “PG-13 grope sessions” with Jughead, very possibly, but not a lot of sex. This, the episode makes abundantly clear, is very much on her mind. Kevin may have been spot on when he told her that she has the privilege of being free to explore her “BDSM sexuality” but such explorations are evidently not happening at her pace.    

Byrdie informs Betty that becoming “serpent adjacent” will involve a public display of sexuality.

Toni supposes that this will put her off.   

Children Waiting For The Day They Feel Good are evoked as Betty begins her verse. Archie and Veronica’s disastrous attempt at a duet, a shared romantic moment, has collapsed and Betty has taken to the stage to complete the song, get her kit off, and touch herself up a bit. Once again, a third party has been introduced into Archie and Veronica’s intimacy.

People run in circles. Betty is trying to work out how she stands in relation to sexuality; She knows she’s waiting to enter a sexual world and needing to know how she wants that world to work. Jughead is trying to work out how he stands in relation to sexuality; Does he want to enter a sexual world? Both are trying to solve their mysteries by juxtaposing themselves with Archie and Veronica’s straight, vanilla rumpo and romance, by imagining themselves as third persons in that relationship. Bless their clueless hearts.

Veronica asks “So… you want us to be you guys?” Oh, Ronnie. It’s so much more complicated than that.

The Penultimate Lyric of Mad World is “Enlarge your world,” an imperative which suggests the gloom of the prior verses is escapable by putting yourself outside their limits. All our little lost lambs need do to beat the devil, to be able to look in the mirror, is make it to the end of the song.

The Devil has so far this season been identified with Hiram, Penny, Dilton and the Black Hood. They’ve all been the devil, or been said to resemble him, for at least one scene. Meanwhile, the Reaper has been imagined to worship him, and we’re heading towards an adaptation of a comic in which his occasional wife is a major character. ‘The Devil’ as a symbol has roamed freely around Riverdale, laying his hat in everyone’s hallways. Now he finally has an address of his own.

The Conways are a hard done by family. First they’re murdered, then the Devil takes their house. I wonder by what process the house came to be thought of as evil, given that it was a threat external to the house that killed them. Murder and evil did not, in any account we’ve heard so far, gestate and develop within the house; Murder just walked in out of the woods.  

The Conways could equally be a loose reference to J.B. Priestly or to the ill-fated Conway family from super-racist Top Notch Comics story ‘Dick Storm in India.’ Therein lies the duality of this show.

Dick Storm.

Sweet Pea performs this week’s most exemplary off-screen 180, having gone from being in favour of mortar attacks to being in favour of seeking rapprochement with the Mayor.

Hermione is far more relaxed nowadays. The Lodges started this season suspicious of each other being supervillains and stressed about being trapped into supervillainous lives. After their righteous vengeance on Nick St Clair, the family appear temporarily united around the idea that supervillainy has its virtues.

Cheryl’s story right now is about a lot of things, but a biggie is how she stands in relation to ideas of female solidarity. Everyone kicking the shit out of Nick St Clair was a joyous and cathartic moment and the week it aired was one in which a lot of us were in the mood to see a group of young, would-be celebrities beat a rapist mogul to a bloody pulp in a hotel room. The trouble for Cheryl is that that moment, a huge moment in her life, was made possible by the Pussycats’ “women help women” ethos and that’s not an ethos to which she feels she can connect.

Jason remains the only person with whom Cheryl feels any solidarity, and her “me and my dead brother against the world” worldview can’t permit any of this “women help women” business. So feeling beholden to that ethos for her rescue is an unimaginable crisis for Cheryl’s mental functioning, and she’s found herself in a position where she either has to rethink the whole way she sees the world or violently alter reality to allow “me and my dead brother against the world” to remain tenable.

Cheryl is violently altering reality. Veronica, Josie, Melody and Valerie did not come to her aid. Josie did. Josie saved her. Cheryl has reduced an instance of collective female action to an idea she finds more manageable and containable; Josie saved her. The whole event has been condensed down into the person of Josie. Now all Cheryl need do is violently alter Josie’s reality, so she too can be managed and contained.   

Hiram is such a plausible father for Veronica. His flustered “That’s my preference” line is a wonderfully Veronica-ish line with wonderfully Veronica-ish delivery. Benefiting from being a Season Two introduction, he’s what a TV dad looks like when you have an established character to create a dad for.  

André is trained in the martial arts.

The Red Death shows up in ONE Edgar Allan Poe story, Jugs! Why’re you talking like it’s Poe’s Team Rocket? I think he’s got confused because that story was published as both ‘The Mask of the Red Death’ and ‘The Masque of the Red Death.’ Assuming these to be separate stories, the Mighty Serpent Prince has imagined an entire series of “Oh no! It’s the Red Death!” misadventures round Prince Prospero’s gaff.   

Freddy Krueger is the horror icon that Jughead finds Tony Todd most reminiscent of.

Svenson may have been a red herring in last episode’s mystery, but with a quick tweak of the Conway story then he can be repurposed into relevance here.

The Reaper was both a preacher and a con man. For anyone unconvinced by the ‘PUNISH SIN!’ motivation espoused by the Black Hood, then it’s interesting to see the figure he mirrors established as those two particular things.

“A Group of Men” killed the Reaper. Veronica takes Svenson’s approval of their actions as a sign that he’s the Black Hood. The idea that a member of this retributive posse might be the Black Hood does not seem to have yet been considered. They’re obviously the Secret Origin of something though, aren’t they? Maybe, in their role as community protectors, we’re looking at the first Serpents.   

The Serpents are very strict about their induction programme. There’s all sorts of things you have to do – shouty ceremonies, getting tattoos, being punched, pole dancing, dog sitting, etc – the formality and ritualisation of which suggests that when you join the Serpents you’re making a lifelong commitment. Seems not though. If at any point you want out you can just say you’re retiring and get a preppy looking teenager to hire a karaoke machine. It seems that’s an option that’s available.     

Josie is either being paid to escort Reggie or Reggie’s dad. It is unclear.

The Serpents very keen on ‘Mad World,’ very disappointed when not sung through.

Penny has taken over Clifford Blossom’s operation. Which we know wasn’t the distribution of Jingle Jangle, a substance we haven’t heard of since the Sugarman died. Real drugs are in resurgence and fantasy drugs are on the wane. This better not stop us getting Jingles the Elf in the Christmas episode.

Archie stepped outside of Riverdale’s storyspace last episode and glimpsed the Archie multiverse. He’s having a hard time reacclimatising. All he wants to talk about is love, in an episode that wants to talk about not talking about love, and he acts throughout like he’s the one with the least personal interest in the Black Hood. His life won’t quite let him back in.  

FP’s smirk regarding how sexually frustrated he may, or may not, have been in prison would be the finest moment this episode. Were it not for the same character’s choice to use a daintily extended pinky to illustrate recovery from alcohol. The whole “respectable people don’t have problems” lie that Alice pretends to live by gets destroyed with a single digit parody of gentility.   

Alice should get a slow motion entrance every episode.

The Serpents are remarkably gracious in responding to Alice with “Hey look! It’s Alice! From back in the day!” rather than “Hey look! It’s Alice! Who constantly publishes articles about how we’re the greatest menace since Spider-Man!”

Familiar Faces, Worn-out Places, Worn-out Faces appear.

The Penultimate Lyric of ‘Mad World’ does not appear.

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