Tag Archives: riverdale

Everything’s Riverdale: S2E6 Death Proof

There was no Riverdale last week, the CW opting instead to screen the 7th Annual iHeartRadio Music Festival. I’ve not watched it, but I’m going to imagine that the cast all went and filmed in-character vignettes to be used as whimsical inserts. The two shows already share Harry Styles.

The week before that the CW aired ‘Death Proof,’ Riverdale’s best episode since ‘The Sweet Hereafter.’ An episode so accomplished and assured that I don’t even resent it for breaking the pattern of my favourite Riverdale episodes being named after films I hold in similar regard.

Let’s revisit it now before the series resumes.

Engines warm and ready?

Everything’s Riverdale!

THE TOWN WITH LIARS, DOPE FIENDS AND FORNICATORS

There are two keys to understanding this remarkable piece of television. Betty and Veronica’s crash into the House of the Dead is one of them. Cheryl’s outfits are the other.  

We all know by now how character works in Riverdale. We all know by now how storytelling works in Riverdale. The two episodes previous to this one (S2E4 & S2E5) have walked us through both. Now we can just get on with things and enjoy the pleasures this odd show offers. That’s the project of ‘Death Proof.’

Set-ups will not be paid off. Character development will unravel and flap dangerously in the wind. Enmities and affinities will appear and disappear from our characters hearts, blinking in and out as how they feel about each other is set and reset. Escalators will go nowhere. This is not a show that’s trying to present coherent made-up lives in a coherent made-up world. It’s a show that’s trying to capture the feeling of living in a world that lacks that coherency, like teenagers and Americans have to.    

Veronica, still a newcomer to this reality, is typically the best at figuring out how to navigate it. When Betty tells her that there are no sane explanations for the previous episode’s events Veronica just fixes her with a look that says “Why would there be?” and demands to hear the insane explanation. She knows how this works.

And how it works is that everything is mobile and adaptable. Since nothing is attached to any commitment to narrative logic then any element of the show can be picked up and put down where it is most effective. Cheryl doesn’t need any plausible reason to be at the drag race to be officiating. She’s got that gig because that’s where she visually belongs at that moment, as surely as she earlier belonged gothically sunbathing in the shadows of a cloudy day. There’s similarly no need for any kind of tonal harmony between Betty and Veronica’s investigations and Archie and Jughead’s negotiations for one plotline to suddenly intrude on the other.    

Whenever I’ve talked before about how this show is the true successor to Twin Peaks then it’s been in terms of how Riverdale embraces the camp, the kitsch and the soapy – all the vital elements of Twin Peaks that its lesser imitators skip because they’re mistakenly shooting for clever. But something else is now becoming very apparent.

Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes’ documentary The Art Life has an illuminating and hilarious scene where David Lynch recalls his move to the filmed image. With a slow, deliberate thoughtfulness he tells us how he got to thinking how interesting it would be if his paintings could move. He just couldn’t get the idea out of his head. Paintings…that moved. What a concept! So taken was he with this fancy that he didn’t seem to recollect or exhibit any awareness of the fact that moving pictures had been around for some time prior to the Nineteen Seventies. The existing traditions of television and film were not (in the myth Lynch is selling, anyway) the impetus for him to pick up a camera. He never wanted to tell anyone stories, he just wanted to make paintings move.

That all feeds into Twin Peaks, and flows downriver into the best of Riverdale. Like Racing Queen Version Cheryl Blossom, striding into the exhausted and diminished Gothic murk of Thornhill to demand love from the mother she burned. The story that gets us there is a vacillating, elliptical shambles. But watch that paint writhe.                  

WEIRD MYSTERIES

Watching is very important. Windows too. Painting have frames.

We first met this incarnation of Betty Cooper as she and Kevin perved on shirtless Archie from her bedroom window. It was an effective scene that let Kevin drop that trailer-ready “Archie got hot!” line as if it was an elevator pitch, but as well as explaining to the prospective viewer that this new series will offer the opportunity to letch at teenage characters, it also set up how this voyeurism will be constructed. The hot version of Archie comics is to be the object of  female and queer male gazes.

Now, the terrible tides of television have rolled as ever they do and this unlikely promise was not kept. A couple of months later and, in the Sexy Women Beg For Healthcare video, Camilla Mendes and Madelaine Petsch were reading a script that reassured straight men that “giving you erections” was a function of their “soapy teen drama.” However accurate that might be, and wherever the balance lies, the pertinent thing here is that we start with Betty at her window.

Betty at her window is a place where she’s powerful and a bit creepy. In ‘Death Proof’ it’s to her window that she returns to shift the balance of power between her and the Black Hood. We start the scene watching her through it, then she says, “It’s my game now” and directs her own line of sight to the window. For the rest of the scene all her threats against him are matched by her lingering looks out.

Riverdale is a show built around detective stories – Who killed Jason Blossom? Who is the Black Hood? – and the viewer is invited to be a detective. But viewers always need teaching how to be a detective within the bounds of any given show; How you solve a mystery in Jonathan Creek is not how you solve a mystery in Line of Duty. So it falls to a show’s Official Detective to model what it means to solve mysteries round their neck of the woods. Betty Cooper is Riverdale’s Official Detective, and she’s performing that educative role for us here. We have been presented with mysteries. She will teach us what do with them. She will teach us what it means to be a detective in Riverdale.

“I found out who the Sugarman was,” she says in triumph. A claim that may not immediately feel true. Cheryl found out who the Sugarman was after Betty “defiled” her traumas to motivate her. But that’s okay, we learn from Betty at her window, that counts. Being a detective in Riverdale is a kind of passive thing. You don’t really piece together clues, interrogate suspects or rummage through trash. You watch and wait.

“Can you feel me breathing down your neck?” says Betty at her window, imparting her second lesson. The show positions Betty, and the viewer, as a detectives in the same way it positions them as voyeurs. Being a detective in Riverdale is creepy.           

YOUR PALS

Kevin is just providing running commentary again, but on two occasions references his own interests and desires and on one occasion presents a opposed viewpoint to a friend. This earns the episode three full points on the Kevin Keller Agency-o-Metre.

Toni feels much more like a real character this week. Maybe now that her rather artificial function of “shaking up Bughead” and her expository function as Jughead’s guide to Serpenthood are both winding down then she can start to come into her own. Or maybe just confirming on screen that she’s bisexual has been good for the character. They should try that with all the others to check. Well, not Kevin and Jughead, obviously. But everyone else.

Jughead confirms in his first two scenes that he’s always interested in food and that he wasn’t interested in going further sexually than “a PG-13 grope session.” Progress. Other Jughead highlights this episode include him picking up the title “Mighty Serpent Prince” and a wonderful bit of acting from Cole Sprouse in which he’s struggling not to mouth along his own words as Phillips reads them out loud.    

Betty is also visited by the spirit of her current comic book incarnation as she does car mechanic stuff ready for a street race. It’s quite disorientating watching a scene where the dialogue is all concerned with immediate Riverdale concerns while the visuals and action are letting you know that the show is starting to look over at recent events in the comics. Collections of the ‘New Riverdale’ Archie comics have been marketed as “the stories which inspired the show”, a lie apparent to anyone who looks at what was written and developed first, but we’ve now arrived at the point where that lie is coming true.     

Archie is making plans that’ll “hopefully keep everyone alive.” They are terrible plans. Plans more likely, as the Mighty Serpent Prince notes, to just get a greater number of people killed a month later. This is trying to solve a trolley problem by slowing the tram so more people have time to get on the tracks. Nevertheless, the important thing is that “getting Archie killed” is no longer the intended goal of Archie’s plans. Good for him.

Veronica looks so at home joining in with the Lodge family’s terrible vengeance on Nick St. Clair that, the way the shot is composed, you expect the chess board to distort into a trapezoid ready for her to take her place at the newly created third side.

Sheriff Keller wonders if he should ask Betty what she’s doing in Nick’s room. Decides not to bother. After all, that sort of information would only be of interest to anyone trying to investigate a complex series of interrelated violent incidents involving the Cooper family.  

Mayor McCoy is far more proactive, having discovered that she can have people arrested by pointing at them dramatically. There are limits on her power, however, as under Riverdale law you are protected from her custodial powers if a door obstructs you from the line described by her digits. Doesn’t matter if the door’s got a big window on it. That makes no odds. It’s not about visibility. A patio door would be fine. Just get on the other side of one quick when Mayor McCoy’s waving the long finger of the law around.  

The Krampus was invented to scare children. Cheryl is right about that.

The Sandman was not invented to scare children. Cheryl is wrong about that.

Jose and Reggie is such a great idea that I find I’ve written “Jose and Reggie is a great idea” three times in my notes.

Cheryl says the word ‘rape.’ For a while it looked very worryingly like the show would be dancing around the word, as it did in the early scenes with Veronica. But no, they were waiting for Cheryl to be the one who says it out loud. As they did with the word ‘abuse’ in the season’s opening episode. In the often mealy-mouthed world of this show this is a power almost unique to Cheryl – to look at the evil and call it by its name. 

Penelope looks so genuinely shocked when Cheryl explains that what she wants from her is for her to act like family. That that was still a possible thing that Cheryl could want is something that genuinely hadn’t occurred to her. How beautifully horrifying for everyone involved. “Care about me more” is one of this series’ best moments.

FP appears.

DJ Kahled, Pink and Kesha appeared at the 7th Annual iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Everything’s Riverdale: S2E5 When A Stranger Calls

In episode four our young sleuths and lovers discovered that, in a fictional reality that denies them consistency of motivation or action, the only way to take control of their lives is through consistency of affiliation. In episode five that’s taken away from them too. Everything’s in the wind.

Everything’s Riverdale!  

WEIRD MYSTERIES

This is the first episode in which the Black Hood is interesting. How did they do that?

Having him on the end of Betty’s phone completely changes how he works. He now functions more like ‘A’ from Pretty Little Liars in that he’s something our characters are being told they’re responsible for creating and something that can have a direct effect on any of the other subplots.

Until now then “an ineffective serial killer stalks the night” has integrated poorly with the teen romantic melodrama, remaining an external threat, creeping around the periphery, taking shots at peripheral characters. The Black Hood has been sold as this season’s big deal, but hasn’t ever felt like much of one because of the wall between him and the regulars. The sense of fear that he’s provoked in the community, and the chaotic choices arising from it, have been interesting. He hasn’t, in and of himself,  because he could have been anything, from the airborne toxic event in DeLillo’s White Noise to the lone bear that strolled into Springfield in that Simpsons episode.     

Look at him now though! Up in everyone’s romantic storylines, in thier peer pressure drug storylines, and their My Parents Just Don’t Understand storylines. The Black Hood has found a way to play nicely with the kids.

Okay… when Betty gets her first phone call from the Black Hood in ‘The Town that Dreaded Sundown’ then her mobile rings with a standard tone. But all through this episode it announces incoming demonic calls with ‘Lolipop’ by the Chordettes.  

Has, in the midst of all this, Betty decided that ‘Lolipop’ by the Chordettes is to be her new general ringtone, or has she assigned it specifically to the Black Hood?

We need to know everything surrounding that choice.

Doubles and shadows and mirrors abound. The Black Hood is keen to prove that he and Betty are ‘the same’, but we’ve been reminded recently about ‘Dark Betty’, that she also puts on black headgear to become someone else. The way in which Betty and the Hood are most importantly ‘the same’ is in that neither are always the same as themselves.

Add to that the information that the two letters from the Black Hood have different handwriting and we’ve lost the certainty that the Black Hood is the Black Hood. This situation has at least two Black Hoods, at least two Betty Coopers, and no guarantees that the boundaries between any of them are stable. Alice has already said out loud that, as far as she’s concerned, one of the Black Hoods was Betty. The voice on the phone is telling her the same.   

How much does Betty lean into real feelings when going after her friends and family?

She really is angry with her mother for all the reasons she gives when having to explain why she exposed her serpentine past. Watching that scene you have to actively remind yourself that she’s saying this stuff because of the murderous blackmailer telling her to.

She really is revolted by the posh druggy party side of Veronica’s life and deeply uncomfortable that she can fit back into it easier than she’d assumed. Watching her go for Veronica you have to actively remind yourself that it’s because of the murderous blackmailer telling her to.

Then there’s breaking up with Jughead. Up until that point the Hood’s exhortations have been more like permission slips for Betty’s darker desires. But she doesn’t seem to want this, does she? It’s very interesting having Archie do that speech on her behalf as his lies come from an honest place too. Betty doesn’t want to break up with Jughead. But Archie lists all the reasons he thinks she should.  

 

YOUR PALS

Josie seems to have let go of her previously very clear idea of the Pussycats’ brand. Veronica and Cheryl both seem to drift in and out of the group so regularly that at least one of them keeps her ears within easy reach for whenever the Cat Signal is lit.

Valerie and Melody are consequently back to being undifferentiated by the script, functioning as a single character called ‘the Other Pussycats’, no more individuated than ‘The Bulldogs.’ This is a generally a shame although collective action and unity of purpose are super-enjoyable to watch as they kick the shit out of a rapist.  

Archie can not be shown to drink rum but can be shown to take fictional ‘gutter drugs.’ I bet there were Meetings about this. Archie Comic Publications Incorporated surely haven’t adopted as laissez faire an approach to brand protection as Josie has.

Jingle Jangle being a fictional drug probably helped this get to the screen – nobody was ever going to snort what Nick was offering earlier. There’s also an expectation in teen drama that drug use will be shown to have Horrible Consequences, an expectation which, in the context of the story being told here, created the anxiety that Riverdale was about to tell us that drug users carry the responsibility for leaving themselves vulnerable to sexual predators.

Happily the show doesn’t go near that. There’s no suggestion that Veronica or Cheryl’s decision to jingle jangle made them in any way culpable for what happened to them with Nick. A bullet was really dodged here as, out of eagerness to make it clear that Drugs Are Bad, a lot of shows would have failed to make it crystal clear that rapists are responsible for rape.        

Betty has avoided Game of Thrones. That has positive and negative consequences, one of which is that she doesn’t know to say “You” when the Black Hood asks for his next sinner to kill.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that Nick St. Clair isn’t an excellent choice, just that it would have been really funny to hear the Black Hood go, “Oh…like on Game of Thrones. Shit.”

And then Betty say, “Well kinda, but it just seemed the obvious answer anyway, really. In the circumstances.”

And then this long and awkwardly hesitant conversation in which the Hood tries to think of a solid reason not to top himself that isn’t just “We can’t resolve our through-arc mid season with another show’s schtick.”

Pop Tate greets customers with “I don’t judge you.” A fun policy. Put it on your badge.

Sweet Pea is keen to do some terrorism.

Jughead has to become a full Serpent so that there’s someone who’s allowed to discourage this. As we see more of the different areas in which the Serpents are active – the school, the biker bars, the law offices – it becomes more and more interesting how independently these work. There seems to be no adult oversight over Sweet Pea’s branch of the Serpents – The Shouty Man from the bar isn’t going to tell Sweet Pea not to do any terrorism. He’s just allowed to get on with it.  

Toni is ambivalent about doing some terrorism. She’s still a very mechanical character really, there to guide Jughead around rather than to want or think anything.

Someone Next Episode, on learning what Betty has done, will say, “You couldn’t have just done the thing from Game of Thrones?”      

Fred is happy to hear the Red Circle is over. It mildly concerned him.

Kevin nods and smiles while Veronica tells him about her life. Very much back in role after his brief rebellion.

The Black Hood threatens Polly with sharp objects. Has abandoned trying to aim at things. Wise.

Cheryl would have been a better person for Betty to go to than Archie, don’t you think? She’s invested in Polly’s survival. She’s sneaky. She’s someone the Black Hood is less likely to have expected Betty to go to and therefore been watching. So far that’s two ways this episode that Betty could have wrapped this whole thing up.   

Hiram gets this week’s super-dramatic Biblical metaphor, promising “A new Eden” in the South Side. No direct talk of the Devil this week, I don’t think, but this at least associates the serpents with the serpent.

Hermione remains a timebomb, as it all goes off when her loyalty to Hiram snaps. She straightened Fred’s tie this week. Intimate.    

Alice is such a great character, isn’t she? Her real moment of glory this week is publishing a Lodge-critical article when thus far Hiram’s been treating her as a useful idiot. That and her appearance at the party establish DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE ALICE COOPER as a major theme of the episode. I love her as everything except a parent.   

Veronica is a good person.

Hal has got a little moustache.  

Hot Dog 3 appears.

Sheriff Keller does not appear, but provokes much of the action with his extraordinary choice to question the motorcycle gang over last week’s fracas while taking no equivalent action against the squad who publicly said they’re out to kill someone.   

Harry Styles does not appear but is heard.

Gal Godot does not appear but is heard of.

Hot Dogs 1 to 2 do not appear.

 

THE TOWN WITH DEMOLITION ORDERS

However much the Black Hood’s sinister commandments might align with Betty Cooper’s darkest desires, the align more perfectly still with the producers’ practical needs. Keeping things moving in a romantic drama, while keeping your audience from rioting, is hard.

The pieces have to stay in motion, the stories cannot be allowed to end. Couples brought together must be brought apart again so more things can happen. Here in real life plenty of interesting things happen to stable couples. Plenty of interesting things also happen to stable couples in detective fiction and SF; Paul and Steve Temple solved loads of mysteries and Valerian and Laureline have been been shot at by loads of political metaphors holding laser guns. But the sort of sensational event that teen romantic drama wants to offer cannot be offered if everyone settles down and gets cats.

Trouble is… teen romantic drama is very good at getting people invested in the couples it throws together. Or people are very good at getting themselves invested. It doesn’t matter which way round it goes. It just means that you get segments of the audience whose attachment to the show is closely linked to that show’s portrayal of particular relationships. That’s certainly happened with Riverdale, where Betty and Jughead’s romance is the draw for many people.

Most relationships end when one or more party notices that it’s not a very good relationship. That’s the basic mechanism by which couples frequently break up, as good relationships, or terrible-but-oblivious ones, tend not to. Yet that basic mechanism is denied you if you’re trying to keep an audience sweet. Bad enough you’re breaking them up, worse yet if you’re breaking them up in a manner that in way implies they had anything less than a miraculous love.

So external agencies will often come in as demolition squads. Heading into Riverdale’s second season, with Archie paired off with Veronica and Betty paired off with Jughead, we all knew to look out for these external agencies. These forces from outside the relationships that’d come along, break them up, set the show in motion again, but leave the concept of the relationships untarnished and ready to be revisited down the line.

This is so familiar that the show has been able to play some sneaky tricks with our expectations. Every press release about Vanesa Morgan’s role in the show promised that Toni Topaz would ‘shake up’ Jughead and Betty. Oh hello, we thought, here comes the girl who understands a side of him that Betty doesn’t to usher in a storyline about jealousy and temptation. Which isn’t really what happened at all. There’s been one scene that gestured at it, but the real way in which she’s shaken them up is just by being his guide into Serpenthood.

Then we get something similar with Nick St. Clair. Before he arrives we’re very much invited to assume that this old flame of Veronica’s is there to ‘shake up’ her and Archie. Turns out that is not his function in the story at all. It now looks like the character will have several functions, but none of them are likely to be as effective as the consolatory pleasure offered by watching his vicious beating.       

Meanwhile, as these decoy ‘shake up’ characters play out their roles, there’s the Black Hood, shuffling the deck and rearranging the furniture. His cruel dictates perfectly in accord with what needed to happen anyway.  

Everything’s Riverdale: S2E4 The Town That Dreaded Sundown

All-Star Serial Killer line-ups loiter in our libraries! Wilbur Wilkins stalks the night! Elbows are being thrown! Actual elbows!

It’s chaos out there. But don’t worry. Reggie’s brought pizza and I’ve brought a recap.

Everything’s Riverdale!

 

THE TOWN WITH TIES

Jughead declares the night of the Town Hall Meeting to be an existential turning point for Riverdale, a change in what the town fundamentally is. Now, to be fair, he’s always saying things like this, he’s an excitable young man, but he’s got a point with this one. The events of this episode see Riverdale changed as it arrives at and consolidates a new unity between its narrative quirks and its content. What’s going on in Riverdale and how stories work in Riverdale come together in a way I’m not sure they have before.   

Here are three things I think are true about this show. Firstly that there is, at the heart of it, an emotional truth about adolescence, namely the pace at which it’s experienced. The tiny windows presented to teenagers in which to make choices on which they’re told their whole lives will depend accelerates everything going on in those already melodramatic years of one’s life. Huge choices are demanded of one in a social space set up to minimise one’s ability to make considered choices, and I think Riverdale does a pretty good job of capturing how fast and dangerous and frustrating that can feel. 

Secondly, that it’s currently exploring how a community that has lost its illusions, and with them its sense of identity, behaves. Everyone in the Town Hall meeting applauds all of Alice’s arguments, and then everyone applauds all of Fred’s counter-arguments, and then everyone applauds all of Alice’s again, and then all of Fred’s. For as long as those two keep care to keep talking, the crowd will keep switching between their contrary positions. Riverdale doesn’t know how Riverdale is meant to behave so has excused itself from having to behave consistently from moment to moment.    

Thirdly, that the writing on this show is erratic. We’ve learned how to watch Riverdale by now and we know what we can and can’t expect in the way of consistency. When we rejoin characters for each week’s episode then we know there’s no reason to assume that they’ll be positioned where we last saw them, neither in terms of their motivations or in terms of their relationships. It might be disappointing seeing Kevin walk in this week and act like last weekend’s character development didn’t happen, but we know that’s in the rules of Riverdale. It might give us whiplash watching the entire football team go from being super-hyped to do some vigilantism, to being very opposed to the whole thing, to being passionately up for it again as soon as they learn that Archie protected one of them from getting into some demonstrably trivial bother, but we know that that’s how Riverdale likes to pop, patch and re-inflate its story-balloons. We know this show is a bit of a mess.

The flashing lightning fuses these three things and illuminates Riverdale as a town in the grip of teenage impulsivity, civic trauma and flailing storylines. As a town in a radical state of flux.

This episode is about Betty and Veronica solving puzzles. Betty’s puzzle is that thing with the code. Veronica’s is more profound. While everyone else is coming to terms with what Riverdale/Riverdale is, she’s on the next level trying to answer the question of how you live a life inside a town/show like that. What can you base your choices on when the people who surround you and the people who write you are a chorus line of jerking knees? What can you hold on to?

“These are fraught times,” she recognises. “No one’s thinking straight,” she further recognises. “We have to hold on to each other,” she concludes.

Her answer is loyalty, the proper application of which has been a theme of this season since its first episode juxtaposed Betty’s resolution to support all of Jughead’s choices with the awful consequences of Jughead’s choices.

Veronica’s not so hasty. She doesn’t arrive at loyalty as her conclusive answer to the Riverdale problem until she’s tested it out from a couple of different approaches and found a way it can work. A way it can be something better than fetching your boyfriend’s gun and designing a fashion line around his attempt at suicide-by-proxy.

Part of what gets her there is a brief scene with her mother that stands out as the most honest we’ve ever seen the two characters have. As Hermione tries to explain that supporting someone cannot mean putting yourself in a position where you cannot criticise them, it’s finally made explicit what Hermione wants. She wants her daughter’s life to be entirely unlike hers.      

 

WEIRD MYSTERIES

The Black Hood leaves messages for Betty in envelopes marked ‘BETTY’ but messages for Alice in envelopes marked ‘COOPER.’

There’s potential for confusion here. The killer needs a more consistent system for how he communicates with this household. If, as seems as likely as anything, the Black Hood is Hal, then the way things are going he’ll be unmasked while sloppily delivering a message labelled ‘ME.’

What does it mean to be a South-sider? The North/South divide is more tangible than ever this episode, partly because it’s a story about people actively working to make that happen, and if this is going to be a thing then it’s a thing that probably needs to be thought about carefully.

Most of the time it appears to be a division based on class and economics. Other times it seems to be a division as arbitrary as the Ghoulie/Serpent battle lines being drawn over whether cars or bikes are best. But one way or another, the show’s now very clear that the South-siders are a group over which the North-siders have privilege, and that privilege is an active force in the narrative. It’s very clear because Toni told us. Riverdale knows it wants to associate Toni with that social justice lingo that the kids have nowadays, but doesn’t yet know if it wants her to be for or against.    

Is this a Batman story? Jughead raises the question in response to the villainous riddle, and it’s weirdly apposite. Telling stories about what happens to a community’s self-perception in the face of catastrophe was the new function that Scott Snyder put the Riddler to in ‘Zero Year’, and that’s to some extent carried through into Tom King’s recent War of ‘Jokes and Riddles.’ The version of the Riddler that’s been prominent in the comics over the past few years would be very at home in this town right now.

While Hiram Lodge sounds like a more cinematic Batman baddie, gloating over all the delicious “chaos and confusion” his dastardly schemes have provoked among the unsuspecting populace. Even then though, his ultimate goal looks like it’s about driving the town towards gentrifying the South Side so he can cash in on the redevelopment. That would be quite a Scott Snyder-ish Batman story too.    

 

YOUR PALS

Veronica puts on her cape and makes someone dispose of a gun. Definitely thinks this is a Batman story.  

Betty has more reason to think she’s in Buffy, finding herself an unwilling Chosen One whose best option is to rustle up a study group and a pile of library books.

Jughead is very proud of being the first person to call the Black Hood a serial killer, beating all those cowards who were waiting for him to kill more than one person.

Fred isn’t happy about his son’s choices but acts generally more resigned to them than he did towards the music career.

Archie has an alarming remix of his naff video going round his head. I wonder how his music sounds now? Never mind all this autotuned milkshake, let’s have him up on the stage performing this catchy little number about the B-B-B-B-Black Hood.

The Zodiac Killer is returning some Catherine Cooksons.

The Axeman has come to pay his fines.

The Phantom Killer just dropped in to do a bit of photocopying.

That Librarian seems a likely suspect. Judging by where Juggy plucks his selections from, then at least three stacks of Riverdale’s modest public library are given over to books on serial killers. Who’s stocking this place? She is, I reckon. According to her own murderous interests. This same shady character admits to being afraid of the Red Circle and would have known that Betty always used to take out that Nancy Drew book. She’s the Black Hood, I tell you. Who else could have known that?

Hal just sits there quietly through the episode again.

Weatherbee has no evident sense of embarrassment over supporting the Red Circle last week.  

Sheriff Keller is very gracious not to give him shit about this.

Dilton gets the ever-mobile devil imagery applied to him this week, toying with a shiny red apple while leading Archie into temptation.  

Wilbur Wilkins was a safer bet than Bingo Wilkin.

Reggie speaks for the Bulldog hivemind, brings pizza to the apocalypse. So it is written in the Book of Reg.

Toni is an expert on serial killers because she is from THE DARK SIDE.

Betty’s ponytail flicks against the fourth wall.

Fangs Foggarty appears. Presumably he won’t be Penny Peabody’s boyfriend in this continuity, although actually you never know with Riverdale.  

Cheryl appears.

Adam the Alien does not appear.

Everything’s Riverdale: S2E3 The Watcher in the Woods

At the end of each episode of Riverdale my daughter writes a flurry of texts to her friends, because she’s the intended audience, and I write a recap for a geek culture website, because I’m not. Here’s what you get to read.

It’ll be okay. Everything’s Riverdale.

YOUR PALS

Sheriff Keller is active or relevant in every single plotline this episode offers; the formation of the vigilante group, the activities of the gangs, the behaviour of his son. In normal television this might serve to centre his character, but normal television isn’t what we’ve got here. We need talk no more about the fellow. Well, not much more more anyway. His name will necessarily come up when we discuss Jingles the Christmas Elf.

Betty, in a departure from her stated policy this season, questions one of Jughead’s stupid choices. He quickly overrules her objections with a snog and the observation that she likes him when he’s reckless. Jughead should know, as he appears equally turned on by the thought of Archie going “all Travis Bickle.” With Veronica’s solitary reference to her boyfriend putting himself in the sights of a murderer being one that suggests she finds this trivial and cute, then the impression is given of a friendship group who find each other’s self-destructive behaviour to be either endearing or arousing. Except in the case of Kevin. The straight kids all agree that he should behave.

Jingles the Christmas Elf has been bringing festive cheer to Archie since 1961, but has never manifested in as surprising a form as he takes in Riverdale.

When Sheriff Keller said the words ‘Jingle Jangles’ in this season’s first episode then I think we all felt sure what was happening; The writers were fondly remembering the “hopped up on goofballs” line from The Simpsons and thought they’d give their own comedy policeman some old-timey drugs speak.

Then when the phrase recurred through the second episode I think we felt equally confident as to what was up; the writers had been tickled by a phrase and couldn’t stop typing it; like ‘waste extraction system’ and ‘self-sealing stem bolt’ on Deep Space Nine.

Now, as of the third episode, the truth is clear. ‘Jingle Jangles’ are how we are to talk about drugs in this show going forward. In the decade where music channels now censor metaphors about clinical use of morphine out of old Pink songs, ‘Jingle Jangles’ is the vocabulary in which the show is permitted to have this conversation.

Veronica alludes to both Audrey Horne and Hamilton in the same conversation. I find this relatable as that’s how I live my life – before this recap is done I’ll allude to Audrey Horne and Hamilton in the same sentence – but I’m not sure Veronica should talk like me.

Kevin. Kevin, oh Kevin. Kevin, my child. I knew you could do it. Sweet Kevin. You’re a real boy now. A whole episode in which you take a week off from reacting archly to the terrible and dangerous choices all the straight kids are making and get to make terrible and dangerous choices of your own. As if you want things! As if the things you want are different to them and as if your opportunities to pursue them are subject to different cultural constraints! Not only this but you get to articulate that effectively. Good Kevin. Best Kevin. But not a Kevin we’ve never seen before. This is the kid who was in the leaked pilot script. Riverdale’s Kevin Keller has finally caught up with where he was before Riverdale was filmed. Hopefully it’s all forwards from here. Oh, Kevin.

The Black Hood has killed 100% of the people he has tried to kill with cello bows and 0% of the people he has tried to kill with guns. Needs to have a rethink.

Cheryl and the lighting department are endgame.

Jughead has remembered which school he goes to and that it is not the one he appears to have been attending for the previous two episodes. “Can’t you just keep going here?” asks Betty. Unclear why he dismisses this plan as he seems to have been getting away with it undetected.

Archie tries rum. Presumably. We never see him take a sip. The scene cuts away at the exact point it would be really weird for him not to.

Fred doesn’t like guns. No wonder he was unsure about Archie having musical instruments in the house last season. Deadlier. Proven.

Hermione’s position becomes clearer and uglier. She knows she’s failing to protect herself and Veronica from Hiram but, since the toothpaste of shame always squirts out of the tube at inconvenient angles, how she feels about this has turned into a sozzled resentment of Veronica.

Polly is also squeezing that tube. It’s unclear how much poor Polly’s belief that she’s “the poster child for sin” comes from self-disgust and how much from an attempt to see through the killer’s eyes. But with her and her newborn twins all off to toil in the fields together then the important thing for the show is that they’ve now got somewhere to park these characters.

Hiram’s reactions to The Matchelorette are unrecorded.

Alice continues to serve as the voice of the press this season, a role I trust she’ll continue to enjoy until one of the two school papers scoops the killer.

Weatherbee is bold to think that “it’s a school club” is sufficient to end all questioning of an armed vigilante gang. Oh! Oh they’ve got a treasurer? Oh, then that’s fine.

Moose gets to talk about his queer identity, but it’s framed by him diminishing the idea that he might be attracted to Midge. Getting frisky in the woods was all her idea. He’s not sure if they’re ‘a good match’. We can’t talk about Moose being into blokes until we’ve cast doubt on the idea that he’s into a girl. Nothing in this show makes me so anxious as where it’s going with its framing of bisexuality.

Toni, our officially licensed bisexual, uses the implication of male homosexual desire to shame Sweetpea, shooing him off with the jibe that Jughead is “not that into” him. The way the character is being positioned is very telling and deliberate. Look! She uses ‘safe space’ and ‘snowflake’ mockingly! So don’t worry everybody, she’s not one of those bisexual teens.

Midge is unhelpful at identifying people. Reports that the killer’s eyes were blank, satanic and devoid of all humanity. Okay, fine, but you just cut off someone who was about to tell us if they were green or not. Let’s get the basics down first.

A Cuddly Toy Moose appears on screen for the first time during Midge’s ‘devil’s eyes!’ speech. Undercuts sense of infernal dread.

The Ghoulies solve a problem. The Serpents are established as a frequently sympathetic organisation. The Serpents are also established as a drugs gang. Morality on this show is exactly as black and white as it keeps telling us it isn’t, so we need these guys; the bad gang who distribute the bad drugs. They are street racers while the serpents are bikers but it remains to be seen if that will be mapped on to the moral schema.

Reggie is immune to these considerations. A free floating ‘bad kid’ unrestricted by consistency of action or facial features. As the comics used to superposition B&V as both best friends and bitterest rivals, Reggie is traditionally both an integral part of the gang and an external bully. Riverdale’s version of the character is an equally adaptable ne’er-do-well. When there are drugs to sell, he’s there selling them. When there are skulls to crack, he’s bought the wrench. He is naughty.

Dilton fits in better with the Bulldogs than you might have thought. That someone who has previously just been ‘dangerous outsider nerd with a gun’ happens to be sat comfortably and confidently in the room with the football team as the Red Circle is no accident. Archie drops the ‘no weapons’ pretence as soon as he gets in the car with Reggie; He wanted Mister Guns invested in this from the start.

Sweetpea is our new voice of young serpenthood in the show, there to articulate the Serpent party line within the apocalyptically lit halls of Southside High. Shame it couldn’t have been Joaquin really. That would have been more fun. Presumably a reimagining of an old Archie Comics character, but I’m going to pretend he’s the baby from Popeye.

Hal appears.

Captain Murder has yet to appear. Suspicious.

WEIRD MYSTERIES

Is there a cascade of educational damnation? We know that if you fall from the grace of Riverdale then you plummet down to Southside High. So if you get expelled from Southside High, do you then go to Ghoulie Schoolie?

What is the provenance of the Cuddly Toy Moose? Either it’s a gift from Midge (which would be weird as their relationship seems too far along for “Ha! You’re name is MOOSE! Like a moose!”) or Midge has brought him his favourite Cuddly Toy Moose from home to make his stay in hospital more comfortable.

What is sin? Jughead often packages events up for us in a Manichean “LIGHT VERSUS DARKNESS” narrative where light is an idealised nostalgic fantasy of small town Americana and darkness is pretty much anything else. But the notion of sin that debuts here feels different, like the Al Hartley Archie comics have somehow sneaked in.

Presumably the Black Hood has a conception of what he thinks sin is, but his language is all over the place. Fred’s shot for adultery. Classic. Classic religious taboo, your adultery. Bang to rights there, Fred. Then the Hood identifies his next victim as “the child predator” which isn’t particularly theological language, but okay.

After that though, he says the teenagers got shot at for being “drug and sex addicted.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whatcha doing there, Mister Hood? Addiction’s a whole different discourse and one that noticeably manages the concept of attribution differently to a discourse of sin, and noticeably is one that nobody else is applying to Midge and Moose.

What sort of a comics reader is Archie? I feel like the sort of kid who has DC Rebirth posters on their wall and the sort of kid who treasures a stack of ‘80s Red Circle books are at different stages of their journey with the medium. More data is needed.

 

THE TOWN WITH LIE$

There are two sorts of agent in this story, two sorts of people that make things happen. People making dangerous choices in pursuit of their goals and people escalating the consequences of those choices to serve goals of their own. Archies and Cheryls.

What Hiram wants is unclear. What Archie wants is very clear. The audience is with Archie, inside his head, as we follow every step that takes him towards the posting of an embarrassing YouTube video that will blight his entire life as much as Michael Rosen’s has been blighted by that one clip from his mashed potato poem. Nice.

We know what he wants and we know where it gets him. But we also know that Archie doesn’t get there, attempting to menace a 25% effective angel of death with his personal exploration of BDSM aesthetics, without being nudged by Hiram. The formation of the Red Circle and their adoption of these tactics are outcomes that Hiram wanted and has brought about to suit his sinister schemes, but there’s no intimation of what these sinister schemes relate to. To be honest, it’s hard to pretend that the writers have settled on what Hiram’s sinister schemes are, isn’t it?

Over in the woods, Cheryl is exploiting Betty’s concern for Kevin to drive a wedge between them. We know which desires motivate Kevin’s choices. We know which desire’s motivate Betty’s. And we also know what desires motivate Cheryl – She’s re-asserting her power over Betty and getting some revenge for last week’s blackmail – but we only know that because we saw last week’s thrilling instalment. None of that stuff is in the recap and no reference is made to it in the episode whatsoever. This is a story about Cheryl taking a shot at Betty that creates a deliberate distance between the viewer and the reasons why Cheryl’s taking a shot at Betty.

Cheryl’s sinister schemes aren’t like Hiram’s, her motives are established while his are [tbd], but their presentation is identical. At this stage in Riverdale there are people who make choices, like Archie and Betty with whom we ride along in their heads as they do, and people who steer those choices like Hiram and Cheryl. Their desires, even if known to us, are positioned at a remove. As Audrey Horne sung in Hamilton, isn’t it too dreamy in the dark?

Everything’s Riverdale: S2E2 Nighthawks

Can you remember what happened in this week’s Riverdale? Of course not! That was days ago! Who could expect that of anyone?

All that’s expected of you here is that you play along with the idea that the best way to refresh your memory is by reading a slightly vinegary recap by an old Welsh man.

Everything’s Riverdale!

THE TOWN WITH POPS

Here in the UK, Riverdale is branded as a ‘Netflix Original’ show. Early last season that lead to one British press review charmingly mispositioning the series next to the service’s award-thirsty gloryshows and assuming that the source material must be worthy and acclaimed graphic novels indeed. This week the ‘Netflix Original’ branding  had me briefly wondering if the wonky ‘Death Diner’ letters were intended as promotion for their Death Note thing.

Last recap we were wondering how a second season would find its way between continuing to be a response to the tradition of Archie Comics and becoming a response to Riverdale as a now pre-existent artefact. We’ve seen a bit of the second thing – Grundy’s death felt partly there to give the people what they want – but overall Riverdale is still more interested in how Riverdale follows the Archie Mythos than in how Riverdale follows Riverdale.    

The earlier “Save the Drive-In!” episode comes up a lot in this “Save the Malt Shop!” episode, but this story is far more focused. Locales associated with nostalgic Americana are again associated with the security of childhood, with the security of nostalgic old Archie comics, but it’s one specific childhood illusion under consideration here; That our fathers won’t hurt us.

“This is a town where fathers are killing their sons!” says Jughead last episode, like that’s unheard of. 

“Blindfold’s off. Can’t just put it back on” says Veronica here.

Alice wants to call her article REQUIEM FOR POPS and is no doubt gutted that Riverdale‘s titling convention means she can’t give that name to the episode itself.

The chain of emotional logic that the kids are following here is explicit.

  • Childhood was a more innocent time.
  • The heyday of malt shops was a more innocent time.
  • In our childhoods we trusted our fathers.
  • THEREFORE if malt shops are preserved then our fathers are less likely to kill us.   

Jughead makes no attempt to distinguish the “Save Pop’s!” and “Save our pops!” issues in his confrontation with the Mayor, and even though Betty’s a bit rattled she goes with it.

Betty’s  in a dangerous place now, committed to supporting Jughead’s goals but prepared to go further than he is to achieve them. Diverting all system resources away from her “Should I do this?” faculties and towards her “How do I do this?” faculties, she’s practically powerful and critically impotent. Cheryl tells her the very real and non-trivial ways in which FP has hurt her and Betty can’t hear any of it, coming back with the non sequitur that “FP didn’t kill Jason.”

It’s Betty’s actions that achieve the final unity of “Save Pop’s!” and “Save our pops!” by providing the two problems with the same solution; Blackmail Cheryl into saving both. The figure of the patriarch is to be preserved by perpetuating the victimisation of the abused child.

WEIRD MYSTERIES

This episode felt like it was in conversation with me. I’d shout things at the screen and then it would shout “That’s a plot point!” back.

“If she’s on retainer for the Serpents, why has she not given FP her legal advice already?”

“That’s a plot point!”

“Why is everyone acting like a small business is a charity?”

“That’s a plot point! As is the obliviousness of everyone except Alice Cooper to everything that’s happening around them!”

Moose becoming the latest victim genuinely disrupts attempts to identify the killer. Up until now then the obvious suspect was some sort of external entity created by Archie’s suppressed anger.  We can abandon that now, I suppose. Put it to the back of your mind. Forget you thought it.

Many people have made the connection between the gunman and the Black Hood, an often violent vigilante figure who first appeared in 1940’s Top-Notch Comics #9.

Fair enough, but I worry we’re all neglecting 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisher.

It’s wonderful how consistently the series treats the river as the boundary between life and death. It’s the body of water you cross to be reborn. It’s where you go when you die. We stand in Riverdale because we stand at death’s shores. It’s even more delicious this season now that we know what’s physically on the other side is the numinous town of witches.

This week Archie stands in the middle of the river, between life and death, and picks up a gun.

YOUR PALS

Veronica is in the most horrifying situation I’ve seen on television since Spencer Hastings last had to have a family breakfast. Her parents are now gaslighting each others’ gaslighting. When all is known then complex diagrams will be required to map the extent of the malice and harm. Her survival strategies are diversion and feigned indifference.

Jughead is the one friend able to see how much she’s struggling. His advice isn’t great, but good on him anyway.

Sheriff Keller has better instincts than I thought. He suspected from the off that these crimes were jingle-jangle related and now, as of the third one, they are.

Penny Peabody makes a Mephistophelean pact and guarantees a future episode will called Devil’s Advocate.

Hiram has been defended by Veronica “every time someone called [him] the devil incarnate.” V. specific.

FP is saved at the cost of being left beholden to a character positioned as the devil.

Pop Tate is saved at the cost of being left beholden to a character positioned as the devil

The traditional role of ‘The Father’ is irredeemable once the blindfolds are off.

Hermione is going to wreck everyone’s shit when she eventually turns on Hiram.

Archie gets called ‘daddio’ to highlight the dark path he’s on. His journey this episode takes him from thinking that drugs will make him the Man of the House to thinking that guns will. Thanks to the side effects of jingle jangles then the drug plan involved him being constantly erect, so the phallus is very much the consistent feature here.  

Moose requires jingle jangles to get it on with his girlfriend. Last season Moose had his intended plotline curtailed by Kevin, on behalf of the CW, declaring him not really into guys. Least bisexual bisexual. Gets shot.

The Angel of Death is very unlikely to be brought to justice by Archie distributing drawings of his mask. “Have you seen this man?” asks the header, so presumably what’s written below is “Me neither.” I may mock, but flyers just like these would actually have got season four of Line of Duty wrapped up quick.

Midge is okay, isn’t she? Surely? Her introduction was too much of an introduction not to be the introduction of a new regular and not enough of an introduction to be the fake introduction of a fake ‘regular’. She’s fine! Which makes the Angel of Death a bit rubbish at death. He is at most the Angel of 50% Death.

Reggie gets to look more reasonable than he is thanks to Riverdale being such directive television. In drama like this then two opposed people can’t both be presented as massively wrong in the same scene or we won’t know whose wrongness we’re being pointed at. So he gets to show up at Archie’s house dressed as his father’s shooter with that being allowed to stand as ‘a prank’ rather than chillingly weird behaviour.

The Dream Warriors were the heroes of A Nightmare On Elm Street Part Three. First horror film I ever saw, that one. I didn’t know what was going on.

Mister Weatherbee has tragic news to share. Which is a good thing really. Imagine him trying to have a bit of fun or lighten the mood. End of term and I bet he dishes out the book tokens mournfully.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is further foreshadowed by the soundtrack promising that this will be her season.

Kevin is shocked to meet Veronica’s father! Kevin is shocked to hear of Grundy’s death! Other people’s lives have so many events in them. So much to take in.

Betty‘s eyebrow raise while Cheryl is on the stand is far more scary than the initial extortion. “No, no. The forgiveness we agreed upon will not be sufficient,” it makes clear, “Perjury is also required.”

Cheryl goes the extra mile not just on the stand but in other areas of her life. Such as trying to out do the cast of Victorious for extravagance of locker modification.

Josie has a really interesting friendship with our Chezza and I really need to see more of the dynamics of how it, y’know, works. Josie gets no reaction shots while she’s standing next to Cheryl during her dismissal of B&V. How does she feel when she’s around Cheryl at her most performatively Cheryl? How does she fit in with that? 

Valerie has the norovirus. Worrying news as she visited a hospital last week. Whole ward likely shut down now. 

Melody appears.

Fangs Fogarty has yet to appear.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! What geeky things will you all be doing? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for the work day to end, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

Deadline – ‘Gambit’ Starring Channing Tatum Will Open Valentine’s Day 2019 – Well ok then.

The CW – The CW’s Riverdale Returns With Biggest Ratings Ever – Congrats to them!

Newsarama – Comic Book Sales Up 6% In Bookstore Market In Past 12 Months, And 37% Women – Interesting stats.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Newsarama – Dark Nights: Metal #3

CBR – Wildstorm: Michael Cray #1

Everything’s Riverdale: S2E1 A Kiss Before Dying

Fourteen years ago the legal department of Archie Comic Publications torpedoed Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa satirical play about a gay Archie Andrews. Four years ago, Aguirre-Sacasa and Jason Moore walked out of Perks of Being a Wallflower with the idea of filtering the Archie characters through something a bit like that. Earlier this year, season one of Riverdale aired.

What a winding route to the screen it took. Along the way there were versions where it was a movie with time travel and dinosaurs. Along the way there were drafts where Kevin was an agentic and autonomous individual. There were all manner of things, and following them all came season one; Camp, compromised, and with an insistent heart pumping pure molten television around its overheated veins, boiling your syrup and cracking your ice.

Now here’s season two to follow that. Season one got to be a response to seventy five years of a peculiar strain of American pop culture and to one peculiar writer’s efforts to understand how it relates to his life. Season two gets to be a response to all of that and also a response to Riverdale. Here’s where things get really interesting as its success and its strong foundation free it up to take bigger risks and ask bigger questions. Or maybe here’s where things get really boring as its birth cry hushes and it settles down to become a well-behaved CW show.  

I’m hoping it’s the former, as I’ll be writing these weekly recaps, Everything’s Riverdale. Welcome. Let’s see what we get. Let’s see what we do with it.

THE TOWN WITH A PAST

Teen drama series, as they go on, have to negotiate the problem of the parents becoming people. Watching early episodes of Pretty Little Liars and it feels inconceivable that the mothers or fathers could ever have storylines of their own in which they’re the viewpoint characters and the stakes are their personal wellbeing. Then by season two you’d die for Hannah’s mum. Early UK Skins had a neat trick for managing this, casting Eighties comedians we hadn’t heard from in a while as prominent parents, their recognisable faces a clear signal that their characters weren’t to be understood as ‘real’ in the same way the kids were, that they weren’t to be understood as something that mattered right now.

Riverdale went for a related strategy, looking to actors associated with shows in this show’s DNA. Luke Perry is here as Luke Perry from 90210. Mädchen Amick is here as Mädchen Amick from Twin Peaks. There to show us where this came from, not what this is. What seems to have disrupted this “Remember these Nineties guys? From the Nineties?” function of the casting is that most of them then turned in unignorably brilliant performances. So here we open season two with an episode where many of the set piece scenes are not only from Fred Andrews’ perspective but set inside his brain.

What parents are for isn’t the only question about how the past relates to the present that this episode has to wrestle with. Having treated itself to the fun of doing two big finales to season one, Riverdale now has to open its second season with an awful lot of aftermath. Amazingly little happens here, as characters mostly turn up to visit the hospital and fill each other in on the various different forms the apocalypse manifested to each of them.    

And as we look back, the town itself starts to acquire more history. What were these riots all about then, Pop Tate?  

 

YOUR PALS

Jughead is the character most in motion this week, finding himself with the power to hurt people and trying to work out if he can handle that. Being the central character interferes with his always shaky ability to function as an outsider narrator, and he delivers the opening voice over in the most extraordinary way, putting the stress on Archie not owning a driver’s license as if that were the most curious aspect of Fred’s shooting. When we talk about others we’re often talking about ourselves, I suppose, so I suspect what’s really on Juggy’s mind there is that he shares Betty’s concern with how he himself instantly learned to ride a motorbike.

Kevin, conversely, never talks about anything except other people. He stresses that everyone’s thoughts are all about Fred but that if they weren’t they’d all be about Betty. He is briefly invited to consider his own life but moves things swiftly on.  

Pureheart the Powerful is chosen by Jughead as Archie’s superhero name. Sounding unlike any superhero name in current popular culture, this only really makes sense if Jughead somehow knows that ‘Pureheart the Powerful’ is his superhero name in the comics. This isn’t like in Season One when Kevin plucked the name ‘Madam Satan’ out of thin air – that was obviously his unconscious mind trying to alert the gang to the proximity of Actual Madam Satan in the form of ‘Miss Grundy.’ This is something else. My theory is that Jughead has been secretly writing Pureheart the Powerful fic for some time.

Archie continues to be someone unable to name his traumas. It remains unclear if he’ll ever understand that he’s been sexually abused and it’s very clear here that he doesn’t have the foggiest idea why he feels so guilty about not having got himself shot. He’s also very cross with himself for enjoying dog walking and sex while his dad is at death’s door. This anger at having enjoyed sex he then takes out on Veronica. In the Pureheart the Powerful comics, Archie loses his powers when he thinks sexual thoughts. Not sure Pureheart the Powerful is an altogether healthy hero to be. 

Cheryl can name her traumas. She knows what was done to her and can say it out loud. Magnificent and terrifying in her always significant white, she resembles an Angel of Life and Death more than anything else in an episode replete with references to such. Moving from establishing her control over her mother to acting like her kiss can resurrect Fred Andrews she appears to genuinely believe that she can damn or save any of us. I’m not suggesting she can’t. She’s for reals, Baby Jane.   

Sheriff Keller continues to be entrusted by the state with the investigation of serious crime. This one, he suspects, may be jingle jangle related.

Doctor Master is an unusually large man in usually sized scrubs.

Alice has been kind of reset. She’s now a fussy but protective mother with a role as one of the show’s main anti-Serpent voices. Her redemption arc seems to have left her as funny-controlling rather than sinister-controlling. 

Hermione remains Schrodinger’s Mother. Owed either jail time or innumerable apologies.

The Virgin Mary looks suspicious, judgemental. Knows more than she’s saying.

The Pussycats appear at the hospital, looking as if they’re all set to support Fred with an immaculately choreographed dance routine.

Reggie appears at the hospital looking as if he’s all set to support Fred with the secrets of true immortality, timeless perpetual bodily regeneration.

Veronica is exploring two new roles. Having drawn a line between Old Veronica and New Veronica then she’s feeling her way to how New Veronica works as someone’s girlfriend. ‘Incredibly giving and supportive’ is her answer to that so far. Meanwhile, she’s also puzzling out how the well-established rules for domestic squabbles among the Lodge family apply when those squabbles might involve a body count. How do her tactics apply when the stakes have changed? For her the episode ends with a scene that looks like something out of The Godfather but is pretty much just her being told off for raiding the fridge.   

Betty is not blessed with such narrative complexity, as her entire episode is just about the learning to be a supportive girlfriend thing. Her arc this week ends with her announcing that she’ll back Jughead’s choices no matter what, before we cut to a scene that illustrates she was doing uncannily better back when she was questioning them.

Hiram appears.

Count Drago, Betty’s Vampire Uncle, has yet to appear.

 

WEIRD MYSTERIES

 

What is Jughead writing? Is this a sequel to his novel about Jason’s murder or a continuation? If it’s a sequel then what’s he doing with his completed Jason book? Will we see him seek publication over the course of the season? If it’s a continuation then what does he even see this book as being about? Just ‘all the stuff that happens to my friends’? Tighten your focus, Jughead, or you’ll never finish the thing.

–  

As Twin Peaks first season opens with “Who Killed Waterborne Teen?” and its second opens with “Who Shot Grown Man?” then so goes Riverdale. Hold on for a wild ride in season three.

Or maybe sooner. Greendale, you guys! Greendale! Home of actual teenager and actual witch, Sabrina the Teenage Witch! From Sabrina the Teenage Witch! And also from the forthcoming CW series based on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic.

Now look. Here’s the thing about that. Sabrina’s main antagonist in that comic is Madam Satan, a pre-Archie Archie character whose deal is that she’s a dead woman who goes around wrecking people’s lives with sex. Specific to the Chilling Adventures version being adapted as a Riverdale sister show is the fact that Madam Satan is also a substitute teacher.

Our first look at Greendale in this show also sees us witness to the death of Jennifer ‘Miss Grundy’ Gibson, an itinerant sexual predator working as a music teacher.

At this point I would tell you that ‘Miss Grundy’ is Madam Satan. But I think you’ve always known.   

Riverdale: The Complete First Season coming August 15 to Blu-ray & DVD

Unlock the mystery and dive into small town secrets as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Riverdale: The Complete First Season on DVD on August 15, 2017. Premiering with 2.4 million viewers, The CW’s top new show across all major demos* is created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Glee, Big Love), produced by Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Blindspot), and stars KJ Apa (Shortland Street), Lili Reinhart (The Kings of Summer), Camila Mendes (Randy Doe), Cole Sprouse (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody), Marisol Nichols (Big Momma’s House 2), Madelaine Petsch (The Curse of Sleeping Beauty), Ashleigh Murray (Deidra & Laney Rob a Train), Mädchen Amick (Twin Peaks), and Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210). Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is also an executive producer, along with Sarah Schechter (Arrow, Blindspot, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), and Jon Goldwater (Publisher/CEO, Archie Comics). The release contains all 13 gripping episodes from the first season, and includes new bonus content, and never-before-seen deleted scenes, and a gag reel. Riverdale: The Complete First Season is priced to own at $39.99 SRP. Riverdale: The Complete First Season is also available to own on Digital HD via purchase from digital retailers.

Riverdale: The Complete First Season will also be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray release includes all bonus features on the DVD and is also arriving August 15, 2017. Warner Archive Blu-ray releases are found at Amazon.com and all online retailers.

Based on the characters from Archie Comics, Riverdale gives a subversive take on small-town life. Things aren’t always what you expect in Riverdale. As a new school year begins, the town is reeling from the tragic death of high school golden boy Jason Blossom. The summer’s events made all-American teen Archie Andrews realize that he wants to pursue a career in music, but his fractured friendship with Jughead Jones, and Josie McCoy’s focus on her own band leaves Archie without a mentor. Meanwhile, girl-next-door Betty Cooper is not ready to reveal her true feelings for Archie, and new student, Veronica Lodge, has an undeniable spark with Betty’s crush. And then there’s Cheryl Blossom, Riverdale’s queen bee, who stirs up trouble amongst Archie, Betty and Veronica. But is Cheryl hiding something about the mysterious death of her twin brother, Jason? Riverdale may look like a quiet, sleepy town, but there’s so much more to the story.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Riverdale: 2016 Comic-Con Panel
  • Riverdale: The New Normal
  • Riverdale: The Ultimate Sin
  • I Got You – musical piece
  • These Are Moments I Remember – musical piece
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes

13 ONE-HOUR EPISODES

  1. Chapter One: “The River’s Edge”
  2. Chapter Two: “A Touch of Evil”
  3. Chapter Three: “Body Double”
  4. Chapter Four: “The Last Picture Show”
  5. Chapter Five: “Heart of Darkness”
  6. Chapter Six: “Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!”
  7. Chapter Seven: “In a Lonely Place”
  8. Chapter Eight: “The Outsiders”
  9. Chapter Nine: “La Grande Illusion”
  10. Chapter Ten: “The Lost Weekend”
  11. Chapter Eleven: “To Riverdale and Back Again”
  12. Chapter Twelve: “Anatomy of a Murder”
  13. Chapter Thirteen: “The Sweet Hereafter”

DIGITAL HD

The first season of Riverdale is also currently available to own on Digital HD. Digital HD allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices.  Digital HD is available from various digital retailers including Amazon Video, CinemaNow, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others.

TV Review: Riverdale S1E13 Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter

riverdaleArchie and Veronica continue to grow vloser; Betty confronts her mother; Jughead finds himself in an unexpected situation; Hermione makes Fred an offer that seems too good to be true; Cheryl takes matters into her own hands.

Riverdale wraps up its first season with an episode that’s all over the place in what it touches upon and the soap opera aspects. With the killer revealed last episode, the fallout and what it means for the characters and Riverdale is explored.

There’s both good and bad in the fact the new Scooby Gang is recognized for what they did but the episode also brings up the bad in the fact that the town is up in arms over the Serpents and also Betty’s involvement too. The fact everything isn’t a rah-rah celebration is a good thing. For how over the top the season has been in the drama and mystery, it still keeps some things realistic.

That realism really comes to Cheryl who has to deal with her father committing suicide and murdering her brother. It’s choreographed far ahead as to where she’s going and things are a bit extreme in that aspect but understandable. Still, there’s some issues in the fact she’s left alone during the jubilee. It doesn’t make sense and a weird slip during an interesting episode.

For everything the episode wraps up it sets up a lot for the next season. A revelation that impacts the Coopers and an event surrounding Archie drives the path to the second season of the series. So much is wrapped up and so much is set up for what’s to come and that seems to include a similar story structure with a mystery having to be solved.

Overall, the series is an interesting one using the familiar world and characters but creating a new spin through it all that’s an over the top soap opera. Most importantly, it’s fun delivering solid entertainment that consistently delivered in the story, acting, and plot. It has its issues for sure, but for a beginning, its been a great start.

Overall Rating: 8.35

The CW’s Riverdale’s Real Mystery is Ignoring Its Diverse Cast

The CW hit, Riverdale, has a major representation problem and it’s being severely overlooked. Despite being one of the most diversely casted teen dramas on the air, their representation of people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, is seemingly unimportant to the writers, this despite Kevin Keller and Josie McCoy being prominently mentioned and shown in the promotional material. While there is no arguing these characters are present in the show, they are primarily seen and not heard. The few characters who are given lines either disappear from the story altogether, are used to prop up the core four’s storyline, or simply ignored.

Josie and the Pussycats (Ashleigh Murray, Hayley Law, Asha Bromfield) have shown viewers musical talent and promise. Josie (Murray) is the only person of color who has been given significant screen time, dialogue, and backstory. Viewers are pulled in when they learn about her overbearing father pressuring her to follow his footsteps and supportive mayoral mother, but then only give the first eight episodes and disappears for the rest of the season. Not even a single line has been introduced to explain where she has gone. Even an “I can’t believe Josie gets to record a single in Los Angeles” would suffice.

Valerie (Law), has been Archie’s love interest, and seemingly the only thing that makes his character even remotely interesting. The show appeared to be on the right track, gradually building their inevitable relationship when they finally come together after the talent show, but then she quickly becomes a sounding board for Archie’s ridiculous rants and nothing more until she finally leaves him for ignoring her. Many viewers felt as though it wasn’t just Archie who ignored Valerie, but the writers, since fan are given virtually nothing about her other than she is a musician who won’t take any of his nonsense.

Melody’s character (Bromfield) is virtually non-existent. I’m pretty sure the actress hasn’t even had more than a single line in the entire first season. Josie and Valerie are given minimal agency, while Melody is given absolutely none, completely ignored. As of right now, Melody’s character serves no other purpose than completing the infamous trio of rocker women. That being said, my favorite fan theory is that Melody killed Jason and the motive was simply because everyone ignored her.

Other characters being blatantly ignored like this include Ginger Lopez and Tina Patel (Cheryl’s “minions”). You may have no idea who these characters are, as they are never properly introduced, but they are definitely there. Cheryl kicked them off the River Vixens because they didn’t vote for her during the infamous Veronica vs. Cheryl dance off. I’m supposed to believe these two girls just stood there without emotion while their alleged livelihood is being taken away from them? The lack of focus also took away any emotional impact from the scene. Without knowing them, it’s hard to care if they’ve been booted from the clique.

Kevin Keller is another character being treated unfairly. He is by far a fan favorite and one of the only LGBT+ characters with a major role. He gets some of the funniest lines and viewers are never disappointed with his hilarious reactions. We learn a minimal amount of his backstory—he’s the son of the sheriff who is accepting of his son’s sexuality—and I do give credit where credit is due, I appreciate the fact Kevin’s sexuality is a non-issue, only used to further drive a complicated plotline. What’s bothersome is the fact he is only given an implied storyline.

For example, viewers see Kevin connect with Joaquin and an exciting, new storyline is introduced. Then Joaquin is dropped and doesn’t appear again until a couple of episodes later, where it’s revealed that he and Kevin are now full-fledged dating. When did this happen? Viewers don’t get to see the relationship progress in the slightest. We only get to see them make out one more time at Jughead’s birthday party. It’s very possible the development of this relationship was cut and left on the cutting room floor, but the crew completely lost an opportunity to appease fan’s needs for a well-rounded gay character with his own storyline.

Another example is that it’s implied the infamous character Moose, is in the closet and is willing to hook up with Kevin as long as no one knows. This is a new piece of information for long-time Archie Comics fans, as he has previously been known purely for being the stereotypical “dumb” jock. This small piece of information makes a previously dull character, more complex and interesting, but it’s never mentioned again. The writers had an opportunity to expand here and dive deeper into this character but chose to only use him again several episodes later, as a punching bag to a gang of thugs. There was no character development at all.

The problem seems to lie in the story of Riverdale not being fully realized yet. The writers need to decide if this is a story about the core four or the town of Riverdale as a whole. With a focus on the parents, it would seem the writers have decided the whole. If this is correct, then they need to give their diverse cast’s characters more substance and agency. If the story’s goal is to center around the core four, then random, deep insights to other character’s past that were once introduced and then forgotten (i.e. Josie), need to be dropped. Once this is sorted out, many of these issues won’t be as prominent and the storyline will seem more consistent, although many viewers are hoping to see more of these forgotten characters, so let’s hope they don’t choose the latter.

In interviews, writers have mentioned one might consider the first season of Riverdale as a prequel to where we meet them in the original Archie comics. Where we meet the characters now, aren’t necessarily where they will end up, and there is a chance they might become closer to who their characters are in the original canon. Perhaps that means we will finally see an asexual Jughead (which is a whole other issue entirely), the epic love triangle that is Betty, Archie, and Veronica will finally rear its ugly head, and so on. That being said, this gives viewers hope that the character’s currently being mistreated or overlooked might have a bigger role and impact in future episodes to come.

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