Riverdale Season 1 Episode 2 – TV Review
It’s comforting to see Riverdale is consistent in exploiting Archie’s sexiness.
Because it sure as hell isn’t consistent in establishing Betty and Veronica’s relationship.
TL;DR Betty and Veronica go back and forth several times between being friends and frenemies; they settle on friends; Cheryl struggles to push down her grief over Jason’s death; and is arrested; Jughead and Archie renew their bond; Archie decides to come clean about his affair with Sexy Teacher.
Aria and Ezra they ain’t.
So we’ll get the Betty and Veronica stuff out of the way first, because it is so exhausting. So after the Seven Minutes in Heaven-related disaster between them last episode, they tentatively decide to bury the hatchet and be friends. But then Betty wacks out and blames Veronica for blowing up her imagined relationship bubble with Archie (which, like, Veronica did do) and hangs out with Cheryl to spite her. But then that goes south, and Betty witnesses Veronica being kind to Cheryl later on, and they decide to be best girl friends and not let a boy come between them. Except Archie, obviously. Betty’s attempt at friendship with Cheryl goes badly because Cheryl is a little too aggressive in her interrogations about Jason’s death (she assumes Polly, or Polly’s family, were involved), and Betty, too, is weirdly aggressive in her denial. Cheryl later breaks down when the realisation that Jason is dead hits her (after a smokin’ cheer performance, backed up by Josie and the Pussycats), and Veronica lends her a sympathetic shoulder. Meanwhile, Jughead discovers Archie and Sexy Teacher’s affair, and urges his former friend to tell the truth about hearing the gunshot. Archie does some soul searching, and despite Sexy Teacher’s best cock-teasing efforts, he chooses to fess up. But a sudden arrest of Cheryl, following new evidence that Jason died a week after the 4 July boating accident, interrupts him. Archie and Jughead patch things up, though. Elsewhere, Veronica’s mum, Hermione, takes on a menial waitress job; Betty’s parents are apparently journalists and her mum continues to be a raging bastard; and Kevin dumps Moose.
Kevin is also the sheriff’s son, and Josie is the mayor’s daughter. Riverdale is a small town.
I gave last week a pass because it was a pilot, and I’m going to extend this episode the same courtesy. Because the first episode after a pilot can be just as hard (unless you’re Gossip Girl, because The Wild Brunch is divine).
But this episode is brimming with inconsistency. And you can’t have a mystery show that’s inconsistent. Because then the audience won’t be able to make reasonable deductions on the answers to the mystery, which drains it of all its power.
You know. Like Scream Queens.
Why I hate this episode:
Yes, the inconsistency is frustrating. But just to be clear, Riverdale is nowhere near the stink pile that was Scream Queens.
The worst example of Riverdale’s wishy-washiness is the back-and-forth between Betty and Veronica. And I don’t trust that they’ve put it to bed. Because the very next moment after they make their resolution, Archie appears and the show clearly is implying he will come between them. Are Betty and Veronica friends in the comics? How?
Kevin is also a bizarrely specific example of Riverdale’s flip-flopping. He shuts Moose out for one and/or two reasons: 1) Moose is closeted/actually could be straight; and 2) Moose having a girlfriend, and Kevin, I suppose, not wanting to be a homewrecker. But just last episode, Kevin literally said “I love your closet case.” And he would have known about Moose’s girlfriend, too. What the fuck?
Betty starts the episode by ignoring Archie’s twat-teasing attempts to talk to her when he’s stressing out at night, but the very next morning she decides to bury the friend zone hatchet. Stick to your guns, girl. This is weak.
The reveal that Jughead and Archie’s falling out was only over the summer, and only because Archie wanted to conceal his affair with Sexy Teacher, also rang untrue. The way it was alluded to in the pilot it sounded like it was nowhere near that fresh. Was that a retcon?
Mama Betty continues to be full tilt psychopath. Betty asks her if she can see Polly, and Mama B doesn’t even bother to answer her. It’s weird how they talk to each other, right? And the fact that she’s a reporter, despite her lack of tact or humanity, is also baffling.
Jughead’s narration is super edgelord-y, and I’m not sure if it’s just bad writing, or if it’s being done on purpose to make fun of Jughead.
Oh, and we don’t see anything more to do with Hermione’s mystery money bag. It evidently wasn’t enough money to prevent her from becoming a diner waitress. It’s odd.
But it’s not all bad:
I still like how grounded Hermione, and the other adults (sans Mama B), seems. Maybe she doesn’t want to use the tainted money, and that’s why she took the job?
The episode’s greatest asset is the swift resolution to Archie’s dilemma with Sexy Teacher. Whereas Pretty Little Liars dragged that one on for ages and ages, Archie is ready to come clean after just the second episode. Because it’s the right thing to do to help with a murder investigation. Aria could have learned so much from him.
Jughead makes his increased screentime count, and accurately sees through Sexy Teacher’s ploy to keep Archie quiet by pretending to love him. He got you, bitch. And Archie’s defence of Jughead from the jocks later was predictable, but welcome.
Archie ensures several shirtless scenes. I have no complaints about that.
Cheryl, as suspected, could run away with Riverdale if our protagonists aren’t careful. Her intensity regarding Jason’s murder investigation, both played for laughs and straight, is mesmerising. Some mean girls try to intimidate her during biology class, and it doesn’t bother her a bit.
The moment when she upends her gal pal date with Betty to hammer her with questions about Polly and Jason was layered with deadly sexiness. And, in the bigger surprise, Betty’s fiery reaction to Cheryl’s insinuations raised my brow. Betty could be an insane psycho murderer. It’s on the table.
Though, I feel safe to say that Cheryl is no longer on the suspect list. She catches a glimpse of Archie leading the football team onto the field, and his red hair reminds her of her brother. The reality that he’s dead finally hits her, as she had always assumed he was going to one day come back, and she has public freak out. Which is where Veronica’s sympathies come in. I mean, tears aside, why would Cheryl be going out of her way to privately question people about the murder if she was the one who did it? It wasn’t her.
However, when the police come to arrest her at the end, she says she was expecting it. I suspect this is just a lame cliffhanger, and she’s talking about something completely different. But the revelation that Jason was killed a week after his disappearance, and he has marks indicating he was bound, makes his murder even more salacious. I love it.
Oh, and Archie’s musical ambitions are still lingering, but the subplot is kept to a minimum. He’s no Josie yet, but he’s already building a dedicated fanbase.