Riverdale Season 1 Episode 6 – TV Review
Thankfully, a lack of shirtless Archie, despite how integral it is to this show’s identity, is not the kiss of death.
The total lack of Cheryl, however, is a worry.
TL;DR Betty and Jughead find Polly probably is crazy; and pregnant; Archie triumphs at a talent show thing; Valerie temporarily quits the Pussycats and Veronica temporarily joins the Pussycats; Josie’s dad is a super turd; Hermione and Fred’s romantic and business entanglements cause strain all over.
For a moment there they almost slipped into Lily/Rufus territory, but they recovered.
So we’ll start with Betty and Jughead, whose subplot is the only arc-relevant one. They make good on their resolution to see Polly, and despite my conspiracy theory that Polly could have actually been a dissociative identity disorder personality of Betty’s, they find her alive and mentally unwell at some jail-like youth home. And she’s pregnant with Jason’s baby. Oops. But she does tell our duo about how she and Jason had planned to run away on 4 July, and Betty and Jughead do find a car they had stashed for the getaway. However, it’s also filled with bricks of drugs, and when they try to bring Sheriff back to check it out, someone’s set it all on fire. The mystery deepens. Meanwhile, it’s talent show time at Riverdale High, and Valerie butts heads with a haughtier-than-usual Josie over wanting to perform with Archie. Valerie quits the Pussycats, to be quickly replaced with Veronica, but Archie eventually realises the resulting shit storm isn’t worth it, and encourages Valerie to make up with Josie and rejoin the Pussycats (with Veronica still tagging along) for the performance. Archie then goes on stage solo and slays the house down with his innocuous, acoustic pop. The reason Josie was acting up was because her famous musician father is in town, and he’s a disapproving, snobbish cunt. Meanwhile, Hermione discovers Fred’s business is close to going under, and decides to help him out by covertly arranging for the drive-in redevelopment contract to be handed over to him. Veronica, who it turns out is a voting board member of her dad’s company, disapproves because she’s upset about Hermione getting into Fred’s pants, but Hermione just forges her signature, anyway. Ya burnt. And the episode ends as Betty and Jughead go to spring Polly from the youth home, but they find her room window shattered and blood-spattered, and Polly nowhere to be seen.
Because she’s actually in Betty’s head!? Oh, no. They disproved that. Never mind.
So we’re now six episodes in, and I think I’m safe to say that while Riverdale isn’t going to set the world on fire alla Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it definitely is a competent, strong teen soap.
Sure, it doesn’t have the glitz and New York glam of Gossip Girl (though, for a small town, everyone is constantly coiffed to perfection). But it also doesn’t have every plot hinge on characters never talking to each other.
So that’s a huge fucking plus.
Why I hate this episode:
Except where is Cheryl, tho? Seriously not cool.
I am sad that Polly turned out to be real. But I’m not entirely surprised. The real “huh?” of Polly is that her parents managed to lock her up in what’s basically an insane asylum with, like, what evidence? Yeah, Polly is a little unhinged. But what kind of medical establishment in 2017 would imprison a pregnant teen girl who loves a boy from the wrong (well, according to her parents) side of the tracks? It’s such an antiquated trope. It’s distracting.
Veronica’s Pussycats subplot is totally arbitrary. Besides, if Josie was going to let a white girl into the Pussycats, it should have been Cheryl. Where is Cheryl?
Josie’s dad is supposed to be an arsehole, but I still want to mention how much I hate him. His comment about gentrification is appallingly hypocritical; he says it while having dinner in his family mansion. And his wife is the mayor. And he’s a working, affluent, respected musician. Shut the fuck up. I see where Josie gets it from, now, at least.
Speaking of, at Pussycats practice, Josie calls Veronica “poor little rich girl.” Pot. Kettle. Black.
Archie kisses Valerie near the end of the episode, so it looks like she is going to be a legitimate love interest. Archie is too slutty.
Oh, and for the Park Avenue Princess stereotype, Veronica is oddly idealistic about the state of her family. She expects her father to return from prison and go back to being in a perfect marriage with Hermione. I appreciate the optimism, but come on, Veronica. Get real.
But it’s not all bad:
I suppose it’s a credit to Riverdale that it is willing to challenge expectations and character stereotypes. And Veronica does mostly get over it by the end of the episode, and apologises to Archie (who, conversely, is supportive of Fred and Hermione’s flirtation).
She almost apologises to Hermione, too, but Fred unknowingly gushes about how his company was awarded the drive-in contract, which Veronica knows would have only been possible if she had voted for it. Which she didn’t. So she realises her mum must have dogged her. That sucks, V.
Points to Hermione for forging that signature, though. She doesn’t wait around; Veronica refuses and walks out, and Hermione instantly whips out a pen and gets shit done. Werq.
I know I’m at risk of over-praising at this point, but again Riverdale needs to be commended for having characters actually talk to each other about difficult things. Early on, Veronica spots Hermione kissing Fred through a window. If this was Gossip Girl (oh, GG. I’m hard on you. But you deserve it), Serena would probably discuss it with Blair, who would then likely tell someone else for personal gain, and it would end up on Gossip Girl and then it would all blow up and/or be a misunderstanding. But on Riverdale, Veronica’s very next conversation with her mum is to ask about her relationship with Fred. So. Fucking. Refreshing. I can’t say it enough.
Fred similarly discusses his budding relationship with Archie honestly, and Archie offers his approval. Aww.
And still on the same topic, Betty and Jughead, upon finding the Polly/Jason getaway car, and the surprise drugs within, immediately seek out Sheriff to bring him to see. They even have to stop in at the talent show to grab him, and Betty doesn’t hesitate to prioritise helping the police over listening to Archie’s performance. Keep it up, team.
Archie’s performance is fine. The breakneck turnaround of the football team from heckling to his biggest fans is trite, but the boy’s got pipes.
The Pussycats also win over the crowd with their cover of I Feel Love. Except for Papa Josie, who, as you might recall, is a cunt.
Not to let Archie and Valerie outshine them, Jughead and Betty also lock lips in what is sure to be a temporary, doomed romance. But, again like Archie and Valerie, they both seem to be into it. So it might last for a while.
Oh, and Josie and the Pussycats, serious girl band of colour they claim to be, aren’t afraid of really committing to their animal branding. Fight the good fight, girls. In cat leotards.