Riverdale Season 1 Episode 9 – TV Review
As delectable as Riverdale’s gothic archness and constant gloom is, I’m finding myself hungry for a bit more teen soap fluff.
It can’t all be dead kids and snowblown maple syrup ceremonies and suicidal fathers.
Even The Vampire Diaries knew that.
TL;DR Cheryl makes a desperate play for Archie that results in nobody getting what they want; Polly actually isn’t insane, and is seeking the truth about Jason’s murder; Veronica gets smacked in the face with the reality of her father’s crimes; Hermione comes clean to Fred.
Much to her regret.
So let’s get to the major plot this week, as the Blossom maple syrup business’ board of directors arrives in town for some tree tapping ceremony thing. With Jason’s death and Mr Blossom’s failed bid for the drive-in land, the board is apparently ready to snatch the company away from the family. Cheryl’s at-first innocent, “my brother is dead and I need a friend” advances on Archie to join her give way to reveal the Blossoms are actually grooming him to be Chery’s grounded, agreeable arm candy to appease the board (they, understandably, consider Cheryl to be crazy). Archie peaces out, leaving Cheryl fuming. And despite having resisted Cheryl’s advances, Valerie dumps Archie because he has been ignoring her (also understandable). Meanwhile, Archie also delivers new to Betty and Alice that Polly is only staying at Thornhill because she thinks the Blossoms were involved in Jason’s death and wants to find proof. Meanwhile, Betty and Jughead convince Alice, after Papa B fires her from the paper, to join their murder investigation mystery team. Meanwhile, Hermione, at Veronica’s urging, tells Fred the truth about Hiram’s purchase of the land, and of Hiram’s attempts to sully the project because of their tryst. Fred is not amused. Meanwhile, Archie overhears Mr and Mrs Blossom discussing how they were the ones to get Hiram arrested. And Veronica, after a long time on the bench, finally gets a subplot of her own, as she takes it upon herself to cheer up a returning Ethel/Barb. She feels guilty enough when she discovers Ethel’s home life strife is due to her father’s now-bad investment with Hiram, but things get really grim when Ethel’s father attempts suicide. Veronica and Ethel manage to retain their friendship, but Veronica proclaims that she won’t lie to the lawyers to protect Hiram when they come for her statement.
A Pretty Little Liar she ain’t. Thank God.
Well, I’ll have to commend Riverdale for giving its lead teen characters something to do this episode. Betty kind of keeps playing her old “but what about Polly” song, but Archie’s involvement to the story isn’t incidental. And Veronica gets some legitimate character development.
Still, the adults continue to be the best thing about Riverdale.
Probably because they act like bratty teenagers.
Why I hate this episode:
While I am in love with how obviously manipulative the Blossoms’ plan for Archie was, I think it’s not a great plan. The idea is that Archie, a steady, all-American male would make Cheryl look good in the board’s eyes. Good enough for them not to stage a corporate coup. But, like, Archie is super dooper bland. And Cheryl is still weird and erratic. It’s all just a plot weasel to get Archie in and around Thornhill.
Unless, like I’ve suggested before, Riverdale is in fact running a long game plan of deconstructing Archie as a protagonist by continually exposing his dullness and lack of worth as a main character. But I’m not seeing evidence of that yet.
Speaking of not seeing evidence, I was supremely disappointed that Ethel’s return did not bring the revelation that the sex playbook scandal with the football team was all a fabrication. That episode dropped those hints so goddamn hard that Ethel made it all up, but there’s no mention of it this week. I sincerely hope Riverdale will steer back around to it eventually. Because if they don’t, then what the fuck, man?
Oh, and Polly’s sudden “I’m an investigative journalist” doesn’t match what we’ve learned about Polly so far (that is, she is a crazy pregnant wackjob). Also, investigative journalism is Betty’s thing. Stop taking Betty’s things, Polly.
But it’s not all bad:
At least Riverdale cleared up my complaint from last episode about Polly’s bizarre decision to move to Thornhill. Given how clearly evil the Blossoms are, Polly’s suspicions that they were involved in Jason’s death are probably not unfounded.
And Betty hasn’t given up her own investigation, yet. In fact, now that Alice can’t write anything in the newspaper thank to Papa B firing her (ouch), she’s joined Betty and Jughead’s school newspaper investigation. With Betty and Jughead’s tenacity, and Alice’s seething venom, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish.
After Papa B fires Alice from the newspaper, she immediately retaliates by throwing a brick through the office’s window. Hot.
Archie finally matters to the plot again, but only insofar as the Blossoms want him to do what he does best: stand around and look pretty. Archie’s so gullible and people-pleasing that he’s easily drawn into their little web. But it comes from a genuine place of sympathy for Cheryl, so I can’t be angry at him for it.
You know who is angry at him for it, though? Valerie. She gets the second best line of the episode upon dumping Archie, mainly because she is also describing how the show has been treating her: “Ever since we started dating you’ve ignored me. You ditched me.” I told you they were doomed.
Cheryl gets the episode’s best line with no contest when she drops this whopper on Fred when she comes to visit Archie at home: “Mr Andrews. Nice haircut. Looking extremely DILF-y today.” Damn, bitch. Wait until she meets Jughead’s dad.
The goings on at Thornhill are the right level of arch camp that Riverdale has made its trademark. Who knew a maple syrup company could be so akin to a cult?
The end result of Archie’s (eventual) refusal to be the Blossoms’ lackey is a tragic meltdown scene from Cheryl, who tries to salvage her pride by claiming Archie only ever agreed to help her to get into her parents’ wallet. And, to close out the episode, Cheryl makes a promising move towards becoming a full-on villain when she psychotically crosses Archie out of an earlier family photo with a red pen. Polly pops in to say goodnight, which Cheryl reciprocates cheerily. But then she does the same to Polly in the photo. Ooh, girl. I’m in.
Archie passes on the lead about the Blossoms getting Hiram arrested to Betty and Jughead, who think maybe he was involved in Jason’s murder. It’s plausible.
Hermione and Veronica continue to be the best mother/daughter team on television and keep up their hot streak of actually talking to each other about their problems.
Hermione tells Fred the truth about the drive-in purchase, and Hiram’s attack on the project. Fred refuses to be crushed like a bug in a feud between Hiram and Mr Blossom, and is horrified that Hermione would allow him to be employed by a criminal. He later reconsiders quitting, though, and instead extorts a higher fee from Hermione, and then severs any romantic links they have. No! You guys were the only normal couple in town.
Veronica treads dangerously close to Insufferable Martyr territory with her charity towards Ethel. But her visceral reaction to Kevin’s gossip about Ethel’s dad’s suicide attempt saves it. She doesn’t ugly cry (this is the CW, baby), but she runs and gasps and gets on her knees and all that. It worked for me.
Oh, and I don’t believe a show as clever as Riverdale has been will forget about the football team playbook scandal. I’m worried, but I still have a faith.