Riverdale Season 2 Episode 1 – TV Review

Riverdale A Kiss Before Dying Veronica Archie hug

Dynasty was just so, so boring.

Is Riverdale the best show currently airing?

Yes.

TL;DR Riverdale keeps flying straight and true as the emotional resonance, sumptuous visuals, and good ol’ teen soap trash continue; Archie crumples under the weight of his father’s near death; Betty and Jughead keep their eyes open around the Serpents; Veronica’s father is back (bitches); Cheryl’s got that Blossom family psychopathy; Fred doesn’t die.

But Grundy does.

So we’re moments after last season’s explosive gunshot finale, as Archie rushes Fred to the hospital, drenched in his blood. The rest of the cast trickles in to be by Archie’s side, but Veronica is the one to comfort him the most. With sex, and human emotion. Throughout, Archie conceals something about the shooting, which he eventually spills to the rest of the Core Four: he’s ashamed that he froze and didn’t fight back. Aww. Fred, thankfully, pulls through (despite some eerie fantasy sequences inside his head of his own mortality), but the killer is still at large, as shown in a chilling final sequence for the now-departed Grundy. Peace, bitch. Meanwhile, Jughead thinks he’s hot shit, and leverages the Serpents to look for the killer. Betty’s concerns about the Serpent life are validated when Jughead’s cronies don’t find the killer, but do parade horrifying torture around him. Yikes. Meanwhile, Cheryl fabricates a story about the Thornhill fire, and menaces her terribly burned mother (it’s okay, Cheryl didn’t hurt her. Mrs Blossom was injured trying to salvage a painting). And the Big, Bad Hiram Lodge finally rolls into town, as handsome and devious as expected, with an increasingly unsympathetic Hermione as his cunty right hand.

What happened to you, Hermione? You used to be cool.

So remember how embarrassing it was to endure me heaping praise upon Riverdale week after week last season?

Yeah, that’s not gonna stop.

What’s wrong with me?

 

Why I hate this episode:

The only real sticking point is dear Hermione. Hermione, at least compared to the campier Alice and Mrs Blossom, flew the flag for realistic, reasonable parental characters last season. But with Hiram’s return, she’s morphed into this shadowy, evil ghoul lackey. It’s not a good look.

Fred’s fantasy sequences were heavy-handed, and in a show that’s already as glossy and stylised in its waking life, we didn’t need them. Glad he lived, though.

In a rare case of avoiding consequences (don’t fall into the trap your other CW brethren have), Riverdale immediately weasels out of the whole Jughead foster family thing: he’s just going to stay at Skeet’s trailer, and the foster family will lie that he’s there. Lame. No word yet on if the change of schools will still go through, though.

Oh, and Reggie, the Asian jock, got recast. I liked old Reggie.

 

But it’s not all bad:

Everyone else is still here. And I love these guys.

One of Riverdale’s greatest strengths is how earnest the friendships between the characters, especially the Core Four, feel. Gossip Girl had its moments with Serena and Blair’s co-dependent bullshit, but even amid the murder mystery and blood and ominous fog of Riverdale, the wholesomeness of the bond between our leads is radiant. I care about these characters because these characters care about each other.

Watching the gang file in to see a devastated, blood-stained Archie is powerful. This matters.

Veronica really goes the extra mile, though, when she takes Archie home to get cleaned up. Sure, she pulls the old shower fuck play to make Archie feel better. But it’s later, when he plays another cliche, the “yell at them to leave you alone I’m fine” game, that Riverdale reminds us why it’s better than other teen soaps. Instead of complying, or even impotently raging against it, Veronica simply refuses because it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. Because Veronica, and most of the denizens of Riverdale, act much more like real people than they ever needed to. It impresses me every time I see it, and that’s pretty much every episode.

The episode then reaches its emotional peak as Archie promptly breaks down in tears, and Veronica hugs him like a real girlfriend; a real human being, would. It’s really nice.

Things evolve later when Archie admits his shiftiness about his story of the shooting is due to the shame he feels for freezing up and submitting to the shooter, when they held their gun to his head. This could be the inciting incident Archie needs to do some real growing. Or lead to chaos and destruction. It’s Riverdale, so likely both.

Speaking of Chaos and destruction, holy fuck, Cheryl. She is done playing with Mrs Blossom, and I love it.

I also loved her slow motion hair flip when the gang sees her strutting through the hospital. I’m always here for a Cheryl slo-mo hallway walk.

In Fred’s fantasy about Archie’s graduation, Cheryl is shown in the background as the only person with a red graduation gown, while everyone else is wearing blue. It’s all in the details, people.

Betty and Jughead take a back seat to the more serious stuff this episode, but I’m glad Jughead has already gotten a taste of how serious bikie life can be. I was worried we might have to suffer through some elongated arc showing Jughead abusing the power until some shit happens. But nah, he’s already had a bloody, tortured, innocent man in his living room. I think he gets it.

Hiram is super hot, and super evil. He’s perfect for Riverdale. And it’s interesting to note that he does not have green eyes, so he definitely isn’t the diner shooter.

Veronica openly accuses her mum of ordering a hit on Fred. See? They still talk to each other about everything.

The stinger with Grundy was pitch perfect in tone. We get just enough gross-out, as she’s shown getting her hooks into another illegally underaged boy. And then along comes the killer to tie up that loose end. And Greendale is only one town away. I am intrigued.

Oh, and it wouldn’t be an authentic Riverdale episode without a shirtless Archie scene. And this is an authentic Riverdale episode.

Riverdale A Kiss Before Dying Archie shirtless shower

Lest we forget.

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About ijusthateeverything

Sincerity is death.

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