Riverdale Season 2 Episode 2 – TV Review
Riverdale is no longer a murder mystery.
It’s now a serial murder mystery.
What? You’ve always gotta up the stakes in Season 2.
TL;DR Archie’s paranoia about Fred’s attack and news of Grundy’s murder send him spiralling; but a closing shooting attack by the same masked fiend may vindicate his theories yet; Betty musters her can-do attitude (and some blackmail) to save Pop’s diner from ruin, and Skeet from massive jail time; Veronica keeps an eye on her duplicitous parents; Reggie is now a drug dealer.
Dammit. I knew old Reggie was better.
So Archie is still making his claim as the show’s protagonist this week, as news of Grundy’s murder hits, and he’s convinced that it must be connected to Fred’s shooting. Sadly, despite even siccing Alice on the case to hunt down details, the authorities aren’t convinced. But that doesn’t stop Archie from keeping his guard up, and now to the extent that he’s buying stay-awake pills from Reggie to keep watch over his dad. And a gun. Meanwhile, Betty and Jughead find out Pop’s diner is going down the drain ever since a customer got fucking shot there (remember that?). They make it their mission to do what they can to save it, while also dealing with news that Skeet is facing down a possible forty year sentence for his crimes, the most prominent of which was covering up Jason Blossom’s murder. Lacking any other options, Betty chooses to drop the Good Girl Next Door facade and straight-up blackmails Cheryl into both vouching for Skeet on the witness stand, and lending her the Vixens to help the diner, by threatening to post the footage of Jason’s murder online. Cheryl comes through, and Skeet’s case is now looking up, and Pop’s is saved. But that’s because Hiram Lodge, eager to impress his little girl, secretly buys it, while saying that he merely “donated” to it. And I guess I can accept his desperation, because Veronica has moved on from accusing Hermione of ordering the hit on Fred to accusing Hiram. Kids these days. Veronica also brings up the letter, but Hermione falsely claims she wrote it herself to manipulate Veronica. Why don’t you respect yourself, Hermione? And the episode ends with another murderous bang, as the killer shoots the absolute fuck out of Moose and a (sadly, female) date.
Well, there goes Kevin’s other love interest. Could No Gays In Mystic Falls be seeping into Riverdale?
So yeah, this is another fantastic episode of Riverdale, and my compliments will continue flowing.
Even the essentially worthless plot about saving Pop’s results in effective character beats for Betty, Veronica, and the elder Lodges.
Ain’t no flies on Riverdale.
Why I hate this episode:
The only thing that properly bugged me this episode was the supposedly valuable moment in the courtroom when Cheryl’s initial testimony proves fruitless, and she then blurts out that Mr Blossom had threatened to hurt Jughead if Skeet didn’t do his dirty work. Cheryl later bitches our heroes out for making her lie under oath. But that wasn’t a lie: it was established last season that Mr Blossom did threaten to hurt Jughead to make Skeet compliant. I mean, Cheryl probably doesn’t know that. But it was weird that Jughead and Betty didn’t confirm it for her.
Cheryl’s performance of Kelis’ Milkshake with the Pussycats (Valerie wasn’t in town this week) was underwhelming. Don’t waste Cheryl, show. God.
The Serpents’ lawyer being called the Snake Charmer was a little too cutesy, even for Riverdale.
Oh, and I seriously do not appreciate this new, dick-whipped Hermione. We don’t even get a quiet grimace from her during the scene where Hiram thanks her for lying to Veronica about the letter. Nah, babe. Hermione seems perfectly happy letting her man walk all over her. Not cool.
But it’s not all bad:
However, watching Hermione get hot and bothered when Hiram discloses his evil scheme of secretly buying Pop’s is definitely something I can handle. If they want to be partners in duplicity, then that’s fine. I just don’t appreciate seeing Hermione under his thumb.
And despite his attempts to get Veronica under there, too, I have faith that Queen V will be a little harder to placate. Just like her mother last episode, she directly accuses her father of ordering the hit on Fred. And when their employee, Smithers, suddenly disappears with a bogus reason (he was not a Hiram fan), Veronica isn’t ignorant to it. Stay vigilant.
The episode really does belong to Betty, though. Even Alice remarks at how much effort Betty is putting in to help everyone. But Riverdale, again, because it is not a lazy show, doesn’t give in to the expected cliche of Betty getting fed up, or martyring herself, or turning cruel and ruthless (well, not entirely). Betty is just a really good friend who cares about her loved ones and will act accordingly. Like I said last week, I care about what happens to these people because these people care about each other.
Betty does get her hands a little dirty, though, when she blackmails Cheryl. But the show treats it refreshingly lightly, with Cheryl’s aghast reaction quickly dissipating to her being impressed with Betty’s balls. And everything goes swell once it’s done, so it was for the best.
And in a smaller moment, Betty notices that Archie’s bedroom is unusually undisturbed, and so tips off Veronica that Archie may not be getting sleep, and Veronica then talks to Archie about it. Just think: with all this work being put in to make Betty a good girl, imagine how much of a swing in the other direction we’ll get when Dark Betty reappears. I am salivating.
Betty may be the force of sunshine and rainbows that Riverdale needs to fix itself, but Archie is our new source of dark, upsetting angst. His frustration in the face of the weak investigation being led by the Sheriff, and his lingering terror at the thought the shooter might come back to finish the job, cause him to get up to some disturbing behaviour. Staying awake all night with a baseball bat has now evolved to buying stimulants to stay awake, seeing visions of hooded men, and presenting conspiracy theories to the Sheriff and almost blowing the Grundy story from last season.
And to Archie’s credit, the abusive ex-partner angle is a decent bit of logic.
But Archie’s not content with just drugs and sporting goods. No, he needs to bring a gun to this gunfight, and he closes out his time this episode by purchasing a gun from the Scoutmaster. Yikes.
The shooter is keeping his guns handy, too, and the episode ends with a truly shocking attack on Moose and his companion. There’s no pageantry. He just approaches and fires, with a sickening blood splatter and no word yet on whether they’ll survive (I mean, at that range, how could they?). Fred didn’t die, and Grundy was a villain, so their attacks didn’t hold as much weight. But to see Moose, who’s been a light, comic relief character since the very first episode, get fucking murdered is unnerving.
Reggie selling drugs doesn’t excite me, but Alice being on the case does.
I was glad Skeet Ulrich came back, as I was worried we wouldn’t ever see him again. Ditto Mrs Blossom, who’s out of the actor-obscuring full face bandage already.
Oh, and just to prove that Riverdale is still on its game, here you go: