Riverdale Season 2 Episode 3 – TV Review
It’s time for Riverdale to go for Glee, and trot out some unironic gay suffrage.
But unlike Glee, it’s subtle (as subtle as forest cruising sex can be) and affecting.
And also Archie is starting his own ISIS or something.
TL;DR Kevin’s lonely search for physical validation dovetails eloquently with the spreading fear about the killer; who has now named himself and made his presence known; Archie thus finds it easy to raise an army in response; Veronica’s on a quest to prove her dad is bad news, but I’m not sure she even knows what she wants the outcome to be; Jughead finds it hard to wriggle away from the Serpents;
Conversely, he finds it easier to fall into a new love interest’s lap. Dark Betty: how do you respond?
So the plot this week picks up on a surprising ricochet from Moose and Midge’s shooting attack in the woods last episode: Kevin was out in the forest cruising for gay sex, and runs to their aid when he hears the shots. Everyone’s okay, but this leads to Betty finding out what Kevin’s been up to, and she tries to talk some sense into him about how dangerous it is (both in general, and considering there’s a serial killer around). Cheryl also peeks in to be bitchy/helpful, and after some well-reasoned indignation from Kevin, he does come around, and forges a stronger relationship with his father. God, Riverdale is good. Meanwhile, our resident serial killer names himself the Black Hood in a letter to Alice, which she publishes against Sheriff and Mayor’s advice. Because his manifesto involves attacking sinners, which means everyone in town is a target. This kicks Archie’s mounting paranoia into overdrive, and he forms a vigilante neighbourhood watch program, with a worryingly fanatical and disturbing bent to it. Meanwhile, Veronica formulates a complicated plan to, I think, force Hermione into admitting Hiram is evil. She invites Archie around for dinner to bait Hermione into admission. It doesn’t work, and Hiram is actually the one to really inspire Archie to his scary vigilantism, but Hermione seems to be getting closer. Meanwhile, Jughead settles into life at his new South Side school. He avoids being chummy with the Serpents, but does resurrect their defunct school paper, with the help of potential new love interest, and Serpent, Toni. After being attacked by a rival gang, Jughead reluctantly slithers back to the Serpents. Oh, and Polly splits outta town. Because an unwed mother, pregnant via incest to her cousin, is probably number one on the Black Hood’s hit list.
So goddamn, Riverdale knows how to fit things in. Everyone in the Scooby Gang gets an almost equal share of the attention this episode. Even Kevin.
The only missing piece is a bigger role for Cheryl. But the smarmy, sniping, immaculately groomed Token Evil Teammate role does suit her well.
She uses her powers of bitchiness for good sometimes.
Why I hate this episode:
Just more Cheryl, please.
I’m not sure if I’ve grasped Veronica’s plan with her parents correctly. I think what she’s after is to force Hermione to concede that, despite her Good Wife routine, Hiram is a big, bad guy. But to achieve this, she’s willing to put Archie in harm’s way? That’s pretty mean, V.
Also, Hermione, it’s time to come clean. Be the sensible, down-to-earth parent you were in the first season. No more being Hiram’s puppet, please.
Ethel’s return reminded me of my unsubstantiated suspicions about her and the football team sex book from the first season, and it reignited the fire inside me that’s still miffed they never followed through on that. I’ll keep waiting.
Oh, and Moose and Kevin’s scene together is so tender and nice, it frustrates me that they can’t be actually together. Riverdale seems pretty progressive, guys. Give it a go.
But it’s not all bad:
The fact that Moose survives and then he and Kevin have that scene gives me hope that Riverdale will not follow TVD down the No Gays in Mystic Falls road. I mean, Moose says he likes Midge a lot, but then he leaves the door wide open for Kevin. Give it a go.
Riverdale continues its streak of wholesomeness in the small details about the shooting attack. Firstly, Midge is not shot at all because Moose reflexively protected her. And Kevin, despite the danger of a shooting and being found out for being in the woods, doesn’t hesitate to run to Moose and Midge’s aid. I’ll keep saying it: these characters are good people, and that’s why it’s worth caring about them.
Kevin’s rant to Betty when she meddles in his love (sex?) life falls flat only because personally I don’t think it’s been sufficiently established that Kevin is oppressed (he kind-of openly dated a gay gang member. This doesn’t seem like Westboro Baptist Church territory), but it does lead to a deeper understanding from her, and subsequently his dad when he comes clean. I got the warm fuzzies.
Cheryl’s minor contribution to the episode comes during this plot thread, and though she doesn’t do much, she does, as per usual, make for a striking presence. Cheryl also does us a favour and, when Betty and Kevin are arguing about freaky sex, brings up Dark Betty. The Law of Conservation of Detail dictates that it would only be brought up because it will be pertinent. Bring her on.
Veronica’s plan to force Hermione’s hand is reckless, but disregard for others is hereditary for a Lodge, so I guess it makes sense. I do appreciate that she is dogged in her approach, though. Hermione’s got to crack sooner or later, hopefully in a powerful moment to protect her daughter from the demon she married.
The Black Hood’s motive of going after sinners isn’t particularly original, but it delivers on the fear factor, as basically everyone has got something going on that would put them on his list. I also loved how Alice didn’t wait for Sheriff and Mayor’s permission to publish it (they attempt to veto but it’s already gone to print). Alice and Cheryl have that “using bitchiness for good” thing in common.
I’m not much invested in Jughead’s trip to the South Side and his new love interest, but if his school’s newspaper begins to rival the Blue and Gold, that should make Betty and Toni’s rivalry a bit spicier.
There’s a scene where, during cruising, Kevin gets into a car with an older man and is then savagely stabbed in the gut. This turns out to be in Kevin’s imagination, but I literally gasped when it happened. Because Riverdale is the kind of show that would do it for real, so I was able to believe it. Harrowing.
Oh, and Archie as the ringleader for a psycho armed militia of mostly shirtless hunks? I can see it.