Riverdale Season 2 Episode 6 – TV Review
Cheryl’s off the bench this episode, and not used as a plot prop for an attempted rape this time.
But then she goes and spoils it all by doing something stupid like acting like a rational human being.
TL;DR Cheryl is integral to finding the identity of the Jingle Jangle supplier; a fact which Betty uses to leverage herself out of the Black Hood’s web; Jughead gets into more implausible gang business (but this time with street racing); Veronica experiences the perks of Lodge family vigilante justice on an enemy.
It’s Nick. Mummy and Daddy exact vengeance on Nick.
So speaking of Nick, we’ll start with Cheryl, whose mother accepts hush money to keep this whole “drugging and attempted rape” thing quiet. Cheryl gives things the good ol’ blossom denial try, but when Betty comes calling for information on the local Jingle Jangle supplier, the Sugarman, Cheryl holds that hush money cheque over her mother for the deets. Penelope Blossom struggles to save face, but eventually relents, leading to an honest discussion between the two (so boring). Betty, having spent the episode tasked by the Black Hood with determining the Sugarman’s identity, then informs the authorities to get him arrested (it’s Jughead’s beefy teacher at the South Side high school, by the way) to spare his life from the Black Hood. But Sir BH just executes him in jail, anyway. Oops. Meanwhile, Mayor McCoy goes nuclear on the South Side Serpents following the Scooby Gang’s Jingle Jangle-fuelled party last episode, making raids and arrests. Archie stands by Jughead, who is consequently pressured by Serpent higher-ups into endorsing a Ghoulies alliance against the North Side. This is clearly a thinly-veiled takeover move by the Ghoulies, so Skeet suggests Jughead and Archie street race for the Serpents’ freedom. Because this is now Grease. But Archie rubs together his two brain cells and tips off the police, leading to the Ghoulies leader’s arrest. Who doesn’t love a band-aid solution? Jughead. Also, it turns out Toni and Jughead didn’t have sex, because she prefers women. Edgy. Meanwhile, Veronica wants to champion charges against Nick, but worries that news of his unwanted sexual advance on her last episode may make Daddy do bad things. But when she finds out Nick’s parents are still in business with Hiram, she can keep quiet no longer, and the deal with Nick’s parents is rescinded, and Nick promptly has a mysterious car crash, bringing a smile to Veronica’s face.
I’d say Veronica’s going dark, but we’ve also got Dark Betty seeping through the cracks this episode in Betty’s interactions with the Black Hood. Will Archie have no wholesome love interests left?
In a similar way to last episode, this week does feel like quite a bit of work, again owing to the largely external conflicts. The gang stuff still rings hollow (again, this is not Veronica Mars, and Riverdale is no Neptune), and the Black Hood as a driving plot force still seems like too much of an escalation for what is essentially a high school soap opera.
But Riverdale manages to sneak in just enough personal moments to keep things rolling along, with the dark turns from Betty and Veronica of special note.
I’d praise Archie’s plot with the cops, but, as Jughead points out, it was really fucking stupid.
Why I hate this episode:
What did Archie think would happen when the arrested Ghoulies get out on their lame street racing wrist-slaps? These are committed drug gangs, Archie. A couple of months for hooning is nothing to them. But the disrespect? That’s gonna cost ya.
Well, not Archie. It’ll cost Jughead, whose continued immersion in the Serpent world I could do without. I was excited earlier in the season when it seemed Jughead was making a quick retreat from gang life. But here we are. The only saving grace is that (as yet) he doesn’t appear to be enjoying it.
I won’t lose any sleep over the abandoned Jughead/Toni romance (he gets back together with Betty after she reveals her Black Hood-induced breakup reasons), but what was the point of that, then?
Cheryl is the cause of my greatest joy this episode, and my most surprising disappointment. The frankness of her discussions with her mother should be admirable. But Cheryl Blossom is better as the arch, cryptic, Token Evil Teammate character. I don’t want to bring her down to earth. I want her to fly around the sun, baby. The Blossoms have gone from gothic to milquetoast. And that’s Archie’s thing.
The Sugarman reveal was like, whatever.
Oh, and it was a bit of a cop out when the Black Hood tells Betty he didn’t kill Nick because he wasn’t actually a denizen of Riverdale, so he didn’t count. What about Grundy, then?
But it’s not all bad:
I do appreciate a serial killer who sticks to his rules, though. And his reasoning, that the fact Betty gave him a name at all is satisfying enough, is fair.
Betty is saddled with doing a lot of the legwork this episode, and as usual, she carries the burden well. The whole Sugarman thing is twee and ridiculous, but when it leads back to the twee and ridiculous Blossom family, it makes sense.
I’ve got to get back in the business of praising Riverdale for having its characters actually talk to each other. Betty comes clean to Veronica about being forced to break up with her last episode, and Veronica instantly believes her and resumes their friendship. These kids are good people, you know?
Top marks again for Veronica for immediately confronting her parents when Cheryl tips her off about them accepting money from Nick’s family. And we’ll swing a couple points back Betty’s way again for not sitting on the identity of the Sugarman, and appropriately alerting the authorities once she knows. If Riverdale is remembered for one thing, I hope it’s remembered as the soap opera where characters do actually talk to each other. That’s a worthy legacy. Along with the Archie shirtless scenes.
Sadly, we don’t really get one of those this week (does side pec while lying in bed count?), but the Ghoulies leader is refreshingly clothing-averse, strutting around in a sex robe most of the time.
Cheryl’s back in the game this episode, and properly. While I didn’t love her earnestness, she does find what opportunities she can to be the narcissistic, alien-like Cheryl we love. Her prize moment this week is when she bumps Toni out of the way as the race skank to start the gang drag race. And she doesn’t have to act skanky to do it. Her swift heel swivel after she waves her kerchief is the icing on the cake.
And sure, Penelope’s gradual defrost is comforting. She is worn down by Cheryl to admit the Sugarman deets, and when Cheryl hands back the cheque as bargained, she destroys it. Aww. She also seems genuinely upset to admit she tried to intervene in Mr Blossom’s grooming of Jason to become the new Blossom drug kingpin, and believes her actions are what led to the chain of events resulting in Jason’s murder. Keep it fucked up, Blossoms.
Archie’s police sting plan at the race is a divine mix of shocking deception, and shortsightedness. I was as surprised as Jughead that Archie managed to pull one over on him. And as incredulous at how dumb the plan was, as it will result in retribution.
Mayor McCoy, for the first time I think ever, makes an imposing presence during the sequence of her leading the charge to storm the South Side high school. She’s kind of faded into the background ever since her shady business dealings early in the first season. I think it’s time you used her, Riverdale.
Betty is Jughead’s mechanic for the drag race, and it is not commented upon by the characters or by the way it’s presented as part of the show. Cool.
I felt utter revulsion at Nick’s gloating to Cheryl when she bumps into him at the diner as he’s leaving town. Riverdale got extremely lucky with the timing for this subplot, and I’m happy with how it was handled.
The subtle re-emergence of Dark Betty near the end of the episode fills me with hope. Betty gets more than a little too into her telephone threats to the Black Hood, and it was juicy. I suspect when it’s discovered that the Sugarman still got murdered that Betty will deflate somewhat. But that should only spur her on to hunt the Black Hood down even more.
Similarly, Veronica’s unashamed satisfaction when Hermione reports Nick’s “accident” makes me wonder which of our leading ladies will end up being the baddest bitch.
Oh, and that is unless Cheryl remembers she’s a Blossom and out-evils them all.