Riverdale Season 2 Episode 19 – TV Review
How do you follow up a musical episode?
Well, if you’re Riverdale, you get the fucking lead out and go absolutely crazy with everyone’s subplots, including near-rape, kidnapping, and murder.
Welcome back, Riverdale. Last week wasn’t just a fluke.
TL;DR The Black Hood really is back; he calls on Betty again, and this comes in handy when Chic is discovered to be an impostor and needs to be disposed of; Sheriff Keller comes under fire tragically, if fairly, and is forced to step down; Nick returns to kidnap and ransom Archie; but Veronica handles that shit.
This episode features multiple tied-up and tortured dudes. Ain’t no damsels in distress today.
So we’ll start with Betty, who by now we know we can rely upon to be a professional and keep us on an arc-relevant course. With the Black Hood back in action (Midge really is dead), Betty and Jughead, under the impression Chic could be involved, investigate the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Janitor and Chic would have both been there at the same time, so maybe Chic is his apprentice or something. But what they find is far more shocking: Chic is not Alice’s son, Charles. They confront him, which leads to violence, and Chic being tied up while the Coopers and the Joneses try to decide what to do, and if they believe Chic’s story that Charles overdosed. Alice is forced to tearfully admit to Skeet that Charles was his son, and he’s dead, and Hal is also filled in. Betty, meanwhile, gets cryptic clue phone calls from the Black Hood, and sets out to discover that Chic actually murdered Charles. Like, duh. While Skeet extracts Jughead from the situation, and Alice and Hal wring their hands over what to do, Betty instead drags Chic at gunpoint to a rendezvous with the Black Hood and sets him loose to be chased down and presumably murdered. Fuck, dude. But when Betty returns home and finds Hal absent, her mind flashes with the realisation that the Black Hood could be her own father. Meanwhile, Archie is also out to find answers on the Black Hood, but instead finds himself abducted by a vengeful Nick, whose family it turns out are as mafia-wannabe as the Lodges. Nick ransoms Archie for one million dollars, but Hermione and Hiram refuse to cough up. Veronica strikes out on her own, though, and steals money from her family’s safe, but it’s not enough. Nick then schemes to have Veronica whore herself out for the remainder while he makes Archie watch via livestream, and she agrees to this. But psych, she roofies him, and Archie frees himself, anyway. Veronica wins the day by then ransoming Nick back to his parents for that same one million dollars. The girls are on fire, baby. Speaking of, Cheryl is incensed by Midge’s murder, and vows swift and terrible retribution on the Black Hood, and the bumbling Sheriff Keller. Hermione sees an opportunity to have Cheryl write a scathing op ed piece for the paper, which she does, causing friction (and a whiff of a subplot, finally) between her and Kevin. But Sheriff admits she’s kind of right, so is not super torn up when he’s forced to step down as the sheriff. Oh, and Archie is yet to open his eyes to Hiram’s bullshit (he and Hermione do nothing to help with the kidnapping, despite claiming they would try to negotiate with Nick’s parents), and offers to kill the Black Hood to earn his mafia stripes or something.
Just get out, Archie. He’s just not that into you.
You know, even despite the threads of Lodge mafia family rubbish that are wound around events this episode, I am thoroughly impressed with what Riverdale has to offer this week.
It’s still jarring to think that this show only a season ago was a teen high school soap, and not the zany, mob boss/serial killer scattershot it has become. But I can live with this change so long as the show keeps me enthralled, and I care about the characters.
And thank Betty, I still do.
Why I hate this episode:
I am completely done with Hiram and Hermione and all their underworld nonsense, though. Veronica, at least, seems to be back to resisting them, as she is not only disgusted that they wouldn’t help Archie, but she’s also not interested in helping them cook their scheme with Cheryl. One of the worst changes Riverdale made between seasons was to turn Hermione from the most sensible and reliable parent in town into the snivelling ferret on Hiram’s shoulder. My vote is to ship Hiram off at the end of Season 2, and puts some brain cells back into poor Hermione’s head. She used to be a cool mum.
Hiram is also the major cause of my problems with Archie, whose fanatical Hiram allegiance has passed beyond any form of redemption. He literally did nothing to save you from his mafia enemies, yet you come crawling to him at the end of the episode offering to murder someone to make him like you? Fuck you, Archie. You used to be cool, too.
It was frustrating that Riverdale finally gave us something between Cheryl and Kevin, but the episode doesn’t get any time to see that through. A Cheryl and Kevin bottle episode has been on my wish list for aeons, and a Cheryl vs Kevin bottle episode might even be better. All the ingredients are there, show. Come on.
Betty smartly leverages her knowledge of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy’s illegal (?) gay conversion therapy to make the head nun show them Chic’s file. But, like, you should probably be exposing that anyway, Betty. How can you allow that shit to continue?
Oh, and I would have liked to have seen the Black Hood actually capture and kill Chic in front of Betty. It would have been much more impactful.
But it’s not all bad:
The trailer for next week involves Betty having to identify a corpse at the morgue and her bemoaning that she is an accomplice to murder, so I’m going to assume that’s Chic.
It’s embarrassing how much more effective the Cooper family drama is than the Lodges. And who would have thought that could have happened after last season? I was worried when they were hiding bodies just a while ago, but having Chic The Impostor locked up and bloodied and beaten in the basement felt totally natural. And it’s what he deserved.
Alice, much like last week, builds herself as the emotional powerhouse of the episode as she breaks down following the news that her actual son, Charles, is dead. She goes to see Skeet, reigniting my shipper fires, and grimly informs him that they did have a child together, but now he’s dead. And she blames herself, because apparently (according to Chic at this point), Charles tried to initiate contact with Alice, but she shooed him away without realising who he was, and he died soon after.
This turns out to be only partly true, as reliable, intrepid Betty discovers that Charles did try to see Alice, but his death was not from an overdose, but at the hands of Chic’s violence. Those calls from the Black Hood then become less upsetting, and more of an opportunity.
And in a scene that I think would not have landed for any other character on the show, Betty secretly ushers Chic out of the basement at gunpoint (Grundy’s gun, no less. What a callback), and marches him to a rendezvous with the Black Hood. Given the Black Hood’s affinity for Betty, seeming hatred for Chic, and Hal’s absence when Betty returns home, I think Hal is now a lock for our killer’s true identity. I’m keen to find out why he tried to rob the diner and why he shot Fred.
Jughead doesn’t get too much to do this week, but I appreciated him whaling on Chic to show his support for Betty. Having your boyfriend fight other guys for you is not hot, but I’ll allow a savage beating of a bound brother-murderer.
Archie is, thankfully, sequestered as Nick’s kidnap victim for most of the episode, which is a blessing because it keeps his stupid mouth shut for a while. Nick’s motives are pretty lame (“you hurt me and also I want money”), but his conviction in really roughing Archie up, and extorting sex out of Veronica has to be admired.
Archie does get a mildly redeeming moment in his sequence of escaping Nick’s goons and running through the streets. It’s a believable run. Somebody warn Tom Cruise.
Veronica is also impressively committed to her plan of action to rescue Archie. She blithely robs the fuck out of her parents’ safe, and when that isn’t sufficient to pay off Nick, she conjures her plan to roofie him. It’s poetic. And then the reverse ransom is the icing on the cake.
Veronica’s refusal to join her parents in their scheme with Cheryl, and her indignation when she learns they didn’t help Archie like they said they would, also builds my hope that she will split from their mafia bullshit and become her own character again.
Cheryl’s hyperbolic outrage and proclamations of revenge are perfectly in her wheelhouse, but I’ll give her extra snaps for actually helping get Sheriff fired with her nasty article.
Likewise, Kevin’s doomed support of his father, even when he knows he has fucked up, is heartwarming.
Midge’s mother slaps Sheriff at the funeral, and I like to imagine this is a reference to Jaws.
I legitimately cried when Alice told Skeet about their dead son.
Oh, and Veronica needn’t worry about her chances in the student council elections, anymore. She can buy all the votes she needs.