Riverdale Episode 9 Review – Chapter Nine: La Grande Illusion

In a fantastic Riverdale, the Cooper/Blossom maple syrup blood feud results in some collateral damage.

This Riverdale review contains spoilers.

Riverdale Episode 9

At the start of tonight’s eventful episode of Riverdale, viewers are reminded that the titular town lives and dies on its “lucrative syrup trade,” one that dates back decades to when Great Granpappy Blossom killed Great Granpappy Cooper. The course of human events has shown us time and time again that the rich bullies always manage to find great success and power (sure, feel free to draw correlations to current events), and this is certainly the case in the hamburger hamlet in which Archie and company reside. The Blossom family has far-reaching influence, and the financial power to influence change and destroy lives in Riverdale.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but with this episode’s revelation that Cliff Blossom was most likely responsible for getting Hiram Lodge locked up — with Hiram possibly arranging Jason’s killing in retaliation — the delicate game of chess between these powerful and wealthy clans has jumped one move closer to checkmate. The Maple Syrup Blood Feud is real, and it doesn’t care who it destroys with its sweet and sticky wonders.

And so, ever the clueless ginger, Archie gets sucked into Blossomville tonight as a potential heir to the Blossom throne. The show has used “Archibald” as a surrogate/replacement Jason before, and tonight this motif takes an explicit turn. Tempted by the possibility of his father’s money problems going away and a placement into a prestigious music program thanks to the wizardry of Cliff Blossom, Archie decides to help the family out by attending their gleefully ridiculous maple tree tapping ceremony and a subsequent banquent. It is at this fanciest of feasts where Archie learns that, duh, Valerie was right and the Blossoms are indeed trying to buy him.

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An unwanted kiss from Cheryl (whose lipstick is infused with maple syrup, natch) awakens Archie from the bizarre tableau that is unfolding in front of him. The planned seduction soured, Cheryl becomes a “storm of chaos” as Arch slithers back to Valerie, who rightfully has had it with his clueless shenanigans. Archie Andrews. He’s a fantastic comic character but an absolutely atrocious boyfriend.

Meanwhile, early in the episode Veronica describes her familial strife as being akin to “watching a car crash in slow motion.” Yep. Hiram’s actions have resulted in her and Hermione being booted from the Dakota in New York City and forced to return to a severely budget-reduced life in Riverdale. (They aren’t poor by any means, but the measurement of Lodge wealth versus that of the series’ other characters is like comparing oranges to submarines).

But you know what the unexpected side effect of the Lodge fall from grace is? It has forced Veronica to come to terms with her self-proclaimed “Class A Brutal Bitch” past and become a better person. This is no act either. From her embracing a friendship with Betty Cooper to taking Ethel Muggs under her wing tonight, this new Veronica is not defined by her status or bank account but rather her basic decency and a real effort to be empathetic to those around her.

As the season has progressed, Camila Mendes’ Veronica has been a breakout character because of how she projects a believable mix of strength and vulernability. Her journey so far has seen her delicate worldview shattered, something that was vizualized tonight’s installment when her pearls dropped to the ground in a haunting (and borderline hamfisted but still quite great) slow motion shot after she realized that her father’s criminal acts have caused Ethel’s father to attempt suicide. The episode is quick to avoid going full 13 Reasons Why by revealing that Mr. Muggs survived, but the damage is done. Veronica knows definitively what a monster her father is and will no longer do anything to protect him or how his actions ruin lives. This, combined with Fred Andrews’ newfound non-nonsense approach to business with the Lodges should prove to put some major obstacles in the path of the still-unseen Hiram. (A character who, I should mention again, I desperately want to be played by Jason Priestly).

If there was an overall theme to tonight’s episode it was empowerment. Veronica, Fred, Polly and even Alice all are taking action to free themselves from their past mistakes and try to make things right to the best of their abilities. With four episodes left to go this season it will be interesting to see who succeeds and whose plans crash and burn.

Next Week: Ain’t no party like a Jughead Jones party. Plus, Molly Ringwald debuts as Archie’s mother, Mary Andrews!

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Riverdale Rundown

This episode takes its name from the 1937 Jean Renoir drama La Grande Illusion, which tackles, among other issues, class differences. Fitting given the very different social backgrounds of the Andrews and Blossom families, wouldn’t you agree?

– Nana Rose’s prediction that Polly is having twins has been proven correct. Check off another mark in the column of the Blossom family having supernatural abilities. Maybe there was more to that line comparing Blossoms to a cabal of vampires than meets the eye…

– “Winter had come early to Riverdale” –  Jughead, doing his best George R.R. Martin.

– Jughead proves himself to be the greatest guy in Riverdale when he reassures Betty by telling her “you’re so much stronger than all the white noise. You’re stronger than your mother. You’re stronger than your father. You’re holding your family together.” Bughead 4 Life.

Mädchen Amick cutting a cherry pie? That’s a genius Twin Peaks reference right there.

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– The fact that all the Blossoms look eerily alike certainly adds credence to the theory that Jason’s death is going to involve incest in some way. Especially in light of how Penelope Blossom coos about how good Jason doppelganger “Archibald” looks in the right light.

– Clifford Blossom dresses like he is an extra in The Prisoner, and I love that.

– This week’s best line of dialogue is either Cheryl’s remarking that Fred Andrews is “looking extremely DILFY today” or when she hilariously asked Archie “did you know this week’s the official start of maple syrup season.” I’m going to mention this each and every time it comes up, but one of the things that drives a great deal of Riverdale‘s action is a MAPLE SYRUP BLOOD FEUD. That will never not be amazing.


5 out of 5