This review contains spoilers.
2.13 The Tell Tale Heart
Picking up immediately where left week’s episode left off, we find Betty thrown into the midst of chaos when she comes home to a house of (non-Black Hood) horrors after sleeping with Jughead for the first time. It seems the Shady Man glimpsed in last week’s episode was taken down by Chic in an act of “self-defence”. This being Riverdale, Alice and son immediately begin to cover up the killing of Shady Man — two words that are never not fun to type — without any thought of letting the police know what happened. Betty, being infinitely wiser than her mother or weirdo hustler sibling thinks this is the right call, but immediately gives in and is soon helping dispose of, tee hee, Shady Man’s body in the awesome sort of circular tunnel that The Fixx once pranced around in during their MTV heyday. “One Thing Leads to Another” after all.
While all this is going on, self-proclaimed weird weirdo Jughead just calls to tell Betty he loves her. She is extremely dismissive, what with assisting in a felony and all, and Jug sits silent and surly for a second, probably before launching into some internal narrative about loyalty and honor and the Serpents and blah blah blah that I’m incredibly relieved we didn’t have to hear. More on him in a bit.
The next morning, Betty, still exhausted from apple polishing and a ridiculously sudden embarkation into a life of crime, eschews Alice’s chocolate chip pancake breakfast for an equally nutrition-lacking bowl of Fruity Munch cereal when someone mysteriously arrives at the door. It’s Jughead, and instead of letting him in on the secret there and then, she spends the next couple of scenes using her Nancy Drew detective skills in a vain attempt to try to figure out who Shady Man was via his cell phone. Perhaps conveniently, she forgets that Drew would never ever get wrapped up in a murder cover up, even if “typical Cooper house lunacy” was her norm.
As for Alice and Chic, they aren’t sweating this at all. In fact they are enjoying a leisurely game of Clue. (Insert joke about how it was ‘the Black Hood, in Pickens Park, with one of Archie’s songs’ here).
Eventually, Betty does tell Jug, and he brings FP in to help properly hide Shady Man’s body — oblivious to the fact that things didn’t go so well the last time FP was around a corpse. Oh well, at least he uses some lye this time, so the lifeless meat husk should be completely disintegrated in a week or so. Farewell Shady Man. FP and Alice share some sexual tension at a booth at Pop’s before the camera cuts to the increasingly creepy and circular tunnel-worthy Chic cutting Hal, who has spent this entire episode smelling bleach, being angry, and shacking up with Penelope Blossom, out of pictures from the Cooper photo album. Does this mean that Chic wants to take Hal’s place in the family? Well yeah, but this character is such an uninteresting cipher at this point it’s hard to care much about anything he does.
Next up, the saga of FBI Agent Adams continues. To quote the immortal Edith Bunker, “Oh Archie.” Poor kid has his drums kicked over by the increasingly odd law enforcement official. But he also gets an envelope full of cash and gets to bask in the glow of Adams’ lovely new hat. Anyway, Adams wants to find out what Hiram had to do with Papa Poutine’s murder, and he wants Archie to plant a bug in Mr. Lodge’s office. Archie, dumb loyal kid that he is, refuses, and to turn up the heat, Agent Adams threatens to expose the undocumented Canadian workers that Andrews Construction has hired over the years. Inevitably, Archie cracks, and tells a distant Mr. Lodge. The next day, the Lodges’ driver Andre picks up Archie and begins driving him through the sort of dark, forest-like atmosphere that would make anyone who ever saw an episode of The Sopranos shit their pants. Not our boy though. He just kind of stares out of the window with a ‘hmm this is kinda weird, maybe I should write a song about trees’ look on his naive, handsome face. For a second there, I almost thought that Riverdale was going to pull off a jaw-dropping, history-making twist by killing off its most problematic (and allegedly lead) character. But instead, the twist was a bit more obvious. Agent Adams was in the employ of the Lodges, they were testing Archie’s loyalty. Also, Mrs Lodge is way more crooked and badass than anyone ever expected. Rad.
The aforementioned plots were interesting enough, and a hell of a lot of fun. What makes this episode a tiny bit away from being a classic were the subplots in which the Jones boys confront Hiram Lodge about his involvement in not-so-secretly planning to gentrify the Southside. More effective was Veronica’s fantastic handling of Mayor McCoy, warning her about the dirty tacticts that Hermione and Hiram would use to get her our of office. McCoy it seems would rather fall on her sword and resign than have her affair with Sheriff Keller revealed, and while this all seems a bit too easy and contrived — seriously, nothing we know about Sierra McCoy to this point indicates that she is a woman who would stand for this kind of blackmail — Veronica putting her parents into place by saying for the mayor to endure any additional suffering would be “cruel” was an absolutely graceful move.
So now that Archie is officially a part of the Lodge crime empire where will he go from here? And does he even play the drums? Find out by coming back next week for another Riverdale review!