This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 2 Episode 15
I’ve spent enough of the past year watching/obsessing over this show to say with confidence that Blossom-heavy episodes always make for the best Riverdale installments. With scenes often removed from the main action, tucked away in the V.C. Andrews hellscape that is Thistlehouse, the Blossom family exists in a heightened reality where sentences like “oh Mumsy, I had the most frightful daymare” flow like maple syrup at an IHOP. (Delivered sincerely I might add!) In short, the Blossoms are the campiest characters on TV at the moment, so full of D-R-A-M-A that they elevate this show to another level of delicious ridiculousness. And tonight, oh man, did these great gingers deliver.
When Cheryl learns that her late father Clifford had a secret will, she snarked “of course he did.” Because even though she has often been portrayed as a monster herself, Cheryl knows deep down that theatricality follows her family just as much as the so-called “Blossom curse” does. So when it comes to said will reading, episode writer Aaron Allen trots out every soap opera cliche — from the jilted woman (Alice, who claims Hal wants a divorce for a “big Blosssom payday” before calling the entire clan inbred and dismissing Penelope as a “half-melted, ten cent trollop”) to the revelation that Clifford had a heretofore unmentioned brother, named, for maximum dramatic impact, Claudius, and a subsequent fainting spell. Allen’s balancing act here is impressive because these events, absurdly big though they may be, are still believable due to the shithouse bonkers world the series has built up to date. For the Blossoms even more so.
Taking a break from being Cheryl’s emotional support at the will reading, Toni briefly becomes a surrogate for the audience, remarking “this is riveting, I can’t breathe.” You know she’s not wrong.
On any other show, these type of pearl-clutching revelations would be shark-jumping moments. Not Riverdale though, for this kind of sublime silliness is the show’s bread and butter. And that’s not even mentioning into Claudius and Penelope’s shadowy plans to get revenge on the Lodges and putting their “house in order” by doing something nefarious to Nana Rose and Cheryl. Sadly, there was other stuff to get to tonight. While the storylines involving the Lodges, the Andrewses and the Coopers all were interesting in their own right, none of them can compete with a secret twin and a fainting Cheryl. I’m not too concerned about this though, because I’m pretty sure that the show’s production staff knows that Blossom antics are the ace up their sleeve.
And so we must bid the Blossoms adieu for now and move on to Jughead’s discovery that Mr. Lodge’s top secret plan is to…turn Southside High into a prison. Was I the only one who was a bit overwhelmed by this? I was hoping for sure that Hiram had a Lex Luthor-esque real estate plan in the works. “Hiram is like Dracula,” Jughead angrily declares to Archie, “snapping up properties from all over Riverdale to expand his empire and feed.” He then went on to claim that everyone in Riverdale is in danger, which is a bold claim coming from a borderline sociopathic gang member who recently mutilated a woman.
Hiram is clearly up to no good, but Jughead isn’t exactly squeaky clean either. And what ultimately is worse in the grand scheme of things, an act of physical violence or misguided gentrification? I would love it if the show explored the dark side of Jughead’s personality a bit to illustrate how similiar he and Hiram are when it comes to defending their beliefs of what is best for the town. For just like Hiram, there’s a day of reckoning that should come to Jug as well. At least he didn’t sell out poor Pop, who is probably the most trustworthy character on the show at this point.
The emotionally inconsistent Weeble Wobble that is Archie Andrews actually showed a glimmer of intelligence tonight when he leaked info to Jughead in hopes of steering his father away from a mayoral run. Realizing that Veronica was manipulating him in order to do her family’s building, he took a rare step away from passivity and stood up to the Lodges. Then, after remembering that Jason being dead is bad and the Black Hood is bad and that Fred getting shot was bad, Archie does a complete turnabout, taking Hiram’s side against his father before joining the elder Lodge in a Omerta ritual so ridiculous that Vito Corleone preparing a horse’s head in retaliation. Seeing how Archie flip flops more than Asbury Park in July, I give him two weeks before he gets pissed at Hiram and betrays this blood oath.
Over in Cooperland, Betty does some unsuccessful catfishing against the ever-creepy Chic with the help of a reluctant Kevin. When that plan spectacularly backfires, she steals a string of bloody dental floss — add gingivitis to Chic’s ever-growing list of personality flaws — and gets a DNA test. Chic isn’t whom he seems. But who is he? We’ll have to wait to find out, but hopefully not for too long as I’ve just about had it with creepy Chic.
– Jughed loves himself a nice crime map, doesn’t he? Perhaps Veronica’s insult from last week that he and Betty like to hold hands and watch serial killer documentaries wasn’t too off the mark. Bonus points go to Jug for drawing little crowns on some of the post-its.
– Someone needs to do a welfare check on Vegas and Hot Dog STAT. Perhaps it’s just that there’s a snoring pug at my feet as I type this, but I am very concerned for the well-being of Riverdale’s pets.
– Hal is 100% correct for being pissed at Betty and Alice for taking Chic’s side over his. There is much that Hal Cooper has to answer for, but it’s hard not to agree with him here.
– At this point, I feel that Riverdale is taking the same approach to The Farm that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did to the Jem’hadar in its second season — i.e. peppering the show with references before making it an important part of the narrative later on. Because while this episode has Polly going from wanting to form a new sect of The Farm with her Blossom inheritance dough to moving to San Francisco to find her smile, I doubt that the series is going to just continually namecheck a crazy cult without it coming into dramatic play at some point.
– Was anyone else completely smitten with Fred’s goofy envisioning of Riverdale circa-2020? I mean I dig the Jetsons/Archie 3000 vibe here, but seeing how young Fred probably made this around 1993 or ’94, it seems a bit too futuristic.
– This week’s best line is Alice’s aforementioned “shut your face, you half-melted, ten cent trollop” thrown like a hand grenade at Penelope.
– See also: This exchange between Toni and Cheryl regarding Penelope:
“She’s a nightmare.”
“Isn’t she though?”
– Riverdale history fact: The Tate family has owned the Chok’lit Shoppe for over 80 years.
– Sierra McCoy is back working as an attorney. With Alice Cooper as a client, she’s got her hands full. Plus, she couldn’t convince Fred to do something as simple as not run for mayor, so she may not be the best in front of a jury.
– Veronica Lodge is great at a lot of things, but graphic design is not one of them. Aaron Draplin has nothing to worry about.
– Hiram Lodge is, of course, the show’s most annoying character. Tonight he reached the peak of ridiculous when he screamed “JUGHEAD JONES!” and slammed his hands down in an attempt to deliver some Scarface bluster.
– Shankshaw Prison. HAW HAW.
– Big ups to Mr. Weatherbee for realizing that the school paper is not a place for Jughead’s ill-defined vendetta against Mr. Lodge.
– What did the Lodges do to Claudius anyway?
– Speaking of Hiram, he was referred to as “Dracula” twice tonight, which is either subtle viral marketing for the just-released Vampironica comic or proof that he is, in fact, a creature of the night! Nah, he couldn’t be that interesting.
– Hermione announces her run for mayor, and Jughead states that “time had run out for Riverdale.” King of drama, that Jones boy is.
– How does an episode named after There Will Be Blood that features a key locale where milkshakes are commonplace refrain from making a very obvious reference?
– Could someone pull a Blade Runner and enhance what Creepy Chic’s Hook Up Cam Site profile says?