Riverdale season 2 episode 19 review: Prisoners

Riverdale season 2's race to its endgame begins with a powerful, secret-revealing instalment. Spoilers ahead...

This review contains spoilers.

2.19 Prisoners

“Mom, where’s Dad?”

“He went looking for you, why do you ask?”

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And with that, a wave of realisation washed over Nancy Drew acolyte Betty Cooper’s face that her father is the Black Hood.

At least that’s my interpretation of that final moment, but really, who else could it be? What other character would know of the young Ms. Cooper’s childhood library habits, observed the secret darkness that lies within her, emotionally blackmailed her into distancing herself from her “sinner” friends, or any of the other clues that this season has laid down suggesting that Betty’s link with Riverdale’s resident masked killer was a personal one.

If this (admittedly a tad obvious) revelation proves to be nothing more than a red herring, so be it. But I suspect that Hal’s way with dealing with his own tumultous inner life is to throw in some green contacts — representing that most egregious of sins, jealousy — and attempt to rid the town of those he has judged with great vengeance and furious anger.

As for what exactly Hal could be jealous of, well that conveniently leads us into the other big revelation of tonight’s episode: FP is Chic, er, Charles’ father. We learned last season about the infamous homecoming night argument at Riverdale High involving Hal and Alice and supposedly about the latter’s pregnancy, so what would fuel that fire even more than to know the kid was FP’s. One can imagine that by having his girlfriend impregnated by someone he considered a hoodlum from the wrong side of the tracks would be something that would fester within him, on a quiet boil over years of “happy” matrimony like an emotional slow cooker.

Yet to hear Betty’s speech in the first season finale could have finally been the tipping point for Hal, just as the Hood claims it was, and pushed him into a path of cleansing Riverdale of its sinners. It all makes sense from a storytelling point-of-view, and creates some nice dramatic tension between Betty and her father. (Even more so if she winds up being the one who finally brings him to justice, one way or another). After all, she still is running around with Fake Ms. Grundy’s gun. Does she name it Ms. Gundy? She should.

The Cooper saga was front and centre tonight, with most of the action spawning from the realisation that Chic isn’t a Cooper after all, but an imposter pretending to be Chic. So who really was this guy other than a murderous fraud with a middling sex cam operation hustle? We don’t really know. And maybe we never will. Betty seems to think she’s done with him forever, whispering a haunted “Goodbye Chic,” not so much for him as it for the tragic brother she realises she will never know now. (Although there’s still a fairly solid chance the real Chic isn’t dead, right? I wouldn’t put it past the writers).

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Upon learning that the son she never knew, and one she turned away twice, is now dead, Alice snaps like Margaret White on prom night. To the joy of Falice shippers everywhere, she runs to FP, revealing their secret child and his demise. We’ve never seen Alice as emotionally vulnerable as we have over the course of the past two weeks, with Mädchen Amick currently giving Lili Reinhart a run for her money as Riverdale’s greatest performer. The character has transformed from a one-note cartoon to the show’s most sympathetic character in a rather short period of time. Yes, a good chunk of this is due to writing that is forced at times, but she still sells it unbelievably well.

Later, Alice lets Hal in on the full details of what Chic really has been up to, which serves no real purpose — especially in light of everyone’s suspicions over the Hood’s true identity — other than for Betty to take Chic to meet his fate.

Much less riveting was the ‘Archie gets kidnapped by Nick St. Clair’ plotline. With so much happening this season and just three episodes remaining, this is a major waste of time. Other than once again showing off Nick’s serious case of affluenza and providing several cast members to embarrass themselves by saying “make my bones” a lot, this storyline was completely without any dramatic purpose. There was no doubt that Veronica would turn the tables on Nick, and unless shit got really dark here i.e. she actually did ask for a power drill from the Five Seasons’ concierge to exact her revenge, it was just more of Ronnie getting stuff done — something that the character has already demonstrated she is more than capable of doing on the series in much more engaging ways. The time spent here would have been much better utilised exploring the Kellers and their conflict, both with Riverdale and at large.

Sigh. Then there’s Archie. During his super awkward conversation with Hiram, he mentions that all he could think about while getting the crap beaten out of him was how he hasn’t yet fully proven himself in front of the man who just one week ago he was standing up to for meddling with his relationship with his father. Huh? So much for the last episode’s revelation that Dark Archie needed to go. Further muddying Archie’s thinking is that he decides the way to best impress Mr. Lodge is to bring down the Black Hood, a character whose impact on the lives of Hermione, Veronica, and Hiram has been considerably minimal in comparison with others on the series. Wouldn’t it make way more sense for him to go after Nick St. Clair, so that this living example of toxic masculinity doesn’t stroll into town in a few months seeking more revenge? Not one of our greatest minds, that Archie. At least he didn’t sing this week.

Read Chris’ review of the previous episode, A Night To Remember, here.