This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 4 Episode 18
“Whatever this is, or was, it’s just over.”
Barchie stans, this just isn’t your week. For as essential as the Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle is to the comics, it appears that this storyline just doesn’t have a home on Riverdale.
And you know what? I am completely fine with that. The teasing of pairing up Archie and Betty happened organically as they both helped Jughead to prove that the Stonewall Preppies were plotting his death. Cliché though it may be, the adage that we closer to people in times of severe duress is a true one. And what could be more stressful for any pair than living in a town overrun by gangs and maple moonshiners? (Among other ills).
This episode’s flashbacks show us how Betty has loved Archie since the fifth grade. Cheryl – in a rare moment of absolute selflessness and clarity – rightfully points out here that Betty doesn’t love Archie himself, but what he represents. Since Betty has known him Archie has literally been the All American Boy Next Door. He is a constant in the chaotic world that she inhabits. With Archie she could be safe. At least she thinks so briefly.
After her conversation with Cheryl, she realizes that a relationship with Archie is just a fantasy. To pursue such a thing she would have to implode the lives of two people she loves most in the world: Jughead and Veronica. And she just isn’t prepared to do so. Was it Cheryl’s insights that sealed the deal for Betty? Or Archie’s horrible song? Either way, Barchie is not to be. This is okay because this take on the comic characters has never really been about love triangles or milk shakes or wacky adventures in high school. From day one Riverdale has taken a sharp left from the source material, and something tells me deep in my ever-expanding quarantine gut that had this show just been an adaptation it would have been cancelled years ago. In the age of prestige television audiences crave darkness, sex and murder. There’s simply no place in the TV landscape for lighthearted Archie fun.
That’s not to say that Riverdale can’t have a good time. Exhibit A: The ongoing (and delightfully ridiculous) competitive tickling storyline. In this installment, Kevin brought Reggie aboard on the video-making process and together they decided to enlist the help of the Bulldogs and Vixens to make their own online empire. This didn’t sit well with Terry (Spencer Lord), The town’s resident Ticklemaster. (Which is a bit odd as the videos Kevin and company are making are clearly geared at a different target audience than his, but maybe it’s more about Terry losing his stars). While Reggie had the Bulldogs counter threaten Terry after he attacked Kevin at Pop’s, the whole enterprise became a moot one: Principal Honey found out about the videos and shut them down. Apparently high school sports team names are copyrighted. Who knew!
Did Terry call Mr. Honey? Yeah, no. Turns out that Honey frequents Riverdale’s 24/7 video store Blue Velvet, a never-before-mentioned establishment that has a special “scarlet suite” that rents out everything from snuff films to the Jughead/Betty sex tape Brett secretly filmed (called “Ponytail Playmate,” natch). Jughead and Charles (who, it should be pointed out is secretly working with Chic on some yet to be revealed plot against the Coopers) discover the back room at the Blue Velvet during their investigation into the increasingly violent videotapes that town residents have been receiving. At first it seemed like Ethel (the always welcome Shannon Purser) was responsible for the pseudo Jughead snuff film shown at the end of the previous episode. Her A/V club credentials gave her access to equipment, and she rented Ponytail Playmate from Blue Velvet. Alas, she was a red herring! Or at least that’s what this episode wants us to believe. As things stand, the main suspect remains Mr. Honey. Which makes sense as he seems to possess both puritanical ways and a genuine hatred for Riverdale at large. My prediction? He’s working with Terry to terrorize the town. To be continued.
Elsewhere, Veronica and Cheryl’s partnership on Mapleclaw rum came to a swift end when the pair had a disastrous run in with the Malloy crew – maple moonshiners who target the college crowd in Riverdale. (This show. This amazing show). Once Hiram catches wind of this, he confronts Jinx Malloy (Steve Makaj) and, in his weakened state, promptly gets the ever-living shit beaten out of him. While Veronica is praising Hiram for not returning to his old violent ways, the truth plays out. Following his beating by Jinx, Hiram returns for a rematch. One that ends with Jinx dead, and Hiram regaining his murderous mojo.
Next week: Season four comes to an end. Where is all of this going? Seeing how production on the show was shut down early due to Covid-19, I have no idea! Join us as we take this journey together!
- Do all of the teens in Riverdale know about Dilton’s secret bunker? It seems like by now it would have been transformed into a Jingle Jangle lab or something?
- Of course Principal Honey’s first name is Holden.
- Just so we’re clear, for four seasons the Blue Velvet video store has been in operation and only now has noted cinephile Jughead Jones thought to visit it?
- The Scarlet Suite of the Blue Velvet is a clear reference to Twin Peaks’ Red Room. Keen-eyed viewers may have spotted the carpet pattern from The Shining’s Overlook Hotel in the room.
- I know that the Blue Velvet owner was doing a David Lynch impersonation in part of this episode’s homage to the auteur, but to me he sounded way more like Christian Slater in Pump Up the Volume.
- At the end of this episode, Cheryl receives a tape recreating Jason’s murder at the hands of her father. If we are to believe that the person creating these tapes was inspired by rental titles in the Scarlet Suite, does that mean there is footage of Jughead’s attempted murder too? And where is the person creating these tapes getting the masks made at and, more importantly, how soon will they be available at Hot Topic?
- “I’m ready to get serious about the naval academy,” says Archie, who also has been serious about music, boxing, working at the community forever, punching bears…
- Since this episode is all about paying tribute to David Lynch, it’s a huge missed opportunity to not have Mädchen Amick (who played Shelly Johnson on Twin Peaks) do more here.
- Principal Honey wants the tickling videos taken down before they tarnish the reputation of Riverdale High. Oh honey, that boat has sailed.
- Kevin and Fangs both plan on attending college in Pittsburgh. I still think that Kevin is destined to be a regular on Katy Keene, so I can see these characters written off next season before the show contrives to keep the core characters in Riverdale after high school.
- “I’m not getting pulled into some crappy new mystery” – Betty, before getting pulled into some crappy new mystery.
- I’m calling bullshit on Jughead not knowing that Riverdale High has an A/V Club. Like the Blue Velvet, Jug would be all over that.
- The words “tickle suite” were uttered here.
- Poor Cheryl now has to deal with someone cosplaying her family’s darkest moment.
- Will Veronica and Jughead find out about Archie and Betty’s brief dalliance? And if so what will make them angrier, that, or hearing Archie’s garbage new song?
- Jinx Malloy is an ultra obscure Archie Comics character who brings bad luck wherever he goes. He is not to be confused with Joe Edwards’ Lil Jinx character. Yep, the Archieverse has two characters named Jinx. Are you starting to get why I love it so much?