Riverdale Binge Recap: Chapter Three: Body Double

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In which Barb creeps on an entrapment, and people actually care what happens to her!  Movin’ on up!

Let’s get weird, y’all.

This episode of Riverdale could be considered a Very Special Episode.  Very little in regard to Jason’s murder happens.  Instead, we focus on some good old fashioned slut-shaming and revenge, along with a side of Actual Good Parenting rarely seen in Riverdale.

The A-Plot of this particular episode is that after a chaste date with football player Chuck Clayton (a character pulled from the comics in name only) Veronica finds herself the subject of ugly rumors, with Chuck saying he gave her a “Sticky Maple.”  We don’t find out explicitly what that means, and we probably don’t want to know.  We then find out there is an entire notebook filled with the conquests of the football team, which Betty finds out about when a former football player fills her in.  We see a flash of what could be jealousy out of (of all people) Jughead, when she calls their meeting a date. Another character, Barb Ethel, known in the comics for her obsession with Jughead, helped Chuck with his math homework and was repaid by being put down in the “Playbook.”

The Scoobies Archie Gang break into Chuck’s locker in the middle of the night and steal the Playbook, lampshading that he didn’t even feel the need to hide it.  Also Cheryl is there for plot reasons.  When Betty discovers Jason Blossom put her older sister Polly’s name in the Playbook, it was on like Diddy Kong.  The girls declare war and set up a not-illegal-at-all trap for Chuck.  Betty tries to seduce Chuck, and Veronica answers the door, smiling that she and Betty have learned to share. They then lure him into the hot tub, handcuff him to the railing, and nearly boil him alive.  HIGH SCHOOL AMIRITE.  To be more precise, Betty snaps and tries to boil Chuck alive, while dumping maple syrup on his head and calling herself Polly and calling him Jason.  The scene is a little bizarre but effectively disturbing, especially when it becomes clear that Betty does not remember the incident the next morning.

The murder is out of focus, with Cheryl’s Episode 2 declaration of guilt resolved immediately. She was lying, guys!  She meant she was guilty of knowing Jason had run away and not died on July 4th, explaining her pep rally breakdown.  Cheryl also mentions the gunshot, but with no other witnesses, who believes her after establishing she’s a liar?

A cute B-Plot is Betty recruiting Kevin and Jughead into reviving the Blue and Gold, Riverdale High’s school paper, leading to Jughead’s novel that was mentioned like twice and not even prominently enough for me to remember it for the first two recaps being shelved and changed into an investigative piece. As for the gunshot, Jughead’s tough-guy reporting finds out that Dilton Doiley (another in name only character) fired the gun while showing his scout troop how.  So there’s the first Official Red Herring of the season.

Close enough.

The gunshot had nothing to do with Jason’s death at all.  Dilton trades Jughead’s silence on the matter for another piece of information: Predator Grundy’s car was seen at the banks of Sweetwater River that morning.  Jughead clearly knows what this means, and is not super pleased about it.  Archie however, finally corroborates Cheryl’s story about the gunshot, claiming his dog was with him.  Cheryl is profoundly grateful for this, in an actual, authentic way.  Fred Andrews finds out that his son was lying about being with Jughead that day, and grounds Archie, who also loses Grundy’s trust and tutoring.  No good deed, amirite?

Archie does get something for his troubles, though: Cheryl offers him a Golden Ticket favor, and he cashes in by winning an audience with Josie and the Pussycats, who are just as awesome as they always are.  Josie is regal, savvy, and talented, and is not about to let this white boy attach himself to her brand.  Until, I guess, she does, and the Pussycats perform a song Archie helped write. Also, Predator Grundy takes him back, and Fred Andrews sound proofs the garage to help Archie with his music. Fred is starting to get Archie, and it’s a moment in a world where the parents we see most are the psychotic Coopers.

The episode ends on the Playbook being outed in the school newspaper, the  Blue and Gold and Chuck (and for some reason ONLY Chuck) being punished for the football team’s crimes and being suspended and kicked off the team. Cheryl apologizes to Betty about Jason hurting Polly, and the two make peace over the Playbook as it burns in a trash can.  Over this touching(?) scene, Jughead delivers a nice monologue about how Betty and Veronica are now literally fire-forged friends, despite her being nowhere near the scene, and that Chuck being thrown off the team would have CONSEQUENCES. Translation: please keep watching the show?

 

Riverdale Binge Recap: Chapter Two: A Touch of Evil

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Friendly reminder: THIS SERIES IS ABOUT TEENAGERS. This is pretty much the only frame that makes that okay.  Also, #TeamKevin, all day, every day.

Where were we? Jason’s super dead, shot and thrown in the river, which is a new twist on the story the town was given.  Betty isn’t speaking to Archie or Veronica, because they kissed in a closet with her in the next room (CLASSY.) Cheryl is horrible, and Jughead exists, I think.

Who Killed Jason Blossom?
We establish there was a gunshot the morning of July 4th, assumed to be key in Jason’s murder. Archie and Grundy heard it, but Grundy really, really doesn’t want anyone to know they were together, because you know, it’s a CRIME.  Cheryl is on the war path, trying to out Jason’s killer with newfound vigor, despite being still pretty mean and vapid (#RiverdaleStrong.)

Frenemies?
Betty is trying to pretend the awkward weekend didn’t happen and be super-best friends with Archie and Veronica.  However, the wounds from confessing your love to your best friend and finding out he kissed your new friend that same night don’t heal that quickly. After attempting normalcy, Betty sort of loses it.  She tries to reconcile with Archie, but decides she now hates Veronica, cutting her losses on this intense three-day friendship.  Betty retaliates by deciding to be super-best friends with Cheryl, who promptly accuses her older sister of Jason’s murder.  Betty snaps a little bit and throws Cheryl out of her house, threatening her life in a way that’s supposed to make Betty look unbalanced but is totally justified in my opinion.  She and Veronica reconcile after Veronica gives Archie a heartfelt speech about the Power of Friendship, and Veronica all but grovels at Betty’s feet.  Also, the friendship gambit with Cheryl has failed completely.

Favorite Moment:
Alice Cooper, who is still horrible, has a truly funny moment where she burns sage in Betty’s room after Cheryl’s visit to drive out evil. My mother has literally done this exact thing, and I pray that’s the only thing besides being blonde she ever has in common with Alice again.

The Miss Grundy (PREDATOR) Subplot
Grundy is starting to let cracks in her facade show.  She’s less interested in volunteering information about the murder and more interested in covering herself.  She attempts to manipulate Archie into not coming forward in regard to the gunshot they heard because it jeopardizes her job. While they are discussing this in her classroom, Jughead creeps up and sees Archie and Grundy in a PG-13 moment through the door, and confronts Archie.  Apparently they were supposed to go on a road trip, which Jughead accuses Archie of canceling to spend time with Predator.  Also, Archie is conflicted about football and music, but literally who cares.

Real Screencap of Archie on a date with Grundy

The Pep Rally
Aaaaaand the plot thickens.  Jughead and Archie reconcile, despite us not being totally sure what the problem was to begin with.  Another episode, another awesome showcase for Josie and the Pussycats (This time “Sugar Sugar.”)  We continue to lampshade the physical resemblance between Jason and Archie, which I guess is a thing this season.  Cheryl has a blue screen of death moment internally watching Archie, who is WEARING JASON’S NUMBER (seriously, whose idea was that?) run through the rain.  She freaks out and runs off the field crying, which is actually a totally valid reaction to finding out your brother died more violently than the accidental death you assumed it was.  Even more valid when after Veronica goes to console her, Cheryl bursts out with ” He was supposed to come back!” implying her initial story was a complete lie.

The Cheryl Bombshell
Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller turn up in the science class every one of the leads is in.  Unsurprised, Cheryl stands and puts her hands out for handcuffs.  When asked if that was necessary, she replies. “Because I’m guilty.”  WHAM.  Episode over.

Thoughts and Conclusions

This episode felt very high school drama, and like they needed to return to the status quo after the pilot broke things down.  Moose/Kevin got completely swept under the rug. Betty and Veronica make up almost immediately, and Betty’s able to be friends with Archie straight away. Jughead and Archie resolve their mysterious fight. I feel like this episode is a victim of Early Installment Weirdness, and had to undo a lot of elements of the pilot as to not focus on them too hard. The murder investigation took a backseat to the rest of the drama until Jughead brings the audience and Archie around with the now-memetic: “A KID IS DEAD ARCHIE.”

Thanks, Jughead.

 

Riverdale Binge Recap: Chapter One: The River’s Edge

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Fred Andrews, Alice Cooper (what), Jughead, Veronica, Archie, Betty, Cheryl, Josie, Hermione Lodge, Kevin. The Main Cast of Riverdale.

(Author Note: I’ve been incredibly lax in my posting schedule, so I’m using this as an exercise to force myself to produce content.  I promise I won’t rely on recaps for everything forever.  Enjoy!)

The episode begins with a narrator.  We don’t know who it is until the end of the cold open.  It’s Jughead, best known in the comics for eating burgers and having a dog.  We’re clearly going for a Twin-Peaksy vibe, and a moody, evocative, stylized opener.  Two beautiful redheads in a red convertible, with romantic music playing.  They’re both (over)dressed in white, which anyone who’s seen a movie can tell you spells out bad things for them.

“Are you scared, Jason?” Cheryl Blossom smirks at him.  He isn’t.  The scene plays out like a love scene, though we have established the two are in fact not only siblings but twins.  Really going for that Supernatural periphery demographic, here, aren’t you, CW?  The next thing we know, Jason is ostensibly dead, his sister-widow shellshocked and soaked on the shore.  A pretty, preppy blonde couple in their late 40s scoffs from the shore “I hope he suffered, making them, you know, not suspicious at all.  These are Betty’s parents, it turns out, and they are awful.

The cold open ends with a car pulling up and a pretty young woman peering out at Riverdale High.  Most of this episode is laying groundwork, so I’ll just lay this out by character for this round.

A perfectly normal brother/ sister relationship, right?

Archie:
When we finally meet series lead Archie, we get the impression that he’s on the other side of an ugly duckling summer, and has had a mysterious summer romance with a woman who turns out to be his MUSIC TEACHER.  Gone is the stern but kind Miss Grundy of the comics.  Nope.  Now she’s younger, hotter, and A COMPLETE PREDATOR.  The show seems to try to make the power dynamic in this completely messed up situation look even, despite the fact that she’s easily a decade older, probably more.  Archie wants to study music, and become a musician, suddenly, because working at his dad’s construction company made him sad. So he quasi-blackmails Grundy into teaching him music  He and Jughead aren’t speaking.  Who knows why. Maybe Jughead got as tired of him as I am already. I feel like Archie is in a different, dumber show than literally everyone else.

Betty Cooper:
Modernization looks good on Betty.  She’s obsessed with her college resume, returning from a prestigious internship that she got after freshman year of high school.  Her sister has disappeared over the summer to be institutionalized after a breakup with now-dead Jason.  Her mom is pretty much the worst, pressuring and nagging Betty at every turn.  She has a sassy gay friend, recent addition to canon Kevin Keller.  Betty wants to be a cheerleader (the inappropriately dubbed “River Vixens.”) and becomes instantly best friends with Veronica Lodge.  Her character translates far better than Archie’s to 2017.  She pursues a Taylor Swift-esque romance with the boy next door that looks like the director really, really liked the video for “You Belong With Me.”  Betty seems to be one bad day away from snapping, which is a fascinating element to sweet, perfect Betty.  However, in very un-Taylor fashion, Betty gets rejected big time by Archie in her big romantic confession scene in her front yard.

Cheryl Blossom:
Cheryl’s characterization is intentionally inconsistent in the pilot.  She seems to be using her brother’s demise for as much sympathy as she can, while not being a nice or even acceptable person, or even all that sad after the first scene.  She taunts Betty about her older sister’s relationship with Jason.  She acts like keeping the dance from being canceled is the equivalent of solving world hunger.  She’s terrible.  She also has Josie and the Pussycats (who are awesome but don’t add much to the plot in this episode) play the song she and her brother were conceived to in his memory.  WHAT.

Veronica Lodge
Riverdale really needs you to like Veronica, and they go to every length they can.  They sink the Archie/ Betty ship in the pilot, make it Miss Grundy’s fault instead of Veronica’s.  When she and Archie kiss in the closet at the School Dance Afterparty, Veronica is falling on the grenade so that Cheryl doesn’t hook up with the dude everyone’s comparing to her brother because why.   She pushes the Reformed Mean Girl trope, trying to be kind to all, and dressing down Cheryl when she’s cruel to Betty.  Veronica is obviously attracted to Archie, but doesn’t want to lose Betty as a friend despite knowing her for roughly twelve seconds.  I’ve never seen a show try so hard to make you like a character- but it works, and I do like her.

Kevin Keller
I’m glad to see Kevin in a major role, even if he’s written as a little stereotypical.  Kevin is clearly picking up the comic relief mantle since Jughead left it somewhere in his Dashboard Confessional phase.  His affair (I wouldn’t call it a relationship) with Moose catalyzes the end of the episode- sneaking off into the woods, Kevin and Moose discover Jason’s body, not drowned as we’d been told, but with a bullet wound in his head.

Jughead
Barely seen in this episode despite being one of the main four.  He’s definitely the character pulled furthest from his roots. He and Archie had a fight.  We don’t know why.  I still think Jughead got tired of Archie.

 

The biggest issue with this is the Archie/ Grundy plotline. We seem to be ignoring the fact that she is a predator.  PREDATOR. Secondly, I have to consistently remind myself that not only are they in high school, they ARE FIFTEEN.  SOPHOMORES.  Most people turn sixteen over their sophomore year.  These are CHILDREN. MISS GRUNDY THAT IS A CHILD.

Another much smaller issue I have is the over-the-top hyper-literate teen dialogue.  Despite the fact that I actually talk like that, it seems really forced.  It seems super weird, but it’s only the pilot.  So, let’s see how this goes!