Drugs, gangs, murder, rape and teenage gossip. All this and more on this week’s Riverdale. Spoilers are obviously ahead, so be warned. If you haven’t read last week’s review, check it out here before reading this week’s.
That was a close one, everybody. Jughead and Toni almost had sex. But they didn’t. That’s what the episode opened with anyway. Toni clarified they aren’t really a thing, as it’s clear Jughead is still recovering from getting “broken-up with” by Betty.
Betty, meanwhile, rushed to see if Nick, the attempted rapist whose name she gave to the Black Hood, was taken out. Surprisingly, he wasn’t, but the Black Hood used this as a sick way to control Betty. She would start using her mad teen detective skills to not just investigate murders, but instigate them as well. The Black Hood immediately turned her on “the Sugarman”, apparently the drug dealer who makes Jingle Jangle. That rape storyline didn’t have as large of an impact as I anticipated, but it did lead to an absolutely chilling scene between Nick and Cheryl and some very good family confrontations with Cheryl and Veronica.
The drugs took center in all the stories this episode. The whole gang got some repercussions for that crazy party from last week, manifesting in mild community service work. But the real crackdown was on the kids who weren’t involved at all, as the mayor probably definitely violated some constitutional rights by imprisoning every gang member at Southside High. With the Serpents crippled, they made a deal with rival gang, the Ghoulies, to start distributing Jingle Jangle. Jughead couldn’t stand this and went to see his father for advice on how to stop it. Good old FP said the only solution was, naturally, to have a drag race with the Ghoulies in exchange for territory.
The drag race scene was frankly awesome. The retro costumes, especially motorhead Betty, were fantastic, and it was shot beautifully. This show’s cinematography is once again a standout, and is what really brings it to the next level of genre. The race itself could’ve gone on longer, with a bit of fast paced action halted abruptly by Archie throwing the race and the cops immediately showing up. This, according to Archie, put a stop to the Ghoulies. But Archie is a stupid, naive fool who only served to give gang members grudges once they get out of jail. Classic Archie!
This episode did a lot to undo some of last week’s impacts pretty quickly. The Black Hood threatened Betty to make sure she didn’t tell anyone about their phone calls, and he even knew when she secretly told Archie. But this week, apparently she feels safe enough to warn Polly, come clean to Veronica, and even after saying she couldn’t explain it to Jughead, some last minute narration said she did anyway. So I guess they haven’t broken up now?
But it did let Veronica and Cheryl get it on this week’s investigation. Cheryl, who finally had something to do, directly questioned her mother about the Sugarman and his past involvement with her father. While this furthered the main storyline, it was also some intense and satisfying character development for Cheryl and her mother. Cheryl was literally weeping, begging for the love she felt she deserved from the one parent she had. And even if in a small way, her mother showed some to her by not accepting the hush money from Nick’s parents.
Cheryl’s mother not only revealed a part of her that isn’t a heartless vampire, but also the name of the Sugarman. A name which Betty, rather than giving to the Black Hood for execution, gave to the sheriff and published in her newspaper for legal action. The final scene of Betty on the phone with the Black Hood was awesome. You could feel that predator/prey dynamic shift through your television screen. The Sugarman was revealed to be, in a twist that came pretty far out of left field, Jughead’s Literature teacher. I’m guessing this was so that the show could pull its final twist- the Black Hood showing up at the Sugarman’s prison cell and shooting him in the face. It let the show fill out its body count without losing a major character.
This week did a great job tying various stories together. It wound Jughead’s school problems with Betty’s Black Hood calls, Cheryl’s familial problems, the North vs South rivalry, and Archie and Jughead’s growing rift all together seamlessly. But it also was too hasty to drop some of the last episode’s big twists. Overall, I’d rate “Death Proof” 9 police states out of 10.
Riverdale airs at 8 p.m. Eastern on Wednesdays on the CW.