This week in Riverdale: sex, violence, and sad teenagers. Spoilers follow! In case you missed last week’s review, check it out here first before you get into this week’s. This episode took a sharper focus on what Jughead’s turn as a Serpent meant for him and his most important relationships, as Archie and Veronica momentarily took the title of main mystery-solving teenagers.
It began with Jughead narrating, as he explained that everyone was dealing with the threat of the Black Hood in their own way. Archie and Veronica’s way of coping, he revealed, was apparently having a lot of sex. They’re very into each other, which led to Archie, in the heat of the night, telling Veronica he loved her. But she didn’t reciprocate it, leaving a romantic imbalance between the two.
Meanwhile, Jughead’s father, FP, was released from jail early thanks to some help from the snake-charmer lawyer he owed debts to. Honestly, seeing FP reunited happily with Jughead for a while felt really good. Each episode is like an exercise in seeing how things can somehow get progressively darker while the characters still manage to maintain normal lives. So Jughead having a dad at home again was cool. Jughead, Betty, and Alice Cooper picked him up from jail and went to Pop’s to celebrate, where FP got to talk about how he was going straight. Rather than return to the Serpents and regain his power like Jughead had hoped, FP was set on keeping himself clean and legal. This scene was great in how it played with prejudice and stereotype. Alice kept trying to undermine FP and bring out the bad in him, while he had a polite, positive response for every rude and spiteful thing she said. It ended in a perfect visual summary: the two drinking coffee across from each other, with FP extending his pinkie finger and Alice not.
Since Jughead and Betty were busy with snake stuff, they asked Archie and Veronica to take over their Black Hood investigations and find out what they could about the Riverdale Ripper. The couple went to the house of the murders, which was revealed to be the same house the Black Hood led Betty to previously. There was a pretty cool retro-styled flashback scene of the murders cut simultaneously with Archie and Veronica’s exploration of the house, featuring the unmasked killer ruthlessly bursting in and murdering the innocent family inside. The shot of the child hiding under the bed cutting to the same spot, but old and bloodstained, was chilling. The whole scene nailed the feeling of exploring a creepy abandoned building.
There, Archie and Veronica discovered that the whole family wasn’t killed as previously believed. There was a third child who survived and was given a new name and a normal life. They tracked this kid down, who turned out to be no other than Riverdale High’s own janitor, Mr. Svenson. After Archie unnecessarily roughed him up a bit, he admitted that he saw the killer leave his house that night and told some men from town, who then went and killed the Ripper outside of the law. While it closed off that case from being connected to the Black Hood, the end of the episode teased there might be more to come with Mr. Svenson.
With FP out of jail and now concerned with being a great dad, Jughead was sad his dad was no longer a cool crime boss. Betty suggested throwing him a retirement party to help Jughead cope with the fact he joined the Serpents just when they stopped being cool. The vengeful lawyer who helped FP get out of jail again called on Jughead. She threatened Jughead every way she could, even bringing up Betty’s name, but Jughead was super set on not taking any of it. But Betty was also concerned that FP wouldn’t be there to help keep Jughead safe. She wanted to step in herself and somehow keep an eye on him while he did gang things, which she apparently could, as long as she did a stripper dance first. Something like that.
So the retirement party commenced, and stuff went down. This marked the second instance of Alice Cooper showing up to a party in an outfit really shouldn’t be wearing, and I personally don’t appreciate the show’s decision to keep this act up. What I did appreciate was Archie and Veronica’s karaoke duet of “Mad World”, mainly because Archie referred to it as “that Donnie Darko song you like”. The most interesting part of the episode to me is whether Veronica refers to it that way and is herself a big fan of Donnie Darko, or just likes the song and that’s the only place Archie recognizes it from. Both are equally entertaining ideas. But still troubled by Archie’s confession of love, Veronica split midway through their extremely depressing party song.
The music ran for a while until Betty herself got up on stage and started singing instead. Then, suddenly, she took off all her clothes and did a sexy stripper dance in her underwear, apparently the initiation for a non-Serpent to still hang around the gang. While the dance was exceedingly sexy, it felt a little weird and mildly problematic. I think the show sometimes forgets that its actors are much older than their characters are supposed to be, meaning the Serpents all applauded a 16 year old girl stripping. The party ended with FP suddenly announcing he wouldn’t be retiring and rejoining the Serpents. The sudden reversal of values was sealed with a shot, backtracking on his promise to stay sober as well. But FP revealed to a dumbfounded Jughead that he only rejoined to get his son out and protect him against the lawyer that was threatening him. It seems FP really did shape up and was a great dad. So great in fact, he was willing to live a life of crime just so his son wouldn’t have to. I’ll be pouring one out for FP tonight, one of Riverdale’s two good parents.
Jughead did not react to Betty stripping very well. She wanted to be a part of every aspect of Jughead’s life, even if it meant putting herself in danger. But Jughead, no doubt frightened by the threats made to her earlier, decided to push Betty away rather than let her be a part of the Serpents. At the same time, Veronica couldn’t get over her inability to return Archie’s love, and the two parted ways unsure of their relationship’s future.
Something I never noticed until this episode were the similarities in Betty and her mother. They aren’t anything alike in personality, but the little things, like the way they sound and phrase sentences, are alike. It suddenly stuck out to me as a very realistic detail in their characters and relationship. It’s fitting I noticed it this episode, as unrecognized parental influences was a theme elsewhere as well. The realization that Veronica had never heard her parents say they love each other is what made her understand why she couldn’t say it to Archie. To me that idea was very interesting and I hope it’s explored more.
The final sting of the episode came from the unsure nature of the two main couple’s relationship statuses. Jughead’s narration informed us that as Archie gazed (shirtless) into Betty’s room across the street, it was as if he was looking at her for the first time. The possibility of Archie and Betty being a thing hasn’t really been explored since early on in the show, and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to come up again so suddenly.
The second episode in a row without the Black Hood, “House of the Devil” still did great with the plotlines it focused on. Apart from maybe Archie and Veronica somehow immediately solving a case a sheriff spent years trying failing to and still no reoccurring appearances of Hot Dog, it was very good. I give it 9 neon-filled diners out of ten. Did you like it too? Who do you think is the actual fan of Donnie Darko, Archie or Veronica? Let us know at SuperBroMovies.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.