It’s been a little while, but the sexy teens are back, and with them, the dark sins that can’t help but bleed through to the surface. Spoilers follow! Since there was a hiatus, check out last episode’s review in case you’ve forgotten. Now let’s get to this week’s.
We got a bit of a break from the more typical Riverdale formula, as the main characters left Riverdale itself to go have sex in the woods. Hiram Lodge offered Veronica and Archie a chance to use their remote lakeside cabin, and they brought Betty and Jughead along with them. I can’t imagine why a father would let his sixteen year-old daughter, her friend, and their two boyfriends go on a private weekend cabin trip together because, like I said, that would obviously just be used for having teen sex. Granted, Hiram did want supervision. He sent his butler to watch over them without Veronica’s knowledge and explicitly against her request, but he let Archie in on it to help him keep tabs. Since Veronica began to suspect her father was involved in a mob hit, she’s become less trusting of her parents, but since Archie helped cover up that mob hit, he’s become more trusting of her parents.
The cabin trip got off to a rocky start. Cheryl’s mom called her anorexic and unloved (classic , and that put Cheryl in a bad frame of mind. So she called up Jughead and told him about Betty and Archie’s kiss, which he had still yet to learn about. After some good discussion, everyone worked out their differences and Jughead was okay with it. Until Veronica had the stupid idea that she and Jughead should kiss as well to make things even. Both Archie and Betty were visibly not okay with this, but Veronica and Jughead went ahead with it anyway and kissed. That’s probably the last thing anyone in a committed relationship should ever do, but no one had any real problems with it in the end. However, Veronica did have some problems with Archie when she found out he knew about her father’s secret surveillance via butler. So she went into town and said a little too much to a general store clerk.
Later, some people who were clearly that general store clerk and his friends broke into the cabin, armed with bats and axes, and tried to rob it. Veronica tripped the silent alarm and sent them running, but the whole event triggered Archie’s Black Hood memories and he went into hero mode. He chased down one of the robbers, unmasked him, and prepared to beat him up before hesitating. But from the shadows emerged the butler, who promised Archie he would take care of the robber. As Archie ran back to the cabin, he heard a gunshot ring through the woods. They didn’t keep this a mystery for long: in a later conversation Archie had with Hiram, it was made clear the butler definitely shot that dude. But Archie was cool with it, seemingly going back on his earlier promise to Veronica to not always side with her father.
Meanwhile, back at home, since the main cast was really just chilling most of the episode, it gave the supporting characters more time to do stuff. For instance, Josie discovered that her mother’s affair with Sheriff Keller was leading to her parents splitting up. This really upset her, understandably, so she told Kevin about it and he confronted his father. One interesting thing from this episode was the information that Kevin’s mother is apparently military and has been overseas for the duration of the series. I don’t recall this ever being brought up before, and I’ve always wondered if Kevin really had a mom and where she was. But Josie’s mom would later explain that is was a complicated situation, and it wasn’t Josie’s responsibility to intervene into Kevin’s family. Mrs. McCoy is a contender for top 3 worst parents in Riverdale, a category with lots of competition, and it was ice to hear her spout some responsible, if not hypocritical, truth. At the end, Josie and Kevin sat their parents down to have a long discussion about their complicated relationships. This was the best part of the episode for me, because it’s drama born from a realistically dramatic situation that was handled in a very mature way.
Also Toni tried comforting Cheryl, who revealed that she was once in love with her female childhood best friend, until her mother caught them in the same bed at a sleepover (a super common thing for sleepovers, actually) and drove them apart. And Kevin felt excluded by Moose and Midge when it became clear Moose never revealed to Midge that he and Kevin had a romantic past together. These plot lines might have been more effective if they weren’t tied to the characters all watching a movie: Love, Simon. Now, not only is Love, Simon a real movie that is really coming out this month, it’s directed by none other than Riverdale executive producer Greg Berlanti. So having the EP seemingly write his own teen movie into the plot of his teen show, show footage from it, and have it move one character to tears just felt… like over-the-top product placement. That knowledge was so distracting it prevented any of these other moments from feeling genuine.
But I do want to mention that this episode had an exceptional soundtrack and score. Lacking the typical moody covers, it boasted a dark synth sound instead. I hope future episodes keep that up and can match it with some signature neon visuals. The other highlight was easily the genuine conversations between the characters. I could watch an entire season of Archie and Jughead sitting in the woods talking about friendship, or teens respectably talking things out with their parents. But its greatest sins were the distracting product placement and the fact that so much of it was filler. The main characters went on a holiday, and their ongoing arcs along with them. Because of this, I’m giving “The Hills Have Eyes” 7 corporate buyouts out of 10.
What did you think of the episode? Did you like it more or less than me? Have any theories on where it’ll go from here? As always, let us know your thoughts at SuperBroMovies.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.