Things got over the top, heavy-handed, and explosive in one of Riverdale‘s most Riverdale episodes yet. Spoilers follow! Before we get on with this week’s review, check out last week’s here if you missed it.
We began catching up with Cheryl and her new life in a mental institute, where nuns were abusing the gay out of her. The whole setup was honestly very weird, like how Kevin appears in one of the movies they force Cheryl to watch. I mean I get it, Kevin’s gay, but clearly he did not act in an actual gay conversion video. So was that just what Cheryl perceived? Why? That’s a personal hang up of mine, but I got over it more as the episode got better. The hook that effectively brought me in was the public discovery of the car Betty and Jughead had sunk in the swamp.
This had been given just enough time to sit so that the viewer and the characters could both feel comfortable it wouldn’t come up again and forget about it, making the reveal much more effective than it would have been if done any earlier. At first I thought the discovery would have been the body of the man Chick murdered, but either they really are done with that or it’s being saved for a greater twist later on. The Coopers were sent into a panic, So Betty and Jughead went into their mystery-solving-teens mode, a Riverdale classic. They found out through Kevin (who, now that I think about it, was essentially a plot device for the other characters this episode) that the car’s real owner had claimed it- apparently the girlfriend of the man Chick murdered.
This was good information to know, until Chick, who was “just trying to help”, brought the woman to the Coopers’ house. She said the whole car and potential murder deal wouldn’t be an issue, as long as she was paid $10,000 to get out of town. But instead of leaving, she brought one of her friends, and one of Chick’s enemies, to the Coopers’, where they threatened to not only stay in Riverdale, but literally stay in the Coopers’ house. Just as things were about to get bloody, Jughead and the Serpents heroically burst through the front door, switchblades drawn. They cleared the blackmailers out of town, but the event had driven Alice to her breaking point. She finally agreed that Chick was a danger to them and told him to leave the house. He agreed, and Betty agreed to move back in. This episode was literally the only one since he was introduced where Chick did not behave like a psychopath. He was normal, a little bit reasonable, and mostly just scared. You almost felt for him.
Let’s cut back to Cheryl for a minute. In her absence, Betty, Toni, and Josie began to suspect foul play from her mother and uncle. This part of the episode is especially notable for the fact that Veronica knew the name of the one boarding school in Sweden off the top off her head, and no other point in the episode topped quite how amazing and bizarre that was. Anyway, they went straight to the source, asking Ms. Blossom where she really was. She told them about the mental institute and showed them the drawing Cheryl had made of her and Josie. Josie was naturally freaked out and noped out of there, which she had good reason to. Even if her mother sent her away because of nefarious reasons, Cheryl probably does have serious mental health issues. She did, after all, gift Josie a pig’s heart in a box. This plot point- with the pig’s heart and everything-seemed like it would never come back up and serve no purpose, so I felt vindicated when the show displayed it had a memory of its own events. Points to Riverdale for that.
Toni and Veronica used Kevin (who apparently is a two-dimensional plot device to either give information about being the sheriff’s son or about being gay) to discover where Cheryl was being kept and how to get to her. They snuck through a secret tunnel and searched the institute until they found her, and Toni and Cheryl made out to celebrate before quickly fleeing. While they do rescue Cheryl, this episode doesn’t clarify if the issue with her mother was actually resolved. We see her at school again but not at home, so her post-mental institution living situation isn’t made clear at all.
Meanwhile, in what was my personal favorite part of the episode, Archie has been getting good at being a mobster. Some members of Hiram Lodge’s crime family heard about his plans for the prison and paid him a visit, demanding a 25% cut. Archie stepped in and told them they couldn’t be pushed around like that. But unfortunately, they totally could. Archie and Veronica walked into the Pembrooke to see the butler being beaten and literally hammered by a man in a black mask. Triggering Archie’s Black Hood PTSD, he chased after the man and discovered it was one of Hiram’s own men- the same one that posed as the FBI agent. Feeling defenseless and out of options, Hiram was ready to give in and let his rivals take a cut of the prison to ensure his family’s safety (Hiram is, once again, a fairly nice and reasonable mobster).
But Archie had a better idea. In exchange for votes in the school election, Archie recruited Reggie and the backup of the Riverdale High wrestling team. Then what did these high school students do to these powerful adult mobsters, you may ask? THEY BLEW UP THEIR FREAKING CAR. Wearing Mortal Kombat-esque black masks, the old anti-Black Hood gang was back together, but this time dubbing themselves the “Black Circle” rather than the Red Circle and warning the crime bosses to stay out of Riverdale. But because he was so busy blowing up cars, Archie missed his father’s mayoral announcement, causing his mother to ask who he even was anymore.
This episode had it all: crimes, sexy teens, and even Bob Ross! I will watch any show where teens cover up murders and fight crime equally, but Riverdale goes the extra mile by doing it all in neon blue and red lighting, and I really appreciate that. Going forward, I’m interested to see just what happens with Betty, Chick, and their murder coverup, as well as if Cheryl can keep it together. Drawing parallels between yourself and Carrie is usually not a positive thing.
I rate “The Noose Tightens” 9 smashed doors out of 10.
How did you like the episode? Agree with my rating? Where do you think it’ll go from here? Let us know in the comments below or @SuperBroMovies.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.