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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

'Riverdale' returns for equally wacky, significantly darker season 2

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The cast and executive producers of "Riverdale" speak at a panel at The CW 2017 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Hotel on Jan. 8 in Pasadena, Calif.

Content warning: This article mentions sexual violence and suicide.

Welcome back to "Riverdale" (2017–present), home to exactly one restaurant, a hospital that apparently hasn’t been renovated since the 1950s and everyone’s favorite sad breakfast club. Last season’s finale of the show, based on the Archie Comics, left Pop’s, the aforementioned sole restaurant in Riverdale,bloodied after a masked man burst into the restaurant and shot Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), Archie’s father. Last Wednesday’s premiere dealt with the immediate aftermath of the shooting and laid the groundwork for this season’s mystery through a slightly uneven but ultimately satisfying return to the world of Archie (K.J. Apa), Veronica (Camila Mendes), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Cole Sprouse,who for some reason is demanding everyone call him Jughead.

The episode starts off with an unlicensed Archie tearing through the streets in his dad's truck, trying to get to the hospital in time to save Fred.They miraculously make it to the hospital, where Fred is rushed through two double doors and immediately operated on. Did these doctors even scrub in? Also, somehow Archie is able to see the surgery through those doors, which cannot be regulation. This hospital is certainly no Seattle Grace.

Archie then informs the gang of the situation, interestingly calling Betty first, rather than his girlfriend Veronica. At the end of last season, Archie was happy with Veronica, and Betty and Jughead were almost-but-not-quite losing their virginity to each other, but maybe season two means a shakeup? But if we’re switching partners, can Archie give Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) a chance? That is the couple no one deserves but everyone needs.

Speaking of the queen of “Riverdale,” Cheryl doesn't appear in this episode until nearly the 30-minute mark. No wonder the first half seems kind of blah. At least once she did arrive, she was in full Cheryl form, dressed to impress in all white with a pop of red on her shoe (and her signature lipstick, of course)She arrives at the hospital with her mom, who is covered in third-degree burns after apparently running back into their burning house to save a family portrait. Maybe there was more heroin behind it. Cheryl then drops a bomb, informing her mom that if she tells the truth about how Cheryl had purposefully burned down the family mansion (classic Cheryl), she would reveal what “actually happened in the barn with Daddy.” Maybe it wasn’t a simple “shoot your own son, then get discovered for that murder plus the fact that your maple syrup business was a cover for selling heroin so you hang yourself in the barn” type situation after all, huh? Sounds like Penelope Blossom definitely killed her husband and framed it as suicide. Please, someone call Child Protection Services for Cheryl.

A different secret of the episode that does not pay off surrounded Archie and the actual shooting. All episode, Archie is acting fishy about what happened in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and flipping out because his dad’s wallet is missing. But the 'big reveal' just turned out to be that Archie was ashamed that after his dad was shot, he froze with his eyes closed, giving the shooter a chance to presumably steal his father’s wallet and make an escape. Archie, chill, it’s not your job to tackle someone when they have a gun to your head. But this does mean that the shooter probably does have the seemingly significant wallet. Although, what could Fred possibly have in there that’s so important? A paternity test? No one should put it past this show to pull something like that.

Now, for the most controversial part of the episode: that shower scene. Basically, while Archie’s dad is in surgery, Veronica takes Archie home to get cleaned up, since he has been sitting in the hospital in bloody clothing. As Archie stands in the shower, watching his father’s blood wash away into the drain, Veronica thinks it would be a brilliant idea to strip out of everything besides her pearl jewelry (which really should not get wet) and get in the shower with Archie. What started off as a painful scene of a son in despair over the life of his father ended as some soft-core CW porn. This is definitely supposed to illustrate what Veronica had said earlier about not being able to deal with grief and therefore she leaned on what she’s most comfortable with, her sexuality, to help Archie, but this seems like a pretty clear no-no.

Speaking of couples, a Bughead update. Sprouse and Reinhart are rumored to be dating in real life, and this episode just proved that these rumors are almost certainly reality. Their on-screen chemistry had definitely shifted, and watching them kiss felt documentary-like. Anyway, plot: After walking into Pop’s — the unlocked scene of the crime — to find Pop himself mopping up the blood (okay, mere hours later, this is apparently no longer an active crime scene?), Betty voices her concerns to Jughead about his being inducted into the Serpents, a gang of which his father (now in jail) is a part. He expresses that this — along with his new, very sexy habit of riding a motorcycle — is his way to feel close to his dad, even when he’s away. Aw, Juggy. Can’t wait for your sister, Jellybean, to arrive. Except Jellybean better actually be a 'he,' 'he' obviously being the one and only Dylan Sprouse.

When Veronica isn't busy jumping into showers with emotionally vulnerable boyfriends, she's accusing her parents of murder. That’s right, the end of this episode saw the arrival of the infamous patriarch Hiram Lodge, and Veronica wastes no time insinuating that they were the ones behind Fred’s shooting, which, spoiler alert, he ends up surviving. And who is to thank for that? The one and only Cheryl, who gives him a kiss of life on the forehead, which she says was in return for the one Archie gave her at Sweetwater River last season. And sure enough, Fred awakes only minutes later. But what does Cheryl get from Archie? No “thank you Cheryl, thank you for literally saving my father’s life with your luscious, magical red lips,” nothing. Justice for Cheryl.

Even if the rest of the episode had been a complete bust, the last moments would have made it all worth it. The “angel of death” makes its way across the river to a home with an old, light blue Volkswagen bug in front, which could only mean one thing — Grundy! This reviewer was about to quit this show, because literally not a single person in this world asked for the return of Archie’s music teacher/statutory rapist, but then, after kissing goodbye her newest student/prey, Grundy gets very bloodily strangled. (Cue applause.) Seems like this killer is going after people close to Archie.

This episode planted some great seeds for what definitely is shaping up to be another mystery-laden but even darker season two of “Riverdale.” Despite this more ominous tone, let’s hope in the next few episodes there still can be a return to Riverdale High — Archie being a modern day Troy Bolton is the best Archie, and there is nothing better than a classic River Vixen dance-off. Jughead's narration is true that at its core, Riverdale is a "haunted town," but that doesn't mean there's no time for a little fun too.

"Riverdale" airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Full episodes available on cwtv.com and Netflix.

Summary This episode planted some great seeds for what definitely is shaping up to be another mystery-laden but even darker season two of “Riverdale.”
4 Stars