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Riverdale ep. 3.16 “Chapter Fifty One: Big Fun”

“She’s my best friend. God, I hate her.”

I love Heathers. It’s a truly oddball one-of-a-kind movie that has a black comedy that many movies have tried since to duplicate and failed. Now I have never seen Heathers: The Musical but I would assume it has all the components that put it in the same, twisted vein as its source material.

In last week’s episode, Cheryl demanded that Kevin change the musical to Heathers in order to get out her mean girl frustration. The Farm gets behind it, funding much of the musical. That also means that Evelyn Evernever finds herself chosen as Kevin’s co-director (much to Betty’s dismay).

And speaking of dismay, Cheryl learns that Toni is in charge of choreography. The two former-girlfriends begin to battle it out for territory in a power struggle both on and off the stage.

The Farm hosts a cast part before the show (which is just wrong) in which the actors are all encouraged to wear their costumes for the show. This is easily the most out-there detail of Riverdale yet. Name ONE show in the history of theatre that ever allowed the actors to party in their costumes before they even hit the stage.

At the party, the kids get loose. Veronica gets cozy with Reggie again after she learns the news that her parents are splitting up. And Archie and Josie make their canoodling public.

This, of course, leads to more complex discussions. Reggie isn’t entirely pleased with being Veronica’s go-to. But Archie and Josie begin to make their relationship more official (and I am HERE FOR IT).

Jughead, meanwhile, continues his quest to end his mother’s attempts at making a foothold in the Riverdale drug trade. He soon discovers that Gladys has turned their former trailer into her drug lab.

Together, Jughead and Betty go to the trailer together and burn it down. Betty has proven yet again that the kids in Riverdale have an unhealthy relationship with arson.

Evelyn spends much of her time using her power to force the actors into vulnerable places. She’s a total creep, but in an approachable way. An approachable creep from a cult. That’s actually a thing, I guess.

But Betty knows that the Farm is just using the musical as a way to indoctrinate more people into the cult. And at the very end of the performance, we see the cult in all their white-garbed glory in the audience.

To be honest, Riverdale hasn’t done a very good job at explaining why the Farm is so appealing. I think it’s supposed to be something about salvation and belonging, but it never seemed convincing. Now that we’ve see Chad Michael Murray revealed as cult leader Edgar Evernever IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

Overall, Heathers: The Musical was probably the perfect choice to cement Riverdale’s attempts at returning to normal. It suited the storylines very well. That being said, though, I did have more fun with the Carrie musical episode. But you know, I prefer murder over arson.

PS: Why the HELL is there some kid at the cast party dressed like the Gargoyle King?

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Riverdale ep. 3.8 “Chapter Forty-Three: Outbreak”

One thing Riverdale is good at is topping its own insanity. Kill off one boy? Try a serial killer next season. Caught the serial killer? Test the waters with drug-induced visions of Gargoyles.

This show loves to out-do itself so how do wrap up mid-season? With a quarantine, obviously!

The seizures in Riverdale have begun to spread at a more rapid pace. Namely hitting the entirety of the Vixens all at once (minus Cheryl). This prompts the Lodges to try and persuade Veronica that she needs to leave to go to NYC. Of course she doesn’t want to. She’s Veronica. So she begins to do some digging on why her parents are acting to desperate.

They even get the school quarantined, and all the Fizzle Rock-addled students have to be dragged out.

She and Cheryl work together, crashing an emergency school board meeting. Veronica confronts her father about the things we now know as truths: he’s a drug dealer, the prison-builders are making those drugs, and the drugs are being tested on the children at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.

But before the girls can get to the bottom of anything, Penelope Blossom has a seizure. She’s ok, though, and the girls later torture her with maple syrup for information on Hiram.

In the land of the convent, Betty continues the good fight (surprise, surprise she wasn’t as broken as she appeared last episode). She eventually gets Ethel to join her side by locking Ethel in the Gargoyle King’s room until the drugs wear off her. Betty later explains to Ethel that while there is likely a real GK out there, he doesn’t live in the convent.

Together, the girls work to capture Sister Woodhouse. They manage to get her to admit the truth behind G&G. She explains to them that the children in the convent invented the game to cope with the trauma that they faced – particularly when they were in a room with a creepy gargoyle statue.

One they know the truth, they decide to get the other children out. They begin to role play – the only way to get the other girls to listen. Betty poses as the Gargoyle Queen, which goes down great! All the teens in the building leave, with no place to go.

But the other two wanderers, Archie and Jughead, end up at their final destination: with Jughead’s sister and mom. Gladys Jones seems pleased to see her son and his friend, but the reunion is awkward. Things become even more strained when Penny Peabody arrives after stalking the boys. I mean, I know there’s a bounty…but isn’t she a legit lawyer? Doesn’t she have better things to do?

Gladys tortures Penny (as is the theme of this week’s episode) and learns that Hiram is planning something massive for Riverdale. Not only is he after Archie, but anyone who helps him. That means Jughead…and Fred, who later arrives to help his son over the border into Canada (I think).

Archie dyes his hair dark and heads off into the woods with only Vegas at his side. FP (who arrived with Fred) takes Jughead back to Riverdale, but they’re told to go away.

Hermione and Hiram pulled the trigger and quarantined the entire city. Without outside interference, it appears as though the fate of the town lies solely with the Lodges.

It’s revealed that Hiram is indeed in cahoots with the Gargoyle King, who appears to just be chilling in Hiram’s office, enjoying the soft fireplace glow? It’s certainly one of the strangest directions Riverdale has ever gone in. Hiram, who at one point seemed simply surface-level ass hole, has now fully upgraded to being 100% mad.

This is why we’re all here, isn’t it? If we made it through season 2, all of us who are left are just those of us who enjoy this show at maximum crazy. And really, where can they even take it after this?

But it feels like we’re a lot less deep into the mystery than usual at mid-season. I imagined the Farm to be much more relevant than it has so far. But anyway, I’m intrigued. What will happen to the Jonses? Will they adopt Fred so that they can get up to shenanigans alone?

Who knows! I sure will never be able to guess. See you all in January.

Riverdale Ep. 35 recap “Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World”

After a solid run of episodes, Riverdale rounds up season 2 with a sleepy, predictable finale.

Unsurprisingly, Jughead is not dead. And neither is Fangs, which is one of the biggest cop-outs ever. FP claims that the deputy that called him with the news was lying as a ploy. He tells his son, who appears to be in the same hospital bed where the doctor was killed, that the Serpents don’t exist any more as a gang.

This is a complete lie. As FP is completely determined to send himself and Jughead away to Toledo to meet up with the rest of the family. But when Jughead gets out of hospital, he learns that most of the gang is living in the Whyte Wyrm after the sale of Sunnyside Trailer Park. The place where, incidentally, Hiram Lodge is planning his next acquisition.

Cheryl learns from her mother (who is, again unsurprisingly, in cahoots with Hiram) that Hiram is planning a raid on the Wyrm via his lapdog, Sheriff Minetta. Archie, Jughead and Cheryl manage to get the remaining Serpents out of the Wyrm and into the North Side where they get refuge in the Andrews house.

I feel like the biggest victim in all of this is poor Fred Andrew. He and Archie learn that the man that attacked them in their home was Tall Boy, the former Serpent who was being paid by Hiram Lodge. This, of course, confirms to Archie that Hiram is a horrible man. Because we haven’t already been beaten over the head with this one!

The core four then proceed to try to take down Hiram in their own ways. Veronica blackmails her father into giving her the million dollars back that she got through a shady ransom. She then buys the Whyte Wyrm (because she’s like, what, 17?) and dangles it in front of her dad. She makes him an offer: the Whyte Wyrm, the last remaining piece of the Southside he doesn’t own, in exchange for Pop’s – the one place that her friends still can call their own.

Hiram agrees to Veronica’s terms, but with one last addition: she gives up her share of Lodge Industries as well as her trust fund and allowance. The girl agrees.

FP agrees to stay in Riverdale, but retires (for real) from the Serpents, offering his still-teenage son the role of the head of the gang. These children are way too young to be leading gangs and buying real estate. Right? Or have times changed that much? (I’m not that old.)

Fred eventually loses the election to Hermione. Just incase you were wondering if everything in Riverdale had to be horrible. But the two shake hands and seemingly that makes things ok? But Archie isn’t happy.

He goes to confront Hiram, vowing to take him down once he has the correct evidence. This is such a Bad Move that it deserves to be treated as a proper noun. It’s hardly surprising when Hiram later has Archie arrested for the murder of that random dude at the lake (‘memba that?). But as this is Riverdale, I highly doubt that we will be spending season 3 watching Archie live his life out Orange is the New Black-style.

This is supposedly Hiram’s big idea to tear the core four apart. Not sure how this will work, but they hardly seemed to have got along this season and they still did pretty well against him. But with Archie out of the way for the summer, Hiram can move his plans into action. The plans to destroy all of Riverdale! Open brothels (thanks to Penelope Blossom), sell drugs (thanks to Claudius Blossom and the Ghoulies), just tear shit apart!

Why? Because this is the most cartoon-ish villain a show based on a cartoon can manage.

Betty’s plotline was one of the more boring this week. She’s been a personal favourite of mine, but she did at least have some great moments. With Polly’s insistence, she goes to visit Hal in prison. In a very Silence of the Lambs-moment, she tells her father that “You have no power over me” in which she suddenly finds she has exited the Labyrinth.

The darkness, is of course, not really in our dear Betty, but in Polly. The elder Cooper daughter is still with her weird cult and makes her moves to get Alice involved. I do hope the ‘Farm’ or whatever is a big role in season 3. It’s one of the more intriguing mysteries left in the show.

It’s a big of a shame the show couldn’t go out with a roar like it did last season. Much of the episode was left floundering, trying to wrap up plotlines that would have otherwise been deemed plot holes (student body president – ahem).

I am so sick of Hiram Lodge as a baddie. It’s pretty clear that he’s going to be front and centre yet again next season.

If this nonsense is to continue, the least they can do if allow us one punch to Hiram’s face. Just one. That’s all I’m asking for a satisfactory season 3.

But, kids, this is the end! A pretty limp way to end a really hit-and-miss sophomore season. It’s been fun. It’s been not fun. But it will all start again in October. See you then.

Riverdale Ep. 27 Recap “Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Hills Have Eyes”

Oh Riverdale you beautiful, beautiful mess. What the hell is going on with you?

“Chapter Twenty-Seven” was complete shambles. The show has slowly reached so-bad-it’s-kind-of-good territory. What started as a tongue-in-cheek, smart show has escalated to fan service and boring plot lines.

Much of this week’s episode focused on our four core characters as they travel to the Lodge lodge for a weekend away. Hiram invites the kids up himself. He tells Archie in an aside that he plans on gathering the families from New York to ease the tensions from Papa Poutine’s murder. Hiram also tells Archie that their chauffeur/body guard Andre will be hanging around incognito.

Of course nothing can go smoothly. As soon as the kids arrive, Jughead gets a call from Cheryl. In retaliation to not being invited to their couples get-away, she tells him about the kiss Betty and Archie shared during their Black Hood adventures.

Though he initially says he is “fine” with it, Jughead harbours some resentment against his ginger “best friend”. But B&J talk it out. They do argue, though, about Jughead’s persistent questions about Hiram’s business practices. Getting the wrong end of the stick, Veronica assumes the couple are arguing about the kiss and invites everyone into the hot tub. Jughead and Veronica kiss each other to “level the playing field”.

And I’m using so many sarcastic quotes it is making my head hurt.

That following morning, Veronica catches Archie talking to Andre in the woods. Veronica becomes angry, considering her father had promised that they would be left alone that weekend.

Veronica takes her anger and Betty shopping, leaving the boys to bond with each other. These scenes (while incredibly brief) were at least nice because at least we got to see proof that these kids are actually supposed to be friends. When was the last time we saw them doing anything fun together?

When the couples are reunited, Jughead receives another phone call. This time from FP. His dad gleefully tells him that Hiram has bought the trailer park, but has allowed everyone living there to stay. While this should be good news, Jughead sees only cynical, suspicious intentions. Betty gets a phone call, then, from her mother, saying that Hiram has bought The Riverdale Register, a pretty shady move. This sparks an argument between the two couples.

But during their argument, they hear the glass shatter and masked men enter the house to rob them. Veronica realises that one of the robbers is a shop assistant who helped her that morning in town. She agrees to go with him to get her wallet. But before she passes it over, she discreetly bumps a panic button.

Before the men can steal anything, the alarm sounds, telling them that they have 30 seconds before security guards arrive and shoot on the spot.

The men flee, but Archie chases the shop assistant. But before he can do anything, Andre shows up, telling Archie that he will “take care of it”. As Archie walks away, he hears the gunshot confirming that the Lodges are ruthless.

And yeah, there are a lot of subplots in this one. The affair between Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller. Cheryl coming out to Toni. Kevin dealing with his ‘relationship’ with Moose. And really, none of it feels very consequential.

Which begs the question, where the hell is Riverdale going? It’s kind of cute that the show is giving so many winks and nods to fan ‘ships’ but the show seems to sidetracked doing that to actually remember that there is supposed to be a plot here.

This show has been floundering. The show needs to have something bigger, and Hiram’s plans are just too ambiguous to be compelling. We need another Jason Blossom or Black Hood. I don’t mean another murder mystery plot, but just something that makes you think “I can’t fucking wait until next week.”

Ultimately, I think Riverdale meant to make something momentous happen. But it didn’t. Cheryl’s coming out moment was completely ruined with the worst segue ever. Seriously, this plug for Love, Simon movie is one of the worst things I have EVER seen in anything ever. Dear Lord, please make it stop.

At least they were drinking jalapeño  margaritas. Those are my favourite.

Riverdale Ep. 24 recap “Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wrestler”

Good god, Riverdale. How is it that you are managing to get everything so wrong?

This week’s episode revolves around Pickens Day, a day to celebrate General Augustus Pickens, the man who won a battle for the land that is now Riverdale.

To celebrate more (and to profit from), the Lodges and Fred Andrews approach the Mayor with the idea to host a festival to properly celebrate the day. Supposedly to get the North and Southside to get along better. With frictions continually getting worse, it sounds like a good idea on paper, but since the Lodges are behind it – it’s purely for selfish reasons.

Archie’s weird FBI agent wants him to get closer to Hiram. Knowing that Hiram hates his guts, he asks Veronica for advice. How to do that? Wrestling, of course!

Much of the episode revolves around Hiram and Archie’s relationship, or rather lack of it. Hiram, being a former wrestling god, partakes in the wrestling try-outs. While Archie has never wrestled before, he tries out anyway just to get closer to Hiram. It’s weirdly uninteresting as much of the episode just drives home what we already know:

Hiram really hates Archie for dating his daughter.

Archie gets humiliated a number of times by Hiram during the try-outs, but Archie persists. Hiram warms Archie away. They try to out run each other. It builds nothing to the story.

At the end, though, Archie decides to take on an “internship” with Hiram. Seemingly this stops Archie’s contact with the FBI. I guess Archie making the wrestling team was worth it after-all?

But even more boring than Hiram is his daughter. Veronica serves no purpose here other than to sing Duran Duran and get slighted by Josie when Josie backs out of their Pickens Day number. Hermione and Mayor McCoy increasingly dislike each other, and pit their daughters against one another. As every good mother does.

There’s also a weird subplot about white privilege. Told through the lens of a white male! One who is so hellbent on thinking he’s getting the short end of every single fucking stick.

I’m looking at you, Jughead.

During his history project, Juggie interviews Toni’s father, who is a member of the fictional Uktena tribe (uktena is the name for a horned serpent in Cherokee mythology). But while the tribe is not real, it is very much based on America’s very tragic history. Toni’s gradfather tells Jughead that General Pickens was paid by a Blossom to slaughter the Uktena people for their land.

It’s a piece of Riverdale’s history that is mostly forgotten. Toni’s grandfather started the Southside Serpents to be able to hold the remainders of his family together.

Fired up by Thomas Topaz’s story, Jughead takes this story to the Blue and Gold. Only his story, rightly pointed out by Toni, is all about Jughead’s issues with the Northside, and not about her grandfather (with the great line, “It’s not your story to tell.”). He eventually goes to apologise.

During the Pickens Day celebration, the Serpents arrive in peaceful protest. Toni gets her moment to make a statement, but before she can get anywhere, Hiram interrupts and steals away her voice.

So fuck Hiram!

The following morning, the Mayor, Sheriff Keller and the Lodges find the Pickens statue beheaded and bloodied. They all agree to blame the Serpents, without any scrap of evidence. This will certainly cement the hatred that the North and Southside feel for each other. Shame no one really cares.

In the continually boring plotline that is Chic, Betty learns from Kevin that her brother is infact a webcam boy. In an olive branch, Betty gives Chic her old laptop so he can continue his work. As his things from his hostel have been stolen, to agrees to take it.

Betty, in exchange, asks for help coming to terms with her dark side (blegh). This, of course, means a “dark education” in being a camgirl! FUCKING YAY. Only it’s not. And let’s stop sexually exploiting a minor. Also this darkness shit didn’t work in season one, and it’s even less interesting now. Go back to super sleuth Betty.

Best thing about this episode is Mrs Blossom approaching Hal for “some company.” Season 2 of Riverdale is sorely lacking in parental drama. Bring it all back, please.

Again, Riverdale fails to really do anything interesting. It’s lost is spark and personality, and it slowly sliding into a lull. I fully blame the 22-episode season format. But mostly, it doesn’t seem like Riverdale knows where it wants to go. With all four of its central characters just sliding around, it feels really hard to root for any of them anymore.

On the bright side, it was excellent to have icon Graham Greene on the show playing Thomas Topaz. Shame the show made him do things like “nod sagely” at things the entire episode.

Riverdale Ep. 22 “Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night”

If I had a Riverdale Christmas wishlist it would include:

  • More Alice Cooper (more parental drama overall, please).
  • Betty/Archie/Jughead/Veronica to sort their shit out. I’m so bored with the off-and-on again relationships.
  • The return of Molly Ringwald.
  • Jughead to remember that he’s a “weirdo” not a feisty gang member.
  • And a better fucking ending than we just got in episode 22.

So. This was a bit of a mixed-bag here for a mid-season finale. Apparently it’s Christmas, which means Riverdale officially has the most confusing seasons. Didn’t Archie save Cheryl from a frozen river a few weeks ago? Why isn’t there any snow on the ground in December?

Anyway, Christmas means lots of gifts and Secret Santa. It also means no one has any money.

The Blossoms are broke. And the Andrews are definitely screwed. Thanks to terrible health coverage in America, Fred receives a bill for $86,000 from the hospital. He and Archie try selling Christmas trees just to make more money, but it’s obvious that that whopper of a medical bill will make things a little more than tight this season.

But Archie has other things to worry about, namely his ex-girlfriend. Yes the two pairs are still calling it quits despite having the dumbest reasonings ever. Jughead still wants to “protect” Betty (though it’s plenty clear that every girl in Riverdale can protect themselves) by pushing her away. And well, Veronica just wants to “be there” for Archie. Of course they all still exchange gifts they got for each other before they broke up.

At Kevin’s Secret Santa exchange, things get more awkward. Veronica gets a couples message (for $20 – sure), and Betty gets a really cute gift from Archie that makes both Veronica and Jughead sweat.

Though don’t let that Christmas spirit fool you, because there’s still a serial killer on the loose! Betty and Archie both realise that Mr Svenson (aka Joseph Conway) is gone, and has been replaced by a temporary janitor. When B&A inquire about Svenson’s whereabouts, they’re told that he usually takes this time of the year off, considering he has no family.

You know, despite the fact that he was adopted and would have a family that way. But adopted families don’t count.

The two go to Mr Svenson’s house, and he doesn’t answer. All they find is a bowl of chicken soup left by the school secretary days before. Instead of calling the police about their concern, the kids just go away.

When Betty gets home that night, Alice tells her that Betty has received a Secret Santa gift, and it’s waiting in her room. But it’s something that probably wasn’t on Betty’s wishlist: Mr Sevnson’s finger.

Jughead continues this now-tedious storyline of him and his “payment” to Penny Peabody (anyone else get her and Sweet Pea confused?). FP has shouldered the blame for it in order to protect Jughead. But since Jughead has since long ditched his copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower, he’s full-on snake now.

He keeps trying to get FP to stop the drug deliveries, but FP is determined to keep the peace with Penny. After FP’s parole office stops by, Jughead realises that he needs to take matters into his own hands. To protect his dad or whatever. Obviously no one thinks any adult can handle themselves in this stupid town.

Jughead eventually rallies the young Serpents and asks them to join him in getting rid of Penny. They eventually kidnap her and take her to Greendale where they cut off her Southside Serpent tattoo. Well, if we can have Dark Betty, I guess we also get Sadistic Jughead. GREAT!

Living the free and single life, Veronica has nothing better to do than dig up dirt on her parents. She asks them for help paying Fred’s medical bills, but they insist they can’t, and don’t want to. So when you don’t get what you want, just dig through your father’s files!

Veronica learns that her parents did buy Pop’s after all, despite lying to her about their “charitable donation” earlier. In revenge, she calls the hospital and pays of Fred’s bills with her mom’s black American Excess card. When she confronts her parents, they finally tell her to grow up (kind of), and that she needs to be all in or get over it.

So Veronica finally learns the truth about Lodge Industries. Shame is, we don’t. Which really kills any interest I had in this story line.

Speaking of killing! Archie and Betty decide to go to Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where Mr Svenson lived after his family was killed. They learn that as a boy, he pointed out the wrong man who committed murder of his family. The group of people who killed the man came in only once, and all the Sister can remember is that one of the women had white hair with a red streak.

Nana Rose Blossom.

When B&A go to speak to Nana Rose, she tells them that the man wasn’t hung, but rather buried at the foot at a tree called the Devil’s hand. Oh and the man wasn’t hung – he was buried alive. Also, Betty’s grandfather was involved.

Betty becomes upset about her grandfather’s involvement, and Archie does his best to rally her. She takes this as her moment to make a move on Archie, which doesn’t seem to be either a good or bad thing. It just happens.

The two then go to the Cooper’s house where all of Betty’s grandfather’s photos are. They eventually find one of her grandfather in front of a tree, with small mound in front of them (and somehow no one has noticed that this was weird before, huh?).

They realise that the tree is the one in Pickens Park. When they arrive, they find a head stone with Conway’s name on it. They begin to dig and eventually find a coffin, only to discover no one is inside.

Then the Black Hood arrives. He holds the kids up at gunpoint, and demands that Archie get into the coffin. Archie complies, but then Betty is ordered to close the cover and start to bury Archie herself.

In the nick of time, the police arrive, successfully distracting the Black Hood long enough that Betty can hit him with the shovel. She gets Archie out, but the BH is already running away. Thankfully, the fool has dropped the gun. Archie and Betty corner the Black Hood at a bridge, that the Black Hood is about to jump off of.

Before Archie can shoot the Black Hood, Sheriff Keller does. With the Black Hood dead, Betty removes the hood, and learns that all along, the Black Hood was Mr Svenson.

Yes fucking really.

Later, then the gang is all together talking about the events, they all seem to easily believe that Mr Svenson was completely capable of being the Black Hood despite only being a character for about three episodes.

If there is one thing I have learned from reading a lot of mystery novels it’s this: never, EVER choose a small side character as your culprit – especially if they show up late in the book.

Well, you know, janitors! They’re everywhere! They see everything! He was repenting for his own sins! That totally explains away the green eyes, the Nancy Drew reference, AND EVERY OTHER CLUE GIVEN TO US ALL SEASON.

God.

There’s some shit after this about exchanging gifts, but I could care less. Veronica and Archie are together again after Veronica realises she’s jealous of Betty actually loves Archies.

Betty then burns her evidence from the case, but not her own black hood because she’s dark. Ooooh. You know what they say, “When one because a stripper, it’s a slippery path to becoming a serial killer.”

Ugh.

Cheryl has a really weird subplot this episode. But she was nuts and that’s how we like her best. She goes on a Christmas rampage, buying a tree without her mother’s permission. She then tells her mother that Mrs Blossom needs a job, probably from the Lodges by 2018. Then she catches her mom with the Christmas tree salesman. Because of course.

So the Black Hood is Mr Svenson? Well, I hardly believe it. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe it. The first season absolutely stuck the landing with the reveal of Jason’s demise, and I have complete confidence that the writers would be able to do the same thing with the Black Hood.

My theory is, is that the Black Hood has been making Mr Svenson be his puppet. We’ve never seen the BH not in total control. Why would he drop his guard now? Wouldn’t he even consider that Betty and/or Archie would have called the police?

Either way, this mystery definitely isn’t over. Whether Svenson was the Black Hood or not, there’s clearly a bigger problem on the horizon: the Riverdale Reaper.

I for one am looking forward to a break from Riverdale. The show will return in the third week of January (the 17th in the US, the 18th internationally on Netflix).

Riverdale ep. 21 recap “Chapter Twenty-one: House of the Devil”

This week’s episode of Riverdale took a break from the intense serial-killer business to remind us that this is still, at heart, very much a teen drama.

Archie and Veronica’s relationship over the course of the seasons has been heating up. Nothing like putting a fire out like saying, “I love you, Ronnie” too early. And that’s exactly what poor Archie does. Emotionally-warped Veronica freezes, and changes the subject.

So staying apart would be ideal, other than Betty and Jughead need their friends’ help more than usual this week. Jughead was able to find a clipping about the Riverdale Reaper story. He shows the article to Betty, who realises that the killing took place in the abandoned house the Black Hood ordered to her go to.

But Betty, unable to face the house again, refuses to go back. And Jughead is out of the sleuthing game too when he gets the news that FP will be released from prison due to over-crowding. That leaves the mystery-solving to Veronica and Archie this week. Or as Veronica says, “You wants us to be you guys?”

When Veronica returns home from school, her parents tell her that they’ve received a letter from the Black Hood. Dozens of other families received identical letters, but since the Lodges are actually horrible people, they have reason to worry. Hermione and Hiram reassure Veronica that they’ll be fine, as their lobby man is trained in Jujitsu or something. But they would feel even better if Archie was around more. And, you know, that sounds fantastic when you’re setting up ending things with your ginger boyfriend.

In preparation for FP’s return, Jughead amps up his “I heart being a Serpent” shtick. When Tall Boy pushes back, it’s put up to a vote whether or not the man should shut up, he loses and Jughead earns more respect from his fellow gang members.

But when FP, Jughead, Betty and Alice go to pick up FP – the Serpent leader claims that he wants to go straight and leave the gang. He tells them that he has even joined AA to quit drinking, and applies for a job at Pop’s.

Meanwhile, Archie and Veronica continue investigating the Riverdale Reaper murders. They go to speak to Sheriff Keller, telling him the files are missing. He explains that since it was a cold case, the investigator could take the files with him. The Sheriff at the time, now dead two years, was obsessed with the case. When the call his daughter, she tells them that her father had called the house The Devil’s House, which I imagine means its always warm.

FP begins his job at Pop’s. Jughead is uncomfortable with it, especially when Cheryl Blossom purposefully knocks over a milkshake and orders FP to clean it up – like he did with her brother’s blood.

Let’s not even talk about Cheryl this week. What’s her deal anyway?

Taking things into her own hands, Betty decides to throw FP a “retirement” party. Complete with all the Serpents. She goes to ask Toni for help, who agrees. While at the Wormhole, Betty tries to learn how she can be affiliated with the Serpents herself to keep an eye on Jughead. One of the older Serpent women tell Betty that she can do “the Serpent Dance,” which is some sort of sexist strip tease. And we all know Dark Betty will be super into that.

Veronica, who is doing her best to avoid all relationship chat, and Archie go to the Devil’s House together. The flashback shows the identity of the Riverdale Reaper, and proves that it’s no one in the cast. When going through the rooms one-by-one to follow the sequence of events, they discover a clue: the initials carved into the doorframe. They realise that while four people were killed that night, there were five people in the family.

The next rule of order is discovering who the surviving son’s identity. V and A learn that the boy was adopted by a family in Riverdale, and his identity changed in order to be protected. The two go through the Riverdale year books to find a match, and Ronnie does. A Joseph Svenson, the school janitor.

When they confront him, Mr Svenson says he knew the identity of the Reaper. He had crawled out of his window and watched to see the identity of the man who killed his family. Later he pointed out the man, a conman, to some men in town. The men took it upon themselves to serve justice, and killed the man themselves.

While Veronica jumps to conclusions, Archie immediately realises that Svenson isn’t a vengeful man posing as the Black Hood. Again, the green eyes don’t match.

The night of FP’s retirement party arrives, and everyone is getting a bit freaky. Alice, upon FP’s invitation, arrives dressed in full Serpent get up. Betty takes out her ponytail.

Then the painfully uncomfortable events begin to unfold.

Why, Riverdale?

Archie finally gets his moment to confront Veronica about the whole “I love you” business. She thanks him for being understanding that she’s not ready, when that’s clearly not the case. They go onstage together and sing “Mad World” together. Which is such a weird choice for karaoke.

Veronica runs off stage mid song, and Archie follows. When the Serpents begin to boo and get rowdy, Betty hops on stage and begins to sing instead. Cute!

Then she begins to strip and do the Serpent Dance. Not cute. I mean, your mom and your boyfriend’s dad are there. YOU ARE SIXTEEN, BETTY.

In seriously one of the most excruciating scenes in television history, Betty is ushered off stage by FP. Again. YOUR BOYFRIEND’S DAD.

Alice tries to get her daughter to leave, but Betty is convinced she’s doing the right thing. Though she soon learns she really fucking didn’t.

FP, now on stage, doesn’t choose to sing “Sweet Caroline,” but instead announces that he’s going against police orders to stay with the Serpents. Off stage, FP tells Jughead that he learnt that Penny Peabody wants a lot out of Jughead (meaning more “pancake mix” deliveries). With FP staying, Jughead is off the hook.

Frustrated, Jughead pushes Betty away. In fairness, not many boyfriend would be thrilled to see their SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD girlfriend strip in front of a biker gang. He tells her that if she gets involved, he’d no longer be able to protect her. And with that, Bughead are over yet again.

Which might be okay, as it’s curtains for Veronica and Archie as well. It had been written in the stars since last season that Archie was having a sort of “Betty sexual awakening.” And he didn’t even get to watch her little show!

I’m in some sort of feminist pickle here. On one hand, ladies have every right to express their sexuality. If you want to be a stripper, be a stripper, girl! But it feels profoundly wrong putting a teenager in that situation. Even if actress Lili Reinhart is 21. Riverdale is great when its insanity is cranked up, but this probably isn’t the right direction to push it in.

It almost didn’t matter that these two relationships ended. I mean, it would be an Archie comics based show if we didn’t have Archie swapping between his favourite two ladies, so we saw this coming anyway. But those moments shouldn’t be overshadowed. They should be important. Even when you’re just a teen, these things are really profound.

I’m going to forget about this episode now. This really wan’t a good one. I’m just going to think happy thoughts of Mädchen Amick and Skeet Ulrich’s sexual tension.