recap

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 Betty and Archie both realise that Mr Svenson (aka Joseph Conway) is gone, and has been replaced by a temporary janitor.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).

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Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E13 “The Tale of Old Man Corcoran”

Growing up, the popular night game of choice was Ghost in the Graveyard. Essentially, it was just a game to see how terrified we could make each other by hiding the dark.

In this week’s episode it seems that Kiki has a similar idea when she makes the Midnight Society play a game of hide-and-seek before she begins her tale.

Hide-and-seek game in Kiki’s story is a bit more frightening. According to Kiki, you’ll never who when you’ll get caught and by whom.

In “The Tale of Old Man Corcoran,” a pair of brothers move to a new suburb after living in a rough part of the town. Jack and Kenny are still adjusting to their new lives, and still have yet to make any friends.

While playing around in their front yard one day, a boy on a bicycle stops and introduces himself as Marshall. He invites the boys to join him and his friends at their game of hide-and-seek that night. Marshall’s friends keep their distance, looking like a rather unfriend gaggle of children on bikes.

While Jack is initially not interested, when Marshall insinuates that the boys are being chicken, he quickly agrees. So that night, the brothers follow Marshall’s directions to the game. When they arrive, they find that the game takes place in a foggy graveyard. Kenny becomes scared, but Jack is determined to not appear scared. He hops the fence, and Kenny follows.

When they finally find Marshall and his friends, Marshall makes the introductions. One girl, Cissy Vernon, looks particularly displeased that the boys have joined their game. To try to scare them away, she begins to tell the brothers about Old Man Corcoran. She says that he was once the groundskeeper who dug the graves by hand in the cemetery. Some people thought he was crazy. He supposedly chopped the hands off a boy who stole from him.

But Old Man Corcoran died one day after falling into one of his graves and was buried alive. But some people say he’s still walking the graveyard.

After that delightful tale, the boys are told to hide and they can begin the game. While running through the cemetery, they spot an open grave. Jack suggests that it would be the perfect place to hide, but Kenny disagrees. They suddenly hear the sound of a harmonica, and follow it into the woods where they find an old shack, which they believe to belong to Corcoran.

The brothers believe they’ve been set up for a joke, but when they see the harmonica with “Corcoran” etched in it, they flee. Just as they return to the graveyard, the game of hide-and-seek ends. But before they can move, the brothers bump into a ghostly man with an axe in his hands. Frightened, the boys flee the graveyard and go home.

The following day, Marshall and his gang arrive at Kenny and Jack’s house. When they’re called chickens again, Jack immediately agrees to another game of hide-and-seek.

That night, before the brothers arrive, Cissy argues with Marshall about the brothers joining their game. She tells him that she didn’t think there would be any new members to their group after her. But the conversation stops when Jack and Kenny arrive to join the game.

This time, it’s the boys’ turn to seek. While walking the graveyard, they hear Corcoran’s harmonica again, and Jack decides he’s going to steal the harmonica to prove to the other children that he’s not afraid.

When they arrive back at the shack, they see Corcoran chopping wood. When he walks away, Jack enters the shack while Kenny goes to find the other children.

As Jack begins searching the shack, he becomes panicked. But Kenny arrives, having found the harmonica. Jack hands Kenny his flashlight to hold, but someone else kindly takes it. When the boys notice neither of them is holding onto the flashlight, they discover that they are in the same room as Old Man Corcoran.

Fleeing from the shack, they find Cissy hiding in a grave. She tells them to go away and find their own. When Kenny says he doesn’t see her name on it, she says (to herself, as the boys have run again)  that maybe they should look closer.

Kenny and Jack find Marshall and show him the harmonica, but he doesn’t believe them. But Old Man Corcoran pops up from behind the boys, demanding his harmonica back. He asks what the boys are doing in the graveyard, and they reply that they’ve been playing hide-and-seek, Corcoran asks why they’re playing alone.

The brothers start to tell Corcoran the names of the children they’re playing with, but the man stops them, saying that those are the names of dead children. The boys suddenly realise that they are laying on a grave – Marshall’s grave, which is covered in grass as he’s been dead since 1978.

Thanks to Corcoran, the children weren’t buried alive during the game, like the other children had been before them.

“The Tale of Old Man Corcoran” is easily one of the highlights of season 2. There are great scares, a great twist, and plenty of open-ended mystery to make it feel like a urban legend.

One odd inconsistency about AYAOTD is whether or not ghosts have the ability to wear contemporary fashions. A boy who died in the ’70s could possibly go by unnoticed in the ’90’s, but I think we’re pushing it. How do ghosts get new clothes? Do you have unlimited fashion options in the after life?

Hopefully these are the important questions we get answers for in seasons 3.

But that’s a wrap on season 2 of Are You Afraid of the Dark? And I’m afraid that that’s me done with recaps until the new year.

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.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E12 “The Tale of the Hatching”

All of the children in the Midnight Society have their trademarks. Kristen has a flair for the dramatic (and costumes). Betty Ann loves supernatural tales. Gary loves magic.

And David? Well, David is a bit of a stick-in-the-mud.

This week, he’s miserable because he’s had to move to a different school on the other side of town. This, to him, is pretty much the end of the world as he has to make new friends (and I somehow think this is something David doesn’t excel at).

The new move is David’s inspiration for “The Tale of the Hatching.” Brother and sister Augie and Jazz are forced to go to a boarding school when their parents are off on business for six months.

Black Brook School is a bit strange. When the family first arrive, a girl begins screaming when she wakes up from a nightmare. The family rush to the room, to see if the girl is okay. A couple enter and introduce themselves as Mr and Mrs Taylor, the people who run the school. The girl’s rushed away, just as a low tone sounds from the speaker from the room.

Mr Taylor explains that the bell signals the beginning and ending of class, as well as lunch period. While in Mr Taylor’s office, Augie’s alarm on his wristwatch begins to sound. Mr Taylor grips his ears in pain until the sound stops. He explains the episode away by claiming a migraine.

When Augie and Jazz are finally left alone, they begin setting in at school. While they learn to enjoy it, they can’t help but admit it’s strange. At dinner, all the other students are obsessed with something called “Spunge” (like sponge, but “with a u”). It’s grainy, white and grosses the brother and sister out.

Mr Taylor also takes hand-held games away from kids. And Augie is warned away from listening to his walkman. The Taylors apparently believe these things get in the way of the learning process.

Then one night, things at Black Brook get really strange. Jazz wakes up to the bell sounds coming from the speakers in her dorm room. She sees the other girls from her dormitory rise and leave the room, as if in some sort of trance.

Jazz decides to follow the other girls, and bumps into Augie, who is playing along with the trance act. The two agree to go with the other students to discover what’s going on.

They follow the students into the basement, where there’s some sort of room-sized water containment system. Some students go to stand behind control booths while the others head down ladders. Augie and Jazz realise that the water is filled with large eggs, and the other students are sprinkling a powder over them.

Before the brother and sister can investigate any more, they’re interrupted by the arrival of Mr and Mrs Taylor. Augie and Jazz quickly pretend to be “feeding” the eggs, just like the other students. They overhear the Taylors saying they’re happy to see their new students adjusting, as they didn’t believe they had eaten any of their Spunge.

Jazz and Augie decide to follow the Taylors to their office to spy on them. They overhear the Taylors saying that the incubation period is nearly complete, and their master is pleased. Then the children notice Mr Taylor’s arm – it’s green, scaly, and obviously not human.

Jazz tears her brother away and she urges him to help her do something about it. But before they can enact their escape plan, Mrs Taylor catches both Jazz and Augie sneaking around.

Mr Taylor approached them and says, “You can’t leave; the excitement has just begun.” Then the super-swell adults drag Augie and Jazz into the basement where they’re locked up. The Taylors explains that they are the last of their race, but soon the eggs will hatch and they will take over the world.

But first, the children have to meet the “mother” of the meat-eating species. The giant lizard-like Mother begins to approach Augie and Jazz, ready to eat them before a busy week of tending to her new babies. But before she can get too close, Augie begins setting up his trap: a mechanism using the wall-speaker and his Walkman.

After commanding his sister to hit play, the high-frequency rock music begins to blare from the speakers. The noise causes the Mother to explode, and the children discover, the Taylors. Augie explains that he noticed that the high-frequency noise was a problem for the Taylors, and thought it could be used against them. The perks of being a nerd?

When the children are finally able to escape, they discover that the students have woken from their trances and that all the eggs had been destroyed.

Or have they?

“The Tale of the Hatching” is a fun story. It’s not overly-complex, and it has a fun pair of kids at the front. The episode values both of the kids’ strengths: brains and bravery. And who doesn’t love an evil-school tale? Sure it’s strange that there seems to be no other adults around at this school, but that’s television, right?

But the real mystery for me here is what exactly a boarding school is. Are kids seriously just dropped off when they’re parents can’t watch them for a while? I find this very strange. What sort of business are their parents in that they BOTH have to leave for six months? Perhaps Augie and Jazz have something to worry about. Perhaps THEIR parents have green skin.

Riverdale ep. 20 recap “Chapter Twenty: Tales from the Darkside”

Right. First things first: I didn’t intentionally write about Tales from the Darkside on Wednesday because of the title of this episode. I didn’t plan it, but I like it. Fate is smiling down on me today.

But let’s not focus on that. Let’s talk about The Candyman himself: Tony Freaking Todd, ladies and gentlemen!

Following the death of the Candyman (not Todd, but the English teacher), the Black Hood leaves a letter on Pop’s Chock’lit Shop door. In the letter, he asks the citizens of Riverdale to prove that they’ve changes and are pure of heart. If the don’t please him, they’ll pay. This week’s episode took on an unusual anthology style in which we follow the cast throughout those 48 hours of judgement.

The first, follows Archie and Jughead as Penny Peabody calls for Juggie to repay the favour he owes her. She tells him that his father has been beat up in prison by some angry Ghoulies, and he needs money for his medical expenses.

Penny wants Jughead to make a delivery of “pancake mix” for her. When it’s delivered, Jughead’s cut of the money will go to FP’s bills. He agrees, but has to drag Archie into the mix when Penny tells him the shipment will need a car.

Jughead tells Archie that it’s just a one-time deal, just as Penny has told him. In it together, the boys go to pick up a large crate from a shipping container. Along the way, though, Archie’s dad’s truck gets a flat and they have to decide how to get help.

A truck pulls to the side of the road in front of them, and out pops the good old harbinger of doom. The man (played by Todd) offers to take Jughead in exchange for money. Jughead hops into the truck and leaves with him.

Along the way, the man Jughead that man of the people in Riverdale think that the Black Hood is doing God’s work, as confirmed by the angry preaching coming from his radio. He then tells Jughead about another murderer, the Riverdale Reaper.

Meanwhile, poor Archie is left alone where he’s able to get a spare from the service company. But before he’s able to catch up with Jughead, he sees a bloodied deer emerge from the woods. Which is pretty strange, considering that Jughead finds a dead deer in the back of the man’s pick-up.

The man tells Jughead that he wants to eat and they sit down together. When Jughead inquires about the Riverdale Reaper, the man tells the story about family who were all murdered in their beds one night. No one is quite sure what happened to the person who did it, but the man believes that the Reaper and the Black Hood could be the same people.

What happened then is happening now.

But when they try to leave, the man tells the waitress that Jughead will be paying, despite the fact that he knows Jughead already gave him all his money. Before a fight can break out, Archie arrives to pay. He takes Jughead away and they make the delivery.

When there, they’re greeted by a woman in a wheelchair. She says that Penny said that Jughead will be the regular delivery boy, and that the Serpents have taken over the work the Ghoulies were doing.

Later, Jughead goes to visit FP, and sees that his father is perfectly fine. When Jughead confronts Penny, she tells him that FP didn’t keep a promise he made her, which means Jughead has a lot of work to do for her to make up for what his dad did.

In the second story, a rare spotlight is shown on Josie McCoy. They Mayor is angry with her daughter for staying out late. The two women have moved into the Five Seasons in order to be better protected.

But Josie is keeping a fair amount from her mother and the Pussycats. After helping save Cheryl from her would-be sexual attack, Josie is being showered in the Blossom good fortune. Cheryl managed to get Josie studio time with a producer. That is, without the Pussycats.

And she keeps receiving strange letters and the like from what Cheryl calls Josie’s secret admirer. And that, she keeps secret from her mother. Though neither really works out for Josie. The Pussycats eventually learn of Josie’s time in the studio, and they quit.

Chuck approaches Josie and asks her out. While she initially resists, she goes out with him. He tells her that he’s been taking drawing classes to draw comics (like his original comic book counterpart) and he’s been going to church. Her mother catches them out late at Pop’s and forbids Josie from seeing him.

Mayor McCoy admits that she’s been receiving death threats, and that they started to also include Josie. The next day, Josie receives one more note she believes is from Chuck: a drawing of her, and a pig’s heart in a box. Cheryl urges Josie to point the finger at Chuck, and the weak girl complies.

Despite the fact that Sheriff Keller doesn’t find any evidence against him, Chuck agrees to stay away from Josie. So all alone, Josie has no one. No one, that is, except for Cheryl – who is a remarkably good artist.

And Sheriff Keller is at the heart of the third story, starring B&V. Betty’s suspicions are immediately raised when she begins to question how exactly someone could break into the sheriff’s station to murder Mr Phillips.

Kevin explains to Veronica  that his dad has been acting strangely: sneaking out late and talking to himself. That, to Veronica spells out affair. But to Betty, it says Black Hood.

Veronica agrees to help Betty, and asks Kevin if they can have a slumber party at his house. Thanks to Betty’s urging, Veronica sneaks around the house and finds Sheriff Keller working out in the basement. Large and strong, like the Black Hood.

That next day, Veronica tells Betty that the sheriff left the house that night and didn’t return until 4 in the morning. When Betty shows V that there was another drug-related death that night, she feels convinced she’s cracked the Black Hood’s true identity.

She goes to the Keller house where she’s caught snooping through the sheriff’s things. Sheriff Keller takes Betty to the station where he speaks to her and her dad. The sheriff explains that the hood Betty found had been the one found in Archie’s locker. He also tells her that he has an alibi for every one of the murders.

But Betty is not to be moved off course so easily. She (again) convinces Veronica to agree to one of her plans and they follow Sheriff Keller when he leaves his house in the night. Only it isn’t killing the man is into.

They follow him to a sleazy hotel where they catch him making a move on Mayor McCoy. It seems that Veronica’s instincts beat out Nancy Drew’s for once. At Pop’s the girls both agree not to tell Kevin what they saw.

But while Jughead and Archie, Betty and Veronica, and Josie and Cheryl sit in their respective booths, Pop Tate receives a phone call. When the call ends, Pop informs everyone there that it was the Black Hood. They had all failed his test, and the time of reckoning will be upon them all soon.

Riverdale is pulling off something spectacular at the moment. Unhindered by setting up relationships, the show has somehow reached a new level of television excellence. Any initial hesitation I ever had about recommending the show has been long out the door.

Teen shows rarely make a blip on the radar of what most people would consider “good television”. But this show has been proving over and over again that teenagers have been well-deserving of intelligent, witty content. This week’s episode only solidified that sentiment even further.

 

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E11 “The Tale of the Magician’s Assistant”

This week’s episode is a nod to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas and it’s heavy ties to the 1940 film, Fantastia. And if you’ve never seen the Disney classic, go away now, watch it, and come back later.

It’s Gary’s turn to tell a tale, and he’s please that everyone has arrived on time. Frank grumbles that Gary sounds like their homeroom teacher, but Greg defends the man. The other kids explain to Gary that their teacher is, in fact, a very talented magician on the side. Kristen tells Frank not to judge people, as they may surprise you. And that, is what Gary’s story is about.

In “The Tale of the Magician’s Assistant,” young Todd is going through a tough time. His father had recently passed-away, leaving his mother to work endless hours at an ad agency to make ends meet. So Todd decides to get a part-time job to help out.

He goes to see a magician after seeing an ad for an assistant in the paper. He arrives at a large van (like an old caravan) with the name “Shandu the Magician” painted on the side.

When Todd enters the trailer, he sees cages full of animals and an unusual stick. But before he can touch it, he’s stopped by Shandu. Todd explains that he is responding to the ad. And despite not having any previous experience as an assistant to a magician (surprise), Todd still gets the position.

Todd is set to work by cleaning up the room. He approaches the stick again, but is stopped again by Shandu. The magician explains that the stick is in fact his wand. He explains to Todd that he can only hold it if he’s been handed it by the magician.

The boy begins learning the tricks of the trade. Poor Todd is a bit crap. He struggles to learn the intricate tricks and the subtle movements. But Shandu is patient, and also constantly recites the rules of the magician to his assistant.

  1. Never ever touch another magician’s wand unless he hands it to you.
  2. Only let them see, what you want them too see.
  3. Never, ever get caught in your own reflection.

Though eventually Todd has enough and tells Shandu to lighten up. The old magician tells Todd that years ago, he was a star. He was in films, performed his magic on Broadway and had fans. But his star has since faded, leaving him washed up. Softened by the boy’s words, Shandu opens a box and hands Todd the bowtie from the first tux he ever wore as a magician. He tells the boy he wants him to wear it for their first show together.

Their first show is a child’s birthday party. Despite the less-than-prestigious audience, the magician and his assistant pull off a brilliant show that the children all love. It’s a success for the pair, even if it’s a small one.

The next day, Todd shows up at the van for work. When he arrives, he sees that the magician’s room is in total disarray.  Not wanting to get into trouble, Todd quickly grabs Shandu’s wand and says “Shandu can do!” And suddenly – the wagon is completely restored before Shandu returns.

Todd returns home in the evening where he finds his mother over-worked. She tells him that she has a whole project that was dumped on her last-minute that she needs to complete before the morning. But she decides to take a nap before getting to work.

While his mother is asleep, he grabs one of her plants that looks strangely like Shandu’s wand. He goes to Shandu’s van where he switches the plant out for the wand. When Todd returns home, he uses the wand to finish the work his mother had done.

Before Todd can leave to replace the wand, a vision appears in the shape a glowing-blue woman. She tells him that she is Nazrak, the spirit of the wand. She tells Todd that he has the ability to unleash powers in the wand. Before he can argue, she encourages him to keep using the wand.

Todd returns to Shandu’s van, where he’s caught trying to return the wand. Todd explains that he had spoken to the spirit Nazrak, but Shandu becomes upset, telling Todd that Nazrak is actually a demon trapped inside the wand. He released, Nazrak could darken the era for all humanity.

So, you know, not that big of a deal.

The next day, Todd discovers that Shandu’s van has been set on fire. He runs inside and uses the wand to stop the fire. When it’s gone, he sees Shandu standing before home, only it’s not the magician – it’s Nazrak, who reveals his true form: a sort of Oberserver look a la Mystery Science Theater. 

Nazrak tells Todd that Shandu is now trapped in the wand, unleashing Nazrak. Todd runs away where he finds his mother in Deadite mode. His mom is, in fact, Nazrak in disguise again.

Todd runs away from the demon where he then spots Shandu in the toaster. The magician tells Todd he needs to “remember the rules”.

Understanding Shandu’s meaning, Todd hands the wand over to Nazrak. When the demon uses the wand, Todd steps aside and the wand’s spell strikes Nazrak’s reflection in a mirror. Rule 3:Never, ever get caught in your own reflection.

With Nazrak back in the wand, Shandu is free again. But he hands the wand over to Todd, telling him that it’s the boy’s turn to be the wand’s owner. He then tells Todd the forth rule: Always leave them wanting more.

The magician vanishes, leaving Todd as the new magician.

This is a weird episode. A good one. But a weird one. I can’t imagine my part-time job from high school ending up as my full-time job for life (solid pass on ever being a hostess at a restaurant again).

It was interesting that Todd never used the wand for selfish reasons. He used to clean up a mess (which, I guess saved him from getting into trouble), saving the van, and helping his mother. But rules are rules, eh?

Riverdale ep. 19 recap “Chapter Nineteen: Death Proof”

This episode of Riverdale is rather prophetic in a way. With the truth about Hollywood scum coming to light, many people are asking themselves: what will happen to these powerful man when they do bad things?

Well, if you’re in Riverdale, it seems you get off easy.

In last week’s episode, Betty gave Nick St Clair’s name to the black hood in order to keep him away from Polly. She goes to check up on the boy, and discovers that he’s still alive. While at his hotel, the police arrive to take him into questioning.

Cheryl’s mother meets with the Lodges and tells them that she (or Cheryl) won’t be pressing charges, and that the Lodges can continue with their business dealings with the St Clairs. Cheryl, who overhears the conversation while in Veronica’s bedroom, resigns herself to her fate. When Veronica tells Cheryl that she was also almost assaulted, Cheryl’s mood quickly changes and she tells Veronica that she’s not going to be a puppet for her.

Betty receives her next call from the Black Hood. When she questions why Nick is still alive, the Black Hood tells her that he couldn’t kill Nick because he isn’t one of Riverdale’s sons. But the Black Hood knows he’s seen the real Betty, and “the real work can begin.”

Meanwhile, poor Jughead is left picking up the pieces after his relationship ended with Betty. He seemingly finds solace in Toni, but at Pop’s she tells him that she’s actually more interested in girls – and not at all interested in being his rebound. Betty and Archie spot the two of them together, but before they can feel too sorry for themselves, they each get simultaneous calls from their parents.

Lo and behold, somehow Alice Cooper has discovered that the children took Jingle Jangle at the party in Nick’s room. Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy are in tow as well as the other children’s parents. Reggie admits that he procured the drugs under Nick’s insistence, and had got them from a dealer on the southside. When Mayor McCoy discovers that her daughter Josie, whose father has struggled with addiction, also took part, she goes full mommy monster.

The mayor and the sheriff decide to raid South Side High and wrangle some snakes. Archie arrives in time to hide Jughead away, but it doesn’t stop Juggie from seeing his friends and fellow gang members be arrested.

Later that day, Betty receives her follow-up call from the Black Hood. He tells her that her next project is to discover the identity of the Sugar Man (hint: it’s not Rodriguez). He tells Betty that the Sugar Man is responsibility for the spread of the drugs in Riverdale, and that she should seek Cheryl Blossom’s help.

Cheryl isn’t particularly helpful to Betty’s, surprise, surprise. She does divulge that it was a boogeyman her mother made up to scare her and Jason. But when Cheryl later presses her mother about it, Penelope claims to know nothing.

But while going through a memory box, she finds an old child’s drawing of her, Jason and the Sugar Man.

The bust at South Side High puts everyone in that neck of the woods on edge. FP’s right-hand-man, Tall Boy, asks Jughead to meet them. Jughead arrives and meets a mouth-piece of the rival gang the Ghoulies. He’s then told about a potential alliance between the two gangs. Considering the Ghoulies are the ones responsible for pushing the hard drugs in Riverdale, that’s not exactly please news for Juggie. But the plan can’t go ahead without Jughead’s blessing, considering he’s FP’s son.

Jughead, in a panic, is able to trust Archie again. The two decide to pay a visit to FP in prison. After telling him their news, he shares his idea: a drag race. It’s the sort of thing the flashy Ghoulies go for. The winner of the race will win control over the the southside.

When the two boys go to deliver their challenge, they’re interrupted by the arrival of Betty and Veronica, who have been caught (seemingly on purpose) by some gang members.

Yes, B&V are back together – tag-teaming their crime-solving like how things should be. At Pop’s Veronica, listens in on a conversation Betty has with Sheriff Keller about the Sugar Man. Keller tells her that the Jingle Jangle only hit streets after Clifford Blossom died.

When Veronica asks Betty, the blonde caves and tells her best friend everything about the Black Hood, which begs the question: where are the boundaries for the serial killer’s rules? But Veronica immediately agrees to help Betty track down the Sugar Man, and the two girls (after getting the name of the dealer off Reggie) stage a fake deal in order to follow the dealer to his den.

But all together again, the girls learn about the boys’ idiotic idea to have a dragrace with the Ghoulies. Betty offers to help Jughead fix up Reggie’s car. While she can explain things to Veronica, she’s still hesitant to explain why she broke up with Jughead. Seemingly keeping him at a distance is far safer than the truth.

At Pop’s, Cheryl sees Nick St Clair, who is on his way out of town with his parents. He tells Cheryl that no one will believe her story, especially since her mother took hush money from his parents, and the deal between the Lodges and the St Clairs is still going through. She confront Penelope about the money, and shows her mother that she has the check the St Clairs had written to Penelope to keep quiet.

Cheryl offers that she will give back the check if her mother gives her information on the Sugar Man. But Penelope, as stubborn as her daughter, refuses.

Not to be one to let anything go, Cheryl calls Veronica and tells her about the deal. Veronica goes to her parents and tells them that Nick nearly assaulted her. Her parents, finally acting like parents, become incredibly irate, and agree to cancel the deal.

On the day of the race, Veronica begs Archie to stay behind, but he assures her that he has a plan up his sleeve. He joins Jughead in the car, ready to face off with the Ghoulies. As they set off, they need to beat the Ghoulies over a narrow bridge, but as they approach, Archie tells Jughead to stop. The Ghoulies’ soar over the bridge, seemingly to win the race.

Jughead becomes irate at Archie, but he soon discovers that his friend had called the police to arrest the gang members in the car. The rest of the spectators scatter. Jughead tells Archie that his stupid idea only bought them a few months, where winning the race could have secured their safety. But Archie still believes he did the right thing to protect his friend.

As she arrives home that night, Cheryl finds her mother sitting by the fire. Penelope admits that the Sugar Man exists, but has in fact been several different men throughout the years. Clifford had decided to take Jason to meet the current Sugar Man, and that meeting triggered the events that led to Jason’s death.

Feeling the guilt about not protecting her daughter, Penelope throws the check into the fire. Then, she reveals the true identity of the current Sugar Man to Cheryl.

After learning the truth from Cheryl, Betty gets her call from the Black Hood. Only the girl has the upper hand. She tells the Black Hood that she has already alerted the police, leaving the drug lord’s fate in the hands of true justice.

It’s then revealed that the Sugar Man is Mr Phillips, Jughead’s English teacher that allowed him to start up the school newspaper again. He was strictly a no-drugs article kind of man. Though Betty thinks the man is in safe hands, we do see him be murdered by the Black Hood while in custody.

Again, with access to those cells, who the hell is the Black Hood?

But no, no. This isn’t the most shocking moment of the wrap-up.

Hermione receives a phone call one night, and responds to some tragic news with no emotion. She sits down with her husband and her daughter, and tells them that the St Clairs had been in a terrible car accident. Nick has suffered, and it will take months for him to full recover.

“Oh well, karma’s a bitch,” replies Veronica.

Chills. Is Veronica becoming more like her parents the more she’s dragged into Lodge Industries? She clearly knew what was going to happen. And Betty’s final exchange with the Black Hood? Which of these girls in Riverdale is the ultimate threat? I personally wouldn’t want to face any of them in a dark alley.

You know, if we were to follow using Archies’ songs as drug references, maybe the next Sugar Man could be a Candy Girl? Eh, eh? Any takers, Cheryl?

“Chapter Nineteen” is a solid follow-up to last week’s episode, which is possibly the best episode the show has produced to far. It can be tough to top a season with a murder mystery. Like Twin Peaks, the main focus is on one discovering the killer of one person. But unlike Laura Palmer, we don’t really care about Jason Blossom. Thankfully, the writers of Riverdale have been clever enough to build a mystery that I think is certainly shaping up to be far superior.