Riverdale

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 recap catch-up: Ep 3.14 & 3.15

After the news of Luke Perry’s passing, I really didn’t want to watch Riverdale. Perry was one of my first celebrity crushes. He was a genuinely good guy according to those who knew him. And frankly, the idea of watching him on screen felt more sadistic than fun.

But I woke up this morning and decided to get back on the saddle. It was nice to see a couple of sweet scenes with Perry’s character Fred interacting with Archie and FP. It seems a shame that his character has taken such a back seat all season. Perry’s Fred will always be the heart and soul of Riverdale that rooted it in a reality that made the show so likable.

Without Perry, this show has lost a large part of its soul. We’ll miss you, dude.

With that said, there wasn’t much to miss in these two episodes of Riverdale. Though watching them back-to-back certainly was a nice change. The storylines actually felt like they complimented each other. So instead of two separate “I’m so late I apologise” post, here’s a recap of “Chapter Forty-Nine: Fire Walk With Me” and “Chapter Fifty: American Dreams”.

After being fully initiated into the Farm, Alice Cooper becomes determined that she’s going to sell the family home. Betty does her best to deter her mother (well, mostly the potential buyers). She even sets the house on fire. But she eventually loses out to none other than Gladys Jones. Jughead tries to keep the peace by offering to let Betty stay with them, but she declines and stays with Veronica.

The Farm so far has seemed rather harmless. Sure they do stupid things, but their ‘danger’ is being shown off by children putting their hands over Bunsen burners and running over coals. Both of which I think some people do for fun anyway.

Veronica continues playing the chess match with Hiram and Gladys. She struggles back and forth to get power, but eventually wins out by deciding to hire the Pretty Poisons to be her new muscle. (Apparently the deal with the Serpents fell through?)

But the decision is a controversial one. Toni and Cheryl continue their passive-aggressive power struggle. Cheryl shows off her feathers as being a horrible person. We like that she’s a horrible person. But it’s clearly not a personality trait that makes for a good girlfriend. Toni’s character has many redeeming qualities, like being able to stand up for herself and stay strong for a cause she believes in (ie sisterhood).

The friction between the two comes to a head, and Cheryl kicks Toni out of her house.

Gangland isn’t going all that smoothly for Jughead either. He tried to exert his power over the newly-joined Gargoyles, but he’s met with animosity. He tries his best to give them all a united purpose. And eventually, he convinced FP to allow the gang to become sheriff’s deputies.

He’s seemingly winning, but poor Jughead can’t have that much go right in his life. He and Veronica overhear that someone is trying to make a go of the drug trade in Riverdale again. Jughead assumes that it is Hiram, but Veronica knows the truth.

She eventually admits Gladys’s plans to Betty, who immediately says she needs to tell Jughead. When she does deliver the news, he begins to struggle with how to handle the truth. He opts not to tell FP about it (in order to keep his dad on the straight-and-narrow) but rather decides to take his mother down by himself….with Betty’s help, of course.

In a shocking twist, Archie has the best storyline of the weeks! While working late at the boxing gym one night, Archie and Josie find a little boy hiding in the gym. He tells them that he had run away from his shelter after he was branded by a gang of men. Archie and Josie quickly realise that it is the “sacrifice” brand that Archie has.

Archie and Fred take the boy, Ricky, under their wings. They care for him and Archie even helps hunt Ricky down when he runs away. But when Archie gets a call from a social worker, who warns him that Ricky is Joaquin’s little brother. Archie begins to look for Ricky, and the little boy cuts him with a kitchen knife in an attempt to finish what his brother had started.

After the attack, Fred finds a “Kill the Red Paladin” quest card on the kitchen floor. Archie asks Hiram about it, and he admits that he made many of the cards to be distributed. To end the quest, Archie, Betty and Jughead band together to alter the quest. Hiram gives them the use of an abandoned boxing gym near the docks where they hold a “King of the Mountain”-style tournament.

The kids invite all of the G&G playing folk to fight the Red Paladin. If the Red Paladin wins the fight against every one of them, the quest to kill him is over. And after fighting each of them, including his old prison guard, Archie becomes victorious, lifting the bounty from his head.

Sounds like next week is musical week. Cheryl demands that Kevin direct Heathers, which should be fun. It would have been more fun if Kevin wasn’t a part of the Farm. But alas.

There’s a nice (perhaps unintentional) Basket Case reference in “Chapter Fifty”. I’d like to think it was intentional. Please introduce the world to the majesty of Belial.

Riverdale ep. 3.13 “Chapter Forty-Eight: Requiem for a Welterweight”

This is a late one, kids. I’ve had a busy week going to glamorous (not really) literacy parties and generally recuperating from some health issues.

But it really feels like Riverdale has been gone for ages. There’s been a lot of breaks this season, and it isn’t for the better. The story keeps losing steam, but if it was watched in one go, I might have a different opinion on things.

Alice is being baptized into the farm. While Alice tries to shut Betty out, Jughead suggests that Betty try accepting (or pretending to) what Alice has decided.

Betty reluctantly agrees to play along, until she learns that Alice has to sign a weaver form. When Betty sees the forms, she notices that there is a possibility of death in the baptism.

She later interviews the people who have defected from the Farm. But only one woman agrees to speak to her. When Betty learns that the woman’s sister died during the baptism, Betty runs to her mother’s help. She manages to save Alice just in time before she drowns.

But when Alice comes to, she claims herself to be “reborn”. And she informs Betty that she wants to sell their house so they can all move to the farm full-time.

Meanwhile, Archie attempts to repair his broken character by trying to take up boxing. Archie overhears Elio one day, looking for someone to fight his boxer. Archie agrees to fight him. But Elio stipulates that Archie must lose the fight. While Good Archie immediately says no, he’s won over by the fact that he will receive $5,000 for his “help”.

He feels like this is a good idea until he tells Josie. She reminds him that this is a bad idea, but he’s unable to back out. Tom Keller offers to help Archie and together they nearly win the fight the fair way.

(Completely irrelevant, but Archie and Josie together is a Very Good Thing. Shame that Josie’s character has been confirmed for the Katy Keene spin-off.)

Gladys and Veronica make an unlikely pair when they form a working relationship. Gladys suggests that Veronica spy on Hiram for her. Since Veronica wants to protect her madre, who sold Hiram’s drug trade to Gladys. Veronica decides that she wants her family out of drugs, so she reluctantly agrees to help Gladys.

Together, they get Hiram to agree to focus on his prison, and forget about the “candy trade”. Hiram eventually becomes suspicious of Hermione, but it’s Veronica who takes the fall – owing her father $75,000.

Veronica tells Gladys that Hiram plans on getting the Ghoulies on his side without Penny Peabody around. So the fight begins to see who gets to the Ghoulies first: Hiram or Gladys.

There’s a lame subplot about the Pretty Poisons and the Serpents. Toni refuses to rejoin the old gang because she wants to be a leader. I will always be of the opinion that the gang storylines have always been the most cringey. This new one is one of the worst. It was probably created to pay homage to the Betty & Veronica Vixens comic and to sell some Hot Topic shirts. Otherwise, this one is pretty bad.

But Gladys suggests to Jughead that in order to get more Serpent turf, he needs to side with the Ghoulies. Jughead agrees, weirdly, and goes to FP for his help. FP agrees to claim that the Serpents get immunity from the law.

When Jughead meets the Gargoyles’ leader, Kurt, he quickly realises that the drug-riddled, G&G-obsessed gang are not the type he wants attached to the Serpents. Gladys steps in an makes her own decision without Jughead’s kindness. She enlists the help of the Ghoulies/Gargoyles, much to Jughead’s disappointment.

While this week’s episode is by no means bad, it sort of feels like the season is floundering a bit. Usually there’s a goal: finding Jason’s murderer, catching the Black Hood. But I’m really not sure what this season is doing right now. But hopefully within the next few weeks we start to feel a direction and purpose again.

And fingers crossed there are more Archie and Josie scenes. What a pair of cuties.

Riverdale ep. 3.12 “Chapter Forty-Seven: Bizarrodale”

“Chapter Forty-Seven: Bizarrodale” is one of the more aptly-named episodes yet. It was a complete change of tone from the earlier episodes in the season, and for that – it was both bizarre and incredibly needed.

Josie and Kevin’s parents finally decide to get hitched but under one condition: it has to be a small affair. And considering Josie and Kevin are the most dramatic students in Riverdale outside of the Blossom family, they’re both left disappointed. But they do mange to convince their parents to have an after party.

So both Josie and Kevin reach out to find dates to the wedding, and both come up short. While Josie finds solace in Archie (who helpfully drives her to her ill-fated Juilliard audition), Kevin is left in the cold by Moose – who insists on staying in the closet.

When Cheryl comforts a frustrated Kevin, she devises a little plan to semi-out Moose over the school announcements. She calls it a “little push” but girlfriend Toni immediately calls her out on her bullshit and privilege. And Cheryl must really love Toni, because she’s the one person she’ll listen to.

Cheryl goes about fixing the mess she made. Though her silly move actually worked in getting Moose to come out to his dad. A move which he feels jubliant about. But like everything in Riverdale: it’s just not that easy.

Meanwhile, Sierra and Tom receive a bit of a ‘congratulatory’ note from the Gargoyle King – informing them that the Midnight Club must reassemble with the Midnight Club and go to Riverdale High to complete their ascension.

The Midnight Club all assemble and begin to look for the chalices, and quickly realise they’ve been had. And a trap can only mean one thing: their children are the targets. Tom Keller quickly realises that only Kevin doesn’t respond. That’s because his son is too busy snuggling up with Moose in the now not-so-secret bunker.

As the boys enjoy the first night alone together, the Gargoyle Gang arrive and take the boys away. They’re dragged to the feet of the Gargoyle King to flip for their fate. But before Kevin can drink, the police arrive (and Cheryl with her bow and arrow). The gang and the king are unmasked, and it’s revealed that it’s Moose’s father and the boys from the RROTC.

In his interview with Sheriff FP, Moose’s father admits that he had been in love with Tom, who didn’t return his feelings. After some conversion therapy with the Sisters, he tried to move on. But the announcement of Tom and Sierra broke him. It was even worse seeing his son in love with Kevin, who looked just like his father (weird).

But Jughead doesn’t seem convinced that we still don’t have our real Gargoyle King, and he’s probably right.

With his mom back in the picture, things are sure to get complicated. And it officially looks like we have our newest parental enemy. Gladys Jones is revealed to be the buyer of Hermione’s drug empire. You know, the one that Veronica and Reggie set on fire?

Gladys seems willing to forgive Reggie and Veronica for showing up to the trade-off with a bag of inked currency. But it’s clear the lady is up to no good. She was, after all, preparing to buy a whole drug operation.

It was pretty refreshing getting spending more time with characters outside the core four. Betty (who has stolen the show ever since last season) was barely present. It was great to see both Kevin and Josie get plotlines they are worthy of. Both characters have been shafted by the last two season, and they could finally come back to life for the first time since season one.

Riverdale has got a lot of shit over how it handles its characters’ sexuality, but this episode really set out to set things right. And I honestly felt that this sweet, little episode did a lot to correct the mistakes of the show’s past.

Also, Pretty Poisons is the show’s lamest gang name in Riverdale yet. Good luck with that one, Toni.

Riverdale ep. 3.11 “Chapter Forty-Six: The Red Dahlia”

One (major) thing I forgot to mention in last week’s recap was that Tall Boy was killed by his fellow Serpents. On accident, of course. Leaving Jughead to cover their tracks.

This death (that I conveniently forgot) was key in this week’s episode of Riverdale, which was an hour-long, not-so-subtle homage to the noir genre.

With Hiram in the hospital and Claudius dead, the children scramble to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Everyone but Archie, that is, who spends most of his screen time starting fights and getting drunk.

Veronica, on the other hand, gets straight to work trying to find out who shot her father. She goes to Jughead to pay him for his help, and he willingly agrees. His first stop is Hermione, who is rather open about the affair that Hiram was having with another woman, which was why Veronica heard her parents arguing one day.

Jughead heads out with Betty to locate the blond mistress. Instead, they come across the members-only Maple Club, run by Ms Penelope Blossom herself. Betty tries to interrogate Penelope about Claudius’s death, but the kids are eventually turned out.

But a quick visit to Betty’s favourite medical examiner. She learns that Clifford Blossom had a secret autopsy done on his body before it was cremated. The examiner tells Betty that he died of poisoning, not too different a fate from his own brother. When Betty confronts Penelope again, this time armed with hard evidence, Penelope admits to murdering all the horrible men in her life.

She explains to Betty that Claudius was poisoning Sweetwater River with the run off from producing Fizzle Rocks. With the water tainted, the women of Riverdale had begun to experience seizures as a side effect (Mystery #1 solved). When she lays out her reasoning, Betty starts to understand the woman more. And even more – Betty doesn’t turn Penelope (“The Scarlet Dahlia”) in.

Mystery #2 solved.

Jughead eventually corners the Hiram’s lady (played by actor Mark Consuelos’s real-life wife Kelly Ripa). He confronts her with the information he had about river, siting that the environmental impact work had been forged – by her, a health and safety inspector. By not denying anything, she confirms his suspicion: she was paid by Hiram to keep things quiet.

After, Jughead receives a call from Sweetpea, who had been tailing Hermione. Together the two follow her to a cabin where the see her together with none other than the dead sheriff himself: Minetta. While eavesdropping, the Serpent boys learn that Hermione gave FP the sheriff job for one reason – to frame him.

When Jughead goes to warn his father, FP admits that he was paid by Hermione to shoot Hiram. But conveniently Jughead has Tall Boy’s dead body to get rid of. The Jones men work together with Alice to pretend that Tall Boy had been killed in a confrontation with police after shooting Hiram.

Mystery #3 is also in the books.

And that leaves only Archie left. After a pep talk from Josie, Archie decides to pay his nemesis a visit the hospital…while bringing a gun. But after his revenge monologue, an actual black hooded hitman waltzes in. And before he can shoot Hiram, Archie gets the man in the arm.

Veronica is more than please, and thus willing to forgive Archie to a point. While Archie makes his peace with Hiram, Veronica sneaks off to burn her parents’ very-expensive stockpile of Fizzle Rocks before it can be sold to a new dealer.

While many of the shows mysteries are solved in this episode, many of the characters are left unsatisfied. Left in a place of limbo. And so is the show. While it keeps its constant style-changing ways, it really feels like Riverdale is trying to wind back down to something smaller. Poor Archie is being given the absolute scraps from the writing room. Someone please figure out what to do with his poor boy.

Riverdale ep. 3.10 “Chapter Forty-Five: The Stranger”

Archie is finally back in Riverdale, and he has a lot of brooding to do, kids.

After (somehow) surviving his bear attack, despite being apparently dead, Archie goes back to his father’s house like a prodigal son. But Archie isn’t the same as he was before: he has dark hair, an even darker soul, and he now prefers root beer floats over milkshakes. Sounds like me after puberty.

But with Archie back, Riverdale takes a moment to breathe and reassess the insanity that has been building. For one episode, we have finally returned to the high school realness (you know, as much as Riverdale represents anything real, I guess).

And it could very-well come off as boring, but “The Stranger” actually ends up being interesting, if a bit confusing.

At Pop’s, after Archie’s giant, root beer-related confession, Betty learns that her debit card has been denied. When she returns home, she learns that Alice has drained all of her accounts to donate to the Farm, including Betty’s college fund.

And it all feel very thematic, as the kids’ SATs draws nearer. Archie, having missed most of his academic year, is advised by Principal Weatherbee to retake his junior year. And somehow, the only thing about this that Archie finds upsetting is not graduating with his friends.

So Archie begins cramming for the exam with Betty and Jughead. I don’t know how to tell these gets that you’re able to retake them, but I only just realised I never took the SATs, so what do I know anyway? Archie’s “dimness” is reworked in this episode to suggest that Archie isn’t stupid, but has a learning disability. But if this was the case, surely he would have received some help at some point? Or was Ms Gruny the only tutor in town?

But Veronica is apparently not on the “let’s get Archie to succeed” train. Instead, she throws him a Welcome Back party, which he promptly leaves when he’s reminded of Hiram.

Speaking of, with the Sisters’ of Quiet Mercy convent now open, Hiram begins to plans to buy the building, and he needs Claudius Blossom’s help. And by help, I mean forcing his wife to select Claudius as Riverdale’s new sheriff.

Jughead and his Serpents get to meet Claudius face-to-face when they try and set up Hiram. With Fangs undercover in the Gargoyle gang, they’re able to infiltrate a meeting and discover the identity of the Gargoyle King: Tall Boy.

Yes, that Tall Boy who was definitely dead and definitely was the Black Hood (the non-serial killer one). With Tall Boy’s reluctant help, they get a meeting with Hiram, but Claudius meets them instead, leading Claudius to be thrown in jail…?

While Jughead spends time with that Black Hood, Betty spends time with the real one – her father, Hal. After learning about her bank accounts, her lawyer, Sierra tells her that her father had also signed the papers. But Betty quickly notices that the signature was forged. The only way to get her money back is to have her father sign an affidavit.

She goes to see her father in prison, and old Hal tries out his best Hannibal impression. Its almost laughable how much Riverdale lifts from Silence of the Lambs, it sort of crosses the line of homage. But anyway, little Clarice Betty asks for her father’s help. Hal agrees, but only if she brings him the Gryphons & Gargoyles manual.

When she eventually gets him the manual, he claims that he was there at ascension night. And that he is the original Gargoyle King. Betty soon susses out that he’s lying. He gathered all of his details from sleeping with Penelope Blossom, who was posing as Alice.

But while this is seemingly the darkest part of a fairly “normal” episode, Riverdale lets it all spiral at the end.

Hiram is shot in a rather similar fashion to Fred. Only this time, we don’t even get a hint of the shooter’s identity. No shadow. Nothing. Now, both Fred and FP threatened him earlier in the episode. And both seem to have a good motive.

FP reveals that he is the new sheriff in town, and it’s pretty clear that it was a deal between him and Hermione. What that means, who knows. Hopefully that the two have been in cahoots all this time. I like Hermione too much for her to be a boring pawn like she’s been coming off for the last two seasons.

But Hiram isn’t the only one with someone out to get him. Claudius is found dead in his cell soon after Hiram gets out of his surgery. Is it someone’s greater plan? Hermione’s?

There’s certainly a lot of deceit going on in this little town. Veronica misses an opportunity to be open with Archie about being with Reggie. And ultimately, there’s no trust between the two anymore anyway. But with her dad in the hospital, girl seems certain it’s Archie (apparently Hiram was shot around the same time Archie fled the SATs).

Dark Archie isn’t my favourite Archie. Sweet, guitar-playing one is. Can we have that one back? Or is it as Archie thinks? There’s no going back. He certainly didn’t shoot Hiram. Boy would kill him, not do the job half-assed.

It was pretty good to see some scenes with Fred in them again. Seeing Luke Perry is always calming and lovely. More Fred, please!

Riverdale ep. 3.9 “Chapter Forty-Four: No Exit”

Riverdale has come very far from its humble (ish) beginnings. And “Chapter Forty-Four” takes a moment to remember where it came from.

In the last few years, Archie and the gang have solved a murder, caught a serial killer and battled with a money-hungry mobster. Remember when Betty’s biggest problem in her life was that Archie didn’t have a crush on her?

Before the mid-season break, Archie made for the border to hide in Canada. He’s living his best woodsman life by staying in a cabin with Vegas. Despite being warned by the woman he communicated with via ham radio, Archie gets himself attacked by a bear.

He manages to clean himself up, but he passes out on his bed. When he awakes, he finds himself speaking to many of the dead that have crossed his paths. He goes through a slightly Christmas Carol-style journey that makes him face all the turning points in his life (the Black Hood, Hiram, and eventually his friends in their best season 1 outfits – helloooo iconic black cape!).

Archie admits that he needs to kill the stupidity in himself. We all agree. In his last scene, he takes a baseball bat to a sleeping Archie. We’re supposed to think he’s dead, but when he inevitably wakes up, hopefully he’ll start a band and this will all become a teen drama again.

Meanwhile, back in Riverdale, everything is as usual: nuts.

After the super dramatic quarantine, it’s been lifted without much fanfare. It begs the question why we were even put through that, but alas, the Riverdale writers didn’t seem to think it was important (or they wrote themselves into a corner, either one).

Veronica is busy fending off her father, who sends his gang of Gargoyles after her, Reggie and Josie. She eventually succumbs to his offer of giving him 10% for his protection, but he becomes angry when he notices that her books are altered.

He threatens her when he realises that he has been robbed by Cheryl, who has taken up burglary with Toni for fun. He tells her that she needs to retrieve the “Glamourgé Egg” back from her friends – or else.

But instead of listening, Veronica goes straight to Jughead himself. He agrees to get the egg back for her, as long as she decides to hire the Serpents as protection.

In order to get the egg back, though, Jughead has to kick Toni and Cheryl out of the gang for breaking the law against his orders. Cheryl reluctantly gives back the egg, but both girls are still out of the party.

Also out of the party is Fangs, who was dealing Fizzle Rocks to the crashing kiddies at Betty’s place.

Betty spends most of the episode being rather boring for once. The Sisters of Quiet Mercy end up in jail, awaiting their destiny. But they claim to take a vow of silence, making them unable to testify against Hiram in court.

But a little bird in the form of a social worker, tells Betty the sisters have not in fact been actual nuns for over 60 years. After Betty confronts them, someone (Hiram) posts their bail, leading to the sisters’ mass suicide by the blue Kool-aid. One hell of a bleak way to wrap up that storyline, Jim.

Betty also learns that all of the kids, which she had planned to distribute among friends, have been taken away to The Farm. If this part of the story doesn’t start to pay off soon, I’m quitting this show forever.

At first it really seemed like sending Archie off by himself was a bad move for the show. Archie’s storylines are usually the most boring. But here he’s given a bit of redemption (even if he doesn’t give it to himself).

There are some real hints that the show might go back to its roots. For one, Archie really has nowhere else to go. Plus Veronica has finally moved on to Reggie, who she clearly has lot of chemistry with. (Real life actors Camila Mendes and Charles Melton are together, and it’s pretty damn clear.) Reggie sort of serves the same purpose as Archie did: protection and support. But Reggie is much more level-headed about it whereas Archie had only blind faith.

I would actually love to see a more focused, downscaled Riverdale again. But when you’ve gone this far, can you ever go back?