As Jughead says, Riverdale is a bizzaro place, where candy drugs and murder are the norm. Welcome! This week’s episode is all about legacy—who has one, who wants one, and who’s willing to steal theirs from their dad. Let’s get into it!
Mary: Kevin’s plotline in this episode is heartbreaking because it makes sense—he struggles in his relationship with Moose, who refuses to come out because of his homophobic dad. Cheryl publicly outs Moose (without meaning to, I think), but her actions do inspire Moose to come out to his dad. Once that’s done, Kevin and Moose head to the most romantic place to spend their first night together—the sex bunker.
Gabriella: Their story was definitely the most compelling, but because it had been so sidelined for so long it definitely felt like ‘and now here’s the LGBTQ episode!’ which rubbed me the wrong way, if I’m honest. I know it’s an impossible ask of Riverdale to actually have well-developed character arcs, but shows like My So-Called Life explore themes like sexuality, abuse, addiction, and adolescence in such a more authentic way that my feeling is when Riverdale tries it seems disingenuous.
Kelli: Yeah — I think the problem is less that the character arcs aren’t well-developed, and more that the show will focus on a character like Kevin for one episode, and then forget he exists for the next four episodes until they decide it’s time for another Kevin-centric plotline. I don’t feel like the LGBTQ focus is disingenuous, as I think queerness in general is way more prevalent on this show than a lot of teen dramas, and it is kind of hard to compare it to a show like My So-Called Life when that show was allowed to focus solely on real world teenage drama whereas Riverdale is also a campy, pseudo-supernatural murder-fest.
I feel like I know Kevin well, and I like him a lot as a character, but we need to see him more often, and he needs to get in on the plots that involve our other main characters instead of being isolated the way he has been this season (a problem that I think Josie has as well).
Mary: Archie and Josie are gonna start going out any minute now. They’re palling around and hanging out all the time, and Archie is willing to help Josie travel to her audition that’s coming up.
Gabriella: I had forgotten about her and Sweet-Pea until that came up again, which just goes to show you how irrelevant so many moments in this show are.
Kelli: Yeah, I also have a hard time believing that Sweet-Pea is such a heartfelt guy who wants a committed relationship when he’s… Sweet-Pea.
I’m fine with Archie and Josie as a couple, partly because I’m so fucking tired of Archie x Veronica, but also because I’ve been wanting Josie to play a bigger role in the main plot. Hopefully, she’ll get more to do if she’s hanging around with Archie, the center of this show’s universe.
Mary: The HPoR have all received letters from the Gargoyle King requesting their presence at Ascension Night. They’re panicked about it, for the most part, and Penelope hypothesizes that it’s because Tom Keller and Sierra McCoy are DARING to get married.
All the parents show up, but discover that the Ascension Night was actually an elaborate scheme to distract them from the real threat! The HPoR all call their kids, cockblocking them in the process. Because all the kids were having sex at the same time. Cool. Kevin and Moose don’t get a call, but they do get jumped by the Ghoulies, presumably working for the Gargoyle King.
The boys are dragged outside and forced to play G&G. Cheryl and her bow show up — along with FP and the police — and unmask the GK! It’s MOOSE’S DAD. What did you guys think about this?! It makes little sense to me and it’s wild.
There’s this whole backstory of how Moose’s dad tried to kiss Tom Keller and it went badly, so he had to go stay with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Now he’s trying to get revenge because he had a hard time being gay? It’s a lot to take in. Moose ends up leaving at the end of the episode to go stay with his aunt. And honestly, that makes more sense than anything. His dad made it seem like he was trying to kill him.
Gabriella: I think it fits into the idea of the GK being a hydra of sorts (or as FP says, like playing whack-a-mole) so I actually liked that he used the GK to accomplish his hella fucked up mission. But as for his whole back story — again, it’s a classic Riverdale shoe-horn and I did not like.
Kelli: Riverdale loves to bring in a character we haven’t paid attention to at all and then try to make that character an important part of the story within a single episode. It has never worked before, and it certainly doesn’t work now. I will admit that the goodbye between Kevin and Moose is emotional, but maybe that’s just because it reminded me of Kevin and Joaquin’s goodbye from last season. Is Moose headed for the same fate? Writers: please stop killing off Kevin’s love interests.
Mary: Reggie and Veronica set out to rob the Mantle car dealership, but Reggie gets shot. Chalk this up to poor planning and dumbness. Later, when opening the bag of money, they realize it’s rigged with ink, staining the money and Reggie as soon as the bag’s opened. Ugh. This was kind of the least interesting to me. It’s ludicrous that teens would be SUCCESSFUL at robbing a car dealership, and I don’t believe for a second that Reggie would just power through GETTING SHOT.
Gabriella: I took a lot of pleasure in how idiotic Veronica and Reggie were in this entire episode because DUH. THEY’RE TEENAGERS. That being said, I agree that it was the least interesting over-all.
Kelli: This whole thing was deeply stupid. Also, are any of the main characters on this show friends anymore? When was the last time Betty and Veronica were in the same room? Oh JK, they showed them eating at Pop’s for five seconds during the opening montage.
Mary: Cheryl and Toni have so much screen time this episode, and I love it! Cheryl sets out to blackmail her mother because she’s still salty about the fact her mother runs a brothel. Toni and Cheryl also get in their first fight! Toni mourns the loss of the Serpents — her chosen family — and Cheryl just can’t understand why the gang was so important to her, but she tries. Cheryl’s also mad that Penelope — as part of the board of directors for the prestigious Highsmith College — has barred her from being considered.
Cheryl uses her mad anarchic powers to get Toni an interview with the college! Love is real, you guys. Can we talk about how Cheryl calling Toni TT is the cutest ever? Also, Cheryl straight up MAKES A GIRL GANG for Toni! I love it.
Gabriella: Mary, this is the first time I’ve disagreed with you so wholeheartedly on something — I hate the nickname TT!
Anyway. Cheryl’s freak out about the full-on removal of ‘legacy’ admissions felt really bizarre to me — I understand Penelope was using it as a tool to bar her daughter because she’s a lesbian, but it felt like they did a whole lot of ignoring of class and race issues even as Toni is talking about them. Yes, Cheryl ‘figured it out’ with help from Toni, and I get ‘wield the power you have’ but Cheryl still seems oblivious to the privilege her money gives her, even in the end when she uses it for good. The plot doesn’t result in Cheryl actually growing. Instead, it’s just Cheryl just doing whatever at the moment to help Toni. (Which is essentially the same thing as creating chaos for chaos’ sake, just on the ‘good’ end of the moral spectrum). I mean, she legitimately calls her apology to Moose ‘step three’ in a plan. I’d be so mad if someone apologized to me and then was like ‘WELL, TICKED THAT OFF THE LIST’ short of if I knew the person was in a 12 step program. It wasn’t a thing worth doing in and of itself, it was a thing worth doing to make it up to Toni. I don’t know, it didn’t feel well thought out, genuine, progressive, or developmental to anyone involved. It didn’t feel so much like her anarchic powers to me, but a combination of her money and ability to escape consequences.
Yes, her making a girl gang for Toni and herself was sweet. That was about the only thing I liked that Cheryl did. The whole plot should have revolved around that — what it means to have a community, a family, and how you build them with your partner. That I would have loved.
Kelli: Yeah, Cheryl seemed to take a very anti-affirmative action stance during this episode and it was deeply uncomfortable. However, I do appreciate the show recognizing Cheryl’s privilege through Toni, even if Cheryl doesn’t recognize it. It would have been a little too neat and tidy if Cheryl figured it out and grew as a person so easily, because in reality, that kind of privilege takes a very long time to unlearn. She apologized in her own way, which was as deeply flawed as she is as a character, and Toni accepted it too readily — but also, she’s a teenager in love. How many times did I, as a teenager, accept my boyfriend’s terrible apologies with hearts in my eyes? Too many.
I agree though, Gabriella, that the girl gang plot should have been the focus of Cheryl’s apology rather than just something tacked on at the end, not only because it would be more emotionally fulfilling but also because it would be more interesting. I’m really excited to see what they do with this new gang moving forward, even if “The Pretty Poisons” is a stupid name.
Mary: We don’t see a ton of Jughead and Betty this episode, but we do see Gladys Jones, who’s collecting the money Hermione lost when Veronica and Reggie burned the fizzle rocks. Gladys wants to swear Veronica and Reggie to secrecy, making them promise not to tell Jughead about seeing her. This will end well, I’m sure.
By the end of the episode, Gladys has moved back to Riverdale with Jellybean, is staying with FP, and seems to have plans to take over the town. Greaaaaat.
Gabriella: Why do so many people care about this town? It isn’t a connection to anywhere for drugs/arms/people trafficking. It’s not a financial hot-bed or a cultural hot-bed. I bought the teen drama because it’s a town full of teens, and the tangential parental drama because these teens have parents. But this like “I must be king/queen of Riverdale!” weirdness is just… weird.
Also, Riverdale wouldn’t have its own license plate IT’S NOT A STATE.
Kelli: I am already exhausted by Gladys as a character. I anticipate that Veronica’s knowledge of Gladys’ fizzle rock empire will cause problems between her and Jughead in the future, so at least that will (maybe) be interesting.
As far as Riverdale’s importance as a town… I’ve got nothing.
Mary: Overall, I really enjoyed this episode, and think it was a lot better than last week’s. What did you guys think?
Gabriella: I actually felt like it was just as disorganized and poorly-thought-out as last week’s, but it didn’t suffer from the noir stylization. I think Riverdale is trying to do too much - it’s a whole lot of virtue signaling in its plots surrounding LGBTQ and class issues, while what it wants to ‘focus’ on and ‘develop’ is the GK plot (WHERE IS THE FARM THOUGH). This episode really disheartened me. What I want is the old Riverdale back, or for them to go full tilt into the bizarro supernatural GK & farm-cult story, but not be stuck somewhere in between the two.
Kelli: Riverdale trying to do too much? You don’t say!
To be honest, I thought this episode was pretty awful, and almost all of it felt like filler. The convoluted central plot with Moose’s dad and the GK fake-out added nothing to the overall story arc of the season, where at least last week’s episode explained some things we’d been wondering about. I didn’t like the noir aspects of it, nor did I like trying to explain exactly how things played out, but I appreciated the urgency of it as opposed to this week’s floundering.
I agree that this show is currently hovering between two different worlds, but at this point I’m not so sure they can fix it. I’m seriously worried that it’s just going to keep getting worse until it combusts, and that makes me sad.
(How’s that for a dark ending?)