WOW WE ARE OFF THE RAILS, FOLKS!
Read on as we try to piece together the increasingly disparate and unrealistic plot elements of the latest episode of Riverdale, a show we are somehow still watching.
Mary: Alice Cooper — excuse me — Smith is trying to sell her house, but Betty sabotages her by noting to potential buyers that her famous serial killer father made a lot of memories for them in the house. Does this track for you?
Gabriella: I don’t quite understand Betty’s attachment to the house - but this could be a function of my growing up in rented apartments. Surely she’d *want* to leave the house with all those terrible memories? I get she’s trying to stop her mom getting in even deeper with the cult but honey that ship has sailed.
Kelli: I mean, I think Betty knows that once her mom ends up at the farm she’ll be completely in the hands of the cult, so I assume her clinging to the house is her clinging to the hope that her mom will come to her senses. Given what happens at the end of the episode, I don’t think the house itself is what she’s concerned with.
Mary: Meanwhile at Riverdale High, Principal Weatherbee tells the gangs they need to COOL IT after a full out gang war in the hallway. I’m not sure that’s how schools work with gangs. You don’t just tell gangs to chill.
Gabriella: The idea that Weatherbee has any kind of authority over their lives is actually laughable.
Kelli: At a normal school, I’m pretty sure any kind of gang activity whatsoever would be grounds for expulsion? Like, when I was growing up we weren’t even allowed to wear bandanas at school because they were “gang signifiers.” Meanwhile at Riverdale High, the principal knows who the leaders of each gang are and calls them in for a civil meeting to let them know they have one more strike? I don’t think so. This is just one of the many examples of HIGHLY unrealistic things happening on this show right now.
Mary: Hiram is celebrating in Veronica’s bar, and Veronica is mad about it. She owes them both, so she can’t really do anything about them. Reggie has the brilliant idea that they need to just make more money, so — the two think together — why not just make the bar a full on casino? Now, I don’t need to tell you this is probably a felony, or that they’re already breaking the law at the bar. WHAT EVEN.
Gabriella: Veronica’s entire plot should just go away. She was better embroiled with Betty trying to solve things than on her own as some mini-mafiosa. To be honest, the casino idea at least had some traction - and I don’t think any of them particularly care about committing felonies.
Kelli: Wow, speaking of unrealistic things: the fact that Veronica even OWNS this bar isn’t legal. She’s not even 18 years old and yet she is the owner of an establishment that now serves alcohol? Like, doesn’t that require multiple permits and licenses that a person can only get as an ADULT? This entire side-plot is invalidated by its very premise.
Mary: I continue to be baffled by Josie and Archie’s relationship. Archie is sweeping up around the boxing ring (which I guess he’s just at all the time now) when he and Josie find a boy named Ricky sitting by the flame of a lighter in a little closet. Ricky says he doesn’t have a family, and runs when Josie suggests calling social services. Ricky says that social services sent him to Santa Lucia shelter, where they branded him WITH THE SAME BRAND CARVED ON ARCHIE. Josie says this out loud, just to remind him. Ricky says some older guys did it to him, and that’s when he ran away. I mean, I get that.
Archie takes the little moppet home and tells him it’s okay, that Fred isn’t home most of the time anyway. And this is where I kind of yelped. Fred’s going to be at work eternally now.
Gabriella: This whole thing was fishy to me from the get-go but I have to admit for a wholly different reason than what it turned out to be… I thought it was going to be some build up to replacing Luke Perry (I.e., to give Archie someone familial to care about) but… we know how THAT turns out.
But anyway, Archie should listen to Josie all the time and his life would be much, much better.
Kelli: Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to get any hint about Fred going any place during this season since they’ve already finished filming and production on the episodes. I’m just wondering how much of his season 3 story he’d filmed before his death.
I’m pretty sure the only thing Josie sees in Archie is his abs.
Mary: Cheryl is giving me life this episode. She is so self-confident — dare I say narcissistic — and I don’t know how Toni deals with it. Toni threatens to suspend Cheryl from the gang, in so many words. Cheryl threatens right back, saying that meeting at her house with the Pretty Poisons is going to be REAL AWKWARD if she’s suspended. WHAT A POWER MOVE.
Gabriella: See I am still on the dislike Cheryl wagon, which I have been since season one (with a few exceptions). I find her very manipulative, and I don’t think Toni will put up with it much longer. I hope not, anyway, because I am 100% on #TeamToni.
Kelli: Yeah, I think it was pretty clear this ep that Toni and Cheryl are on the rocks and that Cheryl’s manipulation is starting to get to Toni. I love Cheryl because she is completely insane and makes for great drama, not because I think she’s a good person. So like, on a moral level I’m #TeamToni, but on an ‘I live for trash’ level I’m #TeamCheryl, if that makes sense.
Mary: Kevin is a full-blown Farmie now, full-on glaring at Betty at school. Betty tells him that her mother joining the farm is ruining her life, and Kevin responds in Scientology mode, telling her to leave him alone. He’s basically threatening to disconnect. Betty is Fair Game now. Sorry, I’ve watched too many Scientology docs.
Gabriella: Again, this show has too many plots. Ditch Veronica and go with Kevin and the cult. That is far more interesting and I want to see how the cult, as Betty says, ‘preys on emotionally vulnerable people’. Betty investigating and trying to get her mom and Kevin out would be a far more compelling story than anything Veronica is doing.
Kelli: Yeah, the only storyline this episode I cared about was Betty’s, as usual. I am worried about Kevin’s fate at this point, and I really hope he isn’t turning into an Ethel — a character who gets shoehorned into whatever plot needs him instead of a character who plots are formed around.
Mary: The Gargoyles and the Serpents are fighting again, I guess, and Jughead has to reassert himself as the leader. *sigh* I’m getting tired of this plot already.
The Gargoyles threaten to kick out the Serpents from THEIR gang. OK.
Jughead talks to his dad about the Gargoyles and FP essentially says, toughen up, boy
Gabriella: When did the writers decide to make FP into a 1950s stereotype? Since when did he call his son ‘boy’? But yeah, Mary, I’m with you. This is repetitive - and without the high stakes of the G&G shenanigans, it’s just boring.
Kelli: Actually, FP has always called Jughead ‘boy,’ which is something I’ve been aware of since season 1 because of how much it irks me. But yeah, it’s gotten worse since he became sheriff.
I, too, am tired of the dueling gang plot, because every time the Serpents are “at war” with another gang or another group it just feels like a retread of all the other times they’ve been “at war.” Also, it’s getting increasingly hard to tell all of these stringy-haired white boy gang teens apart.
Mary: Somehow, overnight, Veronica pulled together a casino the La Bonne Nuit. Reggie and Veronica note that they have all the casino equipment concealable by doors and drawers. This all seems perfectly feasible for Veronica, even though it shouldn’t.
Gabriella: I was watching this with my partner, who has never seen an episode of Riverdale, and he kept shouting things like ‘how is she running a casino when she’s a school kid?!’ and basically, we have the same questions.
Kelli: How is ANY of this happening to ANY OF THEM AT ALL???
Mary: Betty walks in on a “farm meeting” to see Kevin holding his hand over a bunsen burner to Evelyn’s delight. The camera then draws back to reveal it’s not just Kevin, but a whole slew of students! Please please please can we get more info about The Farm FINALLY?!
Gabriella: I am so here for The Farm plot - it was always going to be the more compelling than anything else and I’m glad we're finally getting somewhere with it — albeit very slowly. That bunsen burner moment was a nice reminder of how controlling the Farm really is.
Kelli: Yes, I enjoyed that. It also brought me back a little bit to the babies floating over the fire, which is still the wildest moment of this season so far and I’m not sure they’ll be able to top it. Part of me is still hoping for a supernatural element to reveal itself here, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up.
Mary: Hiram wants a playing card company to move into his for-profit prison and start their card production there. If Veronica can land them as a client, Hiram will reduce her debt. Gladys also shaves off of some of Veronica’s debt in exchange for Veronica letting her sing in Le Bonne Nuit. What?! What kind of sense does that even make?! Gladys sings in front of the card producer and it turns out, unsurprisingly, he’s a total creep who makes comments about giving Gladys “a tip” (the tip is his dick — get it?!). Gladys pulls a knife on him and Hiram gets mad, of course.
Kelli: 1. A… playing card company?
2. I actually somehow did not make that tip/dick connection, but thank you for pointing it out.
3. It doesn’t make much sense that Gladys is paying Veronica to let her perform at the club, but I guess it’s something that people do sometimes, like buying followers on instagram? I don’t know. It’s kind of sad.
4. Why do all of these adults want to hang out at a bar run by high schoolers anyway?
Mary: Ricky’s run away and now Archie wants the Serpents/Gargoyles to find him. This is a great plan and will go so well.
Gabriella: I don’t understand why Archie cares so much? I know that sounds cruel but like, he’s got a lot going on in his life and he shouldn’t take on the role of older foster brother-cum-father because he can barely get himself through the day.
Kelli: Yeah he seems to *identify* with this kid, but also I feel like Archie is kind of reaching when it comes to their similarities. Like, this is a HOMELESS ORPHAN CHILD, and Archie’s like, “I know exactly how you feel bro, I ran away from home for a month one time.”
Mary: Betty shows up just as Kevin and a bunch of other Farm recruits are about to walk over a bed of hot coals. Kevin doesn’t stop it, though, and he walks straight across those coals, to Evelyn’s rejoicing.
It’s kind of confusing to me that we’re seeing so much of Evelyn in the day-to-day running of the cult, and have yet to see her father, Edgar.
Kevin and Evelyn confront Betty, who’s just finishing up her piece on how dangerous the Farm is. Evelyn tells Betty she’s not going to publish the article because if she does, Kevin will tell everyone about THE MAN SHE AND ALICE KILLED. Alice has told the Farm EVERYTHING.
Gabriella: I totally dug this bit. Mostly because it’s the only part of the show that seems based on real human emotion. Kevin is hurting, wants to exercise control in his life and over his emotions - so, duh, walk across hot coals and prove to yourself that you are in control of how you feel and how you respond to outside stimuli. I want MORE FARM.
But yes, I’m also wondering what’s up with Edgar — has anyone actually seen him?
Kelli: Spoiler alert: Evelyn IS EDGAR!
Seriously though, I am hoping the farm takes precedence as the main plot as the season moves towards its conclusion. Edgar is going to have to show up eventually, and all of this build-up better have a satisfying pay-off.
Mary: Archie and Jughead find little Ricky beside a list of sacrifices to the G&G cult. Archie insists that just because you’re marked for sacrifice doesn’t mean you have to die. But it kind of does, doesn’t it?
Archie teaches Ricky how to fight and it’s a lot. Archie, you are not a boxing god. Get over it.
Gabriella: Archie should not be responsible for teaching a young boy ANYTHING. Every decision Archie has made has fucked up not only his own life but the lives of those around him. RUN, RICKY, RUN.
Kelli: Archie is the LAST PERSON who should be mentoring a child.
Mary: Veronica feels her bar is getting taken away from her by Gladys and Hiram, so she plans to start skimming some money off the top for “tactical reasons.” SURE! Hiram definitely didn’t notice that the first time. Veronica proposes to pay the Pretty Poisons to protect the bar. It’s kind of fun, but it doesn’t feel like it’ll go well. Toni doesn’t even run the idea by Cheryl.
Gabriella: This was a great power move from Toni. And also from Veronica. I had a moment where they were drinking milkshakes all cosily when I thought they would make a good couple. Veronica would show Toni more respect, I think.
Kelli: That would be a fun twist. I enjoyed seeing Veronica and Toni together, and I’m not sure we’ve ever really seen them interact before this moment. This is what I want more of: THE CHARACTERS. TOGETHER.
Mary: Back in Serpent land, Kurtz tries to kill Fangs (but fails), and Jughead tries to retaliate, or so he tells his dad/sheriff. Jughead brings his dad to chat with the gang, claiming that the gang needs more direction. And this is the big twist:
The Serpents are becoming deputies for money and school credit. W H A T
Gabriella: I started laughing and did not stop. At least this helped get rid of annoying emo Rick. Honestly, what was the point of bringing this ONE MAD MAN into the Serpents, Gladys?
Kelli: I…. I just. I don’t. I don’t know anymore.
Where is this money going to come from?? If I lived in Riverdale I would be fucking pissed to have my taxes were going towards this.
Mary: It turns out that Ricky is Joaquin’s younger brother, and suddenly I feel a lot more for him! The social worker says that Ricky is violent and has a history of self-harm, and seconds later, Ricky is GONE IN THE DARK. Without any lights on, Archie confronts Ricky, who now has a knife. Ricky says he has to finish what Joaquin started so he can play G&G again and be protected. He gave that mark to himself. Archie gets S L A S H E D and we sadly see Sweet Luke Perry run in to help. I wonder how much more of the show he’s filmed.
Gabriella: I wish they had just left Joaquin in the show instead of his dweeby little brother to be honest. Seeing Luke Perry run in also made me sad because he was really one of the only good adults/characters in this show and he gave it a kind of backbone that no one else does.
Kelli: Yeah, would much prefer to see Joaquin here, but I was glad that at least this kid had some connection to something because his introduction seemed too random and unlikely a coincidence… although Riverdale is no stranger to random and unlikely coincidences.
Agreed about Luke Perry, times a thousand. A lot of people in the cast have said that he was the heart of the show, and I think in a lot of ways that’s true — Fred is the most important person to Archie, and Archie is, like it or not, our main character. It’s sort of wild to think about the whole beginning of Season 2, with Fred in the hospital after the Black Hood’s attack. All of Archie’s anxiety was centered around protecting his dad. I have no idea how they’re going to write him off, but I’m sure that no matter what it is, it will be heartbreaking.
Mary: We end the episode with the Pretty Poisons denying Gladys at the door to Le Bonne Nuit. Veronica explains her new rules, and Gladys isn’t happy at all. The girls ban Hiram, too. He’s also mad about it, of course. Veronica is demanding respect! Again! It’s definitely going to work out this time!
Elsewhere, Betty holds her hand over a perfectly pink candle before Alice walks in to tell her to pack up. Is Betty thinking of joining the Farm? NO, she’s going to burn the house down in a total power move! Was this surprising at all?
Gabriella: I was glad to see the Pretty Poisons doing something better than beating people up a la Cheryl. I can’t wait to see the fallout between Toni and Cheryl, though.
Kelli: I was actually pretty surprised that Betty went through with burning down the house. She’s typically such a rule-follower, so to see her committing arson with seemingly no guilt was sort of wild. I guess this is her “dark side” finally coming out to play… where’s that black wig, tho?
Mary: Something I want to note is the title of the episode: “Fire Walk with Me.” I love Twin Peaks, and it irks me to see them take a title from that beloved show. That being said, I get it — Riverdale is definitely going for a Twin Peaks vibe (albeit unsuccessfully if I do say so myself). What do you guys think about the title?
Gabriella: I also love Twin Peaks and I was also irked that they so blatantly ripped it off. I don’t think the vibe is going well for them at all and they need to start over with an entirely new generation of people. Or rename the show “Betty” and let it just be about her burning shit down and fucking shit up. I love Betty.
Kelli: I mean, I think the connection to Twin Peaks is the least of this show’s issues. I think Season One was more of a direct homage, starting off with the discovery of a teen’s dead body in a river, and I think we all agree that Season One was a lot better than the point we’re at now. If anything, they need to get back to their roots! The only thing about today’s Riverdale that still echoes Twin Peaks is its aesthetic — which also happens to be one of the only things about this show that still works.