Welcome back friends and foes. It was hard to return to Riverdale knowing the world was Joaquin-less, but we soldiered on.
Gabriella: This episode was helpfully for us split into three categories, so let’s start where the episode starts - with Archie and Jughead. My immediate thought was why hasn’t Archie dyed his hair yet? Surely if he’s the ‘red paladin’ having bright red hair is a dead giveaway to who he is. I also had no idea how long they’d been gone, the episode has no time frame - is it summer vacation? Why has no one realised Jughead is gone? Where are the HPoR?
Mary: The time frame is SO confusing. How long have they been gone, for real? It worries me that FP was starting to turn around and be a better dad and yet he doesn’t notice his OWN SON is gone. Or maybe he notices and there’s just not much to do? The sheriff is dead, after all.
Back to the time frame for a second, Jenni has a theory that Riverdale exists in a weird alternate dimension ruled by Pop. One of the things that supports this is the WILD weather. One episode they’ll all be wearing pea coats, the next episode they’ll be wearing shorts. It’s very confusing. It seems like Riverdale exists outside of normal weather patterns and time restraints.
Kelli: Archie will never dye his hair, because having red hair is his defining personality trait.
The time frame thing has ALWAYS been an issue with Riverdale. I never have any idea what time of year it is because the weather in Riverdale tends to consistently require a nothing but a light jacket, even when it snows, and very rarely do they give us any hint as to how much time has passed since the last episode. Sure, it’s corny for a character to say “it’s been three weeks since ___,” but at least we’d know where the fuck we are on the timeline. I can only guess we’re somewhere in early December because last year they did a holiday episode to line up with winter break, so I assume they’re going to do that again this year.
Gabriella: Another thing that I found frustrating was Archie’s total lack of survival instinct. He spent time in juvenile detention and yet has no concept of the dangers of oversharing? To a total stranger? Having just watched Sharp Objects I got some serious Wind Gap vibes as Jughead was walking around town. That was another thing, why did Jughead leave Archie (who he already knows has poor instincts) alone on the farm?
I was pleased by the ‘no distractions’ line coming right before a shirtless Archie appeared. He has a nice body, I have to say.
Kelli: Honestly, if there were an award for ‘most clueless character on a teen drama,’ it would go to Archie by a landslide. He is… SO STUPID.
I have to say that I kind of liked that Archie immediately starts flirting with Laurie, because to me it’s a pretty realistic portrayal of what teenage boys are like. He just had a tearful phone call with Veronica where he tells her he loves her, and five seconds later he’s like, new phone who dis.
Mary: The entire time Archie was flirting with Laurie, I was screaming two things, “WHAT ABOUT RONNIE?!” and “YOU ARE SO DUMB! SHE’S GONNA KILL YOU!” Although, because it’s Riverdale and not real life, we know Archie won’t die--or at least not three seasons in. It makes NO SENSE that Archie immediately told Laurie everything about him, or as close to everything about him that she needed to call in Papa Lodge. Archie needs other people to keep him alive. Outside of his father’s house, he needs Jughead, and teen boys helping each other stay alive is kind of impossible, you know?
Gabriella: As soon as they mentioned Fizzle Rocks, I made the Hiram Lodge connection to the midnight club episode. I felt like that was a bit ham-fisted of them, or at least it could have been teased out in a better way. Did you both make the HL connection straight away, too?
Kelli: Yeah, when the drug in question called ‘fizzle rocks,’ I’m not sure there’s anything they could have done that would have been subtle enough for us to not make that connection. I mean. FIZZLE ROCKS. It’s almost as bad as Jingle Jangle. Just kidding, nothing could ever be that bad.
Mary: Oh definitely. I think that the writers on the show are acutely aware of what the fanbase wants and is interested in. People thought Jingle Jangle was funny, so now they want to go above and beyond and do Fizzle Rocks. It’s all kind of absurd.
I knew Hiram was in on it because they seem to be setting him up to be involved with anything. I don’t like how he’s getting set up to be a big bad, because it’s honestly not that believable to me. He’s bad, sure, but should I really believe he’s involved in everything?
Gabriella: The whole thing with Laurie shaving Archie was bizarre -- this is the 21st century, the boy has a bic somewhere in that bag. As soon as Archie began to tell her the truth, I wrote: “Oh my god Archie. You are such an idiot” swiftly followed by: “Because no one saw that coming, Archie getting hit with a pan.” Did you predict that too?
Kelli: Oh yeah, it was obvious to me from the moment they stepped onto that farm that Laurie was going to fuck them over. It was just a matter of when and how. The fact that he told her Hiram Lodge was after him — why in god’s name would he do that? Doesn’t he understand yet that Hiram has his hands in everything? This is why they had to send Jughead away during this section — because if he’d been there for that misstep, I think he would have killed Archie himself.
Mary: Archie is so so so so so dumb. I’m not sure at this point what the writers are thinking in making him so dumb. It was obvious that he was going to get screwed over, and yet. AND YET. This is a classic plotline in many Lifetime original movies, so it’s easy to see it coming from a mile away.
Gabriella: The argument between Archie and Jughead was probably the best part of their whole third of the episode because it actually had some dynamism to it instead of all the actors sounding like they were reading off a prompt machine. There was actual energy between them, despite the fact that it was absolutely bonkers that Archie was going to murder someone. I know Hiram has ‘ruined his life’ but to jump to murder? Seriously? Archie just got out of juvie and wants to take a chance going to ACTUAL PRISON NOW? And how does that ‘take back’ anything that’s happened previously? I’m lost in Archie’s lack-of-logic…
Kelli: I agree that this scene was good. When it all comes down to it, the reason I was drawn to this show in the first place is because of the relationships between the characters. I really like Archie and Jughead’s friendship because of how fundamentally different they are as people, and I like watching their relationship grow and change as they do. Well, not that Archie has changed much, but you know what I mean.
I also liked that after they escaped, Jughead was completely out of breath and Archie had barely broken a sweat. Indoor kid vs outdoor kid.
Mary: Yeah! This was my favorite part of the episode. I agree with Kelli that my favorite parts are the interpersonal relationships between characters. I think in this scene particularly it’s easy to see that Jughead has grown and Archie just hasn’t. Jughead can still be reckless and persuaded to go along with Archie’s reckless plans, but I think he’s shown some change as a character, and that’s good.
Gabriella: When Hiram turned up I was unsurprised, but I still want to know why he is so obsessed with Archie, and what it has to do with G&G so… they’ve got me hooked there. Are you all curious or just annoyed?
P.s., I bet Jughead wishes he hadn’t brought that stupid duffle bag but a backpack instead.
Kelli: I actually am more curious after this episode, I think, than I have been all season. Again, I’m glad they’ve figured out how to tie the plots together - that Hiram is involved in G&G and the drugs and not just in a separate storyline being a mobster.
Also, did you guys notice that every time Hiram gets out of a car they shoot it the exact same way? It’s like this weird shot that swings around and follows his body up as he adjusts his suit and smirks. It’s kind of hilarious.
Mary: I literally groaned. Of course it’s Hiram, but the show tried to make it into a big deal. I’m with you, Gabriella, I want more G&G and less Hiram mob-stuff.
On to Veronica…
Gabriella: Again she is the least interesting of the three, and the only thing I could think when they introduced her running away from home and sleeping in her speakeasy was that when she woke up, she literally looks like she just laid down. Besides which, her frustration over the speakeasy not doing well seems really silly - of course, it’s not doing well, Riverdale is a tiny ass town, and who else is going to come to a freaking mocktail speakeasy? (I mean, I would but that’s beside the point…)
Kelli: Yeah, I would not be going to that speakeasy. I’d rather be upstairs at Pop’s TBH.
Mary: The thing I don’t understand the most is how Veronica tells Pop that his business isn’t doing well. What changed? Pop’s seems to be the only restaurant in Riverdale, so why aren’t people coming to it anymore? Did Hiram tell everyone not to come? Was Archie the only person going to Pop’s? It’s wild.
Gabriella: The whole Elio/Hiram/Veronica thing was just about passable as entertainment - but I think because they were trying to fit all three storylines into one episode, Veronica’s felt very rushed. Her back and forth with her father made no sense to me, either - she knows her father is psychotic, and the only reason he’s offered her advice regarding Elio was to manipulate her again. That she couldn’t see that seems like a very un-Vernoica character trait.
Veronica’s plot had me asking a lot of logistical questions:
When did she take out a 2nd mortgage? (ALSO BANKS WOULDN’T GIVE A MORTGAGE TO A TEENAGER. )
Why is she carrying the deed to Pop’s around with her?
WHAT EVEN. IS HAPPENING.
Kelli: I was also confused, because Veronica seems like she’s pretty savvy, but she always keeps falling back into her father’s traps. However, I understand that he’s her family, and that there is something more complicated at play there.
I agree that this side plot was not particularly entertaining, but I wasn’t mad while I was watching it, and I wasn’t bored. I think I liked this episode so much because of the structure; I find that this show is a lot more enjoyable when they stick with one plot for more than three scenes at a time. The fact that the characters and stories had time to settle in and breathe really made a difference for me. Even with Veronica.
As for your questions, I cannot even begin to answer them.
Mary: Why why why was this even a plot? It makes no sense to me that Veronica went back to Hiram for help after making SUCH a big deal of leaving. There are way too many plots happening right now, and I’d be okay if they trimmed Ronnie’s out.
Gabriella: Like Veronica’s section, I felt Betty’s was really rushed. Stylistically, I really dug the internal monologue voice-over, especially when she said “aka, drugs.” What about you all? Did it annoy you or was it a nice change in style?
Kelli: I liked the voiceover, though I think it only worked because of Lili Reinhardt’s ability to deliver. The lines were pretty corny at times, but she really pulls it off. Girl is amazing. I’m really looking forward to seeing where her career goes after Riverdale.
Mary: Oh the voiceover was really bad, in my opinion. I think Lili Reinhardt is great, and her delivery was good, too. I liked that we get into Betty’s head and see she’s not nice--which they’ve kind of laid out before. That being said, I just don’t love voiceovers in general, and I think this one was cheesy.
Gabriella: I quite enjoyed watching her and Ethel interacting - it reminded me of Tom and Jerry in a way, this constant game-playing they’re both doing, both aware they’re doing it, but not really sure who is winning. Ethel’s character arc did annoy me at first, but within the construct of the sisters of quiet mercy, I like her. It’s got a Girl, Interrupted vibe without being too much of a rip-off. I do think Betty made an amateur mistake chucking the fizzle rocks in the bin, obviously someone was going to find it.
Kelli: I don’t know how to feel about Ethel. She’s a character who changes frequently to fill whatever use the writers need out of her, and as a result she doesn’t really get to be a real person, which is unfortunate. I really hated her here, but in a good way - sort of like the way I hated Professor Umbridge while reading Order of the Phoenix.
I’m thinking that at the end of all this they’re going to reveal Ethel’s been brainwashed because of the drugs she’s on, so that she can go back to being a filler character who can take on whatever role they need her to play next season.
Also, yeah - the first thing I thought when Betty trashed her fizzle rocks was, why not flush them down the toilet?
Mary: I both liked and didn’t like the interactions with Ethel. On one hand, I really enjoyed watching Ethel become empowered by this RPG, believing she’s queen and in charge of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. It’s nice to see what she’s like when she’s not being bullied, when she is the bully. But another part of me hates that Ethel is the only bigger girl (because Shannon Purser is what passes for “bigger” in Hollywood) on the show and she’s fallen into one of the stereotypes of fat girls--the bully. I think Riverdale could do more with Ethel, and they’re just not. She’s not a real character on the show, just someone (like Kelli said) to fit whatever they need at the moment.
Gabriella: Betty’s tactic of faking a seizure to go to the infirmary was clever enough, but the ease with which she felt she was going to escape set me up to know that she wasn’t going to get out. I didn’t expect the hallway to be bricked up, but I knew she wasn’t getting out of there - it may have been more interesting to have her leave and be forced back (a la AHS Asylum) but then again, that’s been done.
Kelli: I agree that it was pretty obvious she wasn’t going to get out, but now I’m wondering what they’re going to do with Betty in the next episode now that she’s been seemingly broken. Someone is gonna have to come and save her — I’m thinking it’ll probably be Cheryl.
To reiterate what you said earlier, Gabriella: why the fuck has no one realized that ALL OF THESE CHILDREN ARE MISSING? I’m particularly surprised that Veronica isn’t wondering what’s going on, seeing as Betty is her best friend and they have a bunch of classes together… like, has she really not noticed that Betty is nowhere to be seen and hasn’t been heard from in days/weeks/however long it’s supposed to have been? I guess it’s possible that Alice made up some excuse, but even then, who in their right mind would believe her?
Mary: Oh Betty, you should have known that door was going to be bricked up. We all saw that coming from a mile away.
Gabriella: My theory about the GK is that they drug the girls and they hallucinate something GK related, so I’m sticking to my prediction from the previous recap that there is no Gargoyle King, and it’s all a game Hiram is playing (with the Blossoms, perhaps, who were nicely shoe-horned back into the plot here) to get financial/criminal control over the WORLD. What do you think? Have your GK predictions changed?
Kelli: I think this theory holds water. Watching this episode was the first time I made the connection that GK might be a hallucination as a result of fizzle rocks, and right now I think that makes the most sense as far as explaining the seemingly supernatural things that are going on here. I wonder if maybe someone has been slipping fizzle rocks into the food or drinks at the school — and maybe that’s also what’s causing the seizures.
Overall, I dug this episode, I have to say. It was a relief after last week’s episode, which totally sucked. I have hope for this season yet!
Mary: I like that theory a lot, but don’t have anything great to contribute to it. I’m just excited to see how it all plays out! I agree that it seems like they’re setting Hiram up to be majorly involved in this. How even would he get control over the world? IDK, but I do know he definitely wants it.
Thank you for joining us yet again as we stumble through our favorite teen trash-fire of a show. See you next time on Riverdale Recap!