Riverdale has been kind of all over the place recently, reeling from its ultimately underwhelming conclusion to The Black Hood story. What began as a potentially exciting turn of events quickly grew stale. That said, the show managed to work in some of their best episodes to date, including the ridiculously good “Chapter Twenty: Tales from the Darkside“. That it was followed up by three of Riverdale‘s worst episodes, consecutively, means the show, its story, and its writers are in something of a rut.
Let’s break down some of the episode’s Most Ridiculous Moments:
1. Penelope Blossom is a prostitute now?
At some point between the last two episodes, it seems like ol’ Penelope Blossom decided to become a sex worker so she could pay the bills. Obviously, Cheryl is mortified, but Penelope is clearly taking some sick pleasure out of making her daughter so uncomfortable. Riverdale has always been way too incest-y for its own good, but this development is by far the most unnecessary. It’s a good gag, and gives the character something to do, but something about this whole idea really rubs me the wrong way.
2. Archie is working with the mother-f’ing FBI (because why not!)
For all of its many strengths, Riverdale has always had an Archie problem. KJ Apa is a charming actor, and he plays the character perfectly. But the problem isn’t so much the performance, but the character himself. Archie is kind of hard to root for. For every moment where he’s sweet, helpful, honest, or otherwise endearing, there are two or three where he’s stupid, impulsive, and just all around crappy to his friends and family. In terms of accurately portraying a teenage boy, they pretty much nailed it, but he doesn’t have Jughead’s struggles, or Betty’s smarts, or Veronica’s savvy. And this whole FBI subplot strikes me as another placeholder until the writers can think of something better for Archie to distract himself with.
3. Weatherbee’s being completely unreasonable to the Serpents.
Imagine a group of teenage gang members who actually wanted to come to school, appreciate the better facilities, and take advantage of the learning opportunities. Now imagine a principal who ignored all that and started handing out suspensions for dress code violations. I mean, sure, the guy is biased against the Serpents, but it turns into blatant targeting at a certain point and doesn’t really work as a reasonable response to the Serpents joining the student body at Riverdale High, especially when the North Side kids are so obviously trying to get them kicked out.
4. Then again, Jughead isn’t making it easy.
Mr. Jones needs to take a step back and really think about what he’s doing. I get that he’s FP’s son and everything, but if his dad has to serve food and his friends have to “shed their skins,” Jughead sure as hell can do it, too. But no, instead he decides to stage a one-man protest, wearing his Serpents jacket proudly in the hallways, despite explicit instructions never to do so.
It wasn’t all bad, though…
Some of “The Blackboard Jungle” was fun. Watching Archie beat the crap out of Nick St. Clair was pretty great, and Betty finding her long-lost brother was the only genuine source of intrigue – especially with that haunting final shot – but Riverdale needs to find its footing quickly before the entire season is derailed.
GEEK Grade: C
Next week, Betty gets to know Chic, and Hiram Lodge faces off against Archie Andrews.
Images: The CW