Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW
Episode directed by Lee Toland Krieger
We’re back with another episode of The Way Too Young and the Restless! When we last left things, Cheryl was FINALLY getting arrested for being the most OBVIOUSLY SUSPICIOUS PERON IMAGINABLE, but chances are that those charges aren’t gonna stick considering we’re only on the third chapter. What mysteries will be uncovered once Cheryl tells us what REALLY happened on the Fourth of July? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with a recap of what happened at the end of the last episode which, as stated above, was Cheryl Blossom FINALLY being dragged away in handcuffs. Why? Well I could probably give you a laundry list of reasons, but SPECIFICALLY she’s being hauled in for questioning because her story about what happened to Jason on the Fourth of July has a few holes in it. Namely ONE hole that ended up in Jason’s head! Sheriff Keller (Kevin Keller’s dad played by Martin Cummins) begins to question her in Principal Weatherbee’s office, and we find out what REALLY happened that day, or at least the CURRENT version of the truth before the next big revelation upends everything we learn here. Jason wanted to run away from home and fake his death. He and Cheryl took the boat ACROSS the river and I guess Jason just wandered off into the woods with no bags and presumably very little cash (a dead man wouldn’t be using a credit card and a big withdrawal right before he disappeared would have been suspicious) while Cheryl waited around for someone to find her so she can tell the story about Jason drowning. How she knew that Dilton and his scout troop (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a scout leader in the books, but whatever) would JUST SO HAPPEN to pass by is still a mystery, but maybe that’s the NEXT big revelation. While the two of them were sharing their tearful goodbye, they heard the gunshot. You know; the one that Archie and Miss Grundy heard? Yeah, they heard it too which means that we now know two places were the gun COULDN’T have been fired from. Now that’s a decent chunk of information to build off of and presumably this take Cheryl off the hook for the murder. Why the sheriff didn’t ask Cheryl WHY Jason wanted to run away is beyond me, but whatever. We’ve still got a whole season of shows to fill up, so we can’t be giving away all the surprises NOW!
Oh, and we also find out (through another excruciating scene with Betty and her mother who I will only refer to as Lemon Mom) that Jason’s body was… frozen? WHAT!? That’s… an odd detail, and it definitely points towards premeditation if The Killer JUST SO HAPPENED to have a man sized freezer available after shooting the kid’s brains out. Well, whatever. Now that we’re caught up on that, we’ve got to start the School Day Character Roundup (this show is already following a pretty predictable formula) and we start with Archie who actually DOES go to the principal’s office to confess his sins to Mr. Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller. Well… SOME of his sins. He admits that he was at the river and heard the gunshot which corroborates with Cheryl’s story, but he manages (somewhat ineptly, though we’ll have to see how the investigation goes) to leave Miss Grundy out of it… even though he REALLY should get her ass out of that school before she starts preying on someone else. We’ll have to save the fallout from that for later though because Veronica has a date with Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway); captain of the football team, son of the coach, and for the longest time one of the only recurring black character in the Archie universe outside of Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. Remember Token from South Park? Yeah, Chuck Clayton is pretty much the kind of character that Token is a satire of, and while the Archie comics have gone to great lengths over the last few years to modernize the comic, it’s still hard to ignore the half century that came before; especially when you find out about characters like Dexter Howard. This show (like the comics in the last few years) is trying to move away from those kinds of problems that were part of the source material’s history, what with Mr. Weatherbee and Pop Tate being black (even though both are pretty much just cameos at this point), all three members of Josie and the Pussycats being black along with the Mayor of Riverdale, and Veronica being played by Latina actress Camila Mendes (who is STILL the best thing about the show by the way). Now obviously they haven’t succeeded in SOME areas with The Pussycats being rather one dimensional so far and Kevin Keller being one big stereotypical mess, but hopefully they won’t mess it up with Chuck Clayton in the same ways. Before we can see how the date goes, we’ve still got some more characters to catch up on; namely Betty and Jughead who are now going to run the school paper and they’ve decided to try and solve the murder of Jason Blossom all on their own! Pretty ambitious I guess, but this seems to be the logical endpoint for the way they’ve been setting up Jughead’s character in the last two episodes, so I say go for it! I hope his scenes from now on are filmed in black and white! His first task is to interview the one person who no one seems to be talking about in relation to this murder; Dilton Doiley who found Cheryl on the side of the river while on a bird watching trip with his scout troop. Wait what!? Hold on.
Okay, so it looks like Dilton is played by two separate actors. I credited Major Curda in episode one, but it was ACTUALLY Daniel Yang who has credits for two episodes; episode one and this episode. Major Curda meanwhile only has one episode credited to him which is… episode three. Wait WHAT!? ONE character is played by two separate actors in this episode!? Is that why this episode is called Body Double!? Anyway, that’ll about do it for the first day of school as everyone’s now got their own subplots to work on for the rest of the episode; starting with Archie who’s about to feel the wrath of his dad Luke Perry! Yeah, dad’s not too happy about the whole LYING thing, so he grounds the “kid” for two weeks. I say “kid” because KJ Apa looks completely ridiculous arguing with his dad about being grounded when he looks old enough to have a mortgage, though I guess you just have to get used to stuff like that in these kind of shows.
It only gets worse once Miss Grundy gets a hold of him and cancels their music lessons as punishment for blabbing to the cops. Wait, isn’t this supposed to be an independent study course? How does she plan to get that by Mr. Weathebee? ESPECIALLY considering she JUST SO HAPPENS to cancel them the day after he talks to the cops? Well in any case, Archie needs a new music teacher which gives him something to do while we get to the REAL meat of the episode; namely, how Veronica’s date with Chuck Clayton went! It was… okay I guess. Veronica wasn’t too impressed with the jock, but he seemed nice enough. That is, until she gets to school the next day and Chuck has since made a slut shaming post about her on social media, and everyone has seen it. Oh. Oh… Oh no…
So it turns out the big episode specific plot is about Chuck Clayton and a few of the goons on the Football team (unnamed goons by the way) who have a game where they date the girls at school and then proceed to slut shame and humiliate them as part of some fucked up game where they keep score in some sort of secret notebook. One of the victims by the way is Ethel Muggs who I’m glad to see in the show, but we learn nothing about her here and she’s only on hand to represent the rest of the victims as she’s the only one of them who gets any lines. There’s a group shot of everyone Chuck and the bunch have fucked with after Betty goes around the school looking to bust this whole thing wide open for the paper (I guess Jughead will be focusing on the murder while Betty tries to clean up this misogynistic garbage) but only she is given a chance to speak up. Likewise, Chuck Clayton is the only dude to represent his clique and to “defend” as it were, their despicable actions… which means we have a situation where the only prominent black male in the show (not counting Weatherbee/Pop Tate/Coach Clayton who are barely in this) is only in this damn thing just to harass people that are represented by a white woman. WOW! WOOOOOW! They couldn’t have taken maybe an extra few minutes to think that one through!? Now to be fair to the show, I actually do like this subplot as it does hit on a real issue that many young girls have to face on a daily basis and having Betty and Veronica work together to take these sick fuckers down is easily the highlight of the episode. Hell, it even gives Cheryl something to do as she’s first skeptical about all this, but then changes her tune once she gets definitive proof (the girls end up finding the notebook) that her brother was in on this too when he was still alive and on the football team. Still, it’s bad enough that black youths are criminalized just for BEING black in the real world (of COURSE they were shot by cops! They looked like THUGS!) that we don’t need a show THIS directly targeted a millennials that is actively (if ham-handedly) TRYING be inclusive and modern indulging in white paranoia about black men stealing (by which of course the implication is raping) white women.
Okay, but we just jumped ahead a good twenty minutes on this subplot. Let’s pull the breaks at this point which is the scene where the girls breaking into and finding the playbook in Chuck’s locker at night, and find out what happened to the two other subplots. Archie’s is pretty simple as he needs a way to practice his music now that Miss Grundy dropped his class, and fortunately Cheryl’s got his back after he corroborated the gunshot story, so she gets him a begrudging invite to Josie and the Pussycat’s band practice where… I guess he’ll just watch them play and that’s the same as taking a class. These scenes ALSO give Josie and her pussycats (Melody and Valerie who both get names finally) a chance to talk shit about his privileged liberal white ass… but he gets to prove himself as a swell fellow by helping them with a song. So the black guy gets to terrorize white women while the white guy gets the thumbs up from black women. Got it.
Oh hey! Speaking of Cheryl, what’s going on with Jughead’s investigation into the murder of her brother? Well… sigh. Alright, so he goes off to interview Dilton who FOR SOME REASON the writers decided that he should be a survivalist jerkass (ugh…) who takes his role as scout leader VERY seriously. He barely says anything worth noting, but Jughead manages to corner one of the scouts and finds out that it was Dilton who shot a gun of the Fourth of July! RIVERDALE SHOCK!! Apparently Diltion, in his quest to toughen up these ten year olds, was showing them how to shoot targets during their bird watching trip. So did he only shoot the fucking thing once? Just went, here’s how you shoot a target, *BLAM*, and then that’s it for the day?
You know what? It’s fine. It’s another piece in the puzzle of what happened on the Fourth of July, so at least it’s moving the overarching story forward. Now we can get back to Betty, Veronica, and her crew of badass ladies who found the notebook and therefore have everything they need to stop Chuck Clayton and his crew. Well… they’ll get to that EVENTUALLY by printing it in the newspaper. Before that though, Betty gets pretty gung ho about exacting revenge against Chuck personally and manages to rope Veronica and Ethel into it even though this seems like a REALLY bad idea. I mean, on top of doing this in the name of other people without asking their permission (Ethel is in on it, though none of the other girls who are victims of their sick game are), you already have him dead to rights. If this goes wrong, it could ruin the chance of getting justice for all the other victims. If this goes right, it could STILL make things more difficult if whatever plot they’ve hatched gets brought to light; putting them in trouble and giving harassment apologists ammunition to let the bastard slide. Oh what am I so worried about? It’s not like they’re gonna drug him, handcuff him, and torture him into giving a confession on tape! Oh wait… that’s exactly what happened.
I mean… in a Russ Meyer movie? Sure! This is fine! Riverdale though seems to be aspiring for more than that; hence the topical nature of this episode and the way the victims of this kind of abuse are portrayed with genuine hurt. You can’t just go from that to a grindhouse Bitchin’ Babes movie which is what this part of the episode seems to be going for; trying to get a lurid thrill out of a subject that is anything but. It just creates a total disconnect from what the show is telling us is wrong (harassing behavior and treating women as disposable sex object) and what the heroes are doing (drugging and kidnapping someone). Now the point of this scene isn’t just to knock Chuck around for a bit; it’s to ALSO point towards some sort of transformation in Betty. Seemingly due to her finding her sister Polly’s name in the playbook with Jason’s name next it (they dated before he was killed), she’s now got a… dark half I guess? She puts on blood red lipstick along with an Uma Thurman bob cut wig, and proceeds to stomp of the dude’s head with stiletto heels. Not an UNPLEASENT image mind you (especially when backed by Kiiara’s Gold on the soundtrack), but they tip their hand a LITTLE too much when she straight up calls the dude Jason instead of Chuck; seemingly going so far into Bad Girl territory that she forgets that she ISN’T beating up the scumbag that hurt her sister. It’s a bit much, but hopefully there’ll go into a little more depth with this as the series goes along; especially if they touch on the fact that she’s acting a lot like her mom. Speaking of which, while Betty and Veronica are reenacting Knock Knock, the rest of town is at some sort of food event thing; making it a prime location for a few emotional blow ups. The primary instigator is of course Betty’s mom (by which I mean Lemon Mom) who first goes after Veronica’s mom to call her daughter a slut (classy move, lady) and then needles the Blossom parents. Note that this is the same woman who paid for a scoop on the kid’s autopsy and earlier this episode she released an article calling Cheryl a psycho killer. You can probably guess where this is headed. WA-PAA!!
Well that was a thing I guess. It’s not like we didn’t already know that Lemon Mom is cartoonishly sadistic, but it was satisfying watching her eat a knuckle sandwich. The only other thing to note about the event here is that Luke Perry has a chat with Miss Grundy about Archie’s musical talent and I’m PRETTY sure he’s into the blonde teacher with the crazy eyes. Okay, as much as I’ve been railing against this show’s casual use of statutory rape for Forbidden Love drama, I do kinda want to see how THAT love triangle would play out! That will have to wait for another day however as the festivities comes to an end for the evening. The next morning, Luke Perry is soundproofing the garage as a sort of peace offering. After all, if he’s gonna be grounded he might as well have a good place to practice his music! That, and he’s probably still in a good mood from merely being in the presence of Miss Grundy; a feeling I’m sure will dissipate once he finds out what the hell she did to his kid. For now though, we’ve still got some cleaning up to do at school before we finish the episode. First up is Betty’s exposé on the football team’s creepy and abusive behavior which is no longer something that could easily be swept under the rug, so Chuck and his goons get booted off the team… and that’s it. You know what? I’ll take it. Hell, I’d be surprised if the guy even shows up for another episode which is a shame considering what they COULD have done with a character like Chuck Clayton, but I’m just fine with them dropping THIS Chuck Clayton after only one appearance. Sounds like a solid win all around for the ladies of Riverdale High, am I right? Sure, Veronica has some concerns about the appearance of evil Betty the night before, but this is her big day so she might as well enjoy it! Before we end this episode though, there’s just ONE more dangling thread that needs to be unraveled. Dilton Doiley, having been busted by Jughead, is in the school paper’s office ready to make a deal. If they stay silent about the gunshot, he’ll tell them something ELSE he saw that no one else knows about. It turns out that he saw Miss Grundy’s car that day at the river! RIVERDALE SHOCK!! And so the episode ends, with this DRAMA BOMB being blasted off in Jughead and Betty’s faces; the former knowing EXACTLY what this means and who it’s going to affect. Then again, I’m PRETTY sure it’s a good thing if Archie doesn’t have to carry that secret around anymore! Maybe get some help too! Then again, he seems to be patching things up with Miss Grundy, so who knows what the fuck is gonna happen with this whole mess!
This show is REALLY starting to get on my nerves as it becomes clearer what this show is trying to do and how it’s failing miserably to do that. For decades, Archie and the gang have had a reputation (admittedly deserved) of being in the same mold of several other cultural landmarks of the time it came out in. Sure, it had some bright spots when the writers tried out new and strange ideas, but for the most part it was White Pablum; an easily digestible (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) world you can hop in and out of and have a nice enough time visiting, but was also very… well white. Things have gotten WAY better in the last decade or so though with stuff like Archie The Married Life, and the most recent run of comics in the new art style that’s put the series in a very solidly progressive and modern state as opposed to its gee-willikers fifties throwback aesthetic. This series though feels like it’s trying to rebel against THAT instead of what Archie has become in recent years, and the attempt here feels kind of embarrassing. I understand the APPEAL of taking the piss out of wholesome Americana by including edgier subject matter and more adult themes (*cough* Pleasantville *cough*), but it’s done here without much skill or any real insight. To try and bring this kind of blunt grittiness to a series that’s already moved past what this is a rebuke of… well it kind of feels like any other crappy reboot. Have you seen those trailers for the new Power Rangers movie? Hell, does anyone remember that gritty reboot of Bomberman!? I still have a TINY bit of hope for this series as Betty and Veronica are still AWESOME, and I kind of like what they are doing with Jughead at the moment even if it’s not really what Jughead is all about. Still, I don’t see the show making a big enough tonal shift to fix a lot of the problems I have with it in the ten episodes it has left, so let’s just hope it doesn’t get any worse than this. Fingers crossed!