Riverdale Spices Up Zodiac With some West Side Story

first_img How long can Riverdale keep inventing new ways for a town to go completely insane without losing credibility? It’s probably the best trick the show has in its repertoire. It’s just self-aware enough that we end up giving it way more slack than we would any other show. In another series, a town hall meeting in support of disenfranchising an entire half of town while a teenage rumble rages outside would be a shark-jumping moment. On Riverdale, it’s a Wednesday.Despite nearly everyone being on board with the Red Circle last week, it appears Archie’s video message was a step too far. It really shouldn’t take a video of shirtless boys in hoods to convince people that a teen militia is a bad idea, but here we are. Even Principal Weatherbee, who was 100 percent behind the Red Circle before, tells Archie to knock it off or there’s no football team. Archie can’t even make the video go away anymore. When his dad tells him to take down his post, he says he already did. But the video’s gone viral now. You can’t stop the internet fame train once it gets rolling. Riverdale continues to demonstrate that it’s figured out how to handle Archie’s character. It even gives him a much more serious, darker arc and makes it work.KJ Apa as Archie Andrews (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)The whole Red Circle thing is ridiculous until it suddenly isn’t. The show gave us time to laugh at the absurdity of the situation, before diving into how truly messed up it is. That’s where the show’s self-awareness works to its advantage. Everyone involved knows this whole thing is insane, but then the show is like, “no seriously, Archie needs help.” He reveals that the reason he didn’t wear a hood was to bait the Black Hood killer. Archie wants to be the one to kill him, and he doesn’t care if he makes it out alive or not. He buys ammo for his gun, a Kevlar vest and starts patrolling the south side, because clearly that’s where the killer is from, right? Archie is seriously messed up and Veronica doesn’t realize it at first. That’s the other cool character twist Riverdale is pulling off this season. While all her peers are dealing with truly dark stuff, she’s very much a teenager in over her head. When her boyfriend starts a teen militia, she gets cute t-shirts printed up because that’s how teenagers support things.Of course, it’s not like she doesn’t have her own strange problems to deal with. Whatever civil war is brewing in the town, there’s an equally dangerous one happening in her own house. One of the few smart things Archie does in this episode is tell Veronica exactly what her dad told him to inspire the Red Circle. She knows it’s exactly the kind of move her dad would make, and her suspicions are all but confirmed when her dad claims not to remember what he and Archie talked about. Hermione stops being completely evil for one second to give her daughter some decent advice this episode. While she admits she’s loyal to Hiram, she cautions Veronica against blind loyalty. She’s still completely down with Hiram’s plan to sow chaos in Riverdale to amass power (seriously, is Hiram Lodge the Riverdale version of Petyr Baelish?), but she’s not stupid. Veronica, to her credit, takes her mother’s advice and finally tells Archie what we’ve all been screaming at our TVs all episode. She’s glad he’s not stupid enough to keep a gun in his locker, but having one at all is still an incredibly dumb move.Marisol Nichols as Hermione Lodge (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)All of this serves to set up for the literal class war that ends the episode. The rest of the football team forgives Archie just in time for the serpents to show up demanding a fight. See, the Serpents think the Black Hood is targeting northsiders. They see him as a hero, even though that really doesn’t track with what little we (and the whole town should) know about the killer at this point. They decide to beat up the redhead kid that made the video. Right after the football team shows up at Archie’s house with pizza, the Serpents show up looking for a fight. What follows is a full-on West Side Story rumble only with no dancing and slightly less stabbing. Veronica is still the smartest person on screen, though. She uses Archie’s gun to stop the fight and bring Archie to his senses. They throw the gun into Sweetwater river, which will hopefully bring an end to the most very-special-episode aspect of the season so far. As well done as Archie’s storyline is, giving him a gun just feels wrong.The teens aren’t the only ones engaging in class war, of course. At a town hall meeting addressing the hooded serial killer, Alice Cooper immediately blames the south side of town. Because she’s the worst. Her solution? Close down Southside High and use the money to hire more cops. Seriously. She wants to deprive poor people of education and hire policemen to lock them up. Lots of TV shows are finding ways to address the rise of fascism in the United States. Only Riverdale has one of its main characters’ parents literally suggest turning poor neighborhoods into police states. It’s the kind of bluntness that only this show can pull off.Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, and Casey Cott as Kevin Keller (Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW)They’re all wrong, of course. If you look at the evidence, which no adult in Riverdale does because why would they, the killer is probably a northsider. To be fair, Betty does keep a pretty big clue from her mom, but can you blame her? Her mother hasn’t exactly proven she’s capable of handling sensitive information. We learn that the killer is targeting people because of Betty’s speech at the end of last season. Given who was in attendance at that speech, the killer probably lives on the North Side. And it’s most likely someone Betty knows. The puzzle he includes with the letter this time can only be solved with Betty’s favorite Nancy Drew codemaking book from when she was a kid. (You’d think the fact that it came from a children’s book would make it pretty easy for just about anyone to crack, but it seems Nancy Drew didn’t mess around.) The killer knows some suspiciously specific details about Betty’s life. Could it be her father? He does have the right body type, and the pieces seem to fit together. He wouldn’t be the first Riverdale dad to go completely psycho on some teenagers either. We’ll have to see how the rest of the season plays out, but I’m thinking it’ll be a little more complicated than that. Riverdale almost certainly has a few more twists coming for us.Last night’s Riverdale not only maintained its momentum from last week, but it also added to it. It took the ridiculous idea of a teen militia to a logical and surprisingly sincere extreme. It’s always a risk when this show tries to get too serious with Archie’s story, but this time it absolutely paid off. I only wish we got to spend a bit more time on Betty and Jughead. They got a couple of short scenes together and didn’t even get to talk about Jughead hanging out with the serpents before the serial killer story took over. As fun as Riverdale’s crazy pace is, it can cause the quieter character stories to get lost. It looks like they won’t have much time to talk about it next week either. At the end of this episode, Betty gets a phone call from the killer. Yeah, relationship drama will have to take a backseat to that.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. SDCC 2019: ‘Riverdale’ Cast Spills Details on Core ‘Mystery’ for Season 4Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019 Stay on targetlast_img

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