Y’all, Riverdale is trash and I love it. Is it a shining beacon of great representation? No, it is not. It’s Pop’s Chocklit Shop, a neon-drenched anachronism serving up only junk food, but goddammit I have earned that. I choke down horrible news all day long and in my precious free time, rarely consume any media that doesn’t have at least some pretensions to seriousness. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I just need to watch some hot teenagers be elaborately cruel to one another. And if it comes with a little whipped cream dollop of Josie and the Pussycats singing a homoerotic version of a 60s pop hit, so much the butter.
We ended last week’s premiere with everyone’s standings as follows: Betty told Archie she loved him but was painfully rebuffed. Archie and Veronica made out in a closet, but Archie is way more interested in Mrs. Grundy and Veronica is way more interested in constructing elaborate cheerleading routines that enable her to make out with Betty. Cheryl Blossom, Red Queen of Riverdale, is in mourning for her twin brother Jason. And Kevin Keller is the gay kid, a distinction he will hopefully not bear alone for much longer.
This week our dear Archiekins is struggling under a heavy burden of guilt. There’s his affair with Mrs. Grundy, for one thing, and the fact that they still haven’t told anyone about the gunshot they heard the day of his disappearance. Also there’s the matter of his breaking Betty’s heart by making out with Veronica. To ease his mind, he goes for a half-naked run straight to the Grund’s house, because nothing says “I’m keeping a low profile” like the moonlight shining off a young man’s lily-white abs and bright orange hair.
Mrs. Grundy is SO NOT ABOUT Archie’s plan to tell the authorities that they were having sex while Jason was being murdered, so she’s like “You can’t tell them because, um, I love you.” To be clear, Geraldine Grundy does not have feelings for Archie Andrews, but she has strong feelings about prison, and if she has to give Carrot Top a few more sex lessons to stay out of it, then that is what she will do.
However, while the two of them are engaging in some erotic hand-holding in the music room, who should walk by but Jughead Jones, who finds this sight upsetting on a number of levels.
- Archie lied to him.
- Archie is being manipulated by an older woman in a position of power.
- Neither of them even have the goddamn sense to make out away from a window.
- All displays of human connection are irritating to the extremely sophisticated Jughead because, HELLO, we all die alone.
HELLO FROM THE OUTSIIIIIIIIIIIDE
Jughead confronts Archie about what he saw in a tense conversation, and they both allude to a mysterious falling out they had over the summer. (Is it because Archie bailed on their road trip? Because Jughead confessed he has feelings for Archie? Because Archie had the nerve to ask what the fuck is up with the crown hat? I cannot wait to find out.) His father, Jason Priestley kind of half-heartedly tries to intervene, but keeps getting lost in reveries of his own glory days back at the Peach Pit.
YOU BOYS WANNA COME IN FOR SOME TOTINO’S?
In the end, Archie decides to come clean about hearing the gunshot, though he promises to avoid implicating Grundy if possible. (Which, lol, imagine Archie trying to hold up under questioning, or really against any problem he can’t sing or show his abs at.) But before he can tell the authorities, someone is arrested for Jason’s murder. We’ll get to that in a second.
The best storyline of this episode belongs to Betty. Now, I know Lili Reinhart pissed us all off by referring to the idea of Betty and Veronica hooking up as “fan fiction,” but she is killing it in this role. There just aren’t many people who could sell me on the idea of Betty genuinely being this sweet of a person, and then turning it on its head when you least expect it.
Betty’s mom, of course, is THRILLED to hear of her daughter’s betrayal at the hands of Archie/Veronica/Cheryl, and makes her promise that she will never be friends with any of them again.
But despite her promise to her mother, Betty just can’t manage to stay mad at her one true love (or Archie). So after nursing her hurt feelings about for a weekend, on Monday she arrives at school ready to forgive and forget.
Archie’s strategy for winning her trust again is a flash of that winning smile, which apparently is enough.
I’M JUST GOING TO PUT THESE FEELINGS WHERE THEY BELONG: ON AN ANONYMOUS TUMBLR ACCOUNT WRITTEN IN KOREAN.
Veronica, however, takes a more elaborate tack, ordering her YELLOW ROSES (a Funny Girl reference) and giving her an impassioned speech in which she promises never to let a boy come between them again.
FROM NOW ON THE ONLY THING I WANT BETWEEN US IS EIGHT INCHES OF MEDICAL-GRADE SILICONE.
I DO. I MEAN, OKAY.
I HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT THIS.
FUCK OFF, KEVIN!
Despite this, Betty still elects to get ready for the big game with Cheryl Blossom, for whom mean girl machinations and foreplay are synonymous.
WHAT YOU NEED IS A NICE, BOLD LIP, BETTY. HERE, HAVE SOME OF MINE.
But Cheryl has a game plan beyond swapping lip gloss with Betty: she suspects Betty’s institutionalized sister, Polly, is Jason’s killer. At this suggestion, she finally pushed Betty too far, and she goes full-on Dark Willow and orders her from the room. (Fingers crossed Betty killed Jason.)
Okay but at the actual pep rally is the best scene of the whole episode, because it is there that Josie and The Pussycats regale us with their interpretation of the original Archie classic “Sugar, Sugar.” And y’all, it is about a thousand times gayer than the Betty and Veronica kiss in episode one.
It is fully, emphatically, and repeatedly about a girl and her smoking bod and the things the singer (also a girl) would like to do with and to it. It couldn’t have been gayer if they rapped Kristen Stewart’s SNL monologue.
After the song, it hits Cheryl all in a rush that her brother really is gone, and she flees the pep rally, pursued by Betty and Veronica. In the locker room, she breaks down crying about how Jason “was supposed to come back,” which I believe means that their original plan was for him to fake his own death. The plot thickens the next day when Cheryl is arrested in AP bio and led away with handcuffs, and we hear the startling revelation that Jason had apparently been held hostage, and was not killed for a solid week after the fourth of July. (I am not that invested in who killed Jason, but I do really enjoy the casting of him as this pasty-faced seraphim who inspires universal loathing.)
The episode ends with Betty and Veronica splitting a milkshake and gazing rapturously into each other’s eyes.
MILKSHAKES ON TOP OF THE TABLE, “FAN FICTION” DOWN BELOW.
They are shortly joined by Archie and Jughead, except, as Jug informs us via his endlessly delightful narration, HE DOESN’T EVEN REALLY EXIST.
THERE ARE THREE PEOPLE IN THIS BOOTH AND ONE EMPTY CROWN BEANIE.
Which, as teenage self-loathing goes, is actually pretty advanced.
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!