Queer TV

Riverdale Recap 2.13 Bleach Blonde, Blood Red

Y’ALL, I KNEW IT. And by “it,” I mean I knew that:

Riverdale was about to pull out of its slump

-The reason for the slump was the lack of lady-centric storylines

-Special Agent Jared Kushner was not what he appeared to be

-Cheryl has a special archery practice outfit, and YES OBVIOUSLY THE ARROWS MATCH HER NAILS.

This episode is a very welcome return to form, and it begins right where we left off, with Betty arriving home to find a dead body on the floor. The deceased gentleman was an acquaintance of Chic’s, who we barely met, but who it seems safe to assume had posted many sexually explicit Craigslist ads, and who’s go-to karaoke song was “Butterfly” by Crazytown.

IT’S A REALLY BAD HAIRCUT THAT’S IMPROVED BY MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF BLOOD.

MOM, PLEASE TELL ME THIS WAS SELF-DEFENSE.

YES! IN THE SENSE THAT THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE.

Alice initially tells Betty not to get involved and risk incriminating herself, but then Hal calls to say he’s coming over to pick up some clothes, so it becomes an all hands on deck situation. All hands, that is, but Chic’s.

PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME HELP. I FAINT AT THE SIGHT OF BLEACH.

Betty and Alice manage to get the floor clean and body stowed by the time Hal arrives, but he’s still awfully suspicious of the way the house reeks of cleaning supplies, and spends the rest of the episode pouting to Penelope Blossom about what his wife and daughter might be up to.

I TELL YA, A MAN CAN’T MOVE IN WITH HIS MISTRESS ANYMORE WITHOUT BEING LEFT OUT OF HIS OWN FAMILY’S MURDER ADVENTURES.

But I, for one, couldn’t be happier that Betty and Alice get to have this mother-daughter bonding time. They drive the body out to the old sewer pipes, which Alice says were her “special place” when she was a child, and Betty wearily adds this to the list of “things to bring up with her eventual therapist.”

SO HOLD ON TIGHT, WE’LL MUDDLE THROUGH ONE DAY AT A TIME.

They leave Florida Man’s body there, wrapped in an old rug, and go back to the house to wipe the fingerprints from every conceivable surface. The real turning point is when Betty starts frantically polishing the apples, looking like Snow White on Adderall.

I JUST HAVE TO GET THE RED OFF.

The next morning, Alice has no trouble behaving normally (which today means: Stepford Wife due for a software update) but Betty remains haunted by her actions, and immediately starts covering them up in the worst way possible. You see, Betty is a great detective, but the skills required to solve a murder are pretty much exactly opposite of the skills required to get away with one.

Solving a murder requires tenacity and obsessive attention to detail. Getting away with murder plays more to Alice’s strengths of washing down a handful of pills with a tequila shot and praying you forget you did it all. I mean, realistically those woods are stuffed with bodies Alice has stashed there over the years, but she doesn’t torture herself by dwelling on them. But Betty can’t do this. Instead, she does the ONE THING everyone says you’re not supposed to do: returns to the scene of the crime.

I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE HE’S STILL DEAD.

And then she does the ONE THING no one has ever said you’re not supposed to do because it seems like it goes without saying: she takes Florida Man’s phone, starts calling everyone on his contact list, and writes down all his texts, thus creating a physical hard copy of the evidence against her.

SOMEWHERE SPENCER HASTINGS IS NODDING HER HEAD AND SAYING “YEP, THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I WOULD PLAY IT.”

Betty eventually deduces that the dead man was a drug dealer (OMG WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DISCOVERY! WHO WOULD EVER HAVE GUESSED THAT A MAN WITH THAT FACIAL HAIR DID CRIMES!). She turns on Chic faster than you can say “jingle jangle,” accusing him of bringing chaos into their lives and conveniently forgetting that it was actually Betty who brought the stray home and is now complaining of fleas.

Throughout all of this, Jughead is nursing some pretty hurt feelings, since he and Betty just had sex for the first time, and since then all she’s been doing is hanging out with mom and scrubbing fruit. She even pulls a Veronica and leaves him hanging when he drops an L word.

I LOVE YOU.

YEAH, THAT’S COOL. ANYWAY, YOU LIKE BRAZILIAN MUSIC??

But finally, mercifully, Betty fills Jug in on the whole situation, which comes as a huge relief, both because I don’t want anything else impeding their relationship and because Betty so desperately needs someone to make her stop answering the dead man’s phone calls. Jug turns the situation over to his dad, which is also a call I’m comfortable with, since he has some experience in the body-hiding department, and buries it with almost disturbing professionalism. Finally, everyone meets up at Pop’s for milkshakes, despite the fact that F.P. reeks of quicklime, corpse, and swamp.

IT’S A SAD MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU’VE GOTTEN VERY GOOD AT DIGGING GRAVES.

It’s unclear where all this leaves Chic, but the sooner this family is rid of him, the better. Not because he’s an affect-less drug addict who is spending the evening cutting Hal out of all the family pictures—these are forgivable—but because he didn’t make himself goddamn useful.

Next up, Archie spends the week juggling divided loyalties after Special Agent Jared Kushner turns up the heat (and inexplicably starts wearing Bernie Madoff’s old hat).

I’D LIKE TO SEE BOB MUELLER TRY TO INTIMIDATE ME WHEN I HAVE MY BIG BOY HAT ON.

SAJK’s investigative methods keep getting more and more unorthodox, and this week he hands Archie an envelope full of cash, kicks over drum kit (which even catches Betty and Alice’s attention while they’re mopping up blood), and threatens to bust Archie’s dad for hiring illegal immigrants. (Illegal Canadian immigrants, naturally, since apparently the first sentence in Riverdale’s show bible is “Thou shalt not directly confront any urgent social issue when there is a chance to tap dance around it.”)

The pressure is particularly high this week as the town is abuzz with the news of Papa Poutine’s untimely death. Hiram calmly denies having had anything to do with Daddy Wetfries’ demise, and even though both Veronica and Archie know he’s lying, they appreciate that because, for for fuck’s sake, you want your crime boss dad to lie about some things. YES Santa is real, NO I did not explore my bisexuality in prison, NO I did not kill my poker buddy, of course not.

Finally, Archie tells Hiram the whole truth: that he’s been spying on him, though he protected the Lodges as much as possible, and if Special Agent Jared Kushner represents the FBI, Archie would frankly prefer the mob. Hiram takes this news with admirable calm, but that night Archie is taken to a private meeting in the Swamp of Secrets with The Boss. But, surprise, look who the boss turns out to be!

THAT’S RIGHT, ARCHIE. IT’S ME. BECAUSE #FEMINISM.

Hermione reveals that Special Agent Jared Kushner had never worked for the FBI at all! He worked for Hermione, who sent him serpent to tempt Archie, like the Serpent in a photonegative version of the Garden of Eden. But Archie passed the test, did not behave like a big dumb narc, and has now been granted entry into the Lodges inner circle.

I’M JUST RELIEVED HIRAM DID NOT CALL ME OUT HERE FOR ANOTHER WRESTLING MATCH.

So this is a nifty little reveal, but not nearly as nifty as Veronica finally asserting her will in the family business this week.

With the reappearance of General Pickens’ head, the Lodges have lost their justification for rushing their Sodale plans. But rather than hang back and wait for the next townwide disaster to distract everyone, they push Mayor McCoy to go ahead with the evictions anyway. However, much as Mayor McCoy has tried to ignore her conscience, it keeps showing up at her office in its dumb little crown beanie and FORCING HER TO FEEL BAD.

Eventually she tells the Lodges she’s done playing ball, and they immediately make plans to expose her affair with Sherriff Keller to force her out of office. When Veronica hears this, she is appalled, because murdering Quebec’s leading purveyor of swamp fries is one thing, but humiliating Josie’s mother is quite another. So she takes it upon herself to give Mayor McCoy a heads-up, and the mayor manages to gracefully resign before the scandal can break.

FOR MY FINAL ACT AS MAYOR: WEED IS LEGAL AND TONIGHT IS THE PURGE.

Veronica’s parents figure that Veronica was responsible for this face-saving gesture, and they are, as always, warily proud, like species of big cats where you raise your cubs to be strong enough to eventually depose you and drive you into exile, to die alone in the desert.

Finally, next week has teased us with a the promise of Cheryl and Toni exchanging heated words about their feelings, but this episode offers some delicious build-up to that long-awaited moment.

Cheryl, you see, has been feeling a bit glum lately, as I think most people was if their mother was not only operating a brothel, but willingly sleeping with Hal Cooper free of charge. She’s so blue that when she catches Betty stress-vomiting in the bathroom, she doesn’t even scathingly quote Heathers at her, she just offers to help. It’s frankly bumming everyone out.

I’VE ALSO BEEN WATCHING A LOT OF DOCUMENTARIES, AND LET ME TELL YOU, WHITE PEOPLE DO NOT COME OUT LOOKING LIKE THE GOOD GUYS IN A LOT OF THEM.

DID YOU KNOW WE DID NOT INVENT “YAS QUEEN?”

OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT, THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN AGAIN. GOTTA GO.

The only thing that brings her solace is practicing archery and imagining that the target belongs to her mom, her dad, Hal Cooper, Nick St. Clair, any boy that speaks to Josie, or the patriarchy, writ large.

LITTLE DO YOU KNOW, CUPID IS STANDING RIGHT OUT OF FRAME, POINTING AN IDENTICAL ARROW AT YOU.

She pleads with her mother to stop seeing Hal, with the immortal line “YOU ARE DESTROYING FAMILIES WITH YOUR COURTESAN WAYS!” But Cheryl’s mom really thrives on watching other people impotently criticize her while she basks in the flames of their frustration. (If she gets tired of the sex work game, she could have a great career as Trump’s next press secretary.)

So that was delightful and I will see you next week!

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