After the Black Hood Riverdale Tries to Figure Out Whats Next

first_img The first half of the season ended with the reveal of the Black Hood’s identity. It was… anticlimactic. After so many episodes of buildup, it turned out to be a character we’d only met a couple of episodes before. It was an unsatisfying, improbable end to what had been a fun mystery. Riverdale seems to understand that, judging by one of last night’s final lines. It would appear we’re not entirely done with the Black Hood mystery. Whether or not we are though, it doesn’t look like it’ll get picked back up for a while. For now, the show is trying to figure out where to go from here. As far as the town of Riverdale is concerned, the mystery is solved. The driving force behind the first half of the season is gone. Without it, Riverdale flails around looking for something to do.Last night’s midseason premiere featured a few separate stories, none of which really line up or go anywhere. Veronica is more closely involved with her parents’ business, but that doesn’t mean get to see it. All we get is the Lodge family’s awkward, vague dialog so the show can reveal what’s really going on later. In this case, Veronica says she’ll ensure no one at her school suspects her family is involved in what’s about to happen. When it’s revealed that Southside High is closing and Riverdale will absorb its students, Veronica does a laughably poor job. “Oh it’s probably just an obscure city ordinance we’d have no hope of understanding.” Like, at least pretend to be surprised. Somehow nobody mentions anything about her strange behavior and the students of Southside arrive at Riverdale High.Cole Spouse as Jughead and Vanessa Morgan as Toni (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)We later learn that the Lodges convinced the mayor to shut down the school because they want to buy the land underneath it. Still no hints at why they want all this land. All we’re given is some sense that it’s probably crime stuff. The mayor shuts down the school blaming a meth lab in the basement. Jughead says there was no meth, “only Jingle Jangle.” This show really needs to decide what kind of drug Jingle Jangle is. One episode, it’s the scariest drug in the world. The next, it’s the show’s marijuana equivalent. How do you want us to feel about your fake drugs, Riverdale? Either way, the Serpents are now at Riverdale High. Despite veronica’s best efforts to integrate them into the school, Cheryl and Reggie start fights with them at every opportunity. Principal Weatherbee just goes along with whatever Cheryl and Reggie say happened in a way that makes him look unfathomably stupid. One of the things I love about Riverdale, is that it lets you revel in the teen angst. The attitude that says you know what’s really going on, and all the adults are out to get you. It doesn’t really nail that here. When the adults are just transparently manipulable like this, it’s hard to be angry about anything other than the shortcuts the story is taking.The rest of Jughead’s story is a series of assaults on the serpent’s dignity that everyone goes along with except for Jughead. When Weatherbee bans Serpent jackets, Jughead is the only one that wears his in defiance. He gets beat up and suspended for it, and the next day, the serpents are forced to wear school uniforms. That part actually crosses a line, because no other student is made to wear one, but the episode isn’t interested in dealing with that. The odd thing is, Jughead is the only one who has a real problem with being asked to take off his jacket. The rest of the serpents are fine with it, and act like normal students. Kid, you joined this gang like a month ago. If the kids who grew up in it are fine with taking off their jackets during school hours, maybe you can chill too. Instead of confronting the blatantly unfair uniform policy, Jughead finds a workaround. He starts a club called “Swords and Serpents.” A purported tabletop RPG club that’s actually a place where they can be serpents during school hours. I guess Principal Weatherbee really is that stupid. Please Riverdale, try a little harder with your characters.Madchen Amick as Alice Cooper and Lili Reinhart as Betty (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)Meanwhile, Betty is off in her own section of the episode dealing with family issues. Her sister, Polly shows up to collect a few things and run off again. Turns out she had the twins, and is going to raise them herself on the farm she was hiding out in. She doesn’t want to raise them in the Cooper household, and with everything Alice has pulled, can you blame her? Betty does though, and devises a plan to make her mom feel better about one of her kids running away. She tracks down the location of her long lost brother Chic, the son Alice had as a teenager. Now that the son is an adult, the records are unsealed, and Alice and Betty track him down. At first, he’s not interested in going with them, and we learn he works as a prostitute. Later, Betty goes back to see him and finds him being attacked. She saves him, and brings him home, where his mother finally takes care of him, and give him a warm bed to sleep in. This is the one story of this week’s Riverdale that sets things in a promising direction. Jughead’s narration describes Betty as having brought a monster into their house, and Chic creepily stands over Betty as she sleeps. In the same group of scenes, Archie tells the F.B.I. agent whose asked him to spy on the Lodges that he thinks they caught the wrong Black Hood. Could Chic turn out to be the real killer?With the season’s big mystery apparently solved, this episode struggles to start a whole bunch of stories at once. Jughead’s serpent story ultimately feels pointless for how much time it takes, and only Betty’s really shows signs of going somewhere interesting right now. As for Archie and the F.B.I. agent… what? So the F.B.I. wants Archie to spy on Hiram Lodge and figure out if he’s doing anything illegal. I’m not really buying this story. The episode doesn’t give us a reason to. Of course, the Lodges are up to something shady, but the F.B.I. asking their daughter’s boyfriend and the son of their business partner to be a spy for them? That strains credibility even for Riverdale.KJ Apa as Archie and Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)Archie isn’t even given a compelling reason to go along with it. Just that the story of Nick St. Clair’s injury keeps changing. That is suspicious, but does anyone really care what happens to that guy? Archie agrees to be an F.B.I. spy though because, well, he’s Archie. Speaking of Nick, there’s Cheryl’s whole arc, which isn’t much better than Archie’s. She’s ashamed because her mother has turned to prostitution to pay the bills. Well, that’s what she says, her mother seems to be doing it mostly because of how much it embarrasses Cheryl. She tells Archie about Nick’s attempted assault on Veronica in a ploy to get Archie to beat him up and demand another check. Even though the Blossoms have money once again, Cheryl’s mom decides she’s having too much fun. I don’t know where this plot is going, and I’m not sure I care. Remember when Cheryl was stalking Josie, destroying her relationships, and being generally scary? Can we go back to that? Even with this episode’s problem, Betty’s story has enough potential that I have high hopes for next week. I do want to know what’s going on with Chic. Why is he a monster? I’m interested enough that I’ll even put up with Archie’s F.B.I. story. Who knows, maybe that could go somewhere. Riverdale has done some great things with more ridiculous plots before. Stay on target SDCC 2019: ‘Riverdale’ Cast Spills Details on Core ‘Mystery’ for Season 4Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019 last_img read more