Chapter 15 of ‘Riverdale’ brings gloom, gloom, more boring gloom

KJ Apa as Archie Andrews (right) is shown in Riverdale Chapter 14, "A Kiss Before Dying." (Courtesy CW)

Things are looking very, very grim in Riverdale. Veronica’s parents are acting super shady, Archie is completely spiraling and two more lives are taken by the end of this week’s episode. The second installment of season two of “Riverdale” (2017–) landed on the more forgetful (and boring) end of the spectrum, although it seemed to set up things yet to come. And those things are going to be dark.

As if Riverdale doesn’t have enough problems, Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe gets vandalized (the graffiti sprayed on the diner’s front creatively reading “death diner”), and Pop gets so spooked he decides to sell the restaurant. This is unacceptable to Betty, who has many fond childhood memories from Pop’s, so she decides to hold a fundraiser to save the Riverdale landmark. Where else will the gang get magic milkshakes that have no visible effects on Archie’s abs? Betty’s cause is honorable even though self-righteous Betty is the second-most annoying version of Betty (most annoying Betty to come).

While Betty tries to recapture a happier, less murder-filled time in Riverdale with her throwback-themed fundraiser, Archie is drowning in his very grim present. Instead of sleeping, he sits up every night with a baseball bat, guarding the doors in case the shooter comes back. Things only get worse when he finds out about Grundy’s murder. Everyone repeatedly assures him that this attack and the one on his father are completely unrelated, but Archie is still very spooked, especially once he finds out the weapon used on Grundy was the cello bow Archie had gifted her. This all sets Archie off on some erratic, paranoid, anti-Archie behavior. First, he considers buying jingle jangle from his pal Reggie (who was recast for season two, if your favorite jock/now drug dealer looks a little off to you). What is jingle jangle, you ask? It seems half the kids at Riverdale High are hooked on this drug, which “keeps you up for days, in more ways than one.” Of course Riverdale would have an Energizer Bunny sex drug named jingle jangle. Archie ultimately does not purchase any drugs and also rejects Veronica’s reasonable suggestion of therapy, instead opting to get his hands on a gun. Jughead’s narration does indicate that getting this gun succeeds in giving Archie enough of a feeling of safety to finally sleep again. Yikes.

Speaking of Jughead, he is not having the best episode either, especially after learning that his dad could face up to 20 years in jail for his involvement in the cover-up of Jason Blossom’s murder. Against better judgment, Jug pays a visit to the Serpents’ lawyer, Penny Peabody, who suggests that if the Blossoms can make a statement forgiving FP for his involvement, his sentence could get reduced. She also rejects money from Jughead and instead requests an eventual return of favor. This woman is such a snake (pun intended), and clearly FP agrees, because he warns Jughead to stay away from her once he finds out about her involvement in the case. Jughead sure missed a lot of red flags with this one… Penny’s office is in the backroom of a tattoo shop. Some lawyer.

The fact that this recap hasn’t mentioned Cheryl yet is a clear indication that once again we need more Cheryl. Luckily, the second half of the episode had some great Cheryl moments. After she and her mother initially refuse to testify on FP’s behalf, Cheryl changes her mind after a visit from “Dark Betty.” (Hello, the No. 1 most annoying Betty.) Betty enters the locker room and confronts Cheryl, who is wearing nothing but some very red, very strappy lingerie (only Cheryl would think this was school-appropriate, and only Cheryl would absolutely slay in it), and threatens to leak the footage of Clifford Blossom shooting Jason if Cheryl doesn’t testify favorably and if she doesn’t get the River Vixens to come help out at the fundraiser for the diner. Cheryl agrees, in exchange for Betty destroying the footage. On the stand, Cheryl then decides to straight-up lie and say that she saw her dad threaten FP, resulting in the judge deciding to reconsider FP’s sentence. What a complex character Cheryl is.

Hey, what has Veronica been up to all episode? Not much, just casually continuing to confront her parents about potentially being murderers and avoiding her father’s attempts to connect with her. Is Hiram Lodge, played by Mark Consuelos (Kelly Ripa’s husband!), really just a loving father who happens to be a shrewd businessman, or is he a murderous villain set on destroying the entire town? Considering he secretly bought the diner at the fundraiser under the guise of a donation, he probably is not good news. He also sent Veronica a threatening letter, although her mom lied and told Veronica she had penned it in order to manipulate her. What a nice, functional family. Rich people have problems too, okay?

Before Hiram bought the diner, making the fundraiser moot (although only the Lodge parents know that), the throwback night at Pop’s was going pretty well, besides one moment when Veronica called Archie “Daddy-O” and every viewer threw up in their mouth (no exaggeration). The fundraiser featured the only bright spot of the entire episode, with two out of the three Pussycats plus Cheryl performing a life-altering (though slightly asymmetric) rendition of — naturally — Kelis’ “Milkshake” (2003) on the roof of Pop’s. Seriously, this performance was everything. Less Dark Betty, more pop star Cheryl.

This creepy season of “Riverdale” obviously can’t end an episode without more murdering fun. This week, the two casualties who were shot while making out in a parked car were Moose, a football player who hooked up with Kevin last season (speaking of which, there’s been far too little Kevin this season), and his girlfriend Midge, who just got introduced this episode. Sorry, actress who got hired to play Midge. How do these murders line up with the last two? It still seems like there has to be a connection, although Archie seems to be the only one within the story-world who thinks that, and he is not currently stable, so who knows?

This episode overall was a huge bummer. If anything, it served as a PSA for mental health counseling, because Archie desperately needs it. Here’s hoping next week brings brighter days for the gang, although that seems highly unlikely.

“Riverdale” airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Full episodes available on cwtv.com and Netflix.


Summary

The second installment of Riverdale's second season didn't bring much to the table, outside of an indication of even darker things to come and one outstanding rooftop performance.

3 stars
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