This week Riverdale season 2 went all in on this being a show about a serial killer and the teens who’ll do anything to stop him. Moves like Archie Andrews actually brandishing a gun in a kid’s face could have been too jarring. But, the episode had a confident tone. The level of commitment to this dark story actually helped the overall tone of the season gel for me.
While I could understand Archie’s characterization being divisive this season, I’m enjoying it a lot. Last season he felt pushed aside as other characters got more intense storylines. Furthermore, the trauma he’s been experiencing since Geraldine Grundy took advantage of him was relatively unexplored. This season he’s very active and deeply effected by everything he’s gone through.
The football team (plus scene stealer Dilton Doiley) becoming a vigilante team ready to take on the South Side is incredibly entertaining. This episode’s set piece with all the teenage boys wrestling showed Riverdale at its overblown, spectacular best.
I’m still waiting for there to be more genuine characters moments peppered in. Fred Andrews’ concerned talk with Archie was nice. His scenes with Veronica Lodge were decent, but a bit simplistic. But, for the most part the relationship dynamics and introspection are suffering in exchange for sleek melodrama. I mean, we didn’t even get to see Veronica convincing Cheryl Blossom to join her in promoting the Red Circle. You know that would’ve been a great scene.
Jughead Jones and Betty Cooper both feel one-dimensional this season. They were two of the most emotionally rich characters last season, but this year it feels like Riverdale doesn’t know what to do with them. I also don’t believe Jughead would ever say “Archie’s shook.”
Now that this episode defined how crazy things can get, I’d like to see them reel it in next week to check in on each character’s inner life.