Riverdale :: Maple Syrup Blood Feud

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This week’s episode returned to the Jason Bloom murder story, and gave us another movie-related title, “Heart of Darkness.” For the uninitiated, the title refers more to a novella rather than a movie although there is a movie with the same title (based on the book) that is less well-known than another movie based on the book, Apocalypse Now. But the title does have some relevance to the episode in that the plot centers on a man fascinated by the “blank spaces” on maps and a large river. Riverdale could certainly be seen by some as a blank space on a map as it struggles to survive, seemingly stuck in some idyllic era with the modern world slowly creeping in. And of course there is a river.

But we got a lot of information this week, about the town’s history, about the Blossom family and the Cooper family, a startling revelation about Jason and Polly, and a budding friendship, of sorts, between Cheryl and Veronica. And suddenly Cheryl is a much more sympathetic character than she’s been portrayed up to this point. That’s not to say she hasn’t been an swful person, because she has. So much so that no one would come to her birthday parties, Jason knew this and he insisted they share a party (they are twins, after all). Jason was the only person who ever really took care of Cheryl, so that goes a long way to understanding her utter devotion to him.

Cheryl’s parents are another story altogether. Yikes! If you thought Alice Cooper was a terrible mom, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Since Veronica was the only person to comfort Cheryl — not even her “friends” gave her a shoulder to cry on — she was invited to a sleepover at Cheryl’s home the night before Jason’s funeral, mainly because Cheryl didn’t want to be alone. Turns out Veronica was the only person invited which led to a supremely awkward dinner in which Veronica is lectured on the importance of maple syrup to Riverdale’s economy. Maple syrup? So where exactly is Riverdale? Vermont? Canada?? And this certainly goes a long way to explain why the Riverdale High guys use the “sticky maple” symbolism to shame their conquests.

Maple syrup actually explains the feud between the Blossoms and the Coopers. It wasn’t just Jason and Polly dating, but Cheryl Blossom’s great-grandfather murdered Betty’s great-grandfather (who were business partners) over the maple syrup business! This is a blood feud that runs deep, and the relationship between Jason and Polly didn’t help. Especially when the families learned the two were engaged!

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Yes, Betty learned from her friend Trev that Jason had been selling all of his belongings AND drugs (yikes) so he could get away from his awful parents. Betty and Jughead also learned from the creepy grandmother sitting in Jason’s bedroom that Jason gave Polly (whom she mistook Betty for with that one cloudy eye of hers) her engagement ring, and then Betty learned that her parents knew about the engagement. Betty’s dad, who got to be a little more relaxed while his wife was out of town, spilled the beans about the feud and the engagement and it’s a safe bet that at some point soon we’re finally going to meet Polly Cooper.

Back at the funeral, things were tense and weird at the Blossoms’ estate when Mrs. Blossom fixated a bit too much on Archie — uncomfortably stroking his hair and telling him he looked so much like Jason — and insisted that Cheryl would not be speaking. But Cheryl had other ideas, thanks to Veronica, and changed from her black mourning garb to the same white dress she wore the day she and Jason rowed down the river and relating the story about the birthday party. This whole episode really fleshed out Cheryl as not just the high school bitch but a truly damaged person who has found a friend in the one person she seemed to dislike the most. Kudos to the writers and to Madelaine Petsch for making this transformation feel authentic. But how long before she returns to her old self and will she and Veronica remain friends?

One thing of note about Jason’s funeral: Cheryl was forced to hand deliver invitations (!) to all of her classmates, sometimes with snarky commentary (like insinuating Jughead would steal the candlesticks for a few bucks). In fact, the entire town was invited but it wasn’t because the Blossoms wanted everyone there, they assumed Jason’s murderer would be among the assembled group and would somehow be revealed by the police presence. Cheryl wasn’t too happy when she learned this, and there was one resident conspicuously absent — Alice Cooper.

But that wasn’t the only Cooper absence of note. Betty’s dad Hal was missing from the drive-in on its last night, the same night Sheriff Keller’s “murder board” was destroyed. And sure enough, we see Hal with all the folders of evidence that he then throws into the fire. Reconstructing the board, Betty and Jughead now have new prime suspects in Jason’s death — her parents. But knowing Alice, in particular, was very vocal about wanting to see Jason burn in Hell, why wasn’t she already a prime suspect?

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Elsewhere this week, Archie was taken under Valerie’s wing for some musical tutoring — probably without Josie’s consent — and introduced to a new music teacher who promptly berated him for not spending enough time on his music, therefore he could be of no help to Archie. Dude! He’s a student and a teenager. He doesn’t have 24 hours a day to sit and write music. Of course this shakes Archie’s confidence and he decides to pursue the captain position for the football team, but an injury to his hand and a pep talk from Betty makes Archie realize music is his focal point so he turns down the position and gives it to Reggie! Interestingly, Reggie appeared sympathetic to Archie but didn’t have a problem getting what he truly wanted in the end. But I’m more concerned about Valerie’s motives. Is she really just trying to be a friend? Something about Hayley Law’s performance makes me think she has ulterior motives with Archie. Unfortunately at the moment, the whole Archie story is a bit of a bore. His friends have much more interesting lives now that Miss Grundy is out of the picture.

A little bit of this and that:

  • Did Penelope Blossom actually think someone would stand up at the funeral and reveal themselves as Jason’s killer?
  • Did anyone notice her black robe and red nightgown ensemble arranged to look like a black widow? Could that have been a huge red flag for us to think perhaps she killed her son?
  • And what about Veronica’s and Cheryl’s sleepwear? Pearls and heels? In bed?!
  • The Blossom residence Thornhill reveals a lot of the David Lynch influence the show’s producers have talked about in the past.
  • Archie and Valerie did develop a relationship in the comics in the recent past, so perhaps that’s all that’s going on here. But we still have to wonder what she’s up to.
  • In the comics, Betty’s friend Trev is Valerie’s little brother, and he briefly dated Betty.
  • Why was Grandma Rose Blossom sitting in Jason’s bedroom and not at the funeral? And what’s up with that one red streak of hair in her otherwise white ‘do?
  • What’s really going on with Hermione Lodge and who sent her a package with a rattlesnake, and how will she screw over Fred Andrews now that he’s given her the bookkeeping job?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Could Hal or Alice have killed Jason, or could it have been his own mother? Or was it someone else? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

 

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