This week’s movie inspired episode of Riverdale was titled “La Grande Illusion,” taken from a 1937 French film that addressed class relationships among a small group of French POW officers plotting an escape. The film was based on a British book, “The Great Illusion,” which argued that war is futile because of the common economic interests of the European nations. Both of those descriptions aptly fit in with this week’s episode.
Class issues have always been in the forefront of Riverdale, starting at the top with the Blossom family right on down to the downright poverty of the Jones clan. In the small town of Riverdale, the Blossoms hold sway over everyone and everything since the maple syrup war resulted in the death of Betty Cooper’s great-grandfather. But with the death of golden boy Jason Blossom, the heir apparent to the Blossom Maple Syrup empire, the family is finding itself on shaky ground, surrounded by the sharks of their own board looking for any option to take them down.
There was something just a bit — okay, a lot — uncomfortable about the whole Blossom empire story. And perhaps this plays into a question of just where, and when, Riverdale takes place. We assume it takes place in the present day, but this small town seems to be so cut off from the rest of the world that it remain curiously retro right down to how women are viewed. The Blossoms were so counting on Jason to take over the company, that they completely disregard his twin sister Cheryl and no one seems to bat an eye at this blatant sexism.
When it comes time for the annual tapping of the tree to draw the first sap of the season, Cheryl is allowed to perform the duties that would have been handled by her brother … but only with the help of Archie Andrews (and that sight of all the Blossom family and board members dressed in Blossom red against a stark white background of fresh snowfall was quite something). Archie turned her down at first because of his relationship with Val, but Mrs. Blossom persisted, offering Archie the opportunity to attend a prestigious music academy run by a Blossom relative. Seeing as it could do no harm, and clearing it with Val, Archie did what he thought was a favor for Cheryl.
But once the Blossoms had their hooks in Archie, he began to realize he was being captured in a web of deception. But one that he tried to use to his advantage by being in close proximity to Polly Cooper. The last we saw of her, she was breaking her mother’s and sister’s hearts by shunning them for the Blossoms, and at the ceremony she even told Archie to tell Betty to stop contacting her. But Archie was dragged back in to another Blossom function, this time with the gift of an expensive Les Paul guitar (both Jughead and Fred advised Archie to return the “gift” and not sell his soul to the Blossoms), where he finally had a chance to talk with Polly. She informed him that she wasn’t snubbing her family, she was on a fact finding mission to get all the dirt she could on the family, but her family had to stay out of it.
A conversation with Mr. Blossom got mighty uncomfortable for Archie when implications were made that Cheryl could go far in the company with Archie by her side, and he then realized that his dad and friend were right. Archie stood up to Cheryl, but at a great cost to his future. Unfortunately it was too late for his relationship with Val who lost all respect for him “selling out” to the Blossoms. But Archie may have seen a silver lining as Blossom admired that he did stand up to Cheryl (her dad really doesn’t like her) and agreed to lay off of his father’s business. But can you trust a snake? Of course not as Archie overheard Clifford and Penelope Blossom discussing their plans for getting that valuable drive-in property back from Fred and Hermione.
Fred Andrews learned from Hermione that she and her husband were the anonymous buyers of the drive-in property, and that it was actually Hiram who sent the thugs to destroy Fred’s equipment as payback for the relationship with his wife. Fred was about to pull out of his deal with her, but he decided not to … but their relationship was strictly one of business moving forward and he gets a 20% cut of the profits.
And as much as the Blossoms control Riverdale at this point, the Lodges also had more than a few fingers in the pot as Veronica learned from her classmate Ethel Muggs, who read a heartbreaking poem in class that sounded just a bit too real. Ronnie, who has decided to always do good after seeing the results of her own bullying in the past, took Ethel under her wing to see what she could do. Ethel, who somehow does not seem to know Veronica’s last name is Lodge, revealed that her parents are always fighting and it seems to be about their finances. Turns out the Muggses were victims of Lodge’s Ponzi scheme and lost all of their savings, eventually leading to Ethel’s father attempting suicide. After previously being told by her mother that Ronnie may have to bend the facts a bit to get her father out of prison, the reality of what her family has done to the people of Riverdale seems to have given her a new resolve to make him pay for his crimes.
With Veronica on the verge of possible tearing her family apart, Betty is intent on keeping hers together. Before finding out the truth about Polly, Alice planned to write an exposé on the Blossom family and all their dirty dealings. She figured at this point since she’s lost her relationship with Polly, it wasn’t going to hurt. But even after discovering the truth, she wanted to run the story in the local paper (which is run by she and her husband Hal). Hal, however, refuses to run the piece, and fires Alice. Doesn’t look like he’ll be welcome home any time soon. Alice’s response — a brick through the window! Talking with Betty and Jughead, Alice tells how she was so afraid Polly would never come home, and Jughead offers to let Alice tell her story in the school’s paper (did he have to add the dig that the Blue and Gold had a bigger operating budget than her former employer’s?). She accepts.
The episode ended with quite a few tantalizing moments. Veronica confronted Ethel and apologized for her father’s actions. Ethel said Veronica was not responsible for her father’s actions, and that she had been the only person who came to her aid in the past. All she wanted was to be Ronnie’s friend. Meanwhile, Archie told Betty and Jughead that he knows Clifford Blossom orchestrated Hiram Lodge’s arrest, which could mean Hiram ordered Jason’s death as revenge. And speaking of revenge, what is up with Cheryl? The last image we see this week is her sitting on her bed with a large photograph, furiously scribbling over the faces of Archie and Polly with a red sharpie. It’s not going to be good for anyone when she picks up the next issue of the Blue and Gold.
Even with all of the episodes juicy drama there was quite a bit of humor from Cheryl. Like when she called Jughead a hobo! The line of the night though had to be when Cheryl showed up at the Andrews’ home with Archie’s gift:
[blockquote]”Mr. Andrews! Nice haircut. Looking extremely DILF-y today.”[/blockquote]
Next week: Molly Ringwald!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Are the Blossoms responsible for every bad thing that happens in Riverdale? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.