Riverdale heads down a dark path

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We’re at the halfway point for Riverdale‘s second season and the show is really taking a disturbing turn. I mean, the first season was all about the death of Jason Blossom, of course, and while the resolution to that was quite a shock, the season still managed to balance the light and dark aspects of the story. But this season, it seems that even the residents of Riverdale are realizing their little town isn’t as idyllic as they wanted to believe it is. People say don’t go to Greendale after midnight? It’s looking more and more like Greendale would be a vacation compared to Riverdale, particularly with the town’s history being exposed.

I think since season one, we’ve assumed that Riverdale was basically founded by the Blossom family due to its maple trees and easy access to Sweetwater River. In this week’s episode, we see the town preparing to celebrate its “real” founder, General Augustus Pickens. But Cheryl Blossom has been petitioning for years to have the town recognize her ancestor, Colonel Barnabas B. Blossom as the actual founder of the town because he was the one who bankrolled Pickens.

And then we find out what bankrolling Pickens really meant — genocide. Blossom wanted possession of those maple trees, so he paid Pickens to wipe out the indigenous Uktena tribe, men, women and children. The few survivors of the slaughter were actually the founding members of the Serpents. Cheryl is horrified when she learns the truth, but her mother is pretty matter-of-fact about it. Without the slaughter, the Blossoms would not be where they are today (or at least where they were before her husband murdered their son and then committed suicide). The Blossoms owned everything in Riverdale at one time, including the brothel and she is apparently carrying on that part of the family business now.

Uncovering this truth sent Jughead on a mission to expose the town for what it is, taking it upon himself to interview Toni’s grandfather because no one has heard this story before. Toni tells him it’s the usual whitewashing of history, but he ruffles quite a few feather when he published his story. Toni tells Juggie that this was not his story to tell, and he had to apologize to her grandfather. The result however is a silent protest at the Founder’s Day celebration with the Serpents trying to put a spotlight on this celebration of murder (Jughead wasn’t too happy either that the Serpents were invited to the celebration only to work as security). But Hiram Lodge quickly grabs the spotlight and effectively silences the Serpents yet again. But at the end of the episode, Sheriff Keller and the Mayor find the statue of Pickens has been decapitated, with red pain running down the body like blood. Hiram suggests it was the Serpents doing, making a war inevitable. Of course it isn’t the Serpents, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lodge paid someone to commit the act to start a war and make it easier to acquire that South Side land he wants so badly.

But the Mayor seems to be on to the Lodges, bugging out when she discovers Josie is planning to perform with Veronica at the celebration. Revealing just enough unsavory information to her daughter, Josie pulls out of the performance with Veronica. When Hermione finds out, she plans to set the Mayor straight … but the last time someone crossed a Lodge (Nick, for instance), it didn’t end so well for them. Could the Mayor be facing a similar accident, or perhaps just a competitor come the next election? Veronica gets her own revenge on Josie by reforming Josie’s band, now Veronica and the Pussycats. Nothing seems to have cut Josie deeper than that did.

And what about Archie and Hiram and the FBI agent? Okay, first of all, I’m not entirely convinced this guy is really with the FBI. Would there really be one lone agent coming to town to follow Archie around and then ask him to spy on Hiram? I’m not buying it, but Archie is and he needs to get in good with his girlfriend’s father. While Archie is preparing to try out for the basketball team, he learns that Hiram was the school’s star wrestler and decides taking up wrestling would be the best way to impress Hiram. It doesn’t go so well with Archie being humiliated at the tryouts by … Kevin Keller. But Kevin takes Archie under his wing (and Hiram also takes an opportunity to humiliate Archie when showing the squad his signature move) and the teen actually wins a match, impressing Hiram enough to offer Archie an apprenticeship. Nothing good will come of this.

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And then there’s the story of Chic. Alice is thrilled to have her son back but Hal is less so, telling the boy at breakfast that he’s just a substitute for Polly. Chic tells Hal that he doesn’t intend to not pay his way, but he refuses to discuss his work. Betty is intrigued, however, when Chic mentions the scars he has and she’s eager to compare them. He’s not however, but he does tell her that he does the same digging of the nails into his palm that she does.

When Alice, Betty and Chic go to the Pickens’ Day celebration, Hal says he has some chores to do but what he actually does is go through Chic’s room and snoops around on his laptop (actually an old laptop Betty gave him since his landlord at his previous residence took all of his belongings to pay for the rent). Hal is not happy to find out about Chic’s webcam business, but Alice doesn’t want to hear about it. Betty is still in the dark, but Kevin realized he recognized Chic from somewhere and revealed Chic’s secret to her. Instead of being appalled, she was intrigued and Chic even agreed to talk with her about it, opening the door for Dark Betty to return. But the biggest question is what is Hal’s beef with the boy? We know he tried to pay for Alice to have an abortion, so we have to wonder if Chic is in fact not his son. Could Jughead have a half-brother he never knew about?

There was so much going on this week that Archie never did have time to ask the FBI agent about the Black Hood again, but looking more closely at Betty’s father’s eyes this week, I’m 100% certain that he is the killer and I’m sure he will return at some point before the end of the season. What say you?

Probably the biggest surprise of this week’s episode though is the director, Greg Araki. Araki made a name for himself with such teen-angst films as The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin and Kaboom, and has segued into television directing with episodes of American Crime and 13 Reasons Why, so if Riverdale is going to go down a dark path with its teenaged characters, Araki is the one to lead them. But is it getting too dark?

What did you think of this episode? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

 

 

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