Riverdale Season 1 Episode 9: La Grande Illusion Recap

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This week, we get to know the Blossoms a little better, including their favorite color, Maple Red. We also discover that Archie will probably be able to make it as a gigolo when if his music career doesn’t pan out. Veronica inches closes to truly understanding the impact her family has had on others, and Fred finds out that the job he wanted so badly wasn’t the best deal. He shifts blame, as usual. The real tragedy of the week is that Betty and Jughead are reduced to supporting Alice, Veronica, and Archie in their stories. While Alice does get a few amazing moments, Betty should never have her screen time reduced this way.

Jughead opens his voiceover by reminding us that Riverdale lives and dies by its Blossom Maple Syrup. No matter what the residents think about the Blossoms themselves, they still love the syrup, and eat it by the bucketful. Jason’s death has caused a crisis in the syrup business, though, bringing the entire Blossom extended family, who also serve as the syrup company board, to Riverdale. Cheryl might seem like the obvious heir, but the rest of the family shares Penelope and Clifford’s opinion of her.

Alice interrupts Betty and Jughead during a supportive conversation and make out session to go over her new and exciting, but largely unformed, plan to take down the Blossoms, and possibly a few of the Coopers who aren’t named Betty, Polly, or Alice. It’s an admirable plan, finely targeted at the Cooper who is still technically her husband, and the Blossoms that she’s hated since she was a child. Marital separation agrees with Alice, except for how tired she’s looking. I think that has more to do with Polly choosing to live at the Blossom’s than the loss of Hal, though.

Hermione explains to Veronica that the lawyers will be coming over to take their statements about Hiram. She also summarizes the general state of her story line. Veronica is shocked that Hermione hasn’t told Fred that Lodge Enterprises owns the land he’s working on, and implores Hermione to tell Fred before someone else gets the chance.

Archie is playing guitar in the student lounge when Cheryl finds him there. Cheryl follows her boobs into the room, wearing a tight red sweater and a faux Catholic school uniform skirt. Seeing Archie playing his guitar, she quotes from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on, play on.” The rest of the quote is: “Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die.” Meaning, according to Sparknotes: “If it’s true that music makes people more in love, keep playing. Give me too much of it, so I’ll get sick of it and stop loving.” Which redhead is it she wants to stop loving? Jason, Archie, or both?

Cheryl wants to invite Archie to the Satanic baby sacrificing ritual annual tapping of the first tree of the maple season that the Blossoms hold for their entire family each year. Jason has always been her date, and Archie has been SO KIND to her since Jason died. He turns her down, because he has a girlfriend and he doesn’t want to be Jason for a day. Cheryl explains that she wants Archie to escort her to the event desperately, because he’s such a special and amazing person, absolutely positively not because he’s a redhead who could be her brother’s twin in the right light. That would be creepy.

Ethel reads a poem to the entire class that could have been written by Poe. Ronnie asks Ethel what’s going on with her? Ethel explains that her mom and dad are fighting, and lying to her. Veronica decides to cheer Ethel up by inviting her and a few other friends over for lunch the next day. Ronnie was a vicious mean girl in NYC and wants to make up for it in Riverdale by being nice to marginalized girls.

Archie is accosted by Penelope at the drinking fountain at school. She’s there to bribe Archie into escorting Cheryl to the syrup event. She offers him a family reference that would get him into a prestigious summer music program. Cheryl suddenly becomes irresistible. Archie may be easy, but he does have some standards.

Later, in the student lounge, Archie tells the gang about his new adventure. They have mixed feelings on it. Val has given him the OK. Veronica thinks that using other people, and being used by them, is the way of the world. Betty just wants Archie to check up on Polly while he’s at Thornhill. Jughead thinks it’s the first step in Archie’s career as a gigolo.

Cheryl: “When Jason died, I thought I’d tapped my last tree. Now don’t be nervous. All you have to do is hold this bucket steady. I’ll do the rest.”

The Blossom clan gathers in their matching outfits for their annual tree tapping ceremony. Cheryl and Archie manage to perform the difficult task of driving a spigot into a tree properly, so all will be right in the Blossom world for another year. Huzzah!

Then it’s time for the Blossom family photo, including the entire clan plus Archie. Afterwards, Archie accosts Polly to complain that she hasn’t contacted Betty. No Hello, no How are you doing? for the pregnant girl, just straight into the accusations. Smooth as always. Polly gives him the brush off.

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The Blossom family drools over Archie as a potential new heir for the rest of the day, proving that the only qualifications for leadership in their family are being male and redheaded.

Veronica has Ethel, Betty, and Kevin over for lunch. They commiserate over financial and parental problems, until Hermione realizes that Daddy Hiram caused Ethel’s family’s issues with the scams that put him in prison. Ethel’s family will probably testify against Hiram. Ronnie is upset as she once again realizes that her father is a bad guy. Hermione is shocked at Veronica’s disloyalty to her father.

This episode feels a bit like mob wives of Riverdale.

Hermione finally confesses to Fred that she and Hiram bought the drive in. He’s furious, realizing that he went into business with a criminal, and is caught in a war between Hiram and Clifford Blossom. Not that he asked any questions or cared who the anonymous buyer was before he pursued the contract. Nope. In his mind, Hermione forced this contract on him. He now feels used, instead of grateful for the work and the risk Hermione took to get it for him. Suddenly he feels that he’s doing all of the grunt work, while everyone else makes a profit. Yes, Fred, you are the contractor. The land owner’s motivations and purposes aren’t really your concern or up for your judgement, unless they ask you to break a law, which they haven’t. You were desperate for this contract, and Hermione helped you get it. You don’t get to blame her now because you were naive and didn’t search for more information first. She saved you from financial ruin, you misogynist *ss.

Cheryl tells Betty and Jughead that the doctor has confirmed that Polly is having twins. Cheryl’s riding high on her success with the extended family, and gets pushy with Bughead, calling Jughead a hobo and saying she’ll only pass along messages to Polly if she remembers to. Oh Cheryl, you know this never lasts.

Veronica has Ethel over to bribe her into feeling good with some cast-off designer accessories. Ronnie tells Ethel a story about how her father used to try to buy her forgiveness by bribing her with expensive gifts, like, um, designer accessories. Veronica doesn’t seem to have any sense of self-awareness about this, which is why she gets along so well with Archie. Ethel doesn’t know that she has anything to forgive Veronica for, so she’s happy with friendship.

Cheryl arrives at the Andrews household, announcing that Fred looks DILFy today, she gets claustrophobic in small houses, and she’s brought Archie an expensive vintage guitar in their signature color, Maple Red, as a thank you gift. She’s at the top of her game this week.

Jughead lets Fred know that Archie is making a career as a gigolo. Fred is busy being drunk and bitter that, as a white man, he’s not automatically rich and trouble-free, the way all working class white men are supposed to be. I fully expect to see a Trump 2016 bumper sticker on his truck eventually.

Alice and Betty have written an exposé on the corruption and general sordidness within the Blossom family, in retaliation for the loss of Polly. They take it to the family newspaper to publish, but Hal refuses, and even fires Alice from the paper. It’s like he doesn’t know his wife at all. Alice is so angry that she throws a rock through the glass door of the newspaper office as they’re leaving. She was counting on Polly reading the article, realizing her mistake, and moving back home.

Betty tells Jughead that her family is falling apart, and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. Jughead tells her that she’s the strongest person in her family, and she’s the one holding the family together. She needs to keep being strong and holding them together. He pleads with her not to let go. This is such a disturbing conversation. For one thing, it tells us what role Jughead took on in his own family, and how much he feels like he failed at keeping them together. But it’s also too much responsibility to put on a child. It’s not up to Jughead or Betty to hold their families together, even though it does often fall to the kids to be the heroes who try to keep everyone going in dysfunctional families. Jughead is passing on the unhealthy coping mechanisms he picked up in his own family, and adding to the crushing weight of perfection that Betty carries around. He doesn’t mean to; he’s a victim himself. Between the two of them, Alice is the only one who’s even close to being a responsible parent. Jughead may live at Archie’s house, but Fred avoids parenting him.

Kevin tells Ronnie and Betty that Ethel’s dad tried to kill himself because of his financial ruin. Ronnie is so upset and guilty that she runs into the ladies room to cry, breaking her signature strand of pearls, which was a gift from her father.

Archie attends the Blossom family banquet wearing the dinner jacket that Clifford had tailored specifically for him. Clifford is so impressed with Archie that he makes an offer to straight up buy Archie as Cheryl’s permanent partner, with the expectation that they would someday run the company together.

Polly interrupts Clifford’s pitch for a dance with Archie. She wants Betty to stop trying to contact her, because Polly is only staying with the Blossoms while she investigates Jason’s murder herself. Cheryl and Clifford have an argument, and Cheryl storms away.

Betty and Veronica bring flowers to Ethel and her mother at the hospital. Veronica confesses that she is the daughter of Hiram Lodge. Ethel’s mother responds angrily. Ethel doesn’t completely understand. Veronica goes home and tells her mother that she’s done lying for her father.

Archie follows Cheryl outside. He tries to cheer her up. Cheryl kisses him with her Maple Red flavored lipstick. She tells him that he’s the only person who doesn’t want something from her, then walks away.

Archie overhears Clifford and Penelope talking outside. They mention sending Hiram Lodge to jail. Archie tries to leave the party. Cheryl stops him, because she needs him to prop up her position within the family some more. She reminds him that he’ll lose all of the favors that the Blossoms have promised him if he bails on her. Archie leaves anyway, trying to pretend that he wasn’t there for the favors he was receiving in payment. He’s already lost Val over it.

Betty and Jughead find Alice drinking alone at her kitchen table. Betty tells her that Polly told Archie that she’s only at the Blossoms so that she can investigate Jason’s murder. Alice sobs with relief. Polly will be their inside man with the Blossom investigation. Betty and Jughead convince Alice to come work on the school newspaper with them.

Archie catches up with Val the next morning and tries to win her back. She’s not interested, and can’t be bought.

Fred and Hermione renegotiate their personal and business relationships the next day. Fred takes the opportunity to stop dating Hermione, in favor of extorting a 20% share of the profits out of her. He unironically tells her that everything will be completely legal from now on, which has already been Hermione’s policy on this project all along. Until the extortion, that is.

Ethel tells Veronica that she just wants to be friends, regardless of what goes on between their parents.

Archie tells Bughead about the conversation between Clifford and Penelope that he overheard. Hiram Lodge is added to the Murder Board suspect list.


 

WTF, maple syrup season is in the spring, not fall, when the sap runs so that the trees can grow leaves and wake up from winter. What kind of bizarro world is this?

Do the Blossoms have their own private clothing line at LLBean, where everything is in Blossom Red, Disappointment Blue, Hunting Family Enemies Down Plaid, or I Will Eat Your Liver Brown?

Polly is in the classic Gothic novel Jane Eyre, as we already knew. But now Cheryl is being positioned as the vengeful, crazy relative, while Polly is the naive, innocent heroine.

Ethel’s poem was so very Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve been waiting for the prophecy that something worse would happen, that was made at the end of the slut shaming episode, to come true. This episode might have been what Jughead meant, but it doesn’t seem like it. I think that Ethel might take some revenge on Veronica. Full dark, no stars. Quoth the raven, nevermore.

I am so proud of Val for breaking up with Archie. It didn’t take her long to get his number. Unfortunately, that probably means we’ll see even less of her. Josie has already been MIA for weeks now.

Veronica is finally getting the awakening that I wanted. It’s going to take more than one episode to really get through to her though. She understands the idea of what her father did to hurt people, but it will be easy for her to brush it off and move on, as it stands now. She still hasn’t had it driven home in a visceral way that will humble her and stay with her.

No Skeet FP Jones or Joaquin this week. This, and the lack of Bughead, is a sure sign of TOO MUCH ARCHIE. Please show, he’s not the titular character, back off again. Literally everyone is more interesting than him. If Greg Berlanti’s influence takes this show in the direction that The Flash and Arrow are going, with self-absorbed, misogynist young men getting too much focus (in the form of Barry and René; Oliver Queen doesn’t have a misogynist bone in his body), I’ll be out of here.

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