Riverdale Season 1 Analysis and Review and Season 2 Speculation

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Overall, this has been a great season on Riverdale, with a complex overarching plot and characters. I’ve enjoyed recapping it and keeping up with all of the literary references, which added a fun depth to the show. I now jump every time someone makes a reference on any show I watch, and assume it will have importance that spans the rest of the season. This doesn’t always pan out.

The cast are all amazing, especially Lili Reinhart, Cole Sprouse, Mädchen Amick, Skeet Ulrich, Madeleine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, and Luke Perry. They all dominate the scenes they are in. Even though Fred Andrews is one of my least favorite characters, Luke Perry is still a great actor. All of these actors, and many of the others, have given their characters mystery and nuance, even if they didn’t necessarily get much screen time, in the case of some that I didn’t list, like Ashleigh Murray, the actress who plays Josie McCoy.

The Gothic strand of the show’s story seems to be over, but I hope they keep the Noir aspect for the entirety of their run, and add in other genres to explore. This show would be so much less interesting if it was just about a group of small town high school kids. The creepy otherworldly atmosphere, the dark, seedy Noir lighting, Jughead’s voiceovers, read as if from a murder mystery novel that’s steeped in his existential alienation, and the costumes and sets that seem to be from someplace frozen in time, are all what make this show feel so unique.

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Riverdale Season 1 Chapter 11: To Riverdale and Back Again Recap

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It’s Homecoming weekend in Riverdale. The Riverdale Bulldogs will be playing their archrivals, the Baxter High Ravens, Poe’s symbol of loss and desperation. Riverdale still wants to appear like an idyllic little town, but the battle with its darker side continues. The overall themes of the episode are homecoming, reunion, nostalgia, and commitment. Home is a place of love and family, but it can also be a dangerous place, where people get hurt and evidence of the family’s crimes gets hidden.

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Riverdale Season 1 Episode 10: The Lost Weekend Recap

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This week is all about chaos vs control. Jughead is so discombobulated that he can’t even come up with a literary reference in his opening voice over, unless we count the numerous dystopian novels with the theme of societal control. Jughead definitely thinks he’s in a dystopian novel this week. We get the literary theme of the The Three/Four Musketeers from Betty and Archie, instead.

Jughead’s birthday is this weekend. He prefers to celebrate quietly and barely acknowledge it. The gang has other ideas.

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Riverdale Season 1 Episode 13: The Sweet Hereafter/Season Finale Recap

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Riverdale begins and ends its season finale with a cliff hanger. Yes, Jughead went there. He acknowledges that we’re in the Agatha Christie novel that we’ve been in all along, with a complicated drug and murder conspiracy that ultimately touched the whole town. Jughead and Alice narrate the series of events that lead to multiple deaths, then the episode follows the continuing fall out of those deaths.

The facts as they are currently accepted: The maple syrup was a front for a heroin transport business. Jason found out about the drugs and threatened to expose Cliff. Mustang kidnapped Jason on Cliff’s orders, then Cliff murdered Jason. Cliff killed Mustang so that he couldn’t talk, and left the bag of money implicating Hiram. Clifford then coerced FP Jones into confessing to the murder by threatening to kill Jughead, even though all FP had done was clean up the aftermath and dispose of the body.

The sheriff really is clueless, having had no idea about the drugs, or any of it. I’d thought he was on the Blossom payroll, or possibly a Blossom himself, since his prematurely gray hair matched Clifford’s, but he seems to just go through life turning a blind eye to things he doesn’t want to see, which is almost anything that would implicate a wealthy, influential member of the community. The only way the murder was solved was because the kids wouldn’t let it go.

The mayor has the same philosophy as the sheriff, obviously. They decide a crackdown on the local drug trade is in order. Since the Riverdale police force clearly doesn’t have a single investigator that knows what they’re doing, the sheriff turns to FP. The Serpents are the obvious target for the police, being their usual suspects. If FP names some names, he’ll get a reduced sentence, the mayor and the sheriff get to claim they’ve taken action, and everyone is happy. Except the people who are wrongly imprisoned, and FP, when the Serpents retaliate, but who cares about some lowlife Serpents when there’s fake justice to be had, right?

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Riverdale Season 1 Episode 12: Anatomy of a Murder Recap

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This week on Riverdale, Jason Blossom’s murderer is revealed, leaving us with several new mysteries to be solved. We say goodbye to several characters, and discover new links between some characters. All in all, you can feel this season winding down, and the set up for season two beginning.

This episode begins moments after the last episode ended. FP has just been arrested for the murder of Jason Blossom, based on an anonymous tip that led to Sheriff Keller searching the Jones trailer and finding the murder weapon in a lock box stashed in a closet. Archie and Veronica find Betty at Pops and tell her that the gun wasn’t in the trailer when they searched it earlier that evening. The trailer is so small that they couldn’t have missed it. It was planted there in between their search and the Sheriff’s. They decide to tell their parents, rather than the sheriff, because Archie is sure his dad will know what to do. I’m not sure what show Archie’s been watching, but I haven’t seen Fred take care of a problem with a solution more creative than sending Archie to his room.

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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.

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Riverdale Season 1 Chapter Eight: The Outsiders Recap

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This week’s episode centers around Polly, finally in Riverdale, available to tell her side of the story, and to give the Blossoms and the Coopers a chance to fight over her in person. Jughead references The Stepford Wives in his opening voice over. There are two facets to the story of The Stepford Wives at play here. The first goal is turning all of the wives into perfect clones that fit the exact parameters of societal and male ideals of perfection, which is done by replacing them with androids. The second goal is finding the wives with secrets and intelligence, and moving them to the top of the replacement list. So many secrets are revealed in this episode, and so many characters try to control and manipulate other characters. Too many for me to list in what has become a very long recap.

Jughead tells us in his opening voiceover that Alice and Hal Cooper were high school sweethearts who got married and had two beautiful daughters. Their lives appeared perfect until Polly got pregnant and Jason was murdered.

Then Jughead recounts a summary of Polly and Jason’s history together. None of the information is new, but we do see new footage while he talks, including a conversation between them in the school hall with Polly in her cheerleader uniform, an argument at Pop’s, Nana Rose giving them her engagement ring, and the two of them at Pop’s while making plans to run away. Jughead is sitting across the aisle from them, looking bored as he watches.

Polly is sitting in Hermione’s living room, telling her story to Sheriff Keller. She tells him that the last time she saw Jason was the day that they made plans at Pop’s. Jason was going to make a one-time drug delivery upstate in order to raise the funds for he and Polly to run away together. He made a deal with the Serpents to deliver the drugs in exchange for cash. The drugs burned up in Jason’s car, along with the ring, and everything else she had to remember him by. Hermione stops the interview when Polly gets upset.

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Riverdale Season 1 Chapter Seven: A Lonely Place Recap

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This week we are in a Wes Craven movie, among other things. I really wanted Jughead’s new home to mean that he’s Harry Potter, but Wes Craven has a movie called The People Under the Stairs, so that interpretation has to win out. For now. Not giving up completely on the idea of the Blossoms as the anti-Weasleys.

Jughead starts his voiceover musing on what makes a place feel like home. Warmth, familiarity, love, safety, acceptance, an idealized version of the American Dream? While he’s speaking, we see him sitting in a “typical” mid 20th century American kitchen with the Coopers, Jason Blossom, and Veronica. Jughead looks disturbed every time he notices something new in the scenario. Everyone else is blissfully happy. The room looks like something out of a Wes Anderson movie. Hal hands Jughead the utensils to carve the turkey that’s on the table. Jughead looks over to see his dad alone in a dark, messy living room watching TV. The knife disappears and Archie comes over to ask why Jughead stabbed him in the back. Sure enough, that’s where the knife is.

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Riverdale Season 1 Chapter One: The River’s Edge

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Riverdale is the new CW Twin Peaks lite teen mystery drama from Greg Berlanti, of the DC Berlantiverse, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, writer for Glee, Big Love, Supergirl, Marvel Comics, and Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics. The adult cast is stocked with veterans of teen and science fiction shows, such as Molly Ringwald, Skeet Ulrich, Luke Perry, Robin Givens, and Tom McBeath. One, Mädchen Amick, is an actual Twin Peaks cast member. So, the show starts with a great resume and critics have given the pilot great reviews. For myself, I’m a little burned out on high school dramas after five years of The Vampire Diaries and having been one of the few who stuck with Glee until the bitter, bitter end. I loved Twin Peaks way back when, though, and I do still love a good twisted, quirky, potential cult show in the making. So, what the heck, let’s give it a shot.

They start right off with their homage to Twin Peaks. This not a coincidence:

The settings for both shows are very similar, small towns in the Pacific Northwest where nature is still rugged and wild. The rivers rush, the mist creeps, the mountains loom, and the forests are dark and dense with towering, dripping evergreens. This is not a place where man has tamed nature. The outdoors is a character, and potentially a villain.

In fact, Jughead, our narrator, begins by telling us about the mysterious death of Jason Blossom, the Laura Palmer of Riverdale. Kudos to everyone involved for not making him a blonde female. The Blossom twins, Jason and his sister Cheryl, who are both redheads, drive out to Sweet Water River dressed in white and holding hands, to take an early morning boat ride on July 4th. Nothing unusual in that, right? Before they get in the boat, Cheryl asks Jason if he’s scared. Jason shakes his head no. They get into the boat, and Jason rows them out into the middle of the water, while Cheryl sits with her gloved hands primly in her lap. Moments later, a gunshot fireworks thunder loud sound is heard.

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