Riverdale has never been one to shy away from strange presentation, but the odd format of this episode really took the cake.
Past episodes of Riverdale have been linear – as much as a teen murder mystery can be – but this episode took a much more Pulp Fiction-esque approach. The plot took place across three stories, leaving the audience to put the pieces together.
The first story centres around Jughead and Archie, the former discovering that his father has been brutally beaten in prison and the only way to get him out is to cash in his favour to the Serpents’ de facto legal expert, ‘Snake Charmer’ Penny. She tells the two boys to deliver a crate of ‘pancake batter’ to Greendale, only for their car to break down and a deer hunter to take them the rest of the way. This hunter, a fire and brimstone God-fearer, tells Jughead that the Black Hood’s zealotry and motives were similar to another serial killer, the Riverdale Reaper, who slaughtered an entire family with a shotgun years ago and disappeared.
After the creepiest car ride ever, Jughead and Archie finally deliver the crate, only to find out that Penny has an ulterior motive – and a video tape to blackmail them.
The atmosphere was crafted chillingly and exquisitely. From the eerie town of Greendale to the terrifying deer hunter, the crate’s contents and the grim tale of the Riverdale Reaper, we’ve finally returned to the nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat tension of season 1!
The episode also had a real ‘You Reap What You Sow’ vibe to it, and hearkened back to FP’s warning about Penny and her blank checks. The ending of this episode has certainly set up future conflict between Jughead, the Serpents and Penny for the rest of the season, something I hope they follow through with.
The second story revolves around Cheryl and Josie, whose relationship has greatly improved following the latter’s saving Cheryl from Nick St. Clair’s rape attempt. To repay the ‘debt’ she feels she owes Josie, Cheryl has been arranging her saviour with interviews across the state with profound musical institutions. Unfortunately, the deal is hindered by Josie’s reluctance to leave the Pussycats behind and the advances of fellow student Chuck Clayton.
Chuck, as fans of the previous season would know, conspired with his football teammates to make a ‘Bingo Book’ that earned the team members an allotted amount of points depending on the girls they slept with. Josie, friends with many of the girls in the Bingo Book, is hesitant to give Chuck the time of day, but is won over by his promises that he has changed. Unfortunately, Cheryl and Josie’s mother, Mayor McCoy come between the two, some taking more drastic actions to separate them than others…
After the darkness of the previous story, this one was a welcome breath of air. True, the pseudo
Romeo and Juliet themes between Josie and Chuck were a little predictable, but it gave some refreshing character arcs and tensions to Josie, the Pussycats and Chuck, characters which have been somewhat left behind this season. Many have criticized Riverdale for its failure to explore supporting characters. Let’s hope that the showrunners take the opportunity to make up for these shortcomings.
The third and final story involves the exploits of Betty and Veronica investigating the Black Hood’s identity, with Sheriff Keller being the name on Betty’s mind. Why has the Sheriff been so inefficient at stopping the Black Hood? How was the Black Hood able to murder someone imprisoned in the Sheriff’s own lockup? Combine that with Kevin’s discovering his dad sneaking out at night, it’s no wonder Betty is sus. Betty ends up investigating Keller however nothing shady turns up. Keller is predictably innocent, but only of being the Black Hood, showing us that many other secrets are still buried in Riverdale.
Whilst not a great standalone story, the tale of Betty and Veronica gave some more screen time to our favourite ‘detective’ Betty, some BxV action, an investigation into the Keller/Black Hood fan theory and some serious DILF shirtless shots of the Sheriff. Absolutely no complaints from us.
Overall, episode seven of seemed more of a placeholder than an actual episode in terms of plot. It focused on the nitty-gritty of the cast’s relationships, skills and personal lives than anything else. But considering all the dark stuff going on this season, this breath of fresh air was a warm welcome and I sincerely hope we can see some more of this development with the secondary cast in future instalments.
I give this episode 3.5/5 Riverdale Reapers