When we last left Riverdale and its small-town of horrors behind, the characters were dealing with deep personal conflicts.
Betty and Jughead were at odds with each other – cause and effect of his joining the Southside Serpents. Veronica finally immersed herself in her parents’ shady dealings and almost broke up with Archie when the latter let those ‘Three Little Words’ slip.
Jughead freed himself and the Southside Serpents from the drug-runner Penny but went full-blown Kevin Khatchadourian in the process. And Betty and Archie finally caught the Black Hood (none other than Mr Svenson, the school janitor!) but not before sharing an emotional kiss.
Regardless of the secret acts and plots (or all of the above), Riverdale has returned to its quiet sleepy self. All the murders and family dysfunction have left Riverdale completely aware of the town’s shadows and ripe tensions; this unease comes to a boiling point when Principal Weatherbee announces that Southside High School will be shutting down and some of the Serpents will be transferring to Riverdale High. The ‘official’ reason being that of toxic fumes and hazards from the school’s drug labs, but we soon discover that the real reason is a deal the Mayor struck with the Lodges – the plot thickens on Hiram’s SoDale project…
This new assimilation of Southside students into Riverdale High splits the school in half, with the Serpents fighting for their personal freedoms while Weatherbee and the Bulldogs (still holding grudges) try to integrate them with a ‘Submit or Die’ mindset.
Things are worse for Betty, as she finds out her sister Polly, not wanting her overzealous parents to be involved in her children’s lives, has had her twins in secret and has left the house for good. This prompts her to find her long-lost brother, Chic (played by Hart Denton) only to find that not only is he reluctant to ‘come home’, but he may have some twisted secrets of his own.
But the driving force of this episode comes from Archie’s side of the court when he is suddenly approached by Special Agent Adams of the FBI, who wants him to be his inside man on an investigation into the Lodge family, starting with the circumstances of Nick St. Clair’s ‘accident’ back in early Season 2.
Here it is: The Black Hood is dead and family in-fighting has been minimal, but Riverdale is still an un-lit powder keg. This episode delivered on some questions and scenarios most people only theorised on back a season ago. How would the Riverdale and Southside High school kids get along in the same place? Will the Coopers ever be reunited with their long lost son? Well, these questions alone have probably given us a taste of what to expect for the rest of the season.
This episode may have had a lot of conflicts, but some of it was misplaced and underused. The Betty and Archie hook-up was all but completely discontinued and unmentioned this episode, a plot point that could have added some more (believable) drama, as well as hearkened to that infamous love triangle the Archie Comics are so well known for.
Another mixed element his episode was the introduction of Chic Cooper, Betty’s long-lost brother. While his character introduction was fairly solid, his whole ‘adoptive child secretly a sociopath’ thing is a bit of a cliche. Here’s hoping newcomer actor Hart Denton can break the clay there.
I give this episode 4/5 Chics