I used to love Riverdale. I obsessively binged Season 1, fawning over Jughead’s boyish charms and intrigued by the mysterious fog that often enshrouded the small town. I defended Riverdale well into Season 2, even as Archie cultivated his weird vigilante alter-ego (can you say “boringggg”?) and Cheryl’s bad-assery blended into the background (even though she’s arguably the show’s best character).
But my love is fading, and fast. After last night’s episode—available on Netflix today, though I’m not really sure you *want* to watch for yourself—I can say with certainty that this season is trash. Mark my words: If the next half of the season follows suit, this whole franchise is headed to the poubelle.
An easy place to start this takedown is with the character of Toni Topaz. The Season 2 new arrival was billed as a breakthrough shit-disturber, but she turned out to be a total dud. I wanted so badly for Topaz—who identifies as bisexual and thus, makes up 50 percent of Riverdale’s non-straight population—to shake up the traditional and oh-so-vanilla values of the Northside, hopefully exposing the people of Riverdale to the dangers of their idealistic heteronormative bubble.
The only indication of Topaz’s sexuality comes in one conversation with Jughead at Pop’s. The two spent the previous night necking and nothing else (which is truly unbelievable, but OK), and as they’re discussing the lack of “action,” Topaz says she’s not phased because she’s more interested in girls, anyway. Jughead chuckles at the revelation and that is LITERALLY. IT. Topaz is never seen with a woman, nor is her experience as bisexual ever explored in depth. Is this not the exact definition of tokenism? I’m just sayin’.
And what is going on with Fred Andrews? In the first season, this Riverdaddy was a handsome voice of reason in troubling times. He was the town’s cool dad, guided by a strong moral compass and intent on teaching Archiekins how to be a good person. Then Fred was shot, and his character was instantly reduced to the gunshot wound on his abdomen.
Allow me to explain. Season 2 sees Archie totally spinning out, sent into a state of terrified shock after meeting the Black Hood and watching him shoot his dad. Our redheaded rebel (no, not Cheryl) turns to Jingle Jangle, an under-the-table gun and a legit vigilante group called the Red Circle to deal with the weight of it all, and, amidst his visibly crazed antics, Fred is constantly just sitting in his damned kitchen, shuffling around and asking Archie if he’s OK. Season 1 Fred would’ve never been so blind, amirite?
While I could go on (and on, and on) about all the ways the characters have let me down, I need to talk about the Black Hood reveal in this week’s episode (a.k.a. the mid-season finale). There were so many intelligent, shocking theories about who the Black Hood was. My particular fave—a joint effort between myself and Reddit user
-ICrackers—suggested that Serpent lawyer Penny Peabody was the mastermind behind the Black Hood, with various Serpents donning the hood to do her bidding. While it may have not been super realistic, it definitely had shock value, something the actual Black Hood is completely lacking.
In case you missed it (spoilers ahead!), the Black Hood is Mr. Svenson, the goddamn weirdo janitor who was always silently coming up behind Josie while she practiced her vocals at school after-hours. If you think that’s underwhelming (same same), you are not alone. Half of Twitter thinks this is just a misdirect, which says something about the overall lameness of this season, IMHO.
— Archie Comics (@ArchieComics) December 14, 2017
The Black Hood reveal tonight was … underwhelming? I just expected more of a shock and instead it was ” oh … okay.” I really hope it turns out to be someone else and this is just a misdirect for now. #Riverdale
— Sydney Bucksbaum (@SydneyBucksbaum) December 14, 2017
so that reveal has me feeling like there’s def more than one black hood #Riverdale
— Katie Minard (@KatieMinard) December 14, 2017
Some other issues I’ve had with this season include, but are not limited to:
1/ Alice Cooper being a total enigma (uptight Northside mom by day, Southside Serpent by night? WTH?)
2/ The fact that Polly Cooper fled Riverdale, never to be heard from again
3/ The fact that all the weird shit only happens at night (which is frankly just unrealistic)
4/ That nothing about Cheryl Blossom’s storyline makes sense. Honestly, to all the TV people reading, can we get Cheryl her own show and call it a day?
And don’t even get me started on the Shakespearean moment Jughead sliced off Peabody’s Serpent tattoo. The O.G. Juggie would never be so violent, and I’m frankly not even remotely here for a full on gangster version of his character. He looks much too uncomfortable in a white tank top to be a believable criminal anyways.
All in all, this episode really pissed me off, and I’m going to use this break to reflect on whether or not I can, in good conscience, allow my love for Riverdale to go on.