It’s a night of break ups in this week’s Riverdale episode, “Chapter Twenty-One: House of the Devil.” The episode feels a bit awkward, with the sexualization of Betty, but the investigation of the mysterious murder house on the edge of the forest, Veronica’s realization about her romantic hang-ups, and FP’s return to Riverdale from jail are all dynamic aspects that the playoff well in the show.
I actually think the show would do well to lean into the suspense and horror genres more with the investigation of the Black Hood and possible cold cases he could be tied to. It would make the show more intriguing and give it a specific direction to shoot for. Right now, the show feels a bit like it’s bouncing around, trying to find the right balance between too many things, and coming out looking like one of those ugly 80s patchwork cardigan sweaters you can sometimes find in your local thrift store.
I also think prioritizing relationship drama next to the season arc mystery, and cutting out the longer dwelling bits involving singing, dancing, or risque depictions of teenagers (am I starting to sound like a church-going grandma?) Would help hone the emotional payoff. Right now, where this episode ends, I don’t feel the degree of sadness, or intrigue, or even possible excitement that the show likely wants me to feel. Instead, I’m a little bit indifferent. I’m even indifferent to Jughead and Betty’s break up, and you know something is wrong when I’m not sad that Bughead might have met its end for the second time.
I guess I’ve been waiting for Bughead’s break up to happen, though. As much as I think Bughead is a perfect pair, we all knew that the show would eventually try to put Archie and Betty together. And now that both of their relationships have simultaneously gone up in flames, it seems that the show has finally started to set us on that path. Now, whether we get there in the next episode or two seasons from now remains to be seen.
Another reason the show should cut out the fluff and really dive into the inner emotional character turmoil: the stuff between Jughead and FP is just so good. You can’t say you wouldn’t watch an entire episode that was literally just Jughead and FP trying to navigate their familial relationship while dealing with all these outside forces trying to pull them apart. It’s TV gold in terms of conflict, sympathy, and story engine. Honestly, an entire show just about that would still be great to watch. Who needs Betty dancing around a pole (because that wasn’t really pole dancing, people) when you could just watch Jughead unintentionally make the same mistakes his dad made, and his dad try to save him by sacrificing himself in his place? As the priest in The Princess Bride would say, “Twoo wuv.”
Finally, let’s talk about the development of this connection between the cold case years ago and the Black Hood now. Archie and Veronica go back to the house where the Black Hood had Betty come earlier in the season, and investigate the mysterious and unsolved murders of four of the five family members that lived there back in the 60s. They discover all of the notes on the case have been kept there, as they learned previously that the case files were missing from the sheriff’s office, and the sheriff didn’t seem too concerned about it.
With a little bit of investigative work, Archie and Veronica are able to discover that the surviving boy of the family murders is actually the janitor working at the school. The one who Josie seems to be good friends with. He tells Archie and Veronica that he had some men kill the murderous conman – a guy posing a priest who had been passing through town – and then moved on with his life after he had received justice for his family.
After looking into the man’s eyes, Archie is sure that he isn’t the Black Hood, but how is he connected? Or is the janitor connected at all? Is he simply another red herring, and the Black Hood just happens to be obsessed with the cold case? Or perhaps the Black Hood sent Betty and Jughead down this false connection as a way to trip them up in their investigation. Who knows? I suppose we’ll have to keep watching to find out the real answers.
Season 2, Episode 8 (S02E08)
Riverdale airs Thursdays at 9PM on The CW
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
Keep up with all of Tasha’s reviews here.
Tasha Cerny | Contributor