RIVERDALE Review: “Chapter Nineteen: Death Proof”

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Riverdale reveals it can be full of surprises in this week’s episode, “Chapter Nineteen: Death Proof.” In what amounts to be the strongest episode of the season thus far, the show wraps up most of the threads left open from last week’s episode – including a few I wasn’t expecting the show to wrap up quite as quickly. But, seeing as Bughead is back together (spoiler alert!) I can’t complain.

A lot is covered in this episode. We pick up where last week’s episode left off, with pretty much everyone in a sad state. Betty continues to be haunted by the Black Hood, Jughead is dealing with the Serpents and Toni, Veronica is haunted by her history with Nick St. Clair, and Cheryl struggles to cope with being drugged by Nick and sold out by her mother. Oh, and Archie is alive and well, thanks for asking.

However, all of that build up at the end of the last episode – all of the turmoil and drama that we were left clinging to, waiting for answers in this week’s episode, all of that was pretty much wiped away and resolved within the first half of this episode. And nothing too complicated or difficult to achieve, either – this show has always had a tendency to hold fast to the idea that any issue can be resolved by explanation. And that’s just what happens here. Betty explains to Veronica (and then, much later in the episode, to Jughead) why she cut them out of her life. She feels safe betraying the Black Hood’s commands because she’s also called the farm where Polly is staying and gotten them to agree to hide Polly away for a while.

Also suddenly being explained away is Toni’s budding friendship/relationship with Jughead. In last week’s episode, Toni made a move on Jughead after he and Betty broke up, which was totally to be expected, seeing as Toni has displayed signs of jealousy anytime Betty was with Jughead up to this point. In this episode, she wakes up at Jughead’s trailer, and we as an audience naturally assume the two slept together, though, as we later find out over a Pop’s milkshake, it was nothing more than some “PG13 groping.” Then Toni goes on to add that she’s more into women, anyways.

Okay. Well. This is where the show really surprised me. I had expected that the Toni-Jughead-Betty triangle would go on for at least another few episodes. But it’s as though the show was building to that, and then, in this episode, decided, “nah, I think we’re good” and simply unraveled all of the drama it had developed thus far.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super glad to see Bughead is alive and well. I also doubt that the Toni-Jughead friendship/relationship thing is completely over (at least, not in terms of causing roadblocks with Bughead). And, I’ll be excited to see more of a bi Toni attempting to find love at Southside High. But the drama does feel a little deflated.

I have to give the show credit, though, for not sticking to the obvious story arcs and conventions. As strange as it is to watch this show take what feels like a left turn, it’s also refreshing. It keeps the show exciting and keeps us guessing as we watch.

And, I have to say, Betty’s character transformation at the end of this episode makes the entire show. Her courage and brilliance at finding a workaround to stand up to the Black Hood was incredibly cool. Though I should point out that, even though Betty did find out the identity of the Sugarman (I totally guessed it was Jughead’s teacher after the newspaper scene, but whatever) it was really Cheryl who put in all the work to uncover his identity. Betty simply asked Cheryl one question and then Cheryl practically did the rest. So maybe Betty’s a little bit overconfident about her ability to figure out the identity of the Black Hood, but that’s okay. She scares the Black Hood into hanging up and that’s really what’s important at the moment. 

Also, let’s all give a big shoutout to the writers for finding a way to incorporate Betty working on cars this season. They could include an episode that’s literally just Betty working at a mechanic shop and I would love every second of it. Betty and cars make great TV, don’t ask me why.

So, now that Bughead is back together, the Sugar Man has been arrested (and shot by the Black Hood – at least, that’s what the episode suggests), the Ghoulies have been arrested for street racing, Nick St. Clair has been in a car crash that will take him months to recover from, and Betty is no longer under the thumb of the Black Hood, what’s next? We’ll have to wait for the next episode to find out.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 2, Episode 6 (S02E06)
Riverdale airs Thursdays at 9PM on The CW

Read all of our reviews of Riverdale here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


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.

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