Riverdale, Season 1 Episode 8 Review
So it’s been three weeks off for the Riverdale crew, to allow the show run in its normal timeslot without being preempted by college basketball. Now that the NCAA tournament is just about over, we’re back to the CW’s own brand of March Madness - courtesy of the Blossoms, the Coopers, the Southside Serpents, and Archie Andrews’ male ego.
The characters in this iteration of the Archieverse don’t have a lot in common with their comic book counterparts, except names and some broad underlying themes. One theme is that Archie is a klutz and a complete manwhore, but with a heart of gold. That came out last night in the form of not only showing up with his friends to helps his dad break ground on a new construction project, but also in his decision to go confront the goons he assumes attacked Moose at the job site. The title of the episode was “The Outsiders”, and as in that classic teen film, it’s made clear here why it’s a bad idea to be a “soc” in a “greaser” bar. The minute Archie walked into that Serpent hangout wearing his RHS letter jacket, I knew the boys were in for trouble. I was not disappointed.
What does disappoint me, however, is the dysfunction surrounding poor. preggers Polly Cooper and her rich, terrible family - and her even-richer, way crazier almost in-laws. Watching the Blossom women ooze their way into Polly’s baby shower made it perfectly clear that the Southside Serpents aren’t the only snakes in the grass in Riverdale. But I will give credit where it’s due; Alice Cooper has a mama bear side that’s only been hinted at, and it was a joy to see in the one scene she shared last night with Hal.
I’m also just dying to have all the secrets out in the open; surely Veronica knows that her daddy is behind the purchase of the land that used to hold the drive-in theater. Why on earth wouldn’t she spill that to Archie, or at least Betty and Jughead? She may come from money, but she’s clearly not as terrible as the rest of Riverdale’s 1%, and seems just as eager as the rest of the gang to help Polly and find out who did in Jason Blossom. I was also amazed yet again at the sheer, “iron fist in a velvet glove” awesomeness that is Betty Cooper. She went with Jughead to meet his dad, talked to him in an amazingly friendly way, and forgave Juggy for hiding his dad’s Serpent ties practically on the spot. And then she shamed her mom into acting like an actual parent to her sister, which just made Polly’s ultimate decision about where to call home all the more heartbreaking.
The final MVP award of the night for acting goes to Skeet Ulrich as the leader of the Southside Serpents, and Jughead’s ne’er-do-well dad, FP. He gets a head start with me for having a strong physical resemblance to a man I used to love and who died too young. But more than that, Ulrich is accomplished at saying a million things with just his eyes and face, and he plays incredibly well off Cole Sprouse as Jughead. I know it’ll never happen, but their chemistry makes me pine for a time that Jug and FP can make their relationship work again. I’m also looking forward to seeing what will come of FP showing up to “help” Fred Andrews with his construction project. Popcorn, anyone? Dis gon’ be good!