Riverdale – “Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle”

Riverdale returns from its mid-season break.  We last left this brooding band of high schoolers with Jughead becoming a full member of the Serpents, Veronica wanting a role in the family business, and Betty and Archie thinking that they had killed the Black Hood Killer.  Being that it was the mid-season finale, I had my doubts that they had really gotten the killer. There were 3 main story lines running through this episode:  Southside High gets closed and some of the Serpent students come to Riverdale, Archie is recruited by an FBI agent, and Betty looks for her long, lost brother.  Let’s start with Jughead and the Serpents.

So, Southside high is being closed in the middle of the school year.  The excuse is that there was a meth lab in the basement, and it was just too dangerous to continue to have school in the building.  I mean, it’s not like you could ever completely clean out a lab and make it safe again.  Think of the children.  Sure, there wasn’t a meth lab down there to begin with, but that’s not important.  Actually, it’s very important.  You see, the Lodges (Veronica’s parents) are working with the Mayor and buying the property around the school.  Veronica knows this, and it’s her mission to help smooth the transition while also not reveal that she knew it was happening.  Oh the subterfuge.

Some Serpents, including Jughead, end up at Riverdale, and of course there are conflicts with the preppy students at Riverdale, because it’d be more surprising if there weren’t any conflicts. Also, more boring.  Eventually, Principal Weatherby comes down on the Serpents, making them remove all gang related paraphernalia.  Jughead is the one that doesn’t comply with this, until his dad tells him to just take off the jacket.  He’s still a Serpent, he’s just laying low.  Jughead complies and starts an after school club for the Serpents.  Not sure why they meet at school, and not just anywhere, but I’ll let it play out.

Next, there’s Archie getting recruited by an FBI agent.  Now, I’m not legal expert, but I’m fairly certain that an FBI agent shouldn’t be putting pressure on a minor to spy on his girlfriend’s father.  Again, not a legal expert, but the whole things smells fishy.  And Archie is not subtle at all.  But, I suppose it’s correct that Archie is a terrible spy.  He’s having dinner with the Lodges, and it’s painfully obvious that he’s fishing for answers about what happened to Nick (Veronica’s rape-y friend).  He goes to see Nick, and it’s obvious to Nick even that he’s not just there for another check of hush money for Cheryl.  (Cheryl had initially blackmailed Archie about seeing him kiss Betty, then let slip that Nick had tried to rape Veronica.)  Veronica can tell that Archie is hiding something, but he uses this moment to tell her about kissing Betty.  Situation diffused, and Archie can keep on being an awful spy.

Lastly, there is Betty searching for her long, lost brother.  Her sister, Polly, gave birth to twins, but doesn’t want the rest of the family to have any influence on their lives.  Feeling sorry for her mom, Betty sets out to find her long, lost brother, even though her father forbids it.  Quite easily she finds him.  Betty and her Mom go to a shady motel to find him, his name is Chic, and it does not go well at all.  He is pissed off at being in the foster care system.  He’s also a “fantasy fulfiller.”  Later on, Betty goes back to the hotel for some reason, and find Chic getting stabbed. She brings him back to the house, much the chagrin of her father, and they patch him.  After everyone goes to bed, Chic is shown creepily standing over Betty.

So, I’m guessing Chic is the actual Black Hood Killer.  It makes sense that her long, lost brother would be obsessed with her.  Not sure what Jughead’s game is.  Sure, he was trying to guide the younger Serpents away dealing drugs and whatnot, but this insistence on clashing with authority seems odd.  Maybe he’s just found a new cause.  Did I mention that Archie is a terrible spy?  This story is just weird.  Why would you expect the son of a business partner of the Lodges and the boyfriend of the Lodges’ daughter to snitch on them?  That’s just weird.

Here’s what I thought as I watched the episode.

  • Not sure I’ve thought through the bullet point idea on this show.  There is a lot going on already.
  • Southside High, the bad school, has been shut down and they will be brought into Riverdale.
  • Wonder if Veronica’s parents had a hand in that.  She promised to try to defuse a situation that was coming up, and she tried to be optimistic.
  • Yep, they’re discussing with the Mayor about how there purchasing the land at Southside High.
  • Pink can of mace?  That’s adorable.
  • Uh oh, the Feds wanna talk with Archie.
  • They want Archie to help them take down Hiram Lodge, Veronica’s dad.  Is it standard for Feds to try to get a high school to work undercover?
  • Betty doesn’t tell her mom that she saw Polly and she’s had her twins.
  • Betty asks Jughead to help her find her long lost brother.
  • Archie is not subtle at all trying to gain information.  Awkward family dinner.
  • Of course Cheryl formed an un-welcoming committee for the new Southside transfers.
  • HA!  Someone actually used the term “greaser.”
  • Crap, Cheryl knows Archie kissed Betty.
  • Principal outlaws the Serpent jackets because of an obviously poorly drawn snake on the floor.  This is bound to go over well.
  • Jughead is the only cares about the jackets?  Weird.
  • Seriously, how illegal is it for an FBI agent to recruit a high schooler?
  • Of course Betty’s brother is in a creepy motel.
  • You tell him, Skeet.  Tell Jughead not to be a damn moron.
  • Archie confronts Nick, and again, is terrible and not at all subtle.
  • Since the first meeting didn’t go terrible enough, Betty goes back to her brother, and conveniently saves him.
  • Archie tells Veronica about kissing Betty, as the excuse for why he’s acting weird.  Not because he’s a terrible secret agent.  Though, it does remove Cheryl’s blackmailing ability.
  • Maybe Archie isn’t a complete moron.  He thinks the Black Hood Killer is still out there.  Possibly maybe Betty’s creepy brother, that is creepily staring over her as she sleeps.  Like a creep.
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