Riverdale Retreats to the Lodges Lodge and Languishes

first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Riverdale has been on hiatus for a month, and it’s been promising something big when it returns. Did it deliver? Not really. Instead, we got a series of entertaining, dramatic, truly Riverdale moments that all fizzled out and blended together. It’s a shame too, because the show started with a really great premise.Hiram wants Veronica out of town while some unsavory dealmakers are in Riverdale. He sends Archie and Veronica for a quiet weekend away in his getaway cabin. Betty and Jughead come too, and for a single solitary second, it looks like it’ll be a fun couples retreat. Then Cheryl, jealous that she wasn’t invited, calls Jughead and tells him that Betty and Archie kissed. This weekend is off to a great start. Fortunately, Jughead has about as cool as Veronica was about the whole thing. If anything, he’s just bothered that Betty didn’t tell him when he confessed his makeout session with Toni. What makes things more awkward is that Jughead isn’t just here to relax with his girlfriend. He’s here to investigate. He wants to know exactly what Hiram Lodge is planning for the south side.KJ Apa as Archie, Lili Reinhart as Betty, Camila Mendes as Veronica and Cole Spouse as Jughead (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)Part of what makes the episode so entertaining despite its problems is that there’s palpable tension underneath each line. Veronica wants to make everything normal and OK when everything is very clearly not. You know what’s sure to make everything better? Sexy swimsuit hot tub time! Wait, did I say better? I mean way freaking worse. Especially once Veronica proposes that she and Jughead kiss to make up for Betty and Archie’s indiscretion. Jughead readily agrees despite the obvious discomfort of both Archie and Betty. Maybe he and Veronica aren’t as OK with the kiss as they’re letting on. Well, at least Betty has a solution. It involves a corset and her Dark Betty black wig. And yeah, the thing walls and squeaking beds make everything way more awkward. Especially with Archie suddenly feeling like he has to prove his masculinity. It also doesn’t help that he gets caught spying for Hiram. Because he’s an idiot who has no idea what subtlety is. Dude. Be loyal to your girl. It doesn’t matter if her dad likes you if she doesn’t.She explains as much, and everything seems back to normal, for a second. Every time a phone rings, it starts another fight, because this episode can’t find a conflict to carry the whole story. This time, it’s Jughead’s dad. It turns out Hiram bought the trailer park and told all the serpents they could stay. Ostensibly, it’s because of his article, but he doesn’t trust that for a second.Archie and Veronica try to convince him to take it as a win, and another fight ensues. Yeah, I’m with Jughead on this one. There’s no way Jughead is doing this out of the goodness of his heart. Even more damning, Betty gets a frantic call from her mom. It turns out Hiram Lodge bought the paper. He owns the land and he controls the media. That’s always a good combination. By this point, you realize that this is an episode based on moments, rather than a cohesive story. Each scene is perfectly tuned to elicit gasps from fans. It’s certainly entertaining, but watching a show spin its wheels gets boring after a while no matter how good it is at it.Camila Mendes as Veronica and KJ Apa as Archie (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)At least it leads to a decent confrontation. Everyone gets way too personal. Everything we’ve been making fun of these characters for since the show began, they call each other out for. Jughead calls Archie simple. Veronica brings up Betty’s dark wig roleplay. It’s petty and pointed and I am here for it. It’s the scene we’ve been waiting for all episode and the show pivots away from it as fast as possible. Rather than a climactic falling out, it’s just another moment nobody could figure out how to resolve, and that’s super disappointing.So instead, we have a robbery. Two men recognized Betty and Veronica during their shopping trip earlier and decide the lodge is the perfect target for a robbery. The scene that follows is legitimately scary. Partly because the hooded men give Archie flashbacks, but also the uncertainty and dread builds exponentially by the second. It’s so terrifying watching the thief follow Veronica into her room to get her wallet. It feels like a small triumph when she activates a silent alarm. Even if it does end with Hiram’s guard seemingly shooting the thief with Archie only a few feet away. Eh, what’s another dark secret in that big, dumb red head of his?Ashleigh Murray as Josie (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)Back in Riverdale, things are just as tense as they are at the Lodge lodge. We finally get some forward movement in Josie’s story. This season set up so much with her early on and delivered on absolutely none of it. It still isn’t, really, but the story it does tell at least goes somewhere. Josie figures out that her mother is having an affair with Sheriff Keller. She doesn’t handle it too well. She immediately tells Kevin what’s going on, causing a huge blow-up among both families. This whole subplot revolves around everyone left in town going to a screening of Love, Simon the teen rom-com that comes out this week. Yeah, it’s super obvious product placement, and it sucks. The entire episode grinds to a halt so it can hawk a movie.At least this part of the episode set up some decent storylines for the rest of the season. Kevin runs into Moose and Midge and it becomes very clear that their relationship isn’t as open as Moose implied. Midge is completely unaware that Moose and Kevin have been seeing each other, despite what Moose has been telling Kevin. She has no idea he’s gay, even when he comments on male actors’ bodies. He could not be making it more obvious, yet she remains his unwitting beard. It sucks for Kevin. You really do feel for him, but for us, it could be fun to watch this particular pot boil over.Casey Cott as Kevin (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)What’s more interesting is Cheryl’s story. Riverdale has finally decided to stop having her be a mean girl line delivery system and start treating her like a human being. As petty, mean and annoying as she can be sometimes, she’s had a hard life. It’s natural she’d lash out in some way. Now, we learn why she’s been so mean to Toni ever since she showed up. It turns out Cheryl had a best friend who would sleep over all the time. That friendship eventually grew into something more. Cheryl’s mom found them sleeping in the same bed and called Cheryl a deviant. That is some Blossom-ass homophobia right there. Toni immediately sees what’s going on and comforts her. We’re seeing the beginnings of another relationship, and it’s a promising sign that Toni’s “I’m more into girls anyway” line wasn’t just pure shock value. Turning it into a visible, hopefully supportive relationship is a step in the right direction if Riverdale handles it right. No matter how clunky and movie trailer-sounding the dialog in this scene was.So yes, this episode had some bright spots. You could argue that it was made up almost entirely of bright spots. They just combined to create an oddly dim whole.  Taken on their own, each scene was filled with exciting character drama and fun, brutal dialog. When put together in one episode, none of them come together the way you want. None of the good moments is explored enough to lead anywhere. The final scene at Pop’s is the show literally throwing all these disparate plot ideas into the same place and hoping some kind of conclusion comes out of it. It doesn’t, but at least it set up some promising stories for the rest of the season. The ingredients are all good, they just didn’t work as a stew. SDCC 2019: ‘Riverdale’ Cast Spills Details on Core ‘Mystery’ for Season 4Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019 last_img read more

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