In this week’s Riverdale, Betty Cooper plays a round of my personal favorite game: Accuse Your Mom And All Your Friends’ Parents Of Murder. She rounds up the Midnight Club by sending them invites from the Gargoyle King (which they apparently oblige without question). Come on, what other show on television has a teen girl trap a bunch of grown ass adults in a teen-owned speakeasy under a diner (the only restaurant in town) and then accuse them all of being big ol’ phonies? Riverdale is special.
And the parents love to point their fingers on one another. Hermione first tries to pin it on Penelope, suggesting she grew the poison in her greenhouse. “You don’t grow cyanide,” Penelope retorts, incredulous. “A fact only a Blossom would know.” Um, no, pretty sure most people know that Hermione. But you might be too busy trying to figure out your character motivation, which changes episodically, to be concerned with poison facts. Penelope instead spins a tale about how Dilton Doiley’s dad Daryl murdered the principal by accident and then killed himself with carbon monoxide years later because Penelope rejected him again. “Dilton Doiley’s dead dad did it?” Betty asks, entirely skeptical. Gotta love that alliteration. Riverdale is poetry.
Betty, of course, doesn’t believe a word those lying ass parents of Riverdale spewed, so she does some digging, turning to Dr. Curdle Jr., whose role on this show is getting bigger and bigger. This week, he stitches up Archie and gives him antibiotics for his infection (for a bribe, provided specifically in small bills, a detail that sure gets reiterated a lot). He also confirms that Daryl Doiley was killed by oleander not by carbon monoxide, meaning he was murdered and then it was covered up to look like a suicide.
So that greenhouse line was also a plant, to remind us Penelope indeed has a greenhouse and therefore the propensity to grow oleander. Betty doesn’t start there though. She first questions Tom Keller, who was the sheriff at the time of Daryl’s death, turning up the heat on the parents one by one. He doesn’t give her much, and Penelope (excuse me, Auntie Penelope) doesn’t either. Alice also maybe helped with the cover-up since she was running the only town paper at the time. In other words, the parents are still being shady.
THERE’S ALSO A SCREAM HOMAGE THROWN INTO THIS EPISODE? Look, “Manhunter” is technically a hot mess, but emphasis on the hot and also Riverdale thrives in chaos. Presumably because she’s asking too many questions about Daryl’s death, the game, etc., the Gargoyle King (or one of the Gargoyle Kings) breaks into the Cooper household to psychologically torment Alice and Betty. We get shots of Jiffy Pop about to burst on the stove — a direct shoutout to one of the most iconic images from the first Scream movie. And then FP bursts through Betty’s bedroom window to conveniently rescue the Cooper girls. Skeet Ulrich as Billy in Scream did something very similar to save Sydney at the last minute. But if we’re to take this reference very literally, that would mean FP is the Gargoyle King or otherwise working with the Gargoyle King.
Hiram would certainly want us to believe that. He wants the suspicions pinned on anyone but himself, but probably just because he’s too busy with his mafia activities, not because he’s the actual Gargoyle King, because that answer’s too easy. Speaking of the illustrious Lodge crime family, Veronica is STILL LIVING AT HOME FOR SOME REASON? I mean, I kind of love it. Hiram’s twirling his proverbial moustache, all “heh heh heh I will bring down your teen boyfriend for good, my teen daughter.” And she’s all “no YOU’RE the one who’s going down, daddy!” But then they just… live in the same house? Presumably have dinner together? And Hiram’s like “yep, your birthday is still my password for everything, sweet daughter of mine who wants to destroy me.”
Archie sneaks out of his bunker to try and track down the kids who were paid off by Hiram to help frame him, but Hiram’s one step ahead, sending Minetta to “take care” of the “variables” at Shadow Lake a.k.a. shoot some teens dead so they can’t talk. Speaking of teen murder, Joaquin is also killed after the Serpents track him down and try to get answers about the new gang in town. So, yeah, Riverdale kind of just brought Joaquin back this season to be a plot device and then get killed, which is pretty textbook Bury Your Gays.
So much murder! And seizures! Josie has a seizure this time, and Betty seems to be the only person in town who’s like “hm kind of weird that there’s a seizure epidemic in our high school.” Speaking of school, the only time we see the kids in school this week is 1. To get mass interrogated by Minetta about Archie’s whereabouts and 2. Betty and Jughead talking Town Investigation Business™ in the Blue and Gold. This is all exactly like my high school experience.
“Manhunter” also leans the fuck in to the idea that G&G is a board game but also a drug. FP handcuffs Jug to a fridge to “sober” him up, and in FP’s defense, Jug is indeed still acting bizarro about this game. And if only I could say that “handcuffing your teen son to a fridge for playing a board game” was the worst parenting choice being made in the town of Riverdale, but nope. Alice straight up sends Betty away to the Sisters Of Quiet Mercy. You know, that place where they’re still doing gay conversion therapy in 2018. And “Manhunter” gets some more horror into the episode with that final scene of Betty looking around at all of the LIKELY KIDNAPPED children all painting their own fun lil’ interpretations of the Gargoyle King in the Sisters Of Quiet Horrors art class. As always, I’m worried about Betty. :( Without her around, who is going to hold the parents of Riverdale accountable?
And as much as I don’t want to necessarily care about Archie deciding to hop on a train and run away for a while, I do, because Camila Mendes really drives Veronica’s sadness home in a way that absolutely gutted me. But also, girl, your boyfriend who seems to have trouble keeping a shirt on his body kind of has a point. Your dad wants him punished severely for refusing to be in his mob, and very little can stop Hiram Lodge at this point, even though you did manage to find the exact video footage you need to exonerate your bf (for being a criminal mastermind, Hiram has surprisingly low security).
With Betty in the nunnery from hell and Archie hopping a train out of town, the core four are divided right now, which will surely have dire results. But can it also mean that some other characters can get some attention now? Cheryl Blossom is really just around to catch a seizing Josie in this episode, so the wait for an actual storyline for her and Toni persists.