Liam Hoofe reviews the thirteenth episode of Riverdale season 2…
Riverdale has never been one to hide its influences and this week’s episode, named after the iconic Edgar Allan Poe short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart‘ is no different. In Poe’s story, a man kills someone, only to be tormented by the incessant beating of the man’s heart under his floorboards, this eventually leads to the man losing his mind and exposing his own crime, and while no-one lost their mind and confessed their misdeeds in this week’s episode of Riverdale, their circumstances forced them to make some pretty horrendous decisions nonetheless.
The episode opens with Betty confronted with a dead body on her living room floor, blood everywhere, and her Mom on her hands and knees desperately trying to cover it up. Betty, after initially questioning whether she should call the police, eventually decides to help her Mother and hide the man’s body. This decision plagues Betty throughout the episode. Her every waking moment is haunted by the decision and when Kevin reveals that another dead body has been found in the city, Betty loses her mind. This paranoia drives Betty to make some very questionable decisions, not least of which is taking the dead man’s phone and ringing several of his contacts claiming to have discovered the phone in a parking lot. This all culminates with Jughead and FP becoming involved and the latter eventually taking on the responsibility of disposing of the murder once and for all. With Hal, who is off with Penelope, out of the picture, a romance between FP and Alice is teased towards the end of the episode, something which would have very interesting implications for their children’s relationship.
Speaking of Hal, his relationship with Chic is quietly brewing away in the background. The two men clearly despise each other but it remains unknown as to why. Thus far, Al has been painted as the villain of the piece but it stands to reason that Chic may have done something very disturbing in his childhood, something that Hal is maybe even frightened of. Chic finished the episode by cutting Al out of a family photograph. Was that Chic’s intention all along? I maintain my theory that Chic is actually the Black Hood and if that is the case, then he now has his Mother and Sister exactly where he wants them.
The other major storyline dominating the episode was Archie’s predicament concerning Hiram Lodge and the FBI, and it was with this storyline, that the show delivered the episode’s biggest stinger. Things picked up where they left off, with Hiram’s business associate being found dead in a hotel room, and the FBI’s shady Agent Adams ramping up the pressure on poor Archie-Kins. Archie’s loyalty has become increasingly torn over the last few weeks and this week providing him with his biggest test yet. After arriving home from school one day, Archie discovers Agent Adams at home, talking with his dad. His dad later reveals that Adams threatened to look into his business practices and that if he did, it could potentially ruin him.
Faced with watching his Dad’s life ruined, Archie decides it’s time to tell Hiram Lodge everything. He tells Hiram that the FBI has asked him to bug his office but that he destroyed the chip, and never told Agent Adams anything. Hiram promises to sort it for him, and clarifies that he told him nothing. The episode ends with Archie being taken into the woods by Andre, Hiram’s personal assistant. Just when it looks as though Archie has dropped himself in it, Hermoine is revealed to have been behind the whole situation, and that it was actually a test of his loyalties. The episode ends with Hermoine welcoming Archie to the family.
So where does this leave us going into next week’s episode? Betty’s paranoia and the fact she may well have gotten away with her part in a murder could drive her further and further towards the dark side, while Archie’s new allegiance with the Lodges comes with its own set of questions. We know that Archie did tell Agent Andrews some things and that he has not been fully honest with Hiram regarding his situation – is Hiram, Riverdale’s most meticulous schemer, likely to let that slide? There is also the question of power within the town – this week, we saw the town’s Major hand in her resignation after pressure from the Lodges – could Hiram or Hermoine look to take that position? The second half of the season feels much more exciting now the Black Hood is out of the way (for now) and while the lack of Cheryl (who was relegated to a little Katniss Everdeen inspired cameo here) still disappoints me, I’ve got very high hopes for the remaining episodes.
‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ was Riverdale firing on all cylinders. The episode drove up the tension expertly and at times, was incredibly difficult to watch. In a show where so many characters make questionable choices, this week’s episode had me screaming at my television, begging the characters not to make the move they were about to. Several times I found myself clenching my fist in anticipation and the show’s final twist, while arguably a little hammy, was perfectly executed and while I kinda feel stupid for not seeing it coming, the show deserves a lot of credit here. Riverdale continues to charge on full steam ahead, and while the show is not going to be to everyone’s fancy, it’s difficult to find a show as consistently entertaining as Riverdale right now.
Liam Hoofe – @liamhoofe