Liam Hoofe reviews the fourteenth episode of Riverdale season 2…
Riverdale returned to our screens after a three-week hiatus this week with a sexually charged and tense episode, which reinforced old bonds and established several new ones.
Continuing this season’s trend of homage, this week’s Riverdale took its main source of inspiration from the titular horror movie, The Hills Have Eyes, and also borrowed tropes from several other home-invasion movies. The episode’s main plot focused on the central 4 characters, Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica, as they spent a weekend away in a secluded cottage after a gesture from Veronica’s father, Hiram. A gesture which, of course, was driven by ulterior motives.
As you’d expect, it didn’t take long for tensions to begin to brew, as Cheryl, disappointed that she wasn’t invited, rang Jughead and informed him of Archie and Betty’s little kiss from earlier in the season. This led to an argument between the two, while Archie and Veronica sneaked off for a bit of hanky-panky. The issues this had raised in the group didn’t stay hidden for long, though, and it all led to a pool scene which saw Veronica and Jughead lock lips, to even the playing field, as it were.
This led to Archie becoming jealous of the situation, and the episode then took things even further as it teased a kiss between the two male characters. Riverdale has never been one to shy away from its often bombastic sexuality, and this week’s episode just took that up a notch. We even got to see the return of Dark Betty, which was later brought up by Veronica when the two couples inevitably ending up arguing.
As it turned out, Hiram had manipulated the whole situation to make sure that Betty and Jughead were out of town when he purchased the town’s local newspaper. This all led to a big confrontation, one where it became incredibly apparent that Archie’s allegiances have shifted in favor of Hiram. This being Riverdale, though, something even more outrageous had to happen, and as the couples were airing their dirty laundry, a group of armed robbers came into the house and forced them all to their knees as they robbed the place. This led to Archie chasing one of them after Veronica raised an alarm in the house, and Andre, Hiram’s right-hand man, turning up and putting a bullet in one of the robbers.
This turned out to be a big moment in Archie’s character arc. Usually incredibly naive, Archie was finally confronted with the violent side of the underworld he was slowly walking into. His reaction to the event, which saw him tell Hiram at the end of the episode that he would protect his family at all costs, was a real turning point for the character, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here. Hiram has been an excellent addition to the show, and he has finally succeeded in making Archie seem relevant again. Of course, the group ending up back in Pop’s restaurant, with everyone discussing what had happened at the end.
The episode’s final scene saw Betty returned home, where Jug’s voiceover talked about Chic and the natures of home-invasion. Chic has become one of the show’s most ambiguous, and intriguing characters, and I suspect we are going to have to wait a few more weeks before everything about him is finally revealed. His actions in this week’s episode would indicate that he is trying to provoke a darker side to Betty, and given her record, it seems highly likely he will be successful.
The episode’s other plot-thread focused on several of the characters trying to find their identity. Cheryl, who has spent the best part of this season living in the background, was forced to confront her sexuality after watching a movie, and she eventually comes out to Jughead’s serpent friend, Toni. This was a nice moment for Cheryl, who throughout the episode was struggling to deal with her Mother’s promiscuity, and struggling to find any sort of acceptance anywhere. She is one of the show’s most lovable characters, and happiness could be just around the corner for her as she forms a new relationship with Toni.
Also watching that same movie (Love, Simon, which is released this month, in case you were wondering) are Kevin and Josie, who have both been rocked by the revelation that their parents have been having an affair, and that they are about to go public with it. In classic Hollywood style, the movie, which is presumably about acceptance, drives Kevin and Josie to sit down like adults, and discuss the matter with their parents as a group. It was a nice little storyline, and as always, it was nice to see Kevin and Josie get some much-needed screen time.
Overall, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ was a great welcome back to Riverdale, one packed with great character moments that moved everything forward rather nicely. As usual, the episode moved along at a break-neck speed and never failed to entertain. This was one of season 2’s strongest outings so far.