Most teen shows don’t give a hoot about the parents, because if you have parents hovering in the background being actual authority figures it makes it harder for the kids to get up to increasingly more scandalous shenanigans. So good work on Riverdale for subverting expectations, and so early on. In “The Last Picture Show” the message is definitely sent that the parents need more supervision than the kids as the seedy underbelly of Riverdale got seedier thanks to shady real estate deals, money changing hands, and the loss of a beloved Riverdale cinematic institution. By comparison a little student/teacher dalliance is almost quaint.
So we got an explanation for why Hiram Lodge sent his wife a big old sack of cash in the pilot, he’s giving Mayor McCoy a “re-election donation” so that she will give his company the rights to re-develop the valuable land upon which the Twilight Drive-In sits, no questions asked. Good old Hiram is also paying off the Southside Serpents to trash the place and drive people away from the drive-in and force the owners to sell. Apparently going to jail hasn’t taught Hiram Lodge any lessons about not doing real estate fraud, nor has it taught Hermoine Lodge that aiding and abetting fraud and bribery is not the best way to get your Park Avenue lifestyle back.
And way to hit us over the head with the symbolism Riverdale, a perfect slice of innocent Americana plowed over in the interest of greed and avarice by a biker gang, a white collar crook, and a woman that just wants her designer labels back and doesn’t care how she gets them. It’s not exactly disappointing to learn that Hermoine is literally carry the bag for Hiram, but it really is an upset finding out that Josie’s eternally proud mother is the embodiment of everything we hate and/or suspect about politicians: do what you want and give me your campaign donation! Even stand-up guy Fred Andrews isn’t unsullied, albeit unknowingly, his construction company was hired to tear down the Twilight.
Of course there’s always at least one lost soul upset about the passing of history, and this case it’s Jughead. Try as he might to save the Twilight, and his job as projectionist, no one seemed willing to intercede and stop the march of progress. But of course, Jughead wasn’t just trying to save his “home away from home”, he was trying to save his actual home. So long as we’re adding shade to our beloved all-American teens, it makes sense that we learn that there’s more to Jughead than just being Riverdale’s incarnation of Truman Capote, or a Jack Kerouac beat writer with a MacBook.
It would have seemed that Jughead might have been the one Riverdale character without a secret or a skeleton in his closet, but that’s just not meant to be. There are now a couple of mysteries concerning our old friend Forsythe Pendleton Jones III; one is the fact that his father turns out to be the leader of the Southside Serpents (and the guy the Lodges are paying off), and the other is the fate of his little sister Jellybean. All we have is one old picture and story about being sneaked into the drive-in as kids, but any further mention of Jellybean and her current whereabouts is conspicuous by its lack of mention. Even Mayor McCoy seems touched by Jughead mentioning his sister, which to me suggests something tragic. Might Jughead blame his father?
Speaking of people to blame, it’s the Cooper ladies that end the epically inappropriate romance between Archie and Ms. Grundy, or should we say Jennifer. Betty learns that Ms. Grundy is living under an assumed identity, and uses her new found journalistic chutzpah to get to the bottom of Grundy and what she might be hiding. Betty knows that Grundy and Archie were at the lake together the morning that Jason Blossom was killed, and she learns that Ms. Grundy was also doing an independent study with Jason the semester before. Of course, Betty takes that to mean “independent study” in the same way Archie was studying.
Personally, Ms. Grundy’s story seemed a little pat. Her Sleeping with the Enemy origin about an abusive husband she was escaping seemed a little obvious, and more than a little emotionally manipulative to tug at the heart strings of a marshmallow like Archie. It wasn’t too long after she was forced by Alice Cooper’s snooping to leave town, and leave Archie, that she’s got the heart-shaped sunglasses back on and is looking over the rims at the next good looking boy that walks by. Not that she’s not entitled to play the field, but there’s definitely more going on with Ms. Grundy then meets the eye, but suspicion has definitely cast a greater shadow over the now former music teacher.
In the meantime, my own favourite suspect has still not escaped further scrutiny because what kind of person shows no qualms about ripping open their daughter’s diary on a whim? I mean, regardless of whether or not she found a loaded hand gun in Betty’s dresser drawer. Of course Betty has some criminal tendencies too. My father had a lot of tools, but a Slim Jim wasn’t one of them, and breaking and entering into lock boxes with earrings isn’t exactly something you learn while fixing cars with your dad. On the other hand, breaking into stuff seems more like something mother and daughter have in common.
But Alice Cooper’s motivation is interesting. Is she she just trying to keep her daughter safe from the influence of people she perceives as unsavory characters, or does she maybe see herself as some kind of crusader trying to expose people like Ms. Grundy and Jason Blossom? Did it go too far in the case of Jason? It will be interesting to see what Alice’s reaction will be after Betty’s “What’s my name?” moment, if she will continue to try and butt in to Betty’s life and try and keep her away from such obviously villainous characters like Archie and Veronica. Of course, there’s the whole Polly situation that still has to explained…
And on top of that now is a new mystery: Who broke into Sheriff Keller’s house and ransacked his office? What exactly was he on to with his elaborate murder wall, and what might that nice young biker Kevin was making out with at the drive-in have to do with it? That might be a tad obvious, but it’s hard to see who might have been conspicuous by their absence during all the high drama at the high school and the last night at the movies at the Twilight? Might Hal Cooper have been covering for his wife? Snooping on her behalf? Things are getting even more sorted indeed…