Nice day for a white funeral… Not quite how the song goes, but that’s the way Jason Blossom’s funeral ended up going thanks to Cheryl in this week’s Riverdale. The intrigue factor was ratcheted up to 11 this week, perhaps in no small part because the setting moved to Thorn Hill, Riverdale’s own house on the hill, and a location ripe for Agatha Christie-like sleuthing and skullduggery. Some big pieces of the mystery were filled in this week as we discover things about secret romances, an ancient blood feud, and and maybe the scariest family this side of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it kind of centres around our girl next door, Betty.
For all those who had guessed that Hal Cooper had ransacked Sheriff Kellers’ home office, collect your prize. Really, he was the only choice given the available suspects, but “Heart of Darkness” gives him a motive: Polly. Apparently, the Polly/Jason romance was not the fly-by, one-sided atomic bomb tryst we’ve been lead to believe, because not only were Polly and Jason both in love, they were engaged. At least that’s what we’re lead to believe when Jason’s elderly Aunt Rose sees Betty at the funeral and mistakes her Polly asking where the Blossom family heirloom that’s supposed to be sitting on her ring finger is?
That’s quite a shock to the system for Betty, who’s been quietly trying to squeeze info out of her mother about Polly’s whereabouts and her present mental health state, but with mom away at a journalistic spa retreat (I never get invited to those, by the way), Betty decided to try and press her dad. And here was Lochlyn Munro‘s time to shine! Now Munro is fine as an actor so long as has to stand in the shadow of Mädchen Amick‘s scenery chewing as Alice, but being given the spotlight in “Heart of Darkness” its hard not to see Munro’s deficiencies; he just can’t play convincing this supposed long simmering hatred for the Blossomes over generations old slights.
Who would have guessed that we’d ever hear the words “blood fued” in an Archies show? It seems that way back when, Great-grandfather Blossom killed Great-grandfather Cooper to get total control of the local maple syrup concern. Who knew that maple syrup was such a cut throat business? First of all, it looks like the Coopers came out okay. I mean, it’s not like they live in a shack in the middle of the swamp or in the projection booth of the local drive-in like poor old Jughead. Second, are we to believe that Hal orchestrated his daughter’s mental illness and then killed the boy she loved because he wasn’t living like a rich bastard in a creepy house with its own on-suite graveyard?
No, there’s still so much more to the Polly angle that has yet to be revealed. If this was true love, then why was Polly’s name in that points game played by the ring of pigs on the football that Betty and Veronica busted up a couple of weeks ago? If Jason and Polly were in love, then it wasn’t the break-up that precipitated her trip to a mental health facility, so what was it? Is that even why she’s gone? And on top of that, Betty hears from Trevor that Jason was acting weird in his last days, selling drugs, selling his possessions, presumably plotting his escape from town. Was he planning to escape with Polly?
It’s enough to make you wonder how much Cheryl knows about this. We saw Cheryl shake down Betty in episode two for any insights into what Polly knows about what happened to Jason, and we’ve since learned that Cheryl had helped plan her twin brother’s great escape. Now the question: Does she know why her brother wanted to escape? One thing was certain from all the scenes with the Blossoms, from the funeral to the very uncomfortable dinner party with Veronica, they have a lot to hide behind the walls of their creepy mansion. Did Cheryl really believe that her mother would kill her if she made a speech at Jason’s funeral? And if Penelope Blossom is willing to kill one twin for making a scene at a memorial, did she kill the other for planning on running away from home with the daughter of the family enemy?
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Is Riverdale trying to make a Betty/Jughead love match? Betty obviously liked the way Jughead wore his fine black suit, and if TV has taught us anything it’s that sparks fly when a man and a woman are solving crimes together. Or songwriting together. Did anyone notice a spark between Archie and Valerie as the Pussycat was helping Archie get his songs ready for the discerning eye of music writer Mr. Costillo? So we’ve got Betty, Veronica, Ms. Grundy and now Valerie all feeling the heat that is Archie, which is getting a little crazy because it strikes me that Archie is not even close to being Riverdale’s most interesting character.
It’s not K.J. Apa’s fault necessarily, but unlike the other characters it feels like Archie is the one that doesn’t have his own drive, his own animus. He’s a ping-pong ball in his own life, as tries to satisfy his dad, his coach, Ms Grundy, Mr. Costillo, and if there’s time, he might try and make up his own damn mind, but only if someone like Veronica or Betty tell him it’s okay. That’s why it was a nice, and very classically Archie moment when Archie is awarded captain of the football team over Reggie, and Archie declines because it would mean giving his coach something he wanted to give to another cause, his music. There was also some nice character development with Reggie to advance him beyond the arrogant jock meme as she genuine concern about Archie’s hurt hand.
Overall, “Heart of Darkness” did seem more focused on the teens as a response to last week’s episode which seemed more focused on the parents. On that end, aside from the developments with Hal Cooper, we pick up the thread with the Lodge family dirty dealings as the Serpents leave an actual serpent in a box for Hermoine at Pop’s. It was Fred Andrews to the rescue, despite the fact that he asked out Heroine for a follow-up date only to get shot down, but Fred does later relent and offer her that bookkeeper job at his construction company. Mostly to keep her safe from snakes in a box I think, but also a little bit because he had a soft spot for her. That friendly hug was a little too friendly.
But to get back to the central mystery, it seems way past time to finally talk to Polly, doesn’t it? That certainly seems to be the direction we’re going in now that the Coopers have joined the refurbished murder board in the Blue and Gold office. What is Hal hiding, and what was his argument with Clifford Blossom about, especially since the animosity seems to be all on the Cooper end of the fight? And is Cheryl really bound for Europe having stepped on her mother’s last nerve? All compelling questions as we look to next week when things might get even murkier in Riverdale.