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'Riverdale' Recap: Every Character On This Show Is a Terrible

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 31, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 31, 2019 |


The title of this week’s episode is “The Red Dahlia,” which is a name that Betty ascribes to Penelope Blossom after accusing her of being a serial poisoner. “You’re a serial killer. A black widow. The Red Dahlia.”

Get it? Because Penelope has red hair? But also, The Black Dahlia was THE VICTIM not the killer. What is wrong with this show? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with this show? This show is Deadwood now, only without a Sheriff Bullock to keep order. Every character on this show has been fully character assassinated. They’re all criminals, murderers, conspirators, and accomplices. What does it say about Riverdale now that the most redeeming character on the show is Jughead, the leader of a gang who just covered up a homicide and helped to pin a separate attempted murder on the dead guy?

Archie used to be an achingly boring character that no one cared about, but at least he was a decent kid. Now, after spending a season mobbed up, he’s basically dropped out of school. He has anger issues. He’s been in prison fight club. And this week, in an effort to face his demons, he endeavored to murder Hiram Lodge in his hospital bed. Now he’s the achingly boring character that no one cares about, but also a bad seed, to boot.

Not that I blame him for wanting to kill Hiram, because Hiram Lodge is an actual serial murderer and drug kingpin, who has tried on several occasions to kill Archie. For some reason, however, this week was the “Let’s feel sorry for Hiram Lodge and redeem his character” episode, where Veronica — who previously hated her father — paid Jughead to track down the person who tried to murder him. Not only that, but Veronica is mobbed up, too. With Dad ailing, she’s filling in and trying to take charge of the family business, because she doesn’t want her poor father to be taken advantage of while he’s recovering. Again, this is the man who tried to kill her boyfriend and had him wrongfully imprisoned during the middle of college application season.

In the end, Hiram wakes up and proposes a truce with Archie. “I won’t make a move against you, and you won’t make a move against me. A life for a life.” Did I mention that this was a show about high-school kids? But the truce was accompanied by sad music tinkles, so I guess this was meant to be a touching, redemptive moment for a father and his daughter’s ex-boyfriend after they repeatedly tried to murder each other. Awwwwww.

In the meantime, while Veronica keeps up her father’s collections business — nothing wrong with a little racketeering! — she does have her new boyfriend, Reggie, burn down Dad’s drug lab, much to the dismay of Mayor Hermione, who was going to use the proceeds from the drug lab to pay off The Governor. For what? “To keep our names clean.” What does that even mean? Whose names? Clean from what? Shhhh. The first rule of Riverdale is never to question logic in Riverdale.

Elsewhere, Betty did some digging — with the help of her serial killer father and confidante — and discovered that Penelope poisoned both her husband Clifford Blossom and Claudius Blossom and maybe some others. As Penelope reasons, it’s men who are the real poison. Claudius was dumping Fizzle Rock runoff into the water supply, which is what was causing all the seizures, which only affected women for some reason because that’s just how evil men are (no objections here!). (Also, did the writers know there’d be a Chinatown homage later in the season, or did they bend the seizures to fit the homage?) Confronted with evidence that Penelope Blossom only murdered men who deserved it, Betty’s left with a different perspective on this whole snuffing-out life thing. “Well, if they deserved it, that’s a whole different matter!” Betty is a junior in high school, by the way.

At this point, F.P. is basically the only character remaining with a moral compass … oh what’s that? It was F.P. who shot Hiram Lodge? And Hermione made him Sheriff so that he would do exactly that? And then F.P. pinned Hiram’s attempted murder on Tallboy and used his girlfriend Alice Cooper to frame the narrative in the local news? Oh, cool! But look: It was all for a good cause: Revenge! Who among us hasn’t donned an ill-begotten sheriff’s badge, attempted murder, and pinned it on a dead guy? We’ve all been there!

Jughead knows the truth, though. Jughead also knows that Sheriff Minetta is still alive. Or was. He was schtupping Hermione until Hermione cut off those loose ends and murdered Minetta, after she had hired him in between boning sessions to finish the job that F.P. could not by killing her husband (Minetta failed, too, because men are evil and incompetent). Unfortunately, Jughead can’t tell anyone about Hermione, because to do so would implicate his father F.P. in the attempted murder of Hiram, and hasn’t F.P. been sentenced to years in prison once already and escaped to become the sheriff? Jughead couldn’t possibly put his father through that again.

Like I said, everyone on this show is crooked, except that after the truce with Hiram, Archie decides that he’d like to play guitar and sing back-up for Josie, which is the only thing in this entire episode that actually reflects the reality of a high-school student. There’s some small comfort, however, in the fact that Archie is a complete waste of those abs again.

Oh, and for those of you watching from home who didn’t catch the many, many Chinatown references this week, Veronica’s shoehorned, cringeworthy sign-off, “Forget it, Jughead. It’s Riverdale,” was the sledgehammer to the head that this episode really needed. Thanks Riverdale!

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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