Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 10 of Riverdale Season 2. Not seen Riverdale? Catch up with spoiler-free review of the first three episodes.
Riverdale is back after its mid-season break and, although life goes in the wake of the Black Hood murders, Archiekins (KJ Apa) is still not totally convinced Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) got the right man. Questions do linger over the identity of the fiend, whom Archie got a close look at in Pop’s Diner, when Fred (Sideshow Luke Perry) was gunned down. The secret is in the eyes and Archie took good a look at old man Svenson (Cameron McDonald) and wasn’t feeling it.
Plot points move fast in Riverdale world and this is another episode crammed with – to quote Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al – incidents and accidents, hints and allegations. Season 2’s Episode 10 (Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle) is extremely dark – even for Riverdale – and is directed by Twin Peaks alumni Tim Hunter (Hiring Hunter is another pointer towards Riverdale’s Twin Peaks obsession).
The major plot strand involves the introduction of Chic Cooper (played by Hart Denton, who looks a little bit like Eamon Farren, Richard Horne in Twin Peaks). Without the show explicitly detailing things, the foster home kid offspring of Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) and Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro) has been living la vida Midnight Cowboy in a crummy motel. Incidentally, Penelope Blossom (Nahtalie Boltt) is also working hard for the money as a middle-aged courtesan to wealthy dudes. When ‘Fascist Barbie’, aka. Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch, who continues to steal every scene she’s in), finds out, she’s hurt and begs mommy dearest to stop. The Penelope-Cheryl storyline is amazingly dark, like a revamped Hagsploitation flick, where the daughter is battling a psycho mother figure, each determined to take the other down to Chinatown. It’s very entertaining.
Betty helps track down her long-lost bro after Polly (Tiera Skovbye) had her twins and forgot to inform her family, acting like it was no big deal at all. Betty wants to cheer up her down-in-the-dumps mom (Mädchen Amick) and has probably done that totally Betty thing of making everything worse. The road to Hell is paved with best intentions, Betty Cooper!
The scenes involving Chic are disturbing and the episode’s final scene is downright masterful. The show’s lighting is often expressionist and hyper-realistic. Chic creeping into Betty’s bedroom is not only super-creepy, but strikingly directed by Hunter and is without a doubt one of Season 2’s high points to date. The dull backlighting casts Chic in silhouette, but the cool neon blue lighting (a predominant tone in the show) bathes his face in menacing fashion. Chic appears at once strangely vulnerable but potentially malevolent. As he approaches Betty’s bed, leaning in, the use of close-up is electrifying. Chic looks at his sister like a serial killer gazing transfixed at his prey or how an inquisitive alien might stare at a human.
Poor Chic got a raw deal in life, when he could have been living the white picket fence America dream like the rest of his family. He’s bound to hold a grudge against the Coopers.
Riverdale is available exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Thursday, within 24 hours of their US broadcast.
Photos: The CW Network