Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 16 of Riverdale Season 2. Not seen Riverdale? Catch up with spoiler-free review of the first three episodes.
With the drama content and writing strong across the board in Episode 16 of Riverdale Season 2, the Betty versus Chic subplot is the best of the bunch. The long-lost brother (played brilliantly by Hart Denton) and his younger sister (Lili Reinhardt) are clearly intent on taking each other down to Chinatown. Alice (Mädchen Amick) reveals – as we’ve long suspected – Hal (Lochlyn Munro) is not Chic’s father (our money is on FP Jones) and so thwarts Betty’s desperate plan to expose him as an imposter.
No, he’s not related to the Blossoms, but he is still Alice’s first born (which explains why Hal wasn’t too keen on having the lad around). But where Riverdale’s answer to Nancy Drew really messes up is getting her Dark Betty on and threatening to torture and torment Chic over the murder of the dealer in the dining room. Au contraire, little sister, cocky Chic replies. It’s Betty’s prints on the body, she’s the one who stole the dealer’s phone, removed evidence from the crime scene. Chic has won the battle … but has he won the war?
Meanwhile, Veronica’s whole world is busy falling apart. Thanks to Mrs and Mrs Scarface (Hiram and Hermione Lodge), Ronnie has gone from Queen Bee to Queen Zee, her bid to launch a campaign for class president met with a smear campaign and Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser) throwing a milkshake all over V – aA event that will forever be known as Milkshakegate in Riverdale lore. (Okay, it won’t.)
Ethel is super-peeved because her old man was made unemployed by Hiram’s dastardly scheme to turn his hometown into a penal colony (to quote Archie’s mum, played by 1980s screen legend Molly Ringwald, who returns this week to help Fred out of a contracts jam). Mary Andrews also lays down the law, when Archie (KJ Apa) gets a bit lippy with Fred at the breakfast table. Archie is clearly Team Lodge, showing breathtaking stupidity and disloyalty to Fred (Sideshow Luke Perry). It’s a terrific moment of taking Archiekins down a peg or two. The lad has always been a bit dim and siding with family over a crook like Hiram will only end in tears. Veronica’s tears, probably.
Cheryl Blossom’s narrative arc has come full Sucker Punch. Obsessed with the idea mom Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) wants to kill her and Nana Blossom, with help from Uncle Claudius (Barclay Hope), poor Cheryl is carted off to the loony bin, for what looks like rounds of conversion therapy. It has been revealed in recent weeks that Cheryl is gay or at least bisexual. She’s struck up a friendship with Southside Serpent Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan), one hinting at romance. From an initial introduction as Riverdale High’s snootiest pupil to her fall from grace in the wake of Season 1’s climax, Madelaine Petsch is the show’s secret weapon. Whether Cheryl is being a manipulative brat or showing a more human, more vulnerable side, Petsch aces it. The deadpan humour and cruel one-liners are clearly worn as protective armour because she’s afraid of rejection and getting hurt. Striking first makes her look powerful and carefree, when she’s anything but. Cheryl is left in a very dark place at the end of Episode 16. Who’d have thought fans would one day be muttering ‘poor Cheryl Blossom’?
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