Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 17 of Riverdale Season 2. Not seen Riverdale? Catch up with spoiler-free review of the first three episodes.
The problem with Archie has always been the fact the supporting characters around him are far more interesting. It’s still an issue and given we’re at the tail end of Season 2 now, it likely always will be. Only a supporting character in the cast, who tends to dip in and out of the show, Mädchen Amick gets a chance in Episode 17 to shine in her hugely entertaining role as Alice Cooper, Riverdale’s greatest busybody and former editor of The Riverdale Register. The ex-Serpent has grown closer and closer to FP (Skeet Ulrich) since she and Hal (Lochlyn Munro) split up, although she’s still throwing shade at the Serpents whenever she can. Yet there’s no denying it: Alice is back in the Serpents’ lair and it feels like a bit of a homecoming. How long it’ll last is anybody’s guess, but she’s regained a new-found loyalty after Jug and his switchblade-wielding crew helped her out of a tight jam.
Episode 17 (subtitled Chapter Thirty: The Noose Tightens) largely focuses on the Cooper clan and Chic making a stupid error in judgement, one which can be read as either game-playing tactics to unsettle Betty or a genuine mistake. Chic is hard to read. When he’s in his mom’s presence, he goes for a wounded bird look. When it’s him and Betty, he bares his fangs. Alice has treated him far too kindly, for sure, in part blinded by her guilt at having put him up for adoption. It’s as if the boy is an unwelcome reminder of her lowly origins on the Southside of town and being a teenaged mom. She’s loving him too much and it isn’t from the heart.
The kids are busy this episode launching their high school presidency campaigns. Who will be victorious on election day? Team Varchie (Veronica and Archiekins), Team Rosie (Reggie and Josie) or Team Bug (Betty and Jug)? The episode opens with the candidates pitching to their fellow students, but soon the focus is on Archie attempting to threaten Hiram’s old buddies, who pitch up to muscle in on gentrifying the town.
The red-haired high schooler is acting like Hiram Lodge’s personal guard dog these days, and all but ignores his stand-up-guy old man, Fred (Sideshow Luke Perry). With Mary (Molly Ringwald) back on the scene, she attempts to prick his conscience and remind him the well-to-do world of the Lodges is against his blue collar American upbringing and moral code. Even a kindly word from his mother doesn’t stop Archie from setting up a new vigilante group – the Dark Circle – and petrol bombing a couple of cars. Dude’s got cojones, we’ll give him that.
Poor Cheryl’s time at the gay conversion therapy centre run by sadistic nuns was ended relatively swiftly (it lasted one episode). Things are set in motion for the daring night-time rescue mission, when Nana Rose Blossom (Barbara Morgan) tips off Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. Like two knights rescuing a damsel in distress from a gothic castle under cover of darkness, Toni and Veronica, the latter looking like a teenage version of Irma Vep from silent serial Les Vampires, bust out Cheryl from her hellish prison via a secret tunnel. Cheryl and Toni share a kiss too, poignantly doing so in front of other captive teens, who are forced nightly to watch anti-gay propaganda films by the evil homophobes.
Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl), who we’ve singled out a lot this season for her consistently captivating performances, is once again on top form. Back in school, Cheryl reverts to her bitchy self, demanding the lead role in Kevin’s staging of Carrie: The Musical. Fans must endure another tiresome three-week break now. Riverdale returns to Netflix on 19th April, with a musical special based on Stephen King’s classic horror. There will be blood.
Riverdale is available exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Thursday, within 24 hours of their US broadcast.
Photos: The CW Network