Netflix UK TV review: Riverdale Season 1, Episode 11
Kids in America6
Parents in America8
Ivan Radford | On 02, May 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 11. Not seen Riverdale? Catch up with spoiler-free review of the first three episodes.
Who killed Jason Blossom? That’s the question that Riverdale suddenly remembered it’s trying to answer last episode, as it rounded everyone up for a slasher moving-style house party, where all the unanswered questions and barely-concealed secrets were dragged to the surface. Now, it hops straight to that other teen movie tradition: the high school prom. And wouldn’t you know it? Not only is Scream’s Skeet Ulrich in town, but so is 80s teen movie queen Molly Ringwald. Add in 90s heartthrob Luke Perry and you have the dance to end all dances.
But enough about that. Let’s talk about the really important thing in Episode 11 of Riverdale: Clifford Blossom’s wigs. He’s got one for every occasion, mood, day of the week and Facebook relationship status, we discover. (Not all of those may be true.) One of the highlights of Season 1 of this show has been watching Clifford’s hair become more and more ridiculous, so it’s great to see the writers nod to his strangely coiffed appearance. The collection of ginger monstrosities is the most horrifying thing we’ve seen in the Blossom household yet – and that’s saying something, given they live at 666 Dracula Avenue.
Polly, of course, is still playing double agent, but just as we start to get excited about that, Cheryl steps in to remind her that she’s not only fiercely awesome, but also ferociously suspicious, keeping her eye on Polly like a hawk with a video camera. As for the engagement ring that Jason gave Polly, which Cheryl finds in Ma and Pa Blossom’s bedroom (alongside Cliff’s toupé shrine)? Oh, never mind about that, says Cheryl, it’s not as if they took it over Jason’s dead body to get it back. Penelope, perhaps the only thing scarier in Riverdale than the miniature hairpiece Woodstock going on in Clifford’s closer, insists that they were given it after Jason’s death. And, before anyone can question her – or ask her why the wing where Ma and Pa Blossom sleep is out of bounds, like the mansion from Beauty and the Beast – Penelope whips out a milkshake and gives it to Polly. Because nothing says “I’m not guilty” like drugging a teenage girl with a milkshake.
What happens to the ring? Cheryl secret holds onto it, telling her parents she flushed it down the loo. Is she just maniacally clinging to anything that connects her to Jason? Or will it turn out to be an important piece of evidence revealing his killer? Frankly, both are probably true. More importantly, though, a knocked-out Polly leaves Cheryl with no one to go with to the Homecoming dance. Priorities, people, come on.
Homecoming is certainly the theme here – no matter how much we want it to be Clifford’s rug club – and, after the teen-heavy exposition last episode, Riverdale smartly uses the opportunity to switch things up and focus on the parents.
Does it make any sense that all the adults are going to the Homecoming dance as well as the kids? No. Do we care? Not at all, if it means we get to see Luke Perry and Molly Ringwald rock up at the school in a white tux and dress – they put Archie and his awful red suit to shame.
Meta-flourishes aside, though, the dance is just one of our many windows onto the world of Riverdale’s adults. First up is Veronica’s dad, Hiram, who looks set to be released from prison, thanks to her character statement delivered last episode. Then, there’s Jughead and his dad, who begin to reconnect, after FP actually – shock, horror – cleans up his house, and, as a metaphorical extension of that display, possibly his life. They even chat about Jughead’s novel, although that’s mostly because FP is keen to quiz his son on what his theory is about the murderer.
Yet FP is the one really under scrutiny, as Veronica decides she wants to find out more about the theory that Hiram hired him to bump off Jason – you know, because of the maple syrup blood feud that’s actually a thing that actually exists in this show. Fortunately, Alice Cooper is just as eager to dig up the Southside Serpent’s skeletons, so they team up for some covert espionage. Veronica recruits Archie for good measure, who agrees because he claims it’ll help protect Jughead, but most likely because he’s gone goo-goo over Ronnie in recent weeks.
And so Alice Cooper (still funny) invites FP over for dinner, along with Jughead, and spends the time unsubtly grilling him about everything. Even Hal Cooper turns up, in case we need a reminder that he’s highly suspicious, highly capable of violence and highly overlooked in a dubious way by the screenwriters. It’s a deft little touch for the show, which has excelled at the awkwardness of dinner table conversations throughout Season 1, and now is using that knack for prickly domestic exchanges to drive up some narrative tension. FP works it out, though, and he leaves, which effectively puts a premature end to Archie and Veronica’s attempts to break into FP’s home while he was distracted.
But that’s ok, because they need to get to the Homecoming dance anyway, so they can perform a cover of Kids in America on stage. (Props to the series for once again mocking Archie, this time for his singing, which is described as normally being slow and depressing by the others.) Cutting between that and the police’s search of FP’s place makes for a stylish (if a little pointless) sequence, made better by the way the camera spends less time on Archie and Veronica flirting (we’re not convinced that KJ Apa’s bland protagonist could ever be enough for Camila Mendes’ witty, sassy new girl in town) and more time on the parents in the crowd watching them. Hell, there’s even a bonus showdown between Alice and Mary in the bathroom. High school, eat your heart out.
Of course, that’s when everything boils over, as Betty realises what’s going on and confronts Veronica and Archie about their secret snooping. This is a nice episode for Jughead and Betty, as their loyalty to, and affection for, one another shines through – the fact that we don’t like the idea of Jughead moving to Toledo with FP to join the rest of the Jones family is a sign of how good a couple they are. But Jughead thinks Betty’s in on it too, and things only get more fraught when the police find a gun and arrest FP as a result.
Was FP Jason’s murderer? It’s surely too obvious to be anything other than a red wig – sorry, herring. Which leads to the question: who did kill Jason? And, with Penelope Blossom making a cryptic remark about the fact that “nothing is lost forever, everything comes back”, does it even matter Jason’s dead at all? Could we be heading for an Afterlife-style series, inspired by Roberto Aguirre-Sacase’ own zombie-themed comic book run? And, if everything does keep coming back, does that mean Clifford’s toupe collection can never be destroyed? Expect all to be answered in the penultimate episode of Season 1… Well, except for the immortal wigs.
Riverdale is available exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription, with new episodes arriving every Friday. Episode 8 will be released on 31st March.
Photos: The CW Network