Teenage wasteland: ‘Riverdale’ goes over the cuckoo’s nest

Teenage wasteland: ‘Riverdale’ goes over the cuckoo’s nest

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The CW/Courtesy

Cuffing season is alive and well but it seems that none of the happy couples in Riverdale, save for the very underrepresented #Choni, are getting cuddly in Dilton’s bunker anytime soon. With the gang all separated from each other, “Riverdale” broke up Wednesday’s episode into three segments chronicling their individual misadventures.

 

Stand By Archie and Jughead

First up are Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Archie (KJ Apa), who have apparently just been walking the railroad for days. What’s the long-term plan here, boys? It seems like they don’t know, but thankfully, they stumble across a farm and decide to explore. Because farms are notorious for being safe and filled with friendly people.

They take about two steps on the farmland before getting a rifle pointed at them by a 13-year-old girl.

Despite introducing themselves as “Cal” and “Biff” to the girl’s older sister, she has a tough time believing that anyone in the current century could be named Biff. She tells her younger sister to shoot them, because … well, because this is America. But the boys manage to befriend the older sister, Laurie Lake (Riley Keough), and she goes from trying to kill them to feeding them and offering them an invitation to spend the night in the barn. Oh, the things you can get away with when you look like KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse.

While a shirtless Archie stacks bales of hay the next morning, Jughead goes into town to take photos. He finds that the town is devoid of people—but filled with Gryphons & Gargoyles symbols. He soon runs into some preteens who are high on Fizzle Rocks and playing G&G.

Meanwhile, Archie is busy getting shaved by Laurie, which becomes even more erotic when Laurie straddles Archie and begins making out with him. Archie’s conscience gets to him and he unstraddles himself from Laurie. Then the so-naïve-it’s-dumb redhead proceeds to launch into his entire backstory and how he’s running from Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos).

Speaking of Hiram Lodge, apparently he runs this town and is known in these parts as the “Man in Black.” Original, CW.  According to the girls in the truck, who do not know the meaning of stranger danger and spill everything to Jughead, the men in town went to work to build a prison nearby, which is also a front for a Fizzle Rock factory. So not only does the prison detain incarcerated minors and host an underground fight club, it also functions as a drug lab — second place for most versatile institution right after the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.

Speak of the devil and he will appear: Hiram stops by in his inconspicuous limo to pick up a tied-up Archie, who was knocked out by Laurie shortly after spilling his life story. Jughead arrives just in time to untie him but is 17 years too late to save Archie from his lack of common sense as he, being the angsty teen he is, tries to stay and fight Hiram even though Hiram has his entourage of goonies. And also guns.

Thankfully, Jughead convinces Archie that his plan is completely stupid and they successfully escape Hiram’s clutches. As they head out on the railroad tracks again, Jughead decides they should pay a visit to his mom.

 

Lodge’s 11

Frustrated at Sheriff Minetta’s convenient disappearance right as she found evidence of his coercion, Veronica (Camila Mendes) decides to move out of the Pembrooke and move into her speakeasy. Realizing business has been slow, she decides to hit up fellow mob kid, the not-Timothee-Chalamet Elio (Julian Haig), who agrees to help her start a casino in the speakeasy. Hearing that Veronica is fraternizing with mob rivals, Hiram pays her a visit to warn her about Elio and his family’s shady ways. When Veronica is less than receptive to Hiram’s paternal concerns, he asks the most understated line of the episode, “Are you angry about something?”

As if he didn’t falsely convict her boyfriend of murder, force said boyfriend to fight in an underground fight club and then set up the boyfriend to be killed. And this is all just in the past few episodes.

Anyways, Veronica goes on with her genius plan of opening an underground casino based entirely on the business plan that “the house always wins.” Seriously, that’s all she says when justifying taking out a second mortgage on Pop’s to finance the casino. This house-of-cards business plan falls immediately as soon as Elio goes on a way-too-hot streak when playing during opening night. To combat this, Veronica asks to be dealt in. She bets him the deed to Pop’s in a winner-takes-all game of blackjack, which Veronica narrowly wins.

Later that night, Veronica reveals to Reggie (Charles Melton) her win wasn’t completely by chance. Earlier that day, she visited her dad, who gave her step-by-step instructions on how to scam the scammer, down to giving her a casino dealer recommendation. She ends her flashback by postulating the idea that maybe Hiram isn’t that bad of a guy after all.

Okay, Veronica, okay.

 

Betty, Interrupted

Poor Betty (Lili Reinhart) is stuck in everyone’s favorite orphanage-turned-women’s shelter-turned-gay-conversion-camp-turned-mental-institution, the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Unfortunately, things are not looking up for her. Not only are the sisters handing out Fizzle Rocks to the patients, Ethel is her new roommate and will not shut up about talking to the Gargoyle King. While pretending to be well-adjusted, Betty snoops around and finds Clifford Blossom and Hiram Lodge doing some shady dealings with the crooked women who still are apparently pious enough to be considered sisters.

Determined to find her patient file, Betty fakes a seizure to gain access to the infirmary where the folders are held. Inside, she finds that the ubiquitous Hiram Lodge has been using patients as lab rats for testing his products and has ordered for her own dosage to increase. Good thing Betty has been throwing away her “candy” in the empty trash can in her room the Gargoyle King-loving Ethel also inhabits. Seems like she’s safe, right?

Nope, Ethel is quick to see the bright red candy in the black trash cans. When Betty tries to escape through the door in the basement that conveniently got Cheryl out in less than an episode last season, Ethel brings in the big guns (see: buff nuns), who restrain Betty and force Fizzle Rocks down her throat. They drag her to have a talk with the big man himself, the Gargoyle King.

Cut to Betty, now drugged and complacent, praising the Gargoyle King and seeing him everywhere.

Oh, the places the gang is going!

Julie Lim covers television. Contact her at julielim@dailycal.org.

The Daily Californian

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