In what could have been the preachiest hour of television the CW has ever made, Archie faces race relations while Betty and Veronica deal with slut shaming. Hot button topics like these are too often forced heavy handed down viewer’s throats, but the writers of Riverdale seem to understand the beauty in the saying that less is more.
Archie, having come forward about hearing the gunshot, is rewarded by Cheryl and gets to shadow Josie and the Pussycats while they work on their latest song. Josie shuts Archie down saying that he doesn’t understand how hard it is for her, the mayors daughter, to get respect. It falls a little flat, but the fact that her friends try to get her to stop preaching actually helps. Josie comes to soften towards Archie, which is great because turning her into a channel to spout tolerance would have been a mistake. Instead she can become another great character for people to look up to.
Now for the after school special. First of all is there something wrong with the football team? Why do they have to lie about getting girls? The show didn’t even really deal with slut shaming it was more about shaming girls who didn’t actually sleep with anyone. It was fun getting another peak into the crazy mind of Betty. Is Betty going all Norman Bates with her big sis? Then there’s Ethel who had that evil smile when the girls were torturing Chuck. Did she fake the playbook? The Stranger Things nod was a great touch; hopefully Ethel sticks around longer than Barb.
Jughead has finally made his way to the centre of the story and it’s great. Cole Sprouse has finally gotten the hang of the snarky would be writer. It’s nice to see him interacting with someone other than Archie and he and Betty seem pretty close. She even has a nickname for him. Of all the characters, Jughead is the one who pushed the main plot forward the most this episode. He found out the scout leader fired the first shot and that Grundy’s car was at the river that morning. Of course he, and the audience, already knew that, but now he can’t keep a lid on Archie’s secret.
Riverdale is still going strong three episodes in. Camila Mendes as Veronica is definitely the highlight of the episode. Mendes gets a chance to show a more vulnerable side to the usually unshakable Veronica.