'Riverdale' is absurdly engaging in season 2 premiere
Fake blood either awards authenticity or warrants mockery. There is something about the believability of fake blood in TV shows that makes it corny or passable. Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa, “A Dog’s Purpose”), however, looks like he rolled around in some red paint and called it a day. I mean, it wasn’t even close to the right color.
This is how the season two premiere of “Riverdale” starts, and the ridiculousness of the show manages to maintain amusement throughout the rest of the episode.
Originally, the mystery that plagued the small town of Riverdale was who killed Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines, “The Fosters”). Now that the murder has been solved (spoiler — he was killed by his own father) the show must shift to a new plot and new set of riddles to unravel. The new focus appears to center around Fred Andrews (Luke Perry, “Body of Proof”): Why was he shot in the local diner, and by whom?
The focal point of this episode is Fred’s condition. There are many questions swarming in the viewer’s mind, but the concern is distracted from Fred’s life because of Archie’s clothes. They are a huge sore spot in the middle of the content of the episode. The clothes are covered in unrealistic blood (from his father’s wound), and in today’s market, with all the resources special effects offer, there should be no reason the blood is so unbelievable. Then, he doesn’t even bother to change out of once he returns home. I’m not sure what angle they were going for there — maybe, “My dad is dying, so staying in my bloody clothes will surely help.” Whatever the questionable logic may be, the phony blood seems to take up about 60 percent of the screen time.
There are many predictable side effects to TV shows broadcasting the improbable, like Veronica’s (Camila Mendes, “The New Romantics”) perfectly dry hair and untouched smokey eye after a steamy shower scene with Archie. I can get over that. It happens in basically every TV show and movie ever made. But I cannot seem to wrap my brain around 15 and 16-year-old high school students wearing five-inch stiletto heels everywhere, including the hospital. Or that two teenagers can easily waltz into the scene of a crime, as Betty (Lili Reinhart, The Good Neighbor) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse, “The Suite Life on Deck”) do at the diner, without any caution tape or police officers in sight. Glamorization in Hollywood is expected, until it becomes so unrelatable that it forces me to lose interest in the show, which is exactly what “Riverdale” risks by continuing to incorporate far-fetched ideas of norms.
The plot complicates with many moving parts. At one end, Betty and Jughead have to face the reality of their relationship under Mrs. Cooper’s (Mädchen Amick, “Twin Peaks”) disapproving eye. Jughead struggles with his father’s imprisonment. Veronica accuses her mother of putting a hit on Fred. Cheryl’s mother suffered serious third degree burns as a result of the fire she started and is now in intensive care. Archie is plagued with the memory of the shooter and is distraught over his father’s condition. All of these subplots come across forced, arguably more so than the first season. The constant “looming danger” is exhausting to keep up with, and it’s as though the producers are jam packing all of these twisted plots into one episode, and it just doesn’t fit. Actually, it makes the show convoluted and rather unconvincing.
Fred Andrews unsurprisingly wakes up, but the heartfelt moment is inevitably ruined by the tacky and laughable dialogue. The fatherly love Fred feels for Archie isn’t appreciated in that moment — it loses all credibility because the writers wrote it in such a way that no genuine person would ever say. Mr. Andrew’s claim that he “came back” for his son is typical and cliche, and Perry’s delivery of the line was subpar at best. Not to mention Archie’s newfound duty to sit on the stairs of his home with a baseball bat every night in case the ski mask shooter comes back — really?
The one thing this episode did well was offer closure on two accounts. First, we finally got to see the elusive Mr. Lodge (Mark Consuelos, “The Night Shift”). The drama in that scene was justified, as his arrival was long awaited and anticipated. Mr. Lodge sits in the back of the room, rather Godfather-esche, with little lighting on his face so he is unrecognizable. Instead of a happy reunion between father and daughter, the scene is tense and uneasy. The second is the answer to what happened to the creepy music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel, “Atomica”). Episodes ago, Ms. Grundy had an extremely inappropriate relationship with Archie that was glossed over because attention centered on Jason. She simply disappeared and was never mentioned again. However, the final scene of this episode — and cliffhanger — reveals Ms. Grundy’s murder by no other that the man in the ski mask.
Although this show has it’s fair share of aspects to poke fun at, it ironically keeps viewers engaged. Mystery hooks people, and “Riverdale” has proven to capture a large-scale audience. While its acting is weak and lines are corny, the desire to know whodunit keeps viewers sticking around.