Riverdale Tells Three Stories in Two Nights with No Killer

first_img Right away, last night’s Riverdale let us know we were in for something different. Rather than Jughead’s usual narration, we got a text scroll straight out of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It even includes the line about the events being more tragic because the victims were young. Still, nobody actually dies in this one. Riverdale’s showrunner really doesn’t want to turn this season into a slasher movie, even as it borrows its visual elements and story structure from them. The title of the episode, “Tales from the Darkside,” is more of an indication of what the episode actually is. Named for George A. Romero’s ’80s horror anthology series (which is definitely worth a watch, if you haven’t seen it), the episode tells three suspenseful stories taking place over the same couple nights. Each story, like the ones in Romero’s series, ends with some kind of twist.With more episodes to work with this season, Riverdale is free to be a little more experimental with the stories it tells. As much as we want to know who the Black Hood is, the stalling tactic employed by this episode is necessary. It gives the mystery some room to breathe and build suspense. It lets us spend some time in the town of Riverdale and see how the events of this season have affected it. It also gives Riverdale the time to explore its own influences and give them a loving homage. I love when this show takes a break from the high-speed insanity of its main plot to indulge in its (also insane) love for its influences. Season one had that out-of-nowhere Dark Betty turn that immediately made most viewers think of Twin Peaks. Now, season two has its teen drama dressed like its favorite horror anthology classic.Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones and Tony Todd as Farmer McGinty (Photo: Jack Rowand © 2017 The CW Network)The episode begins with some brief set-up explaining why we won’t see much of the Black Hood this week. He’s testing Riverdale. If the town can go without sinning for 48 hours, he won’t kill anyone anymore. Spoiler: It can’t. The rest of the episode follows three pairs of kids as the navigate those 48 hours. Though it looks like Betty and Jughead are back together, they both have their own worries going on. Betty is trying to figure out who the Black Hood is, and Jughead is dealing with the aftermath of Archie’s deal with the Ghoulies. They go separate ways and the stories begin. First, Archie and Jughead. Jughead gets a call from Penny Peabody, the Serpent lawyer his dad told him to stay away from. That turns out to be real good advice, although Jughead doesn’t realize that until it’s too late. She tells him his dad got beat up by some Ghoulies after Archie’s stunt last episode. She needs money to speed his case up and get him out of jail. To get that money, she hires Jughead to run a crate of “pancake mix” over to Greendale.This segment features a truly amazing guest star. Jughead enlists Archie to drive him to Greendale and, of course, they get a flat tire. The trip is seemingly rescued by the sudden appearance of horror icon Tony Todd. Yes, it’s the Candyman himself! (Or Death’s exposition guy, if you prefer the Final Destination series.) After two straight weeks of playing to musical theatre kids, it’s nice to see the show throwing a bone to horror movie buffs. Todd is terrific in this episode, bringing to it all the gravitas and danger he brings to his horror movies. He takes Jughead and his crate to a diner, where he tries to stick the kid with the bill and steal the “pancake mix.” Fortunately, Archie saves the day as only he can, and the two boys make the dropoff. Only to find out that Jughead’s been set up. That’s the twist of this story. Jughead’s dad wasn’t hurt. Penny forced him to be the new Jingle Jangle delivery boy. And he’s going to keep doing it or she’ll sell him out to the cops. Should have listened to your dad, Jughead. Knowing this show, the deliveries won’t last long before it all blows up in Jughead’s face. The only thing we can be certain about is that we can’t possibly predict how.Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, and Jordan Calloway as Chuck Clayton (Photo: Shane Harvey © 2017 The CW Network)Jughead and Archie’s story may have had a horror movie star in it, but Josie’s story was the most like a horror movie. And it had the best twist. Thinking back on it while writing this, it’s impressive how well it was set up. The foreshadowing was subtle enough that it was possible to guess what was going to happen, but it still came as a huge surprise. At first glance, Josie and Cheryl look like normal friends, but then you realize how clingy Cheryl’s being. But hey, Josie did save her from a sexual assault. It’s natural she’d want to be around a friend who makes her feel safe. Then you realize it’s a little suspicious that the music agent Cheryl hooked Josie up with doesn’t want the pussycats involved. And Cheryl is doing everything she can to make sure Josie doesn’t trust the apparently reformed Chuck Clayton.Josie’s story revolves around her having a stalker, and it’s legit scary. She’s getting strange notes that grow increasingly possessive. Finally, she receives a drawing of herself along with a real pig’s heart. Cheryl is sure Chuck is the culprit and the episode really wants us to think it’s the janitor who listens to Josie practice after the school closes. It’s neither. Cheryl is the one who’s stalking Josie. Suddenly, everything falls into place. She’s separating Josie from her band and from any potential dates. No one else is allowed to be Josie’s friend. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that Cheryl is super creepy at this point, but Riverdale keeps finding ways to make it one. If Archie and Jughead’s story showed how geeky and knowing this show can be, Josie’s reminded us that it can be truly creepy when it wants to.Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones (Photo: Jack Rowand © 2017 The CW Network)Finally, there was Betty and Veronica’s story, which largely served to tell you that your Black Hood fan theories are probably wrong. After the Black Hood killed the Sugarman at the end of the last episode, Betty starts thinking Sheriff Keller is the Black Hood. And hey, Kevin mentions that he has been acting awful strange lately. Veronica, on the other hand, thinks the Sheriff is having an affair and the two set about finding out what’s really going on. For a little bit, it looks like Betty might be right. The Sheriff is working out late into the night, going out in the wee hours of the morning, and the next day, a Jingle Jangle addict turns up dead. Then there’s his evidence room, which looks like the den of a serial killer… or a cop trying to catch one. Yes, just like you, Betty has plenty of circumstantial evidence supporting her theory, but it’s completely wrong. This is the show telling you to be patient. You’ll learn the identity of the Black Hood soon, but maybe cool it with the wild accusations. Because they’re wrong. Your theories are wrong. The only person who’s right is the one assuming things aren’t as they appear: Veronica. Sheriff Keller is having an affair. The twist is who with. He’s sleeping with Mayor McCoy. That certainly paints the scene after the pig’s heart incident in a different light.Riverdale broke from its usual format last night to experiment with the kinds of stories it can tell. Even with this break from the norm, it was still the crazy, soapy Riverdale we know and love. It’s a reminder that this show is always capable of more than it lets on. It uses its teen drama base to tell stories across multiple genres, and proudly displays its influences. Last night, the series used its three-story format to showcase everything it does well: bonkers fast-paced storytelling, Lynchian horror and convoluted mystery, all with the perfect amount of self-awareness. Is it any wonder we love this show so much? Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetcenter_img SDCC 2019: ‘Riverdale’ Cast Spills Details on Core ‘Mystery’ for Season 4Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019 last_img