By Transmute Jun
Warning: this article contains spoilers for season 1 of Riverdale, including the season 1 finale.
Riverdale’s first episode started with a murder. Jason Blossom was missing, until his body washed ashore, a bullet through the head. In episode 12, the penultimate show of the season, viewers learned that the killer was none other than Clifford Blossom, Jason’s father. Unfortunately, before Clifford’s motivations could be discovered, he apparently committed suicide (I say ‘apparently’, because on Riverdale, much is never as it ‘seems’) taking his secrets with him. Although the way Riverdale has been heading this season, I’m sure they will come out… eventually.
But it isn’t just the small things. Hermione fired the Serpents from their construction jobs at Fred’s company, without consulting him. Angered by her presumptuousness, Fred refused to accept her offer to buy him out of his own company. In the last moments of the season, Fred was shot during a robbery at Pop’s by a masked gunman. But was it truly an accident? Are the Serpents, or perhaps even Hiram Lodge, out for revenge?
As usual, the teenagers share in the drama, as Cheryl attempts suicide by falling into the frozen lake where her brother’s body was found, only to be rescued by Archie. Jughead is forced to move to a foster home on the other side of town where he has to (gasp!) change to a different high school. Knowing that his father didn’t rat them out from jail, the Serpents make Jughead one of them, much to Betty’s horror. And Cheryl clearly isn’t ‘all there’, as she celebrates her narrow escape by torching the Blossom mansion, infuriating her mother.
And in what might seem like an ‘out of the blue’ moment to some, Alice confessed that when she was in high school, she got pregnant (by Hal) and gave the baby boy up for adoption. Betty has an older brother out there, somewhere. In the comics, Betty’s older brother, Chic, works as a ‘secret agent’ for the US government. This small scene makes me wonder if they’re setting up Chic to appear as an FBI agent (or some such) in Riverdale’s season 2. Perhaps he will be assigned to investigate the Serpents? Or even Hiram Lodge?
With this final episode of the season, Riverdale has set up a number of future plot threads for Season 2. What will become of Jughead at Southside High, as a member of the Serpents? Will his relationship with Betty survive the physical and emotional distance? Will Cheryl regain hold of her tenuous sanity, or will her mother lose it as well? Will Fred Andrews survive the attack? Whether or not he does, will tensions between the Serpents and the townspeople boil over into further violence? And where does Hiram Lodge, apparently just released from prison and on his way back to town, fit into all of the intrigue simmering under Riverdale’s surface?
Being a fan of Archie comics, after watching the first episode of Riverdale I was curious to see how the characters I knew intimately from the printed page would develop over the course of the television season. For the most part, I have been pleased by what I have seen. Archie, while still impulsive, has grown from a selfish guy into someone who acts to help others, showing the true heart that has embodied the character for decades in the comics. Betty is definitely not as perfect as her comic counterpart, but continues to become more endearing as she struggles with her family troubles, how to assure Jughead of her feelings for him, and her ‘darker nature’ (which was only hinted at in season 1). Jughead has now become dependent on his friends, and it is clear that he is no longer as comfortable in the role of loner as he was at the beginning of the season. And Veronica has allowed her ‘new persona’ to slip, but only in defense of her friends. She remains surprisingly likable.
My only complaint about the Riverdale characterizations of the classic comic characters would be the (lack of) use of Reggie Mantle. So far he is depicted similarly to his accomplished, handsome, egotistical comic counterpart, but he was barely seen this season. He is such an integral part of the Archie universe that it would be wonderful to see him step up and play a bigger role in season 2.
The other hope I have for season 2 is that the producers of the show continue to give comic fans the recognition they deserve. Hands down, the best moment of the entire season was Jughead’s dream sequence of episode 7, where he imagined his life in the role of his comic counterpart. Kudos to Riverdale for pulling off this homage so perfectly, and yet still in line with the darker nature of the television program.
I am already looking forward to seeing new episodes next season. Are you excited about Riverdale? Join the conversation on FoCC!