Riverdale review: Kelly Ripa is the best thing about this overstuffed episode


Riverdale brings in Kelly Ripa and her brief moment on screen is about the only thing saving this bloated, gimmicky episode.

I love Riverdale. I watch it, think about it, and then write about it every week. I ride hard for this show, so understand me when I assure you this Riverdale review comes from a place of love. It’s going to hurt me more than it hurts them.

Tonight’s episode, “Chapter Fourty-Six: The Red Dahlia” is so on-the-nose noir that the gimmick becomes the story. This installment, with it’s busy, non-stop, narrative dump, may have officially jumped the shark.

Riverdale has always existed in the grey space between camp and pastiche, but this week’s attempt at gritty noir (in the form of a pulpy detective story) doesn’t land as well as it should. Actually, it thuds at the top of the staircase, clomps, painfully and awkwardly down each step, only to land at the bottom with a resounding and unceremonial clunk.

At this stage of my fandom, I’ve become accustomed to sacrificing my good sense at the altar of entertainment and silly fun. However, they’ve asked too much of me this week, and there are some things I am completely unable — and frankly, unwilling — to accept.

As I said, I love this show, but they are forcing my hand with this nonsense. The plot was so convoluted, I can’t even recap what happened without my yarn wall and notecards. I will, however, rundown my beef with “Red Dahlia” and hope this will help clear the palette for next week.

What are we supposed to do with all these plot-twists?

This episode dropped all sorts of WTF moments. We find out who shot Hiram (FP), what was causing the seizures (poisonous run-off), what Hermione’s been up too (faking deaths and shooting lovers), Penelope’s serial murders (Clifford, Dilton, Claudius) and that Riverdale is changing (wicked town, crime town, town of lost souls).

All these, by themselves, are all very interesting. Together, however, it’s a jumbled, spaghetti-tangle of storyline that no regular viewer should have to sort through in one, hour-long, episode. I get this is part of the homage to the crime-noir genre, but that gimmick got very old, very quick, and by act three I was completely over it.

Why are these teenagers allowed to behave this way?

This episode, there were no less than three teenagers — that is, children under 18 — coming for adults twice their age, about things which the adults have three times the amount of experience. I don’t know what kind of homes y’all grew up in, but if I spoke to my mother the way Veronica speaks to hers, I would be picking myself up off the floor. It’s disrespectful.

She just stomps around like Veruca Salt, demanding to be taken seriously. She dresses down two mafia capos, telling them how to run the business they’ve been doing for decades, and then gripes about being “mobsplained” to. I mean… I think she might need some things explained to her. Leave it to this bit-player (with less than 10 lines) to say to V what we’re all thinking, “You’re being unrealistic.” Yeah … no duh.

Archie is no different. I get that he’s got some issues to work out.  And we’re supposed to sympathize with his spiral (more on that next), but I find his altercation with the foreman to be repugnant. He’s just some punk kid, bucking to a man who’s been doing this job for 20 years. Instead of busting up rocks, Archie should just kick rocks already.

How are we supposed to like Archie? Like … at all?

I completely understand the writers’ intent with Archie’s descent into depression and PTSD, but what they are hoping will endear us to Archie makes him even harder to watch. KJ Apa isn’t great at broody and belligerent, and things quickly go off the rails for Archie (and Apa, frankly) when Archie is thrown out of the Bonne Nuit for drunken, disorderly conduct. Apa is so far out of his depth here, he looks like a fourth grader playing a drunk guy in a school play.

And another thing … The writers are constantly asking us to believe Archie is “about that life.” But he’s really, really not. He can’t do anything in a real, convicted way. In the scene in Hiram’s hospital room, when he’s standing over Hiram with the gun in his hand, I don’t think anybody in the world believed he was going to do anything about that.

So, now, thanks to the kindness of a good (and woefully underutilized) woman, Archie is back on track. Josie’s hangover cure and stern talking-to did the trick and he’s ready to channel his unhealthy energy into boxing and “jam” sessions. How about a little talk therapy, Archie? Or a mild anti-depressant to help with your situationally onset depression?

Since when is Penelope on Betty’s sleuthing radar?

This felt inorganic and shoe-horned in. Why would Betty, all of a sudden, feel compelled to investigate Claudius’ murder. Have we just accepted that there is literally no law enforcement in this town and we have to rely on Betty and her ponytail to solve crimes?

I won’t complain about what she’s uncovered, however, This is one of the more interesting moments of the night, as Betty and Jughead stumble on her red-light district sex club, The Maple Club. It’s been an underlying plot point for two seasons now, but I like exploring the Blossom dysfunction, particularly the brothel of it all.

When can I have more Kelly Ripa?

This is definitely not a criticism, but rather than a request. Now that we know both Lodge parents have been sneaking around with other folks, it’s time for main-piece/side-piece showdown.

Kelly Ripa is the queen and could totally hold her own.

Related Story. There’s a new sheriff in an almost unrecognizable Riverdale. light

Did I get anything wrong? What did you love/hate about this week’s Riverdale? Leave your opinions in the comments below or tweet me your thoughts.

Riverdale airs on The CW on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET.