Riverdale review: Money moves all around


Riverdale is looking to give the characters their own power positions, but not everyone has what it takes to make their bones this week.

I’ve been feeling some kind of way about Riverdale for the last few episodes. I am aware that I can be critical of something I love very much, but it just hasn’t delivered on its strong suits of late. This week’s “Chapter Forty-Eight: Requiem for a Welterweight” changed my recent opinions and has me feeling enthused.

Although it’s not the best of the series, by far, it does deliver on what this show does best: implausible drama and high camp. This installment plucks some of the most farcical narrative strings, tehn pulls and pulls until the silliness can’t be ignored, but must be enjoyed. It’s got its characters making some pretty baller moves with the unearned confidence I’ve come to appreciate about this show.

Gladys punks Veronica

Veronica is a full on gangster now, and there’s just no use in debating its believability. Even though she’s pretty terrible at it, we just have to understand that this child is part of Riverdale’s organized crime syndicate. The writers must sense our growing weariness with this, because they gifted us with Gladys Jones and pitted her against the unwitting Veronica.

Veronica is so outmatched by Gladys that it could be safe to assume that the name of the episode is a reference to this duo. Gina Gershon is such inspired casting as Jughead’s mother and FP’s ex, and I’m glad to see she gets to capitalize on her talents. I love how she plays Gladys as “too cool for it all,” because Gershon might just be too cool for the show Riverdale.

She acts as the Greek chorus for the audience, murmuring her disbelief that she’s interacting with teenagers (again). Veronica brought a knife to a gun fight, and I am delighted at how dismissive Gladys becomes when it comes to interacting with her. She openly laughs when Veronica tries to “shake her down,” and counters V’s tactical advances with a threat to tell her daddy. It’s just so rich.

Archie is a boxer now. You know, for his mental health.

Oh, Archie. Poor, misguided, block-headed, beautiful dummy Archie. I guess his commitment to his music a few episodes back wore off, so now he’s attempting to box his way out of his PTSD. Why can’t the ever-absent Fred show up enough to recommend a good therapist for this kid instead of continually allowing him to do the most idiotic things imaginable?

Coached by Tom Keller, who is spontaneously a boxing coach now, Archie tries to punch his way out of his mental illness, because … you know, that’s really healthy. Instead of getting himself out of trouble, he lands himself squarely at the mercy of Riverdale’s other teen mob-boss, Elio.

Archie is so in need of an actual fight that he ignores Tom’s advice about not being ready, and instead strikes a deal with Elio to throw a fight with a roguish bruiser that doesn’t mutter a single line through the handful of scenes he’s in. Archie only has to make it three rounds, lose, and then he’ll receive a cool five grand. He’s the only person on the planet who thinks this is a good idea, and it takes Tom and his new GF, Josie, to convince him he’s done something stupid, again.

Against his better judgment, however, Tom helps Archie not die in the match, and the two boxers go the whole bout. Archie inexplicably holds his own in his very first fight against a seasoned boxer who, two scenes ago, he was afraid would kill him. It comes down to a decision instead of a knock-out and Archie loses. Fine. Right?

Wrong. Archie sulks like he just lost the lottery, and we are meant to understand that we haven’t seen the last of Elio and his silent brute. Why doesn’t Archie just go straight to Betty every time he’s faced with a life decision? We all know she’s going to have to get him out of this mess in the end, anyway. Save us the middle-drama, Riverdale.

Betty saves Alice from “bodily harm”

Speaking of Betty, she’s hot on the case of the Farm and Edgar Evernever. She can’t find any pictures of him on the internet, and she’s reduced to cold-calling ex-members on the phone. When she learns that her mother is about to be baptized (in a navel-skimming pouf of a wedding dress) and that she has to sign a death waiver, Betty freaks, because Betty is the only person living in Riverdale with a working logic chip.

Betty finally tracks down a previous member and learns that “baptism” is Farm-speak for “drowning,” and sets off, hot-footed, to get to her mother in time. I can’t understand why she didn’t just drive, but the drama of Betty high-tailing it through the streets of Riverdale is oddly satisfying.

She arrives at the Farm just in time to see Polly holding her mother under water, and Betty has to resuscitate her. Alice’s near-death doesn’t do much to convince her to leave this cult. In fact, it strengthens her commitment. Alice is going to purge, er sell, the Cooper family home so they can all live happily on the Farm together. Obviously, we don’t think Betty is going to go along with this, but it does beg the question of where she’ll go.

Things are far too crowded at the Jones trailer with Gladys and Jellybean making themselves at home. And she certainly can’t go to Archie’s house with all the things he’s doing with brand new girlfriend Josie. What’s next for our ponytailed heroine?

Riverdale is Gangland

Just when we thought Jughead might get his turn as Serpent King, Cheryl decides he won’t. Last week we saw her gift the newly-named Pretty Poisons to Toni, but Jughead, and subsequently Toni, think it might just be a puppet coup. Jug calls the new all-girl gang Cheryl’s “vanity project” and he gets into Toni’s head about it.

Toni and Cheryl have a bit of a face-off about who’s the real leader after Cheryl “deploys” the PP to rough up Sweet Pea and Fangs. Toni stands her down, and just when we think we might have a new player in the game, Gladys Jones swoops in.

To be fair, Gladys tried to help Jughead get the job done. She recommends recruiting the Ghouiles now that Penny Peabody is gone. And since the Serpents’ numbers are dwindling, it’s about head count at this point. Jug does his best Apocalypse Now impression, as he searches for the last remaining Ghoulie, Kurtz.

Final thoughts: More Gladys. Period.

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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.