Riverdale season 4 episode 12 review: A man of honor


This week’s Riverdale finds Jughead and Archie both reflecting on what it means to be a man of honor while a fierce Toni honors Cheryl in turn.

Last week’s episode of Riverdale saw the rivalry between Riverdale High and Stonewall Prep reach a (quiz show) fever pitch as the schools faced off once again in a televised academic quiz bowl.

After the cheating scandal at last week’s quiz bowl, Alice makes a last-ditch effort to appeal to the not-so-sweet Mr. Honey, but he brings down the hammer. Betty is suspended for a week, can’t go to prom, and worst of all, she’s no longer editor of The Blue and Gold. (Way harsh!)

As she and Betty go to clean out her things from The Blue and Gold office, Alice sees Betty’s (latest) murder board. Alice, newly unemployed herself, joins with Betty on a classic,  mother-daughter murder mystery caper to close the Chipping case.

Alice and Betty do a lot of fun detective stuff, and honestly, I don’t know that they actually learned anything meaningful, but isn’t it fun to watch them together? I, for one, would definitely watch a Betty and Alice detective spinoff.

One thing they do learn is that Bret has a tape collection. He secretly taped (among other things) Moose having sex with a male classmate at Stonewall in order to blackmail him.

(If Bret wasn’t already the worst, he officially is now. Outing people isn’t cute.) This worries Betty that he may have footage of her and Jug doing the deed, but also curious about what else he has.

This brings us back to Stonewall Prep where Jughead and Bret face off in an old school duel, which is actually a series of three duels:  fencing, old-school fisticuffs, and a chess match.

The most satisfying moment of the entire duel story, aside from lots of good macho moments from Jug, is when Jughead knocks Bret out stone-cold with one punch. It almost makes up for the fact that he later decides to concede the duel to Bret. (I still don’t understand this decision.)

While Bret and Jughead are concentrating on the chess match, Betty searches the Quill and Skulls dungeon for Bret’s VHS collection (sidebar:  is he responsible for the creepy tapes around town?) while Alice is on the lookout.

But Bret gets an intruder alert and they’re soon discovered. And, of course, he has a secret of Jughead’s on tape, too, so Betty soon gives up.

Thankfully, Betty was able to smuggle out one tape — Donna’s — which curiously matches the exact confession Donna gave Betty about Chipping a few months earlier, except that she uses a different teacher’s name, one Jughead doesn’t recognize.

Betty theorizes that, rather than Bret, Donna may be pulling the strings at Stonewall Prep.

Meanwhile, Frank’s old friend from the army shows up to tell them one of their friends died of cancer. This part of the episode, known as the Gristled Old Man Hour, finds a depressed Archie staring down the barrel of his own mortality and contemplating the precious frailty of life itself.

While Archie just wants to connect with his long-lost uncle in an effort to learn more about the dearly departed Fred Andrews, his uncle is just a total bummer.

And his uncle’s friend is even worse. The dude is actually a serial killer! Because, of course, he is! This is RIverdale after all.

The Gristled Old Man Hour is simultaneously the most dull and campiest part of this week’s episode. When Archie leaves for school, then comes back for his phone, only to find Frank in a fight to the death, you know he has to just be exasperated by it all. Serial killers are old news in Riverdale.

(Sidebar: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa explained that this episode is an homage to an old Archie Comics storyline where Archie faces The Punisher. …But it is dumb.)

What follows is a very involved scheme with FP and the Serpents and “the Feds” in order to entrap Frank’s friend, whose name is Ted, I think. There’s lots of talk about “mercenaries” and it essentially adds up to the fact that Frank did something illegal, so he has to skip town.

Before he does, we get an insane fight where “The Punisher” inexplicably shows up in the boys bathroom at Riverdale High School and attacks Archie “I fought a bear” Andrews who can hold his own, thank you.

Kevin walks in and, despite being the son of a former cop and current Armed Forces member, is still very gay, so he doesn’t know what to do, apparently. Thankfully, Frank shows up just in the nick of time to take the dude out with a trophy.

And then skips town. Without leaving a note.

Thankfully, FP is there to stand in as Archie’s surrogate dad, and America’s surrogate dad, which I do love. I would rather watch these two together a hundred times over than one more second of the Gristled Old Man Hour, so good riddance, Frank!

Oh, and also Veronica goes to New York to see Katy Keene. #crossover

I mean, if it weren’t quite so obvious of a mini backdoor pilot for the Katy Keene premiere, it would be a little better. But the dialogue is literally all exposition and it’s pretty unbearable to watch. Lucy Hale and Camila Mendes deserve better.

After coming back from New York, Veronica learns that her dad has some kind of mysterious neurological illness that will cause his muscles to atrophy, but it may not kill him, but it is serious. *Deep sigh*

If you’re going to write something like this into a show, be specific about it. Sure, Riverdale is a silly show, but you have to ground the characters with emotional realness to give it stakes. Otherwise, news like this that should have an impact and make viewers care, doesn’t land.

Also, maybe just go to WebMD, writers of Riverdale? Unless Hiram is lying about being sick (which would be a total Hiram move) and therefore the illness is intentionally vague. Either way, I’m over it.

The standout storyline in this week’s episode centers on Toni, who’s working a shift at the Maple Club (the former Blossom Brothel that is now a front for Cheryl and Veronica’s rum business) when that old rat fink Nick St. Clair walks in.

Nick is before Toni’s time, so she doesn’t recognize him, but Cheryl pokes her little redhead around the corner and does, nearly having a fit poor thing. Attempted date rape will do that to a girl.

That night, she tells Toni about it who comforts her by saying the same thing happened to her. She was able to move past it, and she’ll help Cheryl do the same. It’s a sweet scene, and one that’s all too realistic as nearly every woman has had some sort of violent or unwanted encounter with a man.

The following night, Nick shows up and Toni gives him a drink and invites him to a private room. The next thing we (and Nick) know, he’s waking up to Fangs buckling his pants and Kevin sitting all too proud on his bed. They’ve made a tickling tape with him as the star.

As Nick begins to freak out, Toni rounds the corner saying, “You and the boys made a little video.” Nick threatens her, but she soon cuts him off, saying she’ll release the tape if he ever shows his face in Riverdale ever again.

It is a satisfying scene and hopefully the last of Nick St. Clair. All I can say is, more Toni and more gays! By far the best part of this week’s episode is Toni, Cheryl, Kevin, and Fangs watching Nick’s tickle tape in Cheryl’s four-poster bed with victorious red cocktails in hand. After this week, it’s the kind of justice we all deserve.

dark. Next. Riverdale season 4 episode 11 review: Quiz show fever

What did you think of this week’s episode of Riverdale? Share your thoughts in the comments below!