The mundane mingles with the supernatural in a enjoyably goofy episode.
Riverdale Season 5 Episode 8
“It is better to know the truth and make peace with it.”
In a bit of selfless wisdom, Cheryl states the above words to Betty in tonight’s bonkers installment. The context being that Betty doesn’t want to tell her mother that it looks like Polly is a goner. So she goes to Cheryl basically to inquire whether she feels that her cousin’s life would have been better had she not known Jason’s true fate.
The from-the-heart response that Cheryl gives her is quickly ignored, and Betty hides the truth from Alice. Since this is an episode of Riverdale, Betty’s deception immediately backfires on her when her FBI superior Glen arrives at the Cooper household to reveal Polly’s probable fate and kick Betty off the case. (Somewhere in the night, Veronica does a breathy cover of The Thompson Twins’ “Lies”).
Anyway, let’s get back to that quote for a second: It is better to know the truth and be at peace with it. That’s going to be the mantra for this entire review, as there are fundamental truths I’ve touched upon in the past that demand to be recognized before the healing can be reached. They are:
1- Archie’s football storyline is a total snooze.
Riverdale may have leaped seven years into the future, but Archie remains as doltish as ever. Granted, K.J. Apa is killing it this season as a grizzled version of the character, but the problem of Archie’s messiah complex still drags on. There are a lot of fascinating things happening on this series right now, and all the Bulldogs stuff does is slow down the breakneck pace that those interesting storylines are moving in. Aliens are in Riverdale, nobody cares about high school football right now. C’mon.
All that said, Britta rules.
2 – Any time that this series isn’t focusing on Mothmen Aliens is wasted time.
The show is taking serious liberties by mashing up Mothman and alien abduction mythologies, which really upends my In Search Of-influenced ideology about how the world works. I’ll forgive this because putting “aliens” on Riverdale is a work of stupid genius but also because I love watching Cole Sprouse and his starter goatee running around looking totally frantic.
3 – Hiram Lodge should be eaten by Mothmen Aliens.
Am I alone in thinking this could actually happen? What a coup for the series that would be! We know that Hiram is involved in some shady business, and all his SoDale shenanigans are a cover for some big secret. Therefore the mystery of the Lonely Highway is directly traced back to Hiram. Is he working for the government? Did aliens cure his mystery illness of last year and in turn is he feeding them Riverdale’s castoffs? Nothing is off the table here. Hiram’s machinations have been the same since he first appeared, but what if he really was working for aliens THE WHOLE TIME? Wouldn’t that be insane/amazing? No other show could pull that kind of shit off.
What I’m saying here is that Riverdale has been dancing with insanity since day one and it’s time to consummate the relationship.
4 – Betty Cooper, Alien Hunter needs to happen.
She fights werewolves in the comics, so is this really that crazy?
The ultimate mystery of whatever is happening this season will likely have a logic-based answer. That’s disappointing, as the Archieverse can be shown to handle witches, so are extraterrestrials that far off? (I’m still burned by the conclusion of the Gargoyle King saga, so I’m not expecting much here). Imagine though, the writing staff wants you to think that everything will wrap up with a plausible explanation and then, boom, it gives you bona fide aliens! A dream is a wish the heart makes…
This episode did give us clarity on a few things. We learned that both Jughead’s and Betty’s investigations lead back to the Lonely Highway and the mysteries — either terrestrial or otherworldly — unfolding there. Additionally, we were reminded that even though he’s ostensibly the lead character of this series, Archie is straight-up boring when he isn’t being attacked by bears or escaping from prison. With only one more episode before an extended hiatus, I hope next week brings us some resolution even though deep down I know that it won’t.
• Jughead’s student who writes the troubling story about Mothman abduction is Lerman Logan, a reference to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Percy Jackson franchise star.
• Old Man Dreyfus’ name is clearly inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind star Richard Dreyfuss, which is fitting as the supernatural elements of this season are riffing on the sci-fi blockbusters of the 1970s and ’80s. Further proof of this can be seen by Drefyus telling Betty and Jughead about how Riverdale was a hotbed of Mothmen activity in the summers of 1977 and 1982, ones in which Star Wars and E.T. respectively ruled at the box office.
• Mr. Weatherbee threatens to fire Jughead if he doesn’t stay out of Lerman’s problems, apparently forgetting that Jughead isn’t really even a teacher and is only volunteering.
• Even objectively, Archie is a terrible coach. Can we please fold him into the Jughead/Betty storyline somehow? It’s great to see him and Veronica back together but damn do they need better plots to work with.
• One of the teams that defeats the Bulldogs is the Baxter High Ravens. In case you forgot already, Baxter High was one of the schools that Sabrina attended in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
• One has to wonder how the Vixens must feel about Cheryl, a woman in her twenties who graduated seven years ago, returning to her alma mater to steal the thunder of teenagers who live in Murdersville, U.S.A. and have no other outlet besides cheerleading by performing a self-aggrandizing Lady Gaga cover. Cheryl does a lot of messed up stuff on this show, but this act struck me as especially cruel.
• There’s no Toni and very little Tabitha Tate tonight. Boo.
• I still think they should sell the Pop Tate bobbleheads they keep showing.
• Kevin gets put through the emotional and physical ringer this episode. We learn that disparaging remarks from his mother impacted his self-image so much that he turned to cruising in Fox Forest. (The fate of Mrs. Keller is unknown, so it is possible that she will make an appearance in an upcoming episode). The assault that Kevin endured was brutal to watch, but the scene between Kevin and his father was powerful and cathartic. It will be interesting to see where the character of Kevin goes from here, because it is absurdly beyond time the writers give him a personality trait other than chronic thirst.
• Someone on the Riverdale production staff must really love Friday Night Lights.
• I don’t believe for a second that Polly is actually dead. There’s more of a chance of Hiram being eaten by Mothmen Aliens or Archie getting a compelling A-plot.
• I hate on the football storyline a lot in this review, but I do find all the talk about tainting the podunk town’s football league’s prestige to be weirdly funny.
• Pop’s sells take out cold cuts too? Helluva business, that Chok’lit Shoppe.
• “I’m saying that things happen, especially in Riverdale,” declares Jughead, in the most obvious statement in the episode.
• Please let them do a Mulder and Scully thing with Jughead and Betty.
• I think there’s more Mr. Weatherbee in tonight’s episode than there has been in the entire series to date. That’s a fantastic thing.
• So is Reggie done with Hiram for good now? He is such a key figure in the comics that it would be fantastic if the series figured out what the hell to do with him.
• Having reviewed this show from the first episode, I’ve learned a thing or two about how Riverdale storylines work. Therefore I’m calling it now: Glen is the Trash Bag Killer. You think so too, I know it.
• So far this season has drawn influence from everything from cryptozoological monsters to the real-life crimes of Patrick Kearney. Next week marks the mid-season finale, and the promise of everything from aliens to Pop’s possibly being blown up by Hiram? Whatever happens, cherish it, as the show then won’t return until July.