Riverdale Season 2, Episode 7 – Riv ‘r Dale

Posted January 26, 2018 by Panda Emily Jarrell in Nerdy Bits

This episode of Riverdale fascinates me: despite the fact that interactions between Jughead and Archie; Betty and Veronica; and Cheryl and Josie are some of my favorite in the series, “Chapter Twenty: Tales From the Darkside” is unfortunately rather bland. I was initially excited by the idea of a horror anthology episode of Riverdale, but much like most horror anthology films, it’s ultimately underwhelming.

Our through line starts with another letter from the Black Hood. He’s giving the citizens of Riverdale a test: no sin for 48 hours, or someone’s going to die. That’s going to be hard for Jughead, because the Snake Charmer, Penny Peabody, has just called in the favor Jughead owes her. Over breakfast at Pop’s, she tells him his dad has been in an “accident” involving several Ghoulies, and she needs more money to help keep that from happening again. Jughead has less than $20 to his name, so she suggests a compromise: if Jughead delivers a package for her, they’ll call it even. When he asks her what’s in the package, she says it’s pancake mix; knowing Penny Peabody, it’s definitely drugs, and we all know how the Black Hood feels about drug dealing. So begins the tale of Archie and Jughead.

Archie supposedly owes Jughead for having called the police on the Ghoulies during last episode’s race, so he agrees to help Jughead with Penny’s delivery, no questions asked. On the drive to the package’s destination in Greendale, Archie telling Jughead about his fantasy of the two of them moving to New York to pursue their passions is interrupted by one of the truck tires blowing out. Just as they’re trying to figure out what to do, Jughead and Archie are met by a passing truck driver who offers to help them get to Greendale. The catch: he only has room for one passenger. It’s their only option, so Jughead and the crate get in the truck with the mysterious, definitely not foreboding stranger.

At a gas station diner, the truck driver tells Jughead the legend of the Riverdale Reaper, a man who murdered a family of four in Fox Forest many years ago, and implies the Reaper might have returned to killing as the Black Hood. When Archie, new tire in tow, shows up at the diner, the truck driver dumps Jughead and Penny’s package off for Archie to deal with, calling the two of them sinners. Maybe it’s just me, but this season’s preoccupation with “sin” feels really weird and random compared to season one. Jughead and Archie make it to the package drop-off, but Jughead ends up learning Penny intends for him to be making regular similar deliveries from now on—despite having told him this was a one-time job—and that nothing actually happened to his dad.

Meanwhile, Josie and her mom have been having a conflict over safety concerns in Riverdale. Josie wants to be able to have late piano practice at the school, but her mom doesn’t want her out after dark over fears about the Black Hood. Her concern isn’t unwarranted; it appears throughout her vignette that it seems someone is stalking Josie, to the extent of putting items in her locker, and that someone is implied to be school janitor Mr. Svenson. The next day at school, Josie runs into Chuck Clayton, who we haven’t seen since Betty and Veronica basically tried to kill him in season one. He asks Josie out on a date, but Josie tells him she doesn’t date “chauvinistic, misogynistic harassers of women.” However, after she yet again finds herself at the school after dark, she asks Chuck to give her a ride home, during which they stop at Pop’s. Over milkshakes and cheese fries, Chuck tells her he’s been trying to change; he’s even been going to church. Just as they seem to be getting closer, Josie and Chuck are interrupted by Mayor McCoy, who drags Josie home. The Mayor has been receiving graphic and deserving hate mail that has escalated to death threats, amplifying her concern for Josie’s safety. Josie’s vignette concludes with the implication that the person who’d really been stalking her wasn’t Mr. Svenson, but actually Cheryl, despite her having spent the entire time insisting to Josie that Chuck was behind the increasingly disturbing items Josie had been finding in her locker. Personally, I think this plot would have worked better with Reggie instead of Chuck; I was glad to see Chuck gone after his appearance in season one, and the dialogue of the episode would have only needed some minor tweaking to apply to Reggie instead.

The last vignette begins with Betty starting to suspect that Sheriff Keller might be the Black Hood, because no one else would have had access to his office when it was recently broken into. According to Kevin, he’s been so obsessed with the case that he’s been acting strangely, which only makes Betty even more suspicious. Veronica, on the other hand, thinks he’s having an affair. Betty and Veronica each undertake their own investigations to determine which of them is right—Veronica has a sleepover with Kevin, during which he attempts to teach her a tabletop roleplaying game, and Betty breaks in to Sheriff Keller’s office, during which she is caught. They end up finding out that Sheriff Keller is indeed having an affair, with none other than Mayor McCoy.

All three paths of the episode intersect at once at Pop’s, where each pair of characters are winding down from their respective adventures. Suddenly, Pop gets a phone call from the Black Hood, who tells him Riverdale failed his test, and that the reckoning will be upon them.

What does that mean? Is Jughead a drug mule now? When will Cheryl admit she’s in love with Josie? The answers to these questions and more are not likely to be in the next episode.

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Panda Emily Jarrell