Riverdale Season 2, Episode 8 – Don’t Fear the Riverdale Reaper

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

When we last saw the kids of Riverdale, they’d just received word that the town had failed the Black Hood’s test requiring them to go “without sin” for 48 hours, meaning someone is up next on his chopping block. Our main cast all have their own methods of coping with this looming situation; for Veronica and Archie, that means having a bunch of sex and dancing around in their underwear, presumably before having more sex. With the actors being in their 20’s and the way the show sexualizes them, it’s easy to forget they’re only supposed to be sixteen/seventeen years old.

It’s during one of their trysts that Archie tells Veronica he loves her. When Veronica doesn’t say it back, they hastily make excuses to get dressed. Both of them end up talking to their respective parents about what Archie said, and they get some pretty sound advice: sometimes, with “the l word,” people are on different schedules, and they shouldn’t let it worry them too much.

After his encounter with last episode’s mysterious truck driver, Jughead has been researching the story of the Riverdale Reaper. When he’s telling Betty what he found, he shows her a picture of the house where the murdered family lived: the same house on the edge of Fox Forest that the Black Hood led Betty to three episodes ago. Jughead wants to go to Sheriff Keller, but after Betty accused him of being the Black Hood last episode, that’s a no-go. Before they can figure out their next move, Jughead gets a mysterious phone call.

Rather than being more demands from Penny, it’s actually from the jail; due to “overcrowding at the jail”—more likely, Jughead and Archie’s delivery last episode—his dad is getting an early release. Although Jughead and Betty want to follow up on their new lead on the Black Hood, they have to go pick FP up from the jail, so they enlist Archie and Veronica to do it in their stead. Veronica hesitantly agrees until she finds out her parents have received a letter from the Black Hood, after which she becomes much more invested in helping unravel this case. They find out that the files on the Riverdale Reaper case are missing, and Sheriff Keller tells them the person most likely to know anything about where they are would be Margaret, daughter of the recently deceased Sheriff Howard, the case’s lead officer. Margaret, unfortunately, isn’t particularly keen on helping them; she believes the case drove her dad to lose his mind, and asks them not to call her again.

The next morning, Betty’s mom drives her and Jughead to the prison—hilariously named Shankshaw—to pick up FP, at which point she appears to flirt with him. We know Alice and FP had a thing in high school, and that Alice was even once a Serpent herself. Will this become another of Riverdale’s sordid affairs? It’s pretty likely.

FP proceeds to reveal to them over breakfast that he intends to retire from the Southside Serpents and pick up some shifts at Pop’s. To celebrate his retirement, Betty and Jughead decide to throw FP a party at the White Wyrm. While she’s working on making the arrangements, Betty talks to Toni about ways she could be more involved with the Serpents so that she can keep a better eye on Jughead. She learns from a nearby Serpent named Byrdie that all aspiring female Serpents are required to do a striptease called the “Serpent Dance,” an old misogynistic Serpent tradition. Contrary to all logic and sense, the idea of doing the Serpent Dance seems to excite Betty.

With no help from Margaret Howard, Archie and Veronica investigate “the Devil’s House” themselves. They discover a new wrinkle in the case: the Conways weren’t a family of four, but five. Sheriff Howard’s notebook tells them that the surviving Conway child, Joseph, was given a name change and adopted by another family. After combing through old Riverdale High yearbooks, they discover Joseph Conway is actually none other than Mr. Svenson, their creepy school janitor. When Archie and Veronica confront him, Mr. Svenson tells them that justice for what happened to his family had already been served: when he was a kid, he identified the Riverdale Reaper, and a group of townspeople got together and hung him. Veronica suspects Mr. Svenson has grown up to be the Black Hood, but they leave when Archie has doubts.

The tension between Archie and Veronica concerning Archie’s declaration of love comes to a head at FP’s retirement party, where Archie signed the two of them up for a karaoke duet. As they attempt to croon along to Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World,” Veronica becomes overwhelmed and leaves the stage, with Archie following close behind her. Veronica will later break up with Archie over the complication of her feelings.

The crowd begins to boo, and what happens next made me audibly groan at my television. Betty had told Jughead earlier she had a “surprise” for him after the party, but Archie and Veronica leaving mid-song apparently inspires her to show him early. She gets up on stage to sing the rest of the song, but as she does this, she takes her clothes off and dances on one of the poles. I’ll take this moment to yet again point out that Betty is supposed to be somewhere around sixteen, making this scene rather disturbing.

FP attempts to recover the awkwardness following Betty’s dance by getting on stage and launching into a speech. He tells the crowd that he actually doesn’t actually intend on retiring. Once he’s finished, he confronts Jughead privately about his debt with Penny and tells him that he intends to take up Jughead’s debt in his place. This prompts Jughead to meet Betty outside and break up with her, out of fear for her safety.

We reach the end of the episode with Jughead’s narration implying that Archie may still have unresolved feelings towards Betty. Frankly, I don’t know how many times these kids can mess around with each other in rotating pairings without breaking up the entire friend group. But I guess Glee managed to keep that going for six seasons, so who’s to say they can’t force it to work for Riverdale?

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Panda Emily Jarrell