This post contains spoilers for Riverdale season 4 episode 2
After a heavy hitting and moving season premiere, Riverdale’s second episode of the fourth season sees a return to the drama and intrigue that we usually expect from this show. While Luke Perry’s character Fred Andrews will never be completely forgotten, the show makes it clear in the episode opener that they need to move forward. And so, in Jughead’s traditional opening narration we are told that the characters took the summer to grieve, but now it’s time to go back to school.
The characters are quickly shown to be back in their regular routines. Jughead is writing, and Archie is boxing which brings us to:
Lindsey: Gratuitous shirtless Archie count: 1
Meanwhile Betty is still working with her FBI agent half brother to investigate the whereabouts of her mother who is working undercover at a cult. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. Yes, this is exactly why Hils and Lindsey love this show.
And, finally, Veronica is trying to dodge reporters who want her to make a statement about her parents, both of whom are in jail. Her father for illegal activities which were actually committed by Veronica herself, and her mother for the attempted murder of her husband.
Lindsey: God, these poor children having to deal with their wayward parents.
In much the same way as the first episode began, Cheryl still seems to be starting her mornings merrily conversing with the corpse of her twin brother and then reacting to his imagined responses. It’s definitely chilling and it’ll be interesting to see how this storyline develops during the season. Surely you can only keep a corpse in your house for so long before the smell starts to become apparent.
Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead muse nostalgically over their last year in school, and think back over the past few years. Given how much of their activities on screen do not concern being in school sometimes it’s hard to remember that these characters are, in fact, still high school students.
Lindsey: Here come the nostalgic teens
Hils: Come on, they barely spend any time in school anyway
Lindsey: Listen, Veronica is running a speakeasy. She doesn’t have TIME for school.
And, of course, thinking fondly about school leads to sex. Apparently.
Lindsey: Gratuitous shirtless Archie count: 2
Then we run into the usual problem of shows wanting to depict characters having sex while also sticking to the network’s rules on nudity.
Lindsey: Did she sleep in a bra?? That’s so uncomfortable
Hils: No boobs allowed in Riverdale
After being late for school following the nostalgia sex we are introduced to one of several new characters in this episode, Principal Honey.
Lindsey: “Why were you late for school?”
“We were having sex.”
“All of you?”
“Not, like, together.”
Principal Honey makes it clear he will have no patience for anyone breaking the rules, which reminded both Hils and Lindsey of another TV school principal’s introduction.
Lindsey: He’s already reminding me of Principal Snyder from Buffy
Hils: YES! That’s exactly what I was thinking!
Archie convinces Mad Dog, his former juvie cellmate and current boxing friend to come back to school with him and try out for the football team. Finally we learn Mad Dog’s real name.
Lindsey: MUNROE MOORE
Mad Dog has a name and it’s such a Riverdale name
Kevin seeks out Betty to apologise for his behaviour while they were both staying at The Farm in the previous season. Quite how you say sorry for, in Betty’s words, ‘when you dragged me by my ankles to get a lobotomy’ I don’t know but Kevin tries. Sort of.
Hils: Kevin, this is the worst apology ever
Lindsey: Betty is playing hardball
The two of them begin to repair their friendship with Betty inviting Kevin to fill out an application form to write for the school newspaper.
Another new character is introduced with Sam Witwer’s Mr Chipping. Witwer is something of a CW veteran at this point, having previously appeared in other shows on the network such as Smallville and Supergirl. Mr Chipping offers Jughead a place at Stonewall Prep, a school that hasn’t been mentioned until this point. Jughead, wanting to be with his friends, immediately declines.
Cheryl Blossom is always at her best when she has someone to fight, and this year she has established her new nemesis early on when Principal Honey cancels the school dance.
Lindsey: “At the last student dance, multiple students were murdered”
Hils: She’s PISSED
Which is the best Cheryl
At the football tryouts Mad Dog performs well. We think.
Lindsey: I don’t understand American Football but I think that was good?
This shows up Reggie in front of his father, who was revealed to be abusive in the previous season. Reggie lashes out in the locker room after practice which leads us to:
Hils: Gratuitous shirtless Archie count: 3
Lindsey: Also wet
Jughead gets home from school and finds Mr Chipping there waiting for him. This sets all kind of alarm bells ringing for both Hils and Lindsey.
Hils: Okay, this teacher is now a borderline stalker
Lindsey: I am deeply suspicious
After some persuasion from FP, Jughead agrees to at least take a tour of Stonewall Prep.
Toni almost catches Cheryl with Jason’s body but is intercepted at the last moment.
Lindsey: I really enjoy these set pieces
This scene looks like it could almost be from an old Hammer horror movie. There’s no electric lighting and Toni is using candles to light the way.
Cheryl says she was praying for guidance on how to solve the cancelled dance problem, and that now she has the solution. She will throw a party instead. Perhaps that’s what Jason’s corpse told her to do. We may never know.
Jughead takes a tour of Stonewall Prep, which may look familiar to fans of other CW shows. The exterior has also been used for Lex Luthor’s home in Smallville and Oliver Queen’s home in Arrow.
Of course, it being Riverdale, we are quite sure this school is more than a fancy school full of rich kids.
Lindsey: I absolutely do not believe this school is what it says it is
Betty convinces Kevin that they have a lead on the case with the FBI and, of course, Kevin goes straight to Fangs to report the news. Betty takes her former best friend betraying her yet again pretty well.
Reggie shows up at Veronica’s club with a black eye which leads her to tell Archie that Reggie’s dad hits him. It’s a serious moment but we’re keeping track so:
Lindsey: Gratuitous shirtless Archie count: 4
Betty and Charles confront Kevin and he makes a case that he’s lonely and just wanted a reason to meet Fangs. It’s unclear whether we’re supposed to feel sorry for Kevin at this point. All of these problems are of his own making, and when Betty gave him a second chance he immediately threw it away.
Jughead sits in on a discussion of Moby Dick, one of his favourite books. It’s clear he’s relishing having the opportunity to have more intellectual discussions.
Lindsey: Jughead is enjoying himself. This is an interesting thing.
It’s interesting to note that while Stonewall Prep is clearly steeped in privilege there is both racial and gender diversity in the group that Jughead sits with, which Hils really likes.
Veronica goes to visit her father to confront him about selling stories about her to the tabloids. This makes Lindsey very happy.
Lindsey: HEY HI HIRAM HI
Hils: Hiram is so unapologetically evil I love it
Cheryl’s party begins and she makes an opening speech that we feel may become relevant later in the season.
Hils: ‘This killjoy is our new principal Mr Honey. However, I will make sure he’s beheaded by homecoming.’
Who wants to bet the principal ends up literally beheaded.
Lindsey: Ha, YES. This is Riverdale.
Despite the fact that Kevin has done absolutely nothing to earn Betty’s trust she tells him everything about her mother being undercover.
Hils: OMG BETTY ARE YOU STUPID?
Lindsey: She is
I don’t trust Kevin. I love him, but I don’t trust him.
The party is soon broken up when Jughead’s father arrives in response to a noise complaint from Mr Honey. We’ll just gloss over the fact that two weeks in a row FP has given the name of a suspect/complainant when he really shouldn’t.
Archie offers to take a very drunk Reggie home and while they’re sitting outside they have a very open conversation about their fathers. As mentioned at the beginning of this post Fred Andrews may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
Lindsey: This is a very poignant scene. Archie’s dad was wonderful, and he’s dead. Reggie’s dad is abusive, and alive.
And then, in a scene reminiscent of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Reggie takes a bat to his father’s beloved car to force a conversation between them. The next morning he says things are better between them now that they’ve talked, but whether it’s as simple as that remains to be seen.
Forced to make a statement she’s been avoiding having to make, Veronica invites the media to a press conference at her club. Of course it’s never truly a Riverdale episode without at least one musical performance. Veronica performs All That Jazz from Chicago, which actually fits in with both the tone of the club, and with the tone of using the media as a weapon. It’s very well done.
The next morning Veronica announces she is going to start using her mother’s maiden name and will now be going by Veronica Gomez.
Cheryl takes her feud with Mr Honey to the next level by leaving a beehive and accompanying bees on his desk. Hils is very much enjoying the Queen Bee Blossom vs Honey imagery.
After a moving speech from FP about how proud he is of Jughead we flash forward to the police trawling the woods looking for Jughead. The mystery continues.
Lindsey: Hils, it’s going to be a long season
And I mean that in the best way
Overall this was a solid second episode with good pacing and it’s set up everything ready for the remainder of the season. There are a lot of unanswered questions and we can’t wait to see how things unfold.