Secrets Don’t Make Friends

We skip the “previously on” this week and jump right into a dueling online nerd version of a  slam poetry battle.  Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick aka RegisterThis7360) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse aka RDWeidoHat) go back and forth explaining the sitch with Clifford Blossom (Barclay Hope).  Apparently maple syrup wasn’t nearly as lucrative as the packs of heroin Clifford was transporting across state lines and Jason finding out consequently led to his death at the hands of his father.  Classily dubbed “the ultimate Cliffhanger” Mr. Blossom’s suicide has rocked the town.

Some have regressed into pointing fingers at the Southside Serpents and FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) . The mayor (Robin Givens) has tasked Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) with cracking down in petty crime and corruption in the city. She wants the Sheriff to make FP give up names of the serpents. Sheriff Keller wastes no time jumping all over FP and giving him some not so friendly ultimatums.

In a show where for the most the characters are pretty well developed despite there being so many of them, I find it strange how two dimensional the Sheriff and by extension Kevin (Casey Cott) are. There’s a lot of potential with Kevin having to decide between the morally gray that exists wherever his friends seem to set foot, but he only seems to understand black and white. At one point he says that his dad has told him about crime raining over the city. Jughead tells him brilliantly to calm down, this ain’t The Wire.

And so far that’s what the Kellers feel like. Background characters being stopped and interrogated about what they saw on that foggy dark night while rambling drunkenly through the town. Sheriff Keller seems to be playing big city cop instead being a more sympathetic small town sheriff. I understand the reasoning right now, but I do hope they expand their role into next season.

FP knows that snitches get stitches and he’s not a rat and all other manner of metaphor, and informs the Sheriff that even if he were to give names, the serpents are simply shady, not criminal kingpins. This is not their style. The Sheriff and by extension the mayor (and the town) don’t necessarily care, they want a scapegoat.  Someone to go down to cure all of the city’s ills and this week it’s the serpents.   It’s a loud moral tale, but it’s an effective one.  They hit the “MESSAGE!” button hard in this ep, it rings very after-school special but in a way that’s overall enlightening and entertaining in my opinion.  

While some have regressed, others have simply digressed to acting as though nothing has changed as witnessed in the Cooper household.  Polly (Tiera Skovbye) wants to return to school while Alice and Hal (Lochlyn Monro) are all smiles.  The whole thing makes Betty (Lili Reinhart) (even more) crazy and she finally explodes, demanding her mother tell her the secret of her homecoming argument FP brought up.  Mama Cooper finally does and we learn that Alice gave a baby up for adoption when she was still in highschool.  She says her ever important line about some secrets being so horrible you hide them even from yourself.  We find out Betty’s brother is out there and in his mid-twenties.  I’m sure he’ll be making an appearance soon.

On the other side of the “reacting to the fact that “our town is messssssed up!” is Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) is just trying to stay out of the way and keep Archie (KJ Apa) with him.  We find out the existence of his own secret when we learn that Jughead won’t be able to stay with the Andrews clan because of Fred’s financial situation and a pesky DUI that he’ll “explain later” (he doesn’t).  Fred is weathered by the consistency of experience and while it’s nice and odd to have him as the foil to Archie’s extreme dramatics as he spirals between optimism and pessimism, it kind of puts Fred in a tough position.  Fred Andrews is a man who knows life is about to take a dump on him and he’s just trying to get as big of an umbrella as he can manage.  

Meanwhile Archie is trying to pretend he’s the Wizard of Oz and hope for the best.  

The town Jubilee (which, what?) is upon us and the Mayor wants Archie (her own professed “local hero”) to sing with the Pussy Cats.  Archie agrees and is into a long diatribe about this probably terrible song he wrote and I giggled when he was immediately shut down by Josie (Ashleigh Murray) who reminded him that despite evidence to the contrary, this world is not all about Archie.  Of course, this evidence rears its head later and they end up singing his terrible song.  

This week’s episode did a solid job of interweaving several storylines at once and makes a believable feat of making the consequences clear to the audience while also explaining the inattention of the people in town.  Everyone is so preoccupied that they don’t see the obvious hints.  

Such as Jughead being tossed around and really… not minding it so much.  There’s something about the serpents that appeals to him and more importantly, something about him that seems to appeal to the southside.  The notion of belonging is key important to an outsider and Jughead is on the way to finding his match.  There’s a strange resistance from Betty who clearly feels like she’s losing him.  This fear shows a lack of trust in Jughead that’s peculiar, but really sells the tension building between them.  As an audience we’re collectively holding our breaths waiting for this relationship to implode and at every turn they survive.  Not enough to make us exhale which is what makes for such great TV.

Another miss can be the feelings Archie still, might, maybe, kinda has for Betty.  There are several times where Veronica (Camila Mendes) tries to DTR and then convince Archie to tell Betty about their tryst.  Archie is reluctant and then Veronica just takes it on herself.  Ultimately they check in with Betty who assures them she’s okay, but we all know Betty.  Is she ever really okay?  

The biggest miss turns out to be those who didn’t notice Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) pulling tricks from every “Suicide for Dummies” book ever, even going so far as to give Jughead her infamous spider broach to pawn.  At this point everyone should have known and even Veronica was suspicious, but then they were interrupted by Betty’s hate crime.

They finally put it together and find Cheryl out on the lake which is mostly frozen over.  She’s hacking at it with an axe and the others watch helplessly until she actually slips through the ice and this is where things start to get real CW dumb.  An odd low point in an otherwise fantastic episode shows these kids completely losing all of their common sense when dealing with this setback.  At once point Archie literally punches through the ice to save Cheryl who is having morbid hallucinations of Jason underneath.  The fact that Cheryl clearly had an axe goes completely unnoticed as Archie wastes valuable time punching and punching at a block of ice he can punch through but somehow magically doesn’t fall through?    

The only thing that redeemed the  scene was a) Hermione (Marisol Nichols) not being here for a cold and drippy Cheryl in her living room and b) Cheryl finding another way to cleanse by setting fire to Thornhill.  In possibly one of the best scenes to date, Cheryl watches serenely as Mama Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) has a fit in the background.  

Finally, we get a good setup for next season that was actually woven well into the entire episode.  Hiram Lodge is getting out of jail and on his way home.  In the meantime, Hermione is trying to keep the peace by any means necessary which means offering to buy Fred out of their partnership on the SoDale (uggh) land.  Fred almost agrees, but after a rousing speech by Betty (with no consequence or real end, but just enough shame to kick the people into action started by Jughead’s slow clap.  

Fred decides he’s going to “do better” and continue working.  Then, in a completely unrelated incident, Fred gets shot at Pop’s diner.  One thing I really appreciated is you thought they would set up a cliffhanger for who got shot, Archie or Fred.  But the actual cliffhanger is much better when you realize there was nothing random about this “robbery”.  This was a hit, and all fingers are pointing towards the Lodge’s.  S2 is going to have a lot of fantastic drama in store.

Oh!  And Betty and Jughead exchanged I love you’s!  Man, a lot happened in this episode!

Overall a satisfying finale to a season that started… some kind of way, and ended up a real contender for best “I know there’s no werewolves, but like… I’m expecting werewolves soon” teenage drama.  The competition is stiffer than you think.

Until next season!

Stray Rounds

  • Archie’s music is really bad, and you can tell the show knows it because they only subject us to it in less than 30 minute increments.  That said, is Veronica like the house musician now?  She seems to be a young woman who belongs to no man and no band, but she’s always up on stage lip synching for her life?
  • Betty’s speech gave no optimism, no clarity and no resolution and it was everything a speech from a crazy teenage should be.  Jughead’s slow-clap was well earned.   
  • Josie’s indictment that the jubilee was about the town, not Archie and his friends, was well timed and well delivered.  Also, I’m pretty sure I saw my girl Valerie smirk.  I found her interesting when they caught Veronica and Archie kissing.  I feel like Val wanted to warn Veronica how much that D was not worth it.
  • Betty tells Polly, who is very pregnant, to just come back to school and mom won’t know.  I’ll just… yeah.
  • I like Southside Juggy.  I hope he and Betty can get along.
  • At one point Archie exclaims that FP told him that Jughead would try to pull away.  Why Archie doesn’t relay this to Betty, I’ll never know.  He’s… he’s just the worst.
  • One of Jughead’s VO lines “We had many milkshakes that night” and I about lost it.  Well done, writers.

Stay tuned for a special podcast where a guest and I go over the season as a whole and see if we can really get to the bottom of Archie’s terribleness, Cheryl’s amazingness, and Betty’s all around selfitude.  Check out @bhadpodcast or @lenoirauteur on twitter for more updates!