Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Original Air Date: Thursday, January 26, 2017
*The different running times are the video file that I’d originally downloaded after the premiere versus the DVD. A total of ten seconds’ difference had accumulated by the time of the final shot of the episode. I’m guessing it’s purely due to different frame rates. I didn’t notice any extra material in the DVD version of the episode.
So here we are: the first episode of “Riverdale”. I know it’s been a while coming. Sorry, I had to wait until it came out on DVD before I could take proper screen captures.
I’ve already watched the first season twice (once on TV and once on Netflix). I know how it turns out. But I won’t spoil that here.
To read about how we got to this point in the long, storied history of Archie on television (as well as a look at the actors), see my Getting to Riverdale post.
A few music notes before we dive in:
Song from the “Series Premiere” and “Deeper” trailers: “Paint the Pictures” by Of Verona
Song from the “Perfect Town” trailer: “High” by Vanic
Okay, let’s check the first episode out:
The opening shows off the town, which has some fun in-jokes. Jughead is our narrator. He’s like “Seemingly perfect small town but darkness underneath.”
For some reason, the drive-in closing is indicated as proof of this.
Song: “Tell Me (feat. Saoirse Ronan)” by Johnny Jewel
On the Fourth of July, over the summer, the Blossom twins, Jason and Cheryl, go out rowing on Sweetwater River (interesting name) just after dawn. Why? And why the fuck is Cheryl so dressed up for this?
By the way, Jason and Cheryl could be seen riding through the town in the earlier shots (although I didn’t get them in one of them). For Cheryl’s first appearance ever outside print, it’s totally awesome that she (along with Jason) is the first character that we see. Other than Jughead’s narration, she’s also the first character that we hear speak.
Um, okay. This incest teasing (Cheryl’s actor, Madelaine Petsch, denies there’s any incest) is courtesy of the episode’s writer, who also wrote possible Blossom incest into “Afterlife with Archie”. Let’s just move on.
Cheryl asks Jason if he’s scared.
He shakes his head. Spoiler: Jason never has any lines. He’s portrayed by Trevor Stines.
Wow, I’ll say this: this series is gorgeous to look at. It’s got some truly beautiful shots.
A gun shot scares some birds. Ominous!
Dilton Doiley is leading Riverdale’s Boy Scout troop on a bird-watching expedition and comes upon Cheryl, wet and anguished, by the river’s edge (hence the episode’s title, which, as all titles, comes from the name of a film; in this case, it could be this one or this one). Y’know, it makes sense that a town named Riverdale would have a river, but I don’t recall it being prominent (if seen at all) in any prior work of fiction. I’m sure that it’s been seen at some point, but I couldn’t tell you where.
Cheryl says Jason’s name in a haunting way.
Cheryl’s parents join their traumatized daughter in a search of the river for Jason. Clifford doesn’t look like he gives a shit.
Riverdale Police drag Sweetwater River for Jason’s body but don’t find it.
Hal and Alice Cooper watch Clifford and Penelope talking with someone. Alice hopes, if Jason is dead, he suffered in his last moments and is now burning in Hell.
“What the fuck, bitch?! That’s harsh!”
Jughead’s here as well.
A week later, the Blossom family buried an empty casket, and Jason’s death was ruled an accident.
Jughead’s typing all of this up on his laptop at Pop’s. It’s basically a longer version of his opening narration.
Cheryl’s version of events: she accidentally dropped a glove in the water; Jason reached down to get it, accidentally tipped the boat, panicked, and drowned.
Cheryl cries while looking at photos of Jason in an album.
Everyone else was still talking about the July 4th tragedy on the last day of summer vacation, when a “new mystery rolled into town”. What a minute. The laptop. The narration. Mystery. Is this series basically “Jughead’s Weird Mysteries“?
Anyway, it’s Veronica Lodge, yo! She rolls down her window and gets her first look at her new home.
She’s still looking at it as she and her mom get out of the car.
It’s an apartment building. Fun bit of trivia: Pembrooke is the name of the town (or community within Riverdale) that Cheryl used to live in in the comics. Yeah, they just borrowed the name for something completely unrelated.
Hermione tells Veronica to brace herself, because the apartment’s small. Apparently, the Lodge family motto (or whatever) is “quality always”. This building is the only piece of property in Hermione’s name and not Hiram’s.
They go inside, and, damn, this place is huge.
Smithers welcomes “Miss Hermione” home.
Hermione is happy to see him.
After some small talk, Hermione introduces Smithers to Veronica. So…they’ve never met before? How does Smithers know Hermione but not know Veronica?
Smithers goes to get the bags and offers Hermione some menus, so she can order in. Hermione, however, has been craving one of Pop Tate’s cheeseburgers since noon. She asks if his Chock’lit Shoppe is still open. Veronica is confused over what that is and why it sells burgers. Cute. 🙂
Song: “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” by Santigold
At the Cooper house, Betty is listening to tunes while dolling herself up.
Betty’s gay best friend, Kevin Keller, asks Betty if she’s excited or nervous.
She admits she’s both. She hasn’t seen “him” all summer. Kevin says they agreed it’s time and explains Betty and this unnamed guy like each other. Betty wonders why he’s never said or done anything. Kevin says Archie’s “swell” (a throwback to the kind of language used in the old comics). He explains, “like most millennial straight guys”, Archie needs to be told what he wants, so Kevin tells Betty to tell Archie: “You want my hot body fucking yours hard and fast all night long!” Betty isn’t sure. Kevin interrupts with important news:
“Archie got hot!”
Kevin basically tells Betty to ride Archie hard and fast tonight.
At Pop’s, Archie asks Betty about the highlight of her summer internship. She says the Toni Morrison book-release party that she organized. At the end of the night, Toni Morrison, her “literary hero”, told Betty to not rush this time, because it goes by so fast at her age, and one summer can change everything. Archie is surprised, saying it’s “so true”.
Betty asks Archie how working for his dad went. Archie feels it was boring, describing it as “pouring concrete every day, all day long”. To pass time, he would start composing poems in his head, and he’d go home at night and write them down. Betty points out that he doesn’t even like reading poetry. He clarifies they were song lyrics (even though he had said “poems”). He feels this is something “real” that he should do with his life, starting this year, tomorrow. Betty says “Amazing”, but I can’t tell if she’s really interested or not. She asks him if he’ll ask Ms. Grundy to tutor him. He’s not sure. She asks about football and if he can do both. He’ll try out. She asks if he’s told his dad. He hasn’t and isn’t telling anyone except her until he’s “got things more figured out”. She agrees to it.
Riverdale is a train town in this continuity. That’s been the case in some of the comic stories as well. Even the 1990 TV movie hinted at it.
Betty would love to hear his songs some time. He’s finishing a couple demos tonight. She starts talking about their friendship, but Archie notices someone that walks into Pop’s:
And so it begins.
Song: “No Surprise (Bonus Track)” by The Shacks
Veronica had called in an order for two burgers. Pop says they’re almost ready.
Veronica and Archie exchange greetings. She asks how the onion rings are here. Archie says so good. She adds them to her order. She says she and her mom just moved here from New York. She asks if they go to Riverdale High. They say yeah, and Archie adds they’re sophomores. Veronica says she is, too, and adds she’s “filled with dread”. Archie asks why. Veronica asks if he’s familiar with the works of Truman Capote. He is. Veronica says “I’m ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘, but this place is strictly ‘In Cold Blood‘.” Get ready for plenty of pop culture references throughout this series. Archie laughs. Betty doesn’t get it. Veronica and Archie introduce themselves.
“What the fuck, dude?! I’m right here and ready to fuck you!”
Archie introduces Betty. Veronica realizes Betty is supposed to give her her tour tomorrow. Betty is Veronica’s peer mentor. Archie invites Veronica to join them.
“The fuck, dude?!”
Archie says he and Betty will “unfill” Veronica “with dread”. And fill her with something else, he hopes. Veronica declines, saying her mom is waiting for her, but adds “to be continued”. She leaves, and Archie briefly raises his eyes at Betty, like “Yeah, she’s a hottie, ain’t she?” He then asks Betty what she had been saying, but Betty drops the subject, figuring Archie’s mind is elsewhere.
The next morning, Archie hurries down the stairs, telling his dad that he’s already late on the first day of school. Typical Archie.
Archie pets his dog, Vegas, who Archie had only fairly recently been given in the comics. Teenage Archie typically didn’t have a dog.
Fred owns a construction company in this continuity (the comics never really explain what he does, as far as I know), and he wants Archie to stop by the site later, so they can get Archie going in the office, so he’s not on the crew next summer. Archie says he’s got football tryouts, which is okay with Fred, who wishes him good luck. Archie leaves.
At Betty’s house, Alice Cooper puts pressure on her daughter to ACHIEVE! – and also not be labelled as the school bitch and/or slut.
“Seriously?! I’m a fucking sophomore, bitch!”
Alice is trying to be cautious, so nothing with “jeopardize” Betty’s many (unspecified) previous accomplishments. She brings up Betty’s “poor sister”, who was a “shining star” before she “let that Blossom boy ruin” her. Betty says she’s not Polly. Alice brings up the fact that Betty “missed curfew last night” in a somewhat judgmental tone. Betty points out that it was by seven fucking minutes, and she was with Archie, who’s nothing like Jason Blossom.
Alice says all boys are like Jason Blossom before saying she loves “Elizabeth” so much. Yes, Elizabeth is Betty’s actual name in the comics, although it’s rarely brought up. She needs Betty to be “smart”. Betty agrees. Alice tells Betty to “stay focused” is a somewhat eerie tone. She adds she refilled Betty’s Adderall. Yeah, Alice is one of those parents in this continuity – in contrast to the comics, where she’s…a generic nice parent.
“What the fuck, bitch? You’re creeping me out…”
Alice notes Betty “forgot” to pick up her prescription and then leaves the room.
Okay, you can’t really see this clearly in standard def (which, sorry, DVD is the only home video source that I can get screencaps from without it being a pain in the ass), but, under Betty’s name, it says “Riverdale, USA”, and the state is also missing from the address of Riverdale Drugs. This would never be the case in the real world. What is it with Archie productions showing off stuff that should have the state written on them but doesn’t?
Also, Betty’s bottle clearly says “No Refills – Dr. Authorization”. So how did Alice get it refilled? Did she go to the doctor and say “My daughter really needs these!”?
Finally, how does Alice figure Betty forgot to pick up her prescription? She clearly did pick it up. Whatever.
Song: “Laser Gun (feat. Mai Lan)” by M83
At Riverdale High School, Archie’s looking over his song lyrics.
Reggie comes by and compliments Archie’s football-ready bod. He begs Archie for tips and asks if he’s taking any shit. This dude is so “Hook me up, bro!”
Archie finally tells him that it’s from working construction, and Reggie remembers. Reggie calls out to Moose.
Reggie asks Archie if he tapped some cougar ass this summer. Archie calls it a fantasy from Reggie’s “wank bank” and leaves. Reggie and Moose agree Archie fucked an older lady this summer.
As the warning (or tardy) bell rings, Betty takes her sweet-ass time just now getting started on the tour that she’s giving Veronica. Neither girl seems concerned that they’ll be late for class. Betty starts with a history of the school, something that no teen would realistically give a shit about. The school was founded in 1941, the same year that Pep Comics #22 (the first appearance of Betty, Archie, and Jughead, though not the school itself) came out. Veronica jokes around and says she feels like she’s “wandering through the lost epilogue of ‘Our Town‘”. Apparently, Veronica reads a lot, but I don’t buy she would read this stuff if not for a school assignment. Also, a quick Google search turns up no evidence of a “lost epilogue” to this play.
Veronica asks about the social scene in Riverdale.
“A strip club called The Hoe Zone and a tragic gay bar called Innuendo.” <— actual quote from Kevin Keller, and I can’t tell if he’s joking or not. He also mentions football games on Friday nights, followed by tailgate parties at the “Malmart” parking lot. Yeah, you know they want him to say “Walmart”, because I can imagine this shit happening in a small town in an actual Walmart parking lot, but I guess they didn’t wanna get sued. Saturday night is movie night, regardless of what’s playing at the bijou. And Sunday nights?
“Thank God for HBO.” Why the fuck is Kevin getting so close to Betty when he says this?
Betty awkwardly makes the introductions. Veronica is eager to be best friends with Betty’s gay best friend. Kevin asks about the rumors about Veronica’s dad, which, according to Veronica, is that he’s the Devil incarnate. She stands by him. She asks if everyone here knows. They don’t answer. Taking it as a yes, Veronica laments being the Blue Jasmine of Riverdale High ten minutes in.
Song: “Fear Nothing” by Josie and the Pussycats
Later, Archie finds Josie and the Pussycats, a local band, rehearsing. They’re usually based in the nearby town of Midvale in the comics, so it’s nice that they’re based in Riverdale in this continuity. It makes things easier.
Josie abruptly stops the performance and tells Archie that this is a closed rehearsal.
Archie apologizes but hopes he can talk with Josie about his songs.
Josie is all bitchy to Archie. Melody gets one line in.
Archie takes an interest in Valerie.
Josie sends “Justin Gingerlake” away.
Betty mentions the back-to-school semi-formal dance this weekend. Veronica pulls Betty close when she spots the “hottie” (Archie). She calls him “the red-headed Ansel Elgort“. Veronica asks Betty if he’s her boyfriend, but both Betty and Kevin answer in the negative. That was pretty cute. 🙂 Veronica asks Betty to put in a word for her, because she’s “had every flavor of boy but orange”. Kevin declares Betty and Archie are endgame.
“Okay, fine, whatfuckingever, you obviously know me better than I know myself…”
Veronica suggests Betty ask Archie to the semi-formal. Kevin agrees, but he heard it might be getting canceled due to Jason’s death; they’re gonna tell them at the assembly. Veronica asks about Jason. They stop walking, and Betty and Kevin seem unsure on how to proceed.
At the assembly, Cheryl addresses the crowd after a moment of silence. She calls Jason her “soulmate”.
Wow, Riverdale High has some lax rules, allowing Jughead to use his laptop during an assembly. As my high school, as soon as a faculty member spotted any electronic gadget, they’d either tell us to shut it off or confiscate it.
Anyway, Cheryl’s like “Jason would want us to party”; she asked the school board to keep the semi-formal on. This earns cheers and applause. Cheryl says they’ll use it as a way to heal and celebrate Jason’s life.
Archie spots someone.
It’s Ms. Grundy, the music teacher.
She looks back at him.
Check out that generic license plate that doesn’t reveal the state. It’s on the front of Ms. Grundy’s car for whatever reason.
Archie’s looking all sweaty, salty, and fine after a hard day on the job.
Ms. Grundy’s looking for a different way to quench her thirst.
Archie makes it very easy for her.
She offers him a “ride”. We don’t get his answer. We cut back to the assembly briefly, where everyone applauds – except Archie and Ms. Grundy, who are still staring at each other.
Yep, Archie totally fucked Ms. Grundy (who really doesn’t qualify as a cougar, so Reggie’s actually wrong)…in her nerd car…during a thunderstorm.
Back at the assembly, Ms. Grundy faces forward, breaking eye contact with Archie, and applauds. Archie joins in as well.
We just now get the series title.
After the commercial break, Archie follows Ms. Grundy up a staircase, calling her. She ignores him until he calls her “Geraldine”. He wants to talk about “music”.
She tells him to make an appointment during her “official office hours” and then leaves before he can say anything else.
At Andrews Construction, Fred and Hermione have an awkward conversation. It’s clear that they know each other. He offers to get her a water.
She wants a job; she saw on his website that he’s looking for a seasonal hire: a bookkeeper. Fred explains his guy is on paternity leave. Hermione guesses Veronica and Archie are going to school together. She mentions (for no reason except exposition) she and Fred had dated for a little while – until she chose Hiram (or, as Fred calls him, “the rich kid”). She mentions a reversal of fortune. After a pause, she asks how Mary (his wife) is doing. Fred says she’s in Chicago; they split up but are “civil”. He asks how she’s holding up “really”. She has a little money saved. She was “praying” he would give her the benefit of the doubt.
We learn Hiram is on trial for fraud and embezzlement. Due to Fred’s concerns of what his clients would think, he can’t hire Hermione to balance his books. Hermione is disappointed but understands.
Song: “The Song That Everyone Sings” by Archie Andrews
Back at Riverdale High, Veronica goes outside to eat lunch. She hears music.
Cheryl notices Veronica. So does one of her BFFs (Tina). If you don’t know who she is, Tina Patel is Raj’s younger sister. If you don’t know who Raj is, check out the list of characters on the Introduction page. Basically, Tina is a Z-lister in the comics, so, by being part of Cheryl’s clique, she’s already more relevant on this show than she ever was in the comics. The other girl is Ginger Lopez, who is a B-lister in the comics but kind of redundant as a character. She’s basically a nicer, Hispanic version of Cheryl. She even worked on a magazine (“Sparkle”), just like Cheryl (“Fresh”) – but, unlike Cheryl, she didn’t own it. Also, no joke, back in the 2000s, there was a period when Archie Comics thought people didn’t really want Cheryl and sent her away (it was brief enough that she was back before I’d even noticed her absence); they also altered Cheryl’s appearance in reprints and renamed her Ginger! It was really bizarre. Thankfully, this seems to have ended, and the Queen B is back! Also, total poetic justice that Ginger is now one of Cheryl’s bitches.
Reggie takes notice of Veronica.
Anyway, Archie is letting Betty hear one of his songs on his laptop (dude has a Dell).
Veronica asks to join. The song ends. Archie closes the laptop. Betty agrees. Veronica sits down.
Veronica asks what’s up. Betty explains. Kevin says “it’s…actually really good”. Veronica is surprised. Archie says it’s rough. Betty says it’s great. Veronica says it’s incredible. She and Archie talk about Archie’s plan to be a musician. Archie asks Veronica about her first day. Before Veronica can say it, Kevin predicts Veronica’s disappointment at people not being obsessed with her.
This year, it’s all about Cheryl.
Archie leaves to go to his “meeting with Grundy” and then football tryouts. Veronica is surprised that Archie also plays football and asks what he doesn’t do. This is a joking reference to the comics, where, if you add all of the stories together, the kids seem to have an insane number of hobbies.
Kevin tells “Blue Jasmine” that Betty hasn’t invited Archie to the dance.
“Shhh! They can hear us!”
“Don’t talk about him, gay BFF!”
Cheryl comes by, having “heard whisperings” about Veronica, and introduces herself. She asks to sit but then immediately decides to do so.
“Why?! Why do I have to be the one to scoot?!” Seriously, though, why is Betty taking up that much room? Archie had just left.
Cheryl asks what the “three hens” are gossiping about. Cheryl compares Archie’s new hot look to Zac Efron. Betty shakes her head at Veronica, an indication to keep quiet about the fact that, yes, they were just talking about Archie. Veronica is kinda truthful when she mentions extracurriculars. She also mentions Mr. Weatherbee wants her to sign up for a few. This makes no sense. I was never asked to sign up for anything in high school.
It’s here only so, in a bit of contrived writing, Cheryl can suggest cheerleading. She’s senior captain of the River Vixens. Kevin asks if cheerleading is still a thing.
Cheryl doesn’t take that shit; she asks Kevin if being the gay best friend is still a thing. By the way, nice touch with the cherries on Cheryl’s shirt.
Cheryl says “Some people say it’s retro; I say it’s eternal and iconic.” I assume she’s talking about cheerleading.
Veronica says, at Spence, she “sat at the top of the elites pyramid”; she’s in. She tells Betty that she’s trying out, too.
“Fuuuuuuck, you’re making me hang around this bitch?!”
“That would be lovely.”
Cheryl’s all for it; anyone’s welcome to try out.
“But Betty’s already got…so much…on her plate right now.” I see what Cheryl’s doing, but the joke doesn’t work if Betty’s not scarfing down burgers and slices of pizza. That is a fucking salad, an apple, a muffin, and a bottled water – just about the blandest, most inoffensive meal possible.
Anyway, Cheryl says “being a Vixen is kind of a full-time thing, but…open to all!” Okay, so Cheryl doesn’t want Betty on the squad. It’s not really clear why. I mean, in the comics, they’re not exactly best friends (except when they are), but whatever.
Before leaving, Cheryl invites Veronica to follow her on Twitter, saying she’ll do the same. Veronica agrees. Cheryl’s handle is @CherylBombshell. Cute.
Cheryl leaves. Veronica invites Betty to hate on cheerleading, but apparently she’s doing this for “hipster Prince Harry“. Betty admits she’d love to be a chearleader (pausing then explaining it would look great on her college application; suuure, Betty), but, when she tried out last year:
“Cheryl said I was too fat.” Why does Betty look almost…fond of this memory?
Kevin quotes Cheryl as saying “Too season 5 Betty Draper” and admits it was a great line but not at all true. Veronica says Betty is “a total smoke show” now.
“Awww, stop it, you.”
Veronica calls Betty “hot” and “smart” and says she should be “the Queen Bae of this drab hive”. She offers to help Betty prep, claiming she has moves.
Betty briefly checks Veronica out (I’m not kidding) and then says “Show me your moves.”
Archie plays songs for Ms. Grundy on his laptop. She says they’re “very real” and “very personal”. Archie says he took her advice of writing them down and polishing them, but he’s wondering if she can “help” him. She asks with what. Yeah, they’ve gotten to the point that they have to ask for clarification. We learn Ms. Grundy went to Julliard. Archie claims he’s looked, and there’s no one else in Riverdale that he can take lessons from. Ms. Grundy doesn’t think it’s a good idea and adds she doesn’t think they should be alone together. She suspects him of wanting to fuck her, but he insists this is legit. He also needs to talk with her about what happened.
They heard a gunshot but didn’t do or say anything. Ms. Grundy pretends it was “fireworks”. Archie calls bullshit; it was 6:00 AM. Ms. Grundy’s like “We made a choice to keep quiet…for good reason. We gotta live with it.” She advises him to pursue his music – but not with her.
After the commercial break, Veronica and Betty try out for the River Vixens in front of Cheryl, her besties, and the rest of the squad.
Veronica clearly is outgoing and enthusiastic. Betty clearly isn’t.
Cheryl is unimpressed, asking about the “heat” and “sizzle”. Veronica mentions their “big finish”. Pulling Betty close, Veronica tells her to not freak out and just trust her. Betty’s suspicious.
Yeah, it’s total queerbaiting, but at least we finally got a canonical Betty/Veronica kiss. This is more than the comics have been willing to do (well, except for an old story called “The Kisser”, where Betty went around kissing girls, but that doesn’t count, because no lip-to-lip contact was shown).
Veronica moves in a little closer before finally finishing.
“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel right now…”
Cheryl moves on to the interview portion and asks Betty about her sister. Betty claims Polly is fine and thanks Cheryl for asking. Cheryl basically forces Betty to tell Veronica that Polly and Jason dated (in the comics, I’m pretty sure that Polly and Jason have had zero interaction). Cheryl laughs. Betty admits it didn’t end well. According to Cheryl, Jason’s probably why Polly had a nervous breakdown and now lives in a group home. Betty admits her parents think that.
Cheryl asks what Betty has to say about it and invites her to fucking unleash it.
Betty’s getting pissed.
She starts to speak. Cheryl has been anticipating this moment.
Oh, shit, Betty’s gonna explode!
Instead, Betty apologizes to Cheryl for what happened to Jason.
Cheryl is disappointed in this response. She welcomes Veronica – but not Betty – to the River Vixens.
Veronica won’t have it, though. She unleashes on Cheryl while also fighting for Betty, and it’s glorious.
Oh! Oh! I’m gonna start a Bitch Count. Whenever one of the girls calls someone a bitch, she (the caller) gets a point.
Bitch Count: Veronica: 1
“Awww, she’s doing this for lil ol’ me?! She really does love me!”
“I want my mommy…”
At football tryouts, Coach Clayton calls on Archie.
He gives him Jason’s old jersey.
Coach Clayton explains sophomores usually play only junior varsity, but, this year, they’ve got an open spot on varsity. So would Jason have been a senior if he hadn’t been killed? And is Cheryl a senior now? That’s certainly different from the comics, where everyone’s in the same grade. Also, it’s a bit short-sighted for this series. It means Cheryl will graduate at the end of this year (whatever that means in the timeline of this series), and then what? I suppose she could still be around and interacting with the gang, but it wouldn’t be as easy.
Anyway, due to the bigger commitment with varsity, Archie tries to “think about it”. When pressed, he cites his dad’s company. Coach Clayton tells him to “sleep on it”.
Stop teasing me, show!
On second thought, don’t.
Veronica calls Betty “very Betty Draper, season 1”. Betty asks Veronica why she defended her.
Veronica waits until they’re walking home to answer her question. Her dad’s arrest was the “worst thing ever”. The trolls came out, bullying Veronica and her family.
Bitch Count: Veronica: 2
Veronica admits she was “worse than Cheryl”.
She’s using Riverdale as an opportunity to better herself.
Betty says that’s a lot of pressure.
Perhaps a bit uncomfortable with the fuck-eyes that Veronica’s giving her, Betty stumbles for a bit and then turns the conversation to Polly and Jason’s relationship; it meant everything to Polly and nothing to Jason; things got “super intense” and “weird” and “toxic”. Her mom turned on Polly, disowning her and saying a lot of awful things to her. Betty says Jason hurt Polly, but her mom broke her.
Veronica doesn’t know what to say to that. She sees Archie and calls him over, basically forcing Betty to ask him to the dance right now.
Veronica addresses Archie as “Teen Outlander“. Side note: Archie is indeed of Scottish descent in the comics – as is Cheryl. Clan Andrews and Clan Blossom used to be fierce enemies, but Archie and Cheryl each had an ancestor that was in a Romeo & Juliet relationship with the other. They died before they could run off together, but Archie and Cheryl helped them reunite as spirits in the present day. Seriously. Check out the story in Cheryl Blossom #31 (available digitally on Amazon) from 2000.
Anyway, Archie compliments their outfits.
I swear Lili Reinhart makes the best faces.
Veronica gives a preamble to Betty’s question, basically giving away what it is.
“Well? Go on, bitch.”
Betty awkwardly asks Archie if he wants to “come with both of [them]”
“What the fuck?”
“What the fuck?”
Betty “explains” this by saying Veronica should have someone to go with, even if it’s “just a friend”, to her first dance at Riverdale High. Veronica accepts. Archie declines. Betty says that’s okay.
“Totally unacceptable, Archiekins.” *sigh* I’d been hoping this series wouldn’t use that stupid nickname.
Veronica insists they need an escort. Ah, okay, so Betty and Veronica are going on a date together, and Archie has to escort them. Got it.
Anyway, Archie agrees.
“Looks like we’ll both have what we want.”
Song: “Number One” by Tove Styrke
Later, Betty celebrates her dual victories by dancing around her room.
Alice shuts off the music and is like “What the fuck?”
After Betty explains, Alice is like “Jason was evil, and Cheryl is, too! Strip down, bitch!” Betty refuses, and Alice is actually shocked by this.
Betty stands up to her mother and then brushes past her to go buy a dress, which she also explains. Alice has an issue with Veronica as well.
“Shut up, you twatwaffle!”
At the Pembrooke, Hermione thanks Smithers for…taking out the trash?
She asks about a bag sitting nearby. Smithers explains the car service found and dropped off her “missing bag”. Hermione’s like “What the fuck?”
Those seem to be her initials.
“Oh, shit. What the fuck, Hiram?”
Archie’s practicing guitar on the front porch. Fred comes by and calls Archie out on lying to both him and Coach Clayton. Archie makes clear that he wants to study music; he doesn’t care about playing football, going to college, going to business school, and coming back here to work for (or “with”) his dad; he doesn’t want the company. Fred says, three months ago, he did and asks what happened. Archie says he’s changed, and so has everything. He starts to say something about this summer but then stops. Fred is upset but says Archie doesn’t have to play football or work construction; he also says Archie’s decisions have consequences, and he should be confident enough in them to not lie.
Song: “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner
After the commercial break, Archie, Betty, and Veronica arrive at the dance.
That’s kinda creepy.
Veronica says “it’s not the Met Ball“. Betty asks Archie when he has to let Coach Clayton know about football. Archie says this weekend. Veronica goes into a monologue (which includes the term, “post-James Franco world”), which basically boils down to “Let’s have a hot threesome”…or something. I’m not exactly sure. Archie says he’s working on it. Veronica says “Work…faster.” Yeah, she’s definitely thinking threesome. Then she goes for punch, “whispering” to Betty: “You got this.”
Betty and Archie start to dance. She suggests following his heart regarding music or football.
Archie’s mind is elsewhere, however. He excuses himself, promising he’ll be a better date when he returns.
Kevin comes by with exciting news: in the bathroom, Moose told Kevin that he wants his cock. Kevin also describes Moose’s cock as “horse-like”.
“What the fuck, dude? Why are you telling me about some jock’s dick?”
Archie goes to get some punch and then sits to talk with Ms. Grundy. He says he won’t say anything, but she needs to help him with music. His “not-so-indecent proposal” is morning independent studies with her; he won’t tell anyone about July 4th “ever”. She offers Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30 AM – before first period; she’ll set it up and see about getting him credit. Then she gets up and walks away.
No comment. That’s just perfect. 🙂
Cheryl welcomes everyone to the semi-formal. As “honorary chairperson and de facto queen”, she introduces tonight’s entertainment. Though they “usually perform their own material”, they’re making an exception tonight (translation: Cheryl paid them) by performing a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night”, which her parents claim they were fucking to when they conceived Jason and Cheryl. Cheryl dedicates the performance to “Jay-Jay”.
Archie comes back to Betty, apologizing.
Cheryl introduces Josie and the Pussycats.
Song: “All Through the Night” by Josie and the Pussycats
Archie asks Betty to dance. She accepts. She asks about that thing. Archie says he’ll study with Ms. Grundy before school, do football practice after school, and work with his dad on the weekends. He admits it’s gonna be nuts. Betty thinks it’ll be okay as long as he doesn’t give up his passion.
Why the fuck is Melody playing a tambourine? In the comics and old cartoon series, Valerie played the tambourine. I thought this had been done away with in recent years, but nope: here’s Melody playing the tambourine, even though she’s the drummer, and the drums sit unused behind them.
Valerie now plays the keyboard. She had played the bass guitar in the 2001 movie. Either instrument is better than the tambourine.
“Go for it, bitch! Fuck him! Right here on the floor!”
Betty starts talking about her “fantasy” of her and Archie as a “power couple”.
“Hello! Free pussy right here!”
They stop dancing. Archie looks over at:
For fuck’s sake…
The very short song ends (they record two versions of each song: one for the episode and then a full-length studio version).
Betty and Archie don’t feel like applauding.
Cheryl sees this and tells her besties to make sure that the “turtledoves” and Veronica come to her after-party; she’s “in the mood for chaos”.
Song: “Boyfriend” by Tegan and Sara
After the commercial break, at Blossom Manor, it’s game time! They’re going old-school tonight: seven minutes in heaven.
Veronica checks out the goods. Betty’s nervous as fuck.
Cheryl picks Archie to “tryst in the closet of love first”. She asks for a second on that. Archie starts to object, but Reggie’s like “Fuck yeah!”
Cheryl spins an empty (no doubt alcoholic) bottle to see “who’s riding the ginger stallion tonight”. To Reggie’s surprise and amusement, the bottle points to Veronica.
“Okay, so this is awkward.”
Citing “house rules”, Cheryl says she’ll get to fuck Archie.
Song: “Only” by RY X
So Veronica and Archie go in the closet. Veronica calls Cheryl the Antichrist, which gets a laugh from Archie. To pass the time, they ask each other questions. He asks if she misses New York. It’s been less than a week, but she does. She asks if he and Betty are just friends. He says they’re best friends. She laughs. He asks if she had a boyfriend in New York. She says no. She asks if Archie and Betty could ever possibly become something more than friends. He asks if she’s asking for Betty or for herself. She says for Betty and presses him on it. He says he’s never felt whatever he’s “supposed” to feel with Betty. She asks if he’s felt it with anyone. He says yeah, this summer, and asks the same of her. She says “Maybe once.”
She calls him “a little more dangerous” than he looks. He says “You have no idea.” He steps closer to her. She tells him that it’s his turn and, in the most seductive way possible, tells him to ask her anything that he wants. They move closer. She says they shouldn’t do this.
Who didn’t see that coming?
Song: “Mustang Kids (feat. Baby E)” by Zella Day
After the commercial break, Veronica and Archie emerge from the closet.
Reggie’s convinced they fucked.
Veronica asks where Betty is.
“Broke down and ran away. High-strung bitch couldn’t handle it.”
Veronica calls Cheryl a “shady bitch” and leaves. Archie follows her.
Bitch Count: Veronica: 3
“Well, fuck, I didn’t want them to leave.” Seriously, though, Cheryl was “in the mood for chaos”, but she seems disappointed by the outcome.
Betty’s cell is off. Archie wants to look for Betty with Veronica, but Veronica says Betty wouldn’t want them tracking her down together. She says they fucked up and leaves.
We get a cool view of Riverdale at night.
Veronica arrives home. Hermione’s reading and enjoying a little glug-glug. She asks Veronica about the dance. Veronica says it was fine (technically true) and then compares it to the Met Ball again. Hermione wants Veronica to tell her about it to cheer her up.
Veronica lies on her mother’s lap, claiming to be “super tired”. Hermione asks if everything’s okay. Veronica won’t answer.
Song: “No Stranger” by Small Black
Jughead’s suddenly narrating again. He informs us that Archie arrived at Pop’s, “the one place in town that was still open”, at midnight.
Archie asks Pop if Betty’s come in. Nope. Pop indicates Jughead. Archie thanks him.
Archie asks Jughead if he can sit. Jughead says sure. Archie sits down and asks Jughead what he’s working on. Jughead says a novel about Jason’s death.
It looks like Jughead’s still stuck on page one and has been doing some revising, such as changing a detail of Cheryl’s story: from dropping a glove to seeing a ribbon. Also, there’s none of his recent narration of Archie walking into the diner.
Anyway, they discuss it. Apparently, Jason was captain of the water polo team, the Aquaholics. Yeah. Archie starts getting deep and philosophical, nominally about Jason but really about himself. Jughead says Coach Clayton’s in here, talking to Pop Tate about varsity football. He asks if that makes Archie “Mr. Popular Football God” now. Archie denies it. He’s terrified that he lost his “best friend” tonight. Jughead advises him to talk to Betty.
Archie goes to Betty’s house and just stands there, and she comes outside like she knew he was there.
She doesn’t care what he did with Veronica; she asks him if he loves her.
He says he does, but then he weasels out of it by saying she’s perfect.
“Fuuuck, I can tell where this is going.”
He keeps at it, saying he’ll never be good enough for her, blah blah, blah. Maybe he’s right (see: Ms. Grundy), but it’ll still feels pretty shitty.
After a moment, Betty turns and walks back inside without a word. Archie walks away. Jughead narrates about two hearts being broken that night.
Another cool shot.
Kevin and Moose arrive at Sweetwater River to skinny dip. Moose insists he’s not gay. Kevin asks, if he was, what he’d like to do. Moose says “Everything but kiss.” Kevin says “I love a good closet case.”
Kevin suggests starting with skinny dipping and then seeing what happens. But then he trips over something.
Song: “The Passenger” by Hunter As a Horse
It’s Jason’s body. He was shot.
Jughead narrates about shit that hasn’t happened yet: by morning, everyone would be “talking, texting, and posting” about it. This is modern Archie, bitches!
They’d all be feeling that the world around them had changed – maybe forever.
Archie hadn’t changed clothes since last night?
On Monday, the autopsy on Jason’s body would take place.
On Tuesday, halfway through fifth period, the first arrest would be made. How does Jughead know this?! When is he typing it?!
A lot of staring goes on. Everyone’s a suspect!
Each episode ends with the series title again.
See this article for an explanation.
Song from next episode preview (not included on the DVD set): “Rock Your World” by Shanks Mansell
So that’s the first episode of “Riverdale”. I think it’s a decent update of the classic Archie characters for the 21st century. Sure, various “purists” can find plenty of things to bitch about. I’d read a lot of it. Yeah, a murder mystery wouldn’t have been the structure that I would have gone with, but they’re doing a pretty good job with it. Archie fucking a young, hot teacher? Yeah, that came out of nowhere, and I can see how people would be upset about it, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t read Internet fanfics along the same lines. Hell, you’d probably throw up if you read some of the Archie fanfics that I’ve read. Suffice it to say I have a very high threshold when it comes to squick.
Would a sitcom have worked instead? Or a dramedy ala “Gilmore Girls” or “Hart of Dixie” or “Everwood”? Maybe. It’s hard to tell. What I’ve heard has be proven correct, though: there’s a lot of humor to be found here.
The actors are all fine. They do a good job in their roles. I particularly love the three female leads. Lili Reinhart does a fantastic job playing Betty. Betty is Betty – but with a bit of a dark twist (anger issues). That’s okay, though: some old comics showed Betty to be batshit insane. Camila Mendes surprised me. She’s great as Veronica, portraying her as softer and kinder (but fierce when she needs to be) than in the comics. Madelaine Petsch is awesome as Cheryl, always ready with a great line. Luke Perry is good as Fred Andrews, who’s the one likeable parent so far. Cole Sprouse is also surprisingly good as Jughead. It’s interesting how they portrayed him as the loner/outsider that observes things happening around him. In the comics, Jughead gives zero fucks about anything except food and sleep, so this is a bit of a change; it works, though. The one part that doesn’t work is Jughead’s narration; it’s confusing. Josie and the Pussycats? Eh, sorry, the movie versions are still my OTP (One True Pussycats).
Overall, it’s a solid debut. The pilot was filmed from March 14 through April 1 of 2016, making this over a year old already. How time flies.
Tune in next Wednesday!