Riverdale: Season 1 Episode 5 review – Chapter Five: Heart of Darkness
This review contains spoilers.
I made the mistake of looking at the Riverdale casts’ Instagram stories ahead of watching this week’s episode, one of which (Camila’s, I believe), was her filming a friend’s reaction to the end of Chapter Five. This friend held a shocked expression and concluded his awe with simply: “the Dad!”. This spurred me to go and watch the episode immediately, lest anything else spoil it, all the while wondering which Dad that friend had been referring to, as there are many Dads in the show. The lesson here is not to check Riverdale casts’ Instagram stories ahead of watching episodes. It’s a cast who adores what they have created and their time spent with one another, so little windows into the narrative like that are bound to spring up (and it was post-airing of the episode, to be fair).
That Dad turned out to be Betty’s father – a character we’d not seen a great deal of up until this point. The episode’s conclusive reveal showed Betty and Jughead working out, with moderate certainty for them but full certainty for us, that Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munroe) was in fact the person who stole evidence from Sheriff Keller, while most of the town were at the drive in. This begs the question of whether he stole it because he had some role in Jason’s death, or the much more likely explanation (which Betty and Jughead do consider) that he stole it to cover his daughter Polly Cooper in some way. I’m pretty certain that it’s the latter, given how early it would be to reveal the killer or killers in any form.
This led to Betty stating: “we have to talk to Polly”, which excited me immensely, because Polly is a character often spoken about but never seen, up until this point, despite the actress having been cast (Tiera Skovbye). Betty being oblivious about what Jason did to Polly seemed mighty unrealistic to me. Betty has lived in that house her whole life and has been privy to discussions, arguments and henceforth, just like any family life, so it seemed unrealistic to me that her parents had been able to keep all details of Polly’s secrets from Betty up until now. The answer from Hal Cooper was that Polly and Jason “had a fight”, then Polly had tried to hurt herself and that they subsequently sent her away to prevent her from attempting this again.
Sympathy for Cheryl was a strong theme this week. Cheryl and Veronica getting along amidst the drama of the funeral was adorable to witness. There’s a real maturity to Veronica, in how she can see past the wickedness of people and through to their kinder inner nature. I also think that, out of the young actresses, Camila Mendes is the most adept of the group, which contributes towards how layered Veronica comes across as. Cheryl’s choice to don the white dress from the day of the event was bold and the revelation that Polly and Jason had been engaged added a little more context to the story that Hal revealed to Betty.
Valerie was a surprising side character to receive heavy focus this week. She could easily have been a backing singer who is heard and seen but never delved into fully, but the writers opted to give her depth and a personality this week, to the point where we actually know her far better now than we do Josie McCoy herself. Valerie’s body language when assisting Archie made it extremely obvious that she’s interested in him, at least a little. You have to assume, however, that her belief in his talent comes from a genuine place, not from a desire to bed him. Even if others, like the music teacher who she passed Archie onto, don’t see any merit in Archie’s material.
This was another solid chapter in a show that continues to mark itself out as a refined and stylish murder mystery, whilst also being faithful service to Archie fans. It is perhaps falling a little into The Killing Season 1-trap, by which I mean presenting us with red herring after red herring, none of whom turn out to be the killers, but at least it is doing this with humility, rather than big bold reveals that turn out to be feints.
Image credits: The CW