Riverdale: Season 1 Episode 11 review – Chapter Eleven: To Riverdale and Back Again
This review contains spoilers.
Last week impressed me and this week continued that trend, marking an upturn in quality for the final leg of this season. Recently it was announced that next week (Episode 12 and the penultimate episode of the season) will be the episode that reveals Jason’s killer. That is a blessing for fans – to know for certain that we won’t be left without an answer.
Other recent news (which will be summarised in our forthcoming weekly TV news roundup) includes Ross Butler leaving the show due to scheduling conflicts and his character Reggie Mantle therefore having to be recast, and Pitch actor Mark Consuelos being cast as Hiram Lodge.
Although I never expected Hiram to look as young as Consuelos, I think it’s a great move; not only is Consuelos a strong actor (Pitch is excellent, if you haven’t seen it), but it makes sense that Hiram – who seemingly can wrap almost anyone around his finger – would be an attractive, youthful-looking charmer like Consuelos.
The greatest achievement this week, for me, was the way that the writing embellished in mystifying the town of Riverdale – more so then ever before – and how titled referenced this. Some characters spoke of Riverdale as though it’s some fantasy realm, separate from the rest of reality. The best example of this was Archie’s mother Mary (played by an almost-unrecognisable Molly Ringwald) stating: “I feel like Riverdale is getting ready to slide off of a mountainside.”
This conjures up an image of Riverdale being located on the very edge of the world, precariously balanced on the brink of a terrible chasm, pivoting there until it inevitably plunges into oblivion. It’s a superb mystification of the town – spoke from an outsider who can be truly objective – and this wasn’t the only fanciful line about the town this week either.
When you then consider the title of the episode – a clear nod to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again (Riverdale is placed as the ‘there’ in the title and the ‘there’ in Tolkien’s book refers to dangerous, far off Middle Earth adventures) – it’s very clear that this mystification was carefully devised and intentional, and I love that route. Just like Twin Peaks, Minnesota in Fargo and Louisiana in True Detective, Riverdale feels like its own private realm; a hidden place where evil can lurk with relative impunity.
The writers were smart not to plunge too deeply into Archie and Veronica’s new found romance this week. It was touched upon and Archie seems keen, but more pertinent issues were at play. Namely, Archie and Veronica breaking into FP’s house in an attempt to find some damning evidence of guilt. Jughead’s reaction to this deception was appropriate, except for how angry he was at Betty, who – as she stated – wasn’t aware of the plot.
It seemed a little unfair and it makes me wonder about the longevity of Betty and Jughead. There was also a brief shot of Betty’s face when Archie and Veronica are having fun singing on stage and her expression is one of true disdain, even though she has no reason to be unhappy.
Everyone around her is having fun and she has a boyfriend, but she’s a picture of grumpy misery when she sees her two friends performing wonderfully and cheekily flirting on stage. It signifies that there probably are some lingering feelings for Archie hidden beneath her surface, as Jughead speculated in a previous episode.
FP being framed means he can be removed from the list of potential killers and I’m glad for that, as he would have been a far too obvious choice. As for who will be revealed as the killer next week, anyone’s guess is as good as another’s. Unlike shows like The Killing, which laid out a relatively clear list of suspects in the lead up to the reveal, Riverdale is keeping even its prime candidates close to its chest. It really could be anyone.
I just hope that the choice makes sense and that the motive is believable. To me, it’s always seemed like the killer did what they did because of the romance between Polly and Jason, not because of any alternate revenge motive. If I’m right, it will make all that time spent on the twin babies appear more relevant, so I’m betting on it being someone with a loathing perspective on Polly and Jason’s coupling.
This was another impressive episode and I really loved the clever mysticism draped over the town by the writers. This upturn in quality bodes well for next week and the big reveal. As long as the choice for the killer is a smart one, I think it will prove to be another strong episode.
Image credits: The CW