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Warning: Spoilers for Riverdale season two, episode five, “When a Stranger Calls,” are ahead.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the future looks pretty grim for Betty and Jughead. The two are traveling down different yet equally dangerous paths, only uniting for one heartbreaking Pop’s diner scene.

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Jughead: I wish we could just go. Just hop on a motorcycle and just leave Riverdale. Go somewhere where there’s no North Side or South Side or Serpents or Ghoulies.

Betty: No crazy moms, no black hoods. Like Romeo and Juliet, but we live happily ever after instead.

Oof, my heart. And they don’t even know what’s about to happen. Here’s what went down in “When a Stranger Calls,” from the destruction of two major Riverdale relationships to the introduction of a new character who must die.

Never answer a call from an unknown number, Betty…

Because it’s either a telemarketer or a murderer. The episode picks up immediately where “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” left off: With Betty on the phone to the Black Hood. He was at the town hall meeting Betty and Jughead broke up, but his target wasn’t any of the adults. He wants what he believes Betty wants: to set Riverdale back on the “righteous path” by ridding it of sinners. The next on the list? Her sister Polly. The Black Hood knows all about “the sin she carries in her womb” and he knows where she is. She’ll be safe as long as Betty doesn’t deny him…or tell the police, her parents, or Jughead what they’re doing.

So Betty tells Archie, which is definitely cheating, but sure. She thinks even if the Black Hood is watching her that it’s totally normal for her to be walking to school with her best friend. She’d be right…if she weren’t acting super shifty and her eyes weren’t darting in every direction. But Archie doesn’t want her to go through this alone, and I’m happy to see a platonic Barchie team-up.

Just your friendly neighborhood murder solvers.

The CW/Riverdale

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When she gets her next call from BH—she’s set the ringtone to “Lollipop,” which feels like a particularly sinister choice—she receives her first task: Publish a mugshot of her mother from her days as a Southside Serpent. Considering the way Alice Cooper’s been railing against the South Side all season, this would not be a good look. Betty agonizes over the decision for, like, half a second. Alice accuses Betty of making up last episode’s letter after Sheriff Keller reveals that the handwriting doesn’t match the original manifesto…. So screw you, Alice Cooper, you’re exposed.

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So Betty gets to ask her first question. Yes, she would recognize the person under the mask. (If you’re Team Betty’s Brother Is the Black Hood, you might want to rethink that. Unless, of course, he’s using people she knows to physically carry out his vengeance). Her next task, to cut Veronica “Complicit in Her Father’s Crimes” Lodge out of her life, won’t be so easy.

Veronica used to do a lot of coke in New York, apparently.

Guys, I am so proud of Veronica. Not really for anything she actually does in this episode, but because she doesn’t say “daddy” once. Bless. Anyway, Hiram and Hermione are pressed over their new hotel, golf course, megamall in space, whatever it is that they’re building, so they bring in potential investors all the way from New York for an open house: the St. Clairs. Veronica is thrilled, because she and Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips) were the “will they or won’t they of their jet set,” though they never actually dated. Her parents eagerly encourage her to show him a good time, and I almost forgot that Riverdale parents love to pimp their daughters out for the sake of business.

But don’t worry, Archie. “[Nick’s] just a ghost from my bad-girl past, breezing into town for the open house. You have nothing to worry about.” But maybe worry, because he’s a major toolbag. But like all major toolbags, he does get the best lines. “What is it that you country mice do for fun? Catch fireflies with mason jars?” No, they solve murders.

He seems astonished when Veronica refuses a bump of coke in her bedroom and now I’m really hoping for a Stranger Things “The Lost Sister”–like episode where we flash back to Ronnie in Manhattan and it’s actually just an old episode of Gossip Girl she’s been superimposed into. To spice things up, Nick offers to throw a party in his hotel room at The Five Seasons (lol). It does not go well.

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Reggie supplies Nick with Jingle Jangle, and we finally get to see those pixie sticks in action. Everyone but Betty (and Jughead, who’s not there) partakes, and all of a sudden a lot of grinding is going on. [Side note: I am more than here for whatever is happening between Josie and Reggie. The ship is now called Rosie, if it wasn’t already.] But the ecstasy dies when Betty goes OFF on Veronica in the middle of the room.

Betty: I was gonna say you’re making a fool out of yourself. Acting like some privileged, shallow, airhead party girl. I mean it’s all just recycled banter and plunging necklines and throwing shade to distract us from the fact that there’s really nothing going on underneath.

Archie: Betty, what the hell are you saying?

Betty: What we’re all thinking. That the only reason Veronica hangs out with us is circumstance. She’s not our friend. The minute someone from her trashy past shows up, she starts using us for drugs, or music, or distraction. And why should we be surprised? Like father like daughter, right?

Veronica: You better shut it down, Betty.

Betty: Or what, Veronica? You’ll have your dad put a hit on me? Or maybe you’ll do it yourself. Because you may have fooled all of them, but not me. Try to reform all you want, but you’re a bad person. You’ll always be a bad person.

Wow. BH threats or no BH threats, that was intense and I’m not sure how she’s going to walk that one back. It’s a testament to how much of a thick-skinned New Yorker Veronica is that she doesn’t melt into a puddle of tears right there.

Once everyone leaves (because how do you salvage a party after that), Nick puts the moves on Veronica and when she points out that she’s with Archie, he doesn’t stop until she has to physically push him off her. He threatens to implode her father’s deal and she slaps him in the face. Good.

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Poor, sweet Jughead deserves better.

Et tu, Brute?

The CW/Riverdale

After storming out of Nick’s soiree, Betty lets BH know that she’s handled Veronica. But now she wants her question. How does she get him/her to stop killing people? Keep playing the game. And next on the chopping block…you guessed it: Jughead.

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Meanwhile, throughout this episode, Jughead has been completing some tasks of his own. He finds out that Sweet Pea and the other Serpents are planning to blow up the Riverdale Register with a pipe bomb (WTF?) and Jughead decides the only way to keep the motley crew in control is from within. He’s going full Serpent. Finally.

But to do that, he must face a series of trials:

1. The Serpents break into his home in pretty terrifying masks to tell him he must tame the beast…which happens to be an adorable pup named Hot Dog III.

2. Remember the six laws of being a Serpent, which are honestly way less exciting than the laws of fight club. Don’t be a coward, no Serpent gets left behind, blah blah blah.

3. Show no fear. Jughead must stick his hand in a tank to retrieve a knife. The catch? There’s a rattlesnake in there. He gets bit (its venom glands have been removed) but he got the knife, so he’s on to the final trial, which Toni warns him is way more intense than the first three. She also calls him Juggie, which is awkward for everyone involved.

Before he’s set to complete his initiation, Archie shows up at his trailer. See, Betty’s asked him to break up with Jughead for her, which gets much easier for Archie when he sees what Jughead’s been up to. Honestly, this whole scene is heartbreaking, but I wonder if Archie didn’t mean some of the things he shouted. Archie’s never been that great an actor, and he was pretty convincing. So Jughead’s left heartbroken, with no reason not to take the final plunge.

Sh*t goes down to the tune of RENT‘s “Take Me Out Tonight.”

At the open house, Alice Cooper stages her own LWYMMD moment, complete with snake necklace. I died. Her entrance was everything.

The CW/Riverdale

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But the levity ends there. Nick St. Clair apologizes to Veronica for sexually assaulting her and tells her that he’s been in and out of rehab. She forgives him, because women have been conditioned to brush off unwanted sexual advances as “not a big deal.” But just like that, Nick spots another opportunity with Cheryl, who’s been harboring a crush throughout the episode. He drugs her champagne—the darkest moment of this dark episode.

Josie and the Pussycats do the best rendition of “Take Me Out Tonight” I’ve ever heard, over a series of harrowing shots: Jughead is standing in front of the Serpents in the middle of a dark fog. Betty’s crying in her room. Archie seems stressed in the diner. Jughead’s getting punched repeatedly by gang members. (WHY?) Cheryl is starting to sway on the dancefloor. Nick takes Cheryl to a hotel room, but the Pussycats chase after them. Sweet Pea punches Jughead, wearing brass knuckles. Jughead’s a Serpent now. Yay?

Finally, in my favorite moment of Riverdale ever, V and the Pussycats arrive at the hotel room just in time, and kick the absolute shit out of Nick St. Clair. It’s vicious and cathartic as hell, and I don’t know why the episode doesn’t end right here.

Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips), Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)

The CW/Riverdale

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Somehow, this episode still isn’t over.

Betty gets to ask another question, and there’s only one thing she wants to know: Who is the Black Hood? He makes her come out to Fox Forest, only to have her put on a hood herself. He tells her she and him are one. Creepy.

When she calls Archie to give him the lowdown, he tells her something bad has happened. They all comfort a distraught Cheryl, who tells Archie he doesn’t have to go after Nick because the Pussycats already took care of him. Damn right. But she does want to take him to court and make him pay.

A newly minted gang member, Jughead Jones is looking worse for wear, but if you were thinking Betty might be able to walk-back their breakup before anything happens with Toni Topaz, you’d be wrong. Toni goes in for the kiss after hearing that Bughead is no more and a million shippers just broke their TVs.

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Later, Betty gets another call from BH who, to no one’s surprise, knows Betty’s been telling Archie about their talks. (I KNEW that was cheating.) In order to protect her family from BH’s wrath, she must name his next victim. Stone-faced, Betty gives him a name: Nick St. Clair.

Guess Betty’s a Black Hood after all.



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