So, a week or two ago, I wrote an extremely nerdy piece arguing that Riverdale’s first season was, beneath the soap opera drama, a proper Gothic horror. You can read it here, if you are so inclined. There was a LOT more that I didn’t get a chance to write about. I’d really love to pick it all apart even further, but this is not the time.
No, this is the time to celebrate the show’s return. I shall be making a valiant attempt to post my thoughts on this season’s episodes each week, because I love this show beyond all reason. These posts aren’t meant to be proper reviews or recaps, just my own opinions.
Today, we focus on Chapter 14, “A Kiss Before Dying.” There WILL be spoilers, so if you don’t want things ruined for you, turn back now. If you haven’t had a chance to watch, head on over to the CW’s website or check out their app to get caught up before Chapter 15 airs tonight.
First of all, the cinematography on this show remains fascinating and incredibly well done. I’m especially taken with the way the show is playing with lighting. One thing that I noticed, again and again, is the attention paid to Cole Sprouse’s Jughead Jones. Throughout “A Kiss Before Dying” we see Jughead bathed in light in some way or another. He somehow manages to get caught up in sunbeams, bursts of daylight, and even the glow of vending machines. Deliberate or not, show runners? Is this meant to highlight Jughead as a hopeful, inherently decent person or is somebody just really fond of Sprouse?
I’m inclined to believe the former. Lili Reinhart’s Betty is another frequent recipient of warm, lovely lighting. She and Jughead share the glow while they’re sitting at Pop’s counter, having that heart to heart about Jughead and his potential future as a Southside Serpent. Lighting these two characters in such a fashion made me inclined to think that we are looking at the hope for goodness, or at least the truth, in the currently tumultuous Riverdale.
Even the hospital gets a nice glow.
On the other side of the spectrum, Hermione and later Hiram Lodge are frequently shown in the shadows. Hermione is even bathed in a faintly sinister red light when Veronica confronts her in the chapel.
In a show that is so deliberate in the way scenes are staged, from costuming to background props, I am inclined to believe that all of this is purposefully done.
Speaking of costumes, I really love the retro outfits that many of the background characters sport. Our core group might use smart phones and Twitter, but they’re the anomalies in a world where outfits like these are still commonplace. Seriously, what hospital still makes their nurses wear caps like that?
Moving on, the plot of the episodes revolves largely around the fate of Fred Andrews. The title of Chapter 14 is worrisome, especially after Cheryl Blossom plants a big kiss on Fred’s forehead during that strange little encounter where Cheryl attempts to repay Archie for saving her life by passing on the “kiss of life” that Archie gave to Cheryl after he dragged her unconscious body from Sweetwater River.
Speaking of Cheryl? Do not fuck with Cheryl Blossom. For real. I’m a little afraid for her mother.
Happily, Fred lives to fight another day. The journey there was incredibly upsetting, however. Fred’s coma dreams don’t really count as insanity or hallucinations, so those two squares won’t get filled on the Gothic bingo card today. Those dreams were, however, incredibly vivid and upsetting. Poor Fred keeps seeing the parts of his life that he subconsciously fears that he will miss. The dreams are largely the same: Fred is experiencing a huge life moment with his son — graduation, watching Archie take his place at Andrews and Son, talking to Archie about Veronica and their impending engagement, and finally at Archie and Veronica’s wedding.
And that last dream, about Archie and Veronica being married? Was the most bananas of them all. First, the late Clifford and Jason Blossom both appear to be attending Archie’s wedding along with the rest of the Blossom family. What’s more, that they’re sitting in the front row, a spot normally reserved for family members. At first I could play this off as being simply a careless placement of characters in order to dramatize the appearance of the deceased Blossoms, but then Mary Andrews winked at the camera.
Why is the Blossom family sitting in the front row with Mary Andrews? Is Mary a Blossom?? We already know that the Coopers were once Blossoms, but did those sticky tentacles find their way into Archie’s family too?? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.
Oh. And Miss Grundy’s dead. *Shrug* What do you want from me, she was the worst and I actually groaned when they showed her. I may have cheered after the so-called Angel of Death took her out of our hearts and minds at the end of the episode. I’m 100% not sorry, and I’m also not buying the theory floating around that her crazy ex-husband is the killer, because why would she be killed off in the first episode if that were the case? Wouldn’t this crazy ex-husband want to stick around and toy with the Grundy for a bit? And why would he have shot Fred and not Archie? One assumes that this ex-husband (if he’s even real, Grundy’s a known liar and manipulator who may have made up that origin story in the first season) perhaps discovered Grundy’s fondness for her teenage students.
Unfortunately for me and the rest of you, it’s probably going to be a long wait for any answers. This season gives the writers and producers a full twenty three episodes to play with our minds and hearts. I don’t know about you, but I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for more. If you’re all caught up, be sure to watch Chapter 15 tonight (or tomorrow, if you’re at the mercy of the CW app, like me).