'Riverdale' S1E5: Heart of Darkness

★ ★ ★ ★

It was only a matter of time until Riverdale sought to turn Cheryl Blossom into a broken antihero of sorts. A ruthless mean girl hiding all of her imperfections underneath, it's a continuation of Riverdale's effortless attempt to reveal just how each of the Riverdale Gang (would calling them the Scooby Gang be too much of a Buffy thing?) is a product of the way they are treated by their parents.

And, holy crap, Cheryl must have had a rough childhood, judging by how her parents are.

In a small way, the parents of the Riverdale Bunch (name in progress) are less two-dimensional than their children. They're mysterious characters with pasts ridden with mistakes and background information that hasn't been revealed to the audience just yet. Even Jughead's dad has only been seen in passing and the Blossom/Cooper feud only recently explained. With all of this being how Riverdale treats its storylines, they should have enough material to fuel at least two seasons of drama before an exterior source has to shake things up a bit.

Cheryl has far more in common with Lydia from Teen Wolf than good looks, popularity, a mean streak, and red hair. They're both characters that would wreak havoc on the lives of others to get some form of pride in the only way that they could. Lydia became more developed over the course of the series, even garnering her own storyline, but it was a slow journey for her as the spotlight kept getting moved away from her to the main characters. Cheryl doesn't have that problem. She's immediately thrust into the main story of the season, allowing for her to develop in ways that would take numerous seasons in only a short number of episodes. Her relationship with Betty will continue to be strained, but it's that budding friendship with Veronica that will allow her to drift off into the Riverdale Bunch.

Riverdale: S1E5

Cheryl's eulogy was a perfect semblance of her flawed personality. It was entirely about Jason. The two are creepily close in death as they were in life. Cheryl's learning how to live her life without him and how to deal with her parents all alone. It's a total redemptive arc for her character, but what happens over the course of the season could or could not change that permanently.

It's more plot device than anything for Polly to be in the situation she's in. It buys the season time to keep some secrets to itself before diving headfirst into a more Jason-focused mystery. The reveal that Polly was engaged to Jason (and that Betty's parents kept that from her!) is the craziest tidbit learned from the episode. If Betty's parents reacted like that, there's no telling how the Blossoms reacted.

Also, can we just sit back and take in the fact that this blood feud is entirely over a maple syrup empire?

Archie's storyline (*sigh*) is once again the weakest part of the episode. I'm sure it's mandatory for all teen dramas to feature a music/sports montage, but in the grand scheme of things, Archie still hasn't given the series a reason to not skip over his portion of the episode. Archie's far behind the rest of the characters, his only "secret" being Grundy and the gunshot, both of which were ruled out with ruthless speed. Now that the teacher's gone, Archie's storyline has become more about how to move on without creepy Grundy. That only leaves him with two choices: football or music. While Riverdale might not be the most realistic when hoisting up how hot Archie is or how he suddenly sprouted abs over the summer, it is realistic about the choices he has to make if he wants to move on in music. As boring as Archie's story is, you want to root for that underdog music career of his (even if he's being upstaged by the Pussycats every episode) and for him to find his niche in it. Grundy may have been a terrible human being, but at least she understood how difficult the industry is and that Archie's a very late bloomer in the field. He's still unable to write his music without help (he couldn't have used a computer program to help him overcome that sloppy handwriting?) and everything hinges on his sexual relationships in exchange for favors. Valerie's definitely the rebound in Archie's life and whether or not it would continue if he were able to help himself is a genuine question that needs to be asked.

By the way, speaking of football, will we ever get to see the return of the coach's son? It's an interesting plot device episode if his leaving the team opened up this rivalry between Archie and Reggie, but all of this captain talk and the coach's son didn't pop up once to have a say?


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