Read the previous review here.
This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
After “When a Stranger Calls” ripped out hearts out of our chests last week, it was nice to have some good old fashioned action in “Death Proof”. We get less of the Black Hood ruining Betty’s life, and see her start to get her life under control again, but the episode doesn’t go without high stakes and a few torn heartstrings.
Part of the charm of Riverdale is the fact that nearly every single character has both charming and utterly loathsome moments. Hermione Lodge is the queen of making fans torn on whether or not they love her, and most of the other parents share the same skill. The exception to the rule has always been Penelope Blossom. The cold and callous woman has spent a season and a half watching her children get murdered and abused, sometimes contributing to the abuse herself. She starts the episode by insisting that Cheryl must have been asking for what happened between Cheryl and Nick Saintclaire, and ices the cake by taking hush money from his parents rather than taking care of her daughter. By the end of things, we see her warm for a split second. One where she not only tells Cheryl the identity of the elusive Sugarman, but also throws the hush money check from the Saintclaire’s in the fire.
Veronica’s mother has been a lot colder this season as well, but deep down Hermione still loves her daughter. She may not be winning any Mother of the Year awards anytime soon, but the moment she found out what Nick attempted to do her what he did to Cheryl, the gloves were off and none of their weird mother daughter baggage mattered for a moment.
“Death Proof” was a warmer episode for the parents, giving Hermione and Penelope their motherly moments, while also giving time for Fred and FP to try to guide their boys, but it seems all of the teens are starting to get colder. Betty’s playing a game of cat and mouse with a serial killer, while Veronica didn’t bat an eye at her parents having the Saintclaire’s attacked. Nick and his enabling parents deserved what they got, for sure, but Ronnie’s giving into a side of her family that she swore she never would. It’s possible she’ll start to find the slope she’s on a little slippery as the season progresses.
Have no fear, Veronica! Your idiot knight in shining armor will (try to) help you. Sure, any attempt he makes will be well-meaning while also being utterly misguided, and will ultimately make things infinitely worse, but it’s the thought, right? The Southside Serpents probably won’t be as understanding as Veronica has been of Archie’s stupidity, because this time it’s landed them in deep water.
After visiting FP in jail, the boys take his advice to challenge the Ghoulies to a street race. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but it’s all they can do to avoid bloodshed between the two gangs now that things have escalated on the Southside thanks to Mayor McCoy. The boys aren’t racing for something as trivial as pink slips, unfortunately. There’s territory involved, and the removal of Jingle Jangle from Southside High. However, no one makes it to the finish line.
Archie warns the police of their little competition, and the Ghoulies get rounded up and shipped off to jail. Because our well-meaning redhead can’t see past his own nose, he doesn’t realize that the bloodshed they were trying to avoid will be sure to go down once they start being released. Perhaps FP will be out of jail and able to speak some reason into the Serpents who are looking to make friends, but who knows?
While the war between the two gangs is put on hold, the one between the North and South sides of Riverdale continues. In the middle of that is the Black Hood, and Betty is done letting him control their little game. She smooths things over with Veronica, who accepts her back with open arms after hearing the story. Apparently she also manages to smooth things over with Jughead, but that’s all off camera? There were a lot of hurt feelings there, so hopefully we’ll see some more explanation as to what happened between the race and the end of the episode next week. With Cheryl’s help, Betty also topples the Sugarman. Since it’s her first big win against the Black Hood, Betty’s feeling pretty confident on their last phone call, but that tune may change once she discovers that Riverdale’s jails apparently aren’t guarded and the man she wanted to come to justice is now dead after her troubles.
Riverdale is reaching the point in the season where the mystery has a lot of strings. There’s motive, which we’re not sure the Black Hood is being honest about. Then there’s opportunity, because we’re still not sure how he’s getting access and information on all of his victims. Finally, there’s the general whodunit of it all. All signs currently point toward Hal, Betty’s father, but since that’s the obvious answer it seems unlikely to be the real one. If you had thoughts on the episode, you know what to do!