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"Well, those Paradise Lost kids went to jail because they wore black and listened to Metallica."
This week, it was The Juggie Show, and what a beautiful bummer of a show that is. We open with a retro Archie Comics nightmare that reveals Jughead's anxiety about being in a "normal" relationship (is this a nod to the character's asexual roots?), surrounded by all the trappings of societal ordinariness while his father overshadows everything in the background, and Archie is stabbed in the back by Jughead's seeming betrayal.
It's a bleak picture that reveals a lot about the inner workings of this loner and his relationship with his father and friends. We get to know a little more about the downfall of FP Jones, a story that has at least two sides so far. He's trying to be on the straight and narrow for Jughead, and he blames Fred Andrews for edging him out of the concrete business - while Fred blames FP for siphoning money from the company and getting them involved in illegal activities. (Team Fred.) Either way, it causes a small amount of tension between Jughead and Archie, tension that is easily diffused. Mostly, it's just nice seeing Archie involved in an A-plot on this show for a change.
All of this is backdrop to the revelation that Jughead is now considered a suspect in the Jason Blossom case - he left his fingerprints on the car last week, but more importantly, he's got a record. He's been to juvie after defending himself against some bullying, and of course being the son of FP Jones isn't doing him any favors. Of all of the teens who are being forced into early adulthood on Riverdale - and that is a running theme of the show - Jughead is far and away the most adult. He carries such weight on those scrawny shoulders, and even his new romance with Betty feels like a burden with everything else the poor kid has going on.
Betty's got plenty of her own baggage to carry, as well, with the return of Polly and the realization that, despite both sets of parents' protestations, neither the Coopers nor the Blossoms have Polly's - or Polly's baby's - best interests at heart. But that's okay, because Betty does, and Cheryl does, and Veronica does. These three teenage girls will do anything within their power to protect Polly, another instance of teenagers acting like adults - and like better adults than the real grown-ups in their lives. We've long established that Betty and Veronica are the best, but if you weren't already sold on Cheryl Blossom before "In a Lonely Place," you will be now.
We do get one fun moment of typical teenage rebellion this week, with Jughead's nightmares foreshadowing us on seeing a Veronica far closer to the one we know from the comics. She takes Reggie, Kevin and Josie to the club for some high-spirited (and self-absorbed) teen hijinks, but of course it's all in service of eliciting a negotation with her mom. Hermione broke a sacred trust with Veronica last week, and Veronica knows exactly how to work her mom. No guilt-tripping, just rebellion. It works, and Hermione may have edged herself back into the very small group of "Adults Who Aren't Monsters" on Riverdale with her frank conversation with Veronica at the end of the episode.
We're now upon a three-week hiatus before the final episodes of the season, and Riverdale has paced itself very well. "In a Lonely Place" delivers little on the mystery front, but develops all of our characters in surprising and compelling ways.
A few more tidbits:
“Oh my god. Honestly, guys, we should just move.” Veronica knows the score.
"#PollyCooperKilledMyBrother #NowhereToHide #BringOutYourPitchForks" - Cheryl's hashtags are getting more pointed.
Next week, on Riverdale: