This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
Check out last week's review here.
It’s mid-December, which means Riverdale’s right on cue for giving us more questions and very few answers as is goes on break for the holidays. “Outbreak” does have a few “reveals” but it’s mostly information that we knew already. What the mid-season finale really does is put a spotlight on the hubris of the Lodge family. And I’m not just talking about Hiram and his bullshit.
The first of three plotlines focuses on Riverdale High, the Lodges, and the CDC. After all of the River Vixens (excluding Cheryl) have a seizure, the adults send in fake CDC agents to round up the sick. I have some questions as to why Cheryl didn’t fall with the rest of her squad, but those questions were quickly replaced with shipper glee. Apparently it takes a mass seizure for us to get a scene with Cheryl and Toni around here.
With Toni safe in bed, Cheryl and Veronica go about trying to stop Riverdale High’s impending closure. The girls prove they’re willing to use any means necessary, up to and including trying to drown Penelope Blossom for information after their public stand did nothing. They get the information that they need, but underestimate the power it will take to stop the plan.
In the beginning of the episode, Hiram admits that Veronica was nearly entirely correct about all of his plans. He’s so convinced that his daughter will be unable to stop him that he literally delivers a supervillain manifesto, capped off with the stereotypical “join me” offer. Lucky for Hiram, he passed on his ego to his daughter. After learning about their parents’ plans to quarantine Riverdale from the outside world so that it can be rebuilt as the criminal cesspool of their dreams, Cheryl and Veronica round up the troops and storm the Mayor’s office.
Problem is, those troops are literally RROTC cadets being led by a couple of pissed of cheerleaders. Veronica’s opening line to her mother is that she’s relieved from her duties as Mayor. Cute, Ronnie. Teenagers should be empowered to help make change. Teenagers should also be taught to understand the steps that have to be taken to bring about that change. At the end of the day, this little miscalculation of power makes sense. Cheryl Blossom’s seen some shit, but remains about as privileged as they come. As for Veronica? I love my girl V, but she literally just broke away from her parents a week ago. All of this to say is that none of this would have happened had Betty been around.
But Betty wasn’t around, because apparently none of her friends care enough to wonder where in the hell she’s been all this time. “I thought you were on the farm!” Yeah, sure, Ronnie. Riverdale might be under quarantine, but Betty and Ethyl manage to save all of the girls from the hell that is the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Once B shows her girl E that it’s all because of the fizzle rocks, they get to work on their plan to use the hope inspired by the Griffin Queen to combat the girls’ fear of the Gargoyle King. The plan works, and Alice Cooper has suddenly found herself with a lot of mouths to feed. I’d feel sorry for her, but she threw her daughter in an asylum that tortures girls for being gay. So suck it, Alice.
This is usually the part where I’d make a joke about Alice calling FP to take care of all their new children, but FP’s a little indisposed at the moment. The final part of the mid-season puzzle is Archie and Jughead’s story. They make it to Toledo, finally giving viewers the opportunity to meet Gladys and Jellybean Jones. There’s not much time to flesh out their characters with everything going on in “Outbreak”. For now the two most important things seem to be that Gladys wants to make up for being a deadbeat mom, and Jellybean is a killer with a slingshot (who has the hots for Archie).
The boys think they’re safe with Gladys at her garage, but Penny Peabody arrives shortly after they do. This might lessen the boys’ feelings of safety, but it does give Gladys the opportunity to show Penny what happens when you slice up her boy. Honestly? Penny might be dead. We don’t know. What we do know is that Gladys wants her boy as far away from Archie as possible.
That might sound shitty, especially from a woman who’s been gone most of Jug’s life, and turned him away when he needed help. Unfortunately, she ain’t wrong. You can be a jerk and be right about something at the same time, but Gladys takes steps to ensure both of her boys are taken care of despite her tough call. A couple of phone calls ensure that both Fred and FP are in Toledo by morning to get their boys to where they’re going safely. Problem is, there’s not a whole lot of safety to be had.
Fred drops Archie off at the border with Vegas, a hug, and hopes that Gladys’ contact will keep his boy safe. Meanwhile, FP and Jughead return to Riverdale to take on a king. At least they would, if they could get into the damn town. Riverdale closes out the first half of the season with a big “W” for the small-town Legion of Doom. The borders are closed, but to what end? Hiram can’t Roanoke the city if he wants his fizzle rocks empire to expand. Regardless of his future intentions, we know that he has the Governor in his pocket. Hermione’s guilt better result in some action real quick, because it looks like her town might be screwed.
And with that, we’re on a break until January 15th. As always, I want to hear your thoughts on the episode in the comments!