Riverdale: Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle
January 18, 2018 6:28 AM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

NEW YEAR, NEW DRAMA — Tensions mount when the sudden shut down of Southside High forces Jughead and his fellow serpents to transfer to Riverdale High. Archie is conflicted when he is asked to gather some information on Hiram’s suspicious business dealings. Betty sets out on a quest to find her long-lost brother, Chic. Penelope Blossom finds a job she really likes, much to Cheryl's dismay.

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posted by Bulgaroktonos (9 comments total)
 
Obviously there is so much to unpack here. Also I don't remember the exact phrasing, but Cheryl's perky "Good news, mommy, I've saved the day!" was, as always, perfect.

Initial thoughts:

-Do we think that guy is a real FBI agent? It's pretty sketch, right? Also, if he grew up in Riverdale what does he have to hide? To whom is he related?

-I am a grown woman and I do not REALLY feel this way but the part of me that is still fourteen saw Jughead walking into school in his Serpents jacket after they were banned nd was like "oh God that is extremely hot".

-I think they did a good job showing all the Riverdale kids in their varsity jackets after they banned the Serpents jackets. Turns out you can absolutely wear a jacket that marks you out as a member of a specific group, it's just you have to be one of the rich kids to do it.

-I think it would be nice if Kevin found a new boyfriend. I like Kevin and want him to be happy.

-I think it's really interesting and valuable to see Cheryl shocked. She has that confidence that many high schoolers have, that she's smarter than everyone and has everything all figured out and also is more cynical than anyone else could be, and she's largely right, she is very skillfully manipulative, but here's a situation outside her control and we see how vulnerable and confused and upset she can be.

-So Chic, obviously, is super creepy, right? I'm wary about this because I don't really want to have a plot that's like "people who grew up poor are bad" but I am cautiously optimistic that this show will handle it okay. Also perhaps he and Betty can connect because sometimes she's Dark Betty so he can help her understand that side of herself and she can help him find another side of himself?

-Betty's kewpie doll (sp?) nightlight is also super creepy.

-So Polly had the twins and is part of a cult? God Polly is a nitwit. Juniper and Dagwood? Is Dagwood a shoutout to another comic? Do we think this is going to be a big plot or just a side thing?

-I liked that they brought back both the Nick St. Clair thing and Archie's dad's hospital bill. They both seemed like throwaway, one-episode stories but they are both things that in real life are extremely big deals and I'm really glad they've turned out to be more than convenient devices. It's part of what helps this show transcend its "teen" quality, that things that feel neatly wrapped up come back and they're things like medical bills that affect adults and life outside high school (P.S. lack of universal healthcare is giving aid and succor to organized crime, when the glorious people's revolution comes we will liberate Andrews Construction from the capitalist pigs).

-This show very consciously has a lot of people with dark sides, and it seems like the people whose dark sides most often get violent are those who intentionally, if unconsciously, present pleasant face to the world. Betty and Archie are very much positioned as the girl/boy next door but they have both gotten violent out of anger. Hiram Lodge is a violent person and has a dark side, but he's trying to look like a philanthropist. Also, his dark side is more calculated except when he feels like Veronica has been threatened.

-A thing I like about this show is that they are not shy about using the word "rape" when it's the right word.

-I also appreciate that Veronica didn't initially tell her father about Nick trying to assault her and didn't tell Archie at all because that's exactly what happens; women have to internalize their traumas because if you tell men close to you about it to process what's happened you make it harder for yourself because you have to manage their emotions and their reactions. I think this was a good depiction of that, that Veronica should have been able to tell men she loves but her father's not someone she should trust and she does love and trust Archie but he still reacted in a way that was really dangerous and without consulting her. She is the one who actually had a friend try to assault her and yet she needs to be the calm, reasonable one talking people down even though their pain is secondary to hers. It's accurate and it's bullshit.

I have a lot of other thoughts percolating but I am so excited to hear what other people think! Looking forward to this discussion!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:56 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]


-I am a grown woman and I do not REALLY feel this way but the part of me that is still fourteen saw Jughead walking into school in his Serpents jacket after they were banned nd was like "oh God that is extremely hot".

In the light of day it's all "the part of me that's 14..." I remember no such qualifiers last night.

Anyway, yeah there's a lot going on here. The Serpent plot is clicking for me better than it ever has in a while, especially the disconnect between Jughead, who's putting a lot of his self-identity in this, and his dad/Toni Topaz who are more willing to be part time Serpents. Jughead's dad's point that he sheds his skin all the time for work was well made.* They're pushing the class buttons in ways I like as well, although it's a little too convenient the main characters are largely "yay Southsiders!" apart from Cheryl.

The thing with Archie and the FBI agent felt very out of nowhere and very "hey how much like Twin Peaks can we be before it stops working?" It's also totally unclear to me that this guy is an FBI agent. The AV Club wasn't even sure he was real and now I'm not either. Ersatz Dale Cooper also jumped into letting Archie run the show awfully fast, asking him for ideas and strategies on the second thing they did together. You've hitched your wagon to a very bad star there, dude.

I am loving Cheryl's plot. Her mom's enjoyment, her bewilderment, the whole 1890s brothel vibe it all has. I am a big Cheryl fan generally, because I like her dumb clothes and outrageous lines, but it's working on levels beyond that now.

I am also glad that the Nick St. Clair thing came back, because I really wasn't expecting it. I figured it was just there to be a character development moment for Veronica and her dad, but the prospect of it having real consequences is interesting.

Idle thoughts:
Topaz used the phrase Lovecraftian, and we saw something addressed to H.P. Lovecraft previously this season. Developing theme? Probably not.
Does Mayor McCoy really think the Lodge money is going to matter more than pissing off all the other rich well connected people in town? It seems like a bad play. Also I want more Josie around if her mom is driving the plot like this.
Archie asking the FBI agent a vague question about the Black Hood was a weird way to keep it alive, but they definitely got the wrong guy.
Polly can leave now. I don't need her.
Archie is a terrible detective.

*Also, how is one of the laws "a serpent never sheds his skin"? Serpents do shed their skins; this like one of the top four facts about serpents. What's next? "The 85th law is Serpents are round and have lots of legs"?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:08 AM on January 18 [5 favorites]


Topaz used the phrase Lovecraftian, and we saw something addressed to H.P. Lovecraft previously this season. Developing theme? Probably not.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:10 AM on January 18


Anyway, yeah there's a lot going on here. The Serpent plot is clicking for me better than it ever has in a while, especially the disconnect between Jughead, who's putting a lot of his self-identity in this, and his dad/Toni Topaz who are more willing to be part time Serpents. Jughead's dad's point that he sheds his skin all the time for work was well made.

I think this is a good point. Jughead desires SO FIERCELY to belong that it shows how much he doesn't. I think the rest of them are pretty comfortable with their Serpent identity so they still feel like Serpents with their jackets off but Jughead feels like he needs to prove himself constantly. It's funny because he positions himself as this cool intellectual loner outsider but he's so desperate to be part of a group.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:11 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Chic gives me the creeps. Really creepy head.

Jughead has become the ultimate joiner for a guy who wants to be a loner. I LOL'd at all the snake skin talk, the polo shirts, the DND club....

Archie will buy anything anyone tells him.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:00 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


No way that is a real FBI agent. Never bet against Archie making the wrong decision.

re: Lovecraft. I think there's a slim chance that this could go somewhere, especially in season 3. If Sabrina wasn't going to Netflix, I would think it was setup for her plot.
posted by Burgoo at 5:21 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Pterodactyl: Is Dagwood a shoutout to another comic?

Dagwood Bumstead is a main character in the Blondie newspaper strip.


The Lovecraft mention made me think of Afterlife with Archie, which was pretty great but stalled out.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:51 PM on January 20


WHAT THE HELL.

I really want to see a sex-worker-written analysis of the last couple of episodes, given how it's been interwoven into the plot (Betty's striptease, Cheryl's mum, Chic implied). It seems a bit too cheap, like "oh look how terrible they are that they have to ~whore themselves~", and there's already plenty of that to go around in a world that really needs more respectful, nuanced, and overall better representation of sex work.

It feels like right now the only characters close to their OG Comic selves are Veronica (who actually is a sweet-but-spoiled girl in the original comics too) and Reggie to some degree. Everyone else is so different, they might as well be different characters. Like I know the Archie Comics franchise runs on AU after AU after AU but at least the comics seem kind of consistent? Jughead is unrecognizable (LET JUGHEAD EAT), Archie is trying to be manipulative and is too noble for his own good maybe, and Betty is crafty in interesting ways but I dunno also a lot different.

Chic is creeeeeeeeepy I was so afraid the episode would end in him assaulting Betty like please no. And yeah, that FBI agent is suss, he sounds like a freakin' robot.
posted by divabat at 11:56 PM on January 21


I generally liked the episode, but had to take a long deep breath of disbelief that the principal would sign off on a club organized by Jughead that had "serpents" in the name. Seriously?! You just spent the entire day/week banning all evidence of a gang with the name Serpents and then you're completely cool when the biggest holdout and rebel to your ban asks to start a club with the name of the gang IN THE TITLE? Adding a sword to it isn't hiding anything. -_-

Archie has some real anger issues, btw. I'm attributing them to maybe PTSD from all the horrible things going on around him, but gosh, he has been either very threatening or very violent at times.

Chic is so, so, so, creepy. Eeeeeeeeeeee.
posted by Atreides at 7:47 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


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