Wednesday, February 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Riverdale' - Kevin and Josie Take the Spotlight as They Face Uncertain Futures in 'Chapter Forty-Seven: Bizarrodale'

The CW's Riverdale - Episode 3.12 "Chapter Forty-Seven: Bizarrodale"

Amidst preparations for their upcoming wedding, Sierra and Tom receive an unsettling message, which forces "The Midnight Club" to reunite. Veronica and Reggie take drastic measures to clean up a mess they created. Cheryl learns some unexpected news about the college she has set her sights on. Kevin gives Moose an ultimatum.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Riverdale.

"Chapter Forty-Seven: Bizarrodale" was written by Britta Lundin and directed by Harry Jierjian

Riverdale has always had an overabundance of characters. It has more characters than it reasonably knows what to do with. And yet, it's very unexpected but rewarding when this hour spends most of its time focused on Kevin, Josie, Cheryl and Toni. Sure, Archie and Veronica are important as well. However, Betty and Jughead are mostly sidelined here. That's perfectly fine as well even though they have been the main driving force of the show for a very long time. It's nice to get this spotlight on unexpected characters because they are the ones who frequently have to move out of the way so that Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead can shine. Sure, everything that is currently happening with Josie is seen through a new context because of the news this week that Ashleigh Murray is possibly leaving should the spinoff pilot Katy Keene be picked up to series. As such, there should be no huge expectations for her new relationship with Archie. However, it's a character pairing that hasn't been seen in a long time. Plus, it helps refocus things on Archie as a sweet and innocent kid in a small town. Sure, that can't wipe away all of the horrifying things that have happened to him and that he has done. He spiraled for a long time. He may be returning to a life of music too easily. But it's also important to see Josie's struggles when it comes to making a career out of her music and her inability to prioritize anything else. She is rejected from Juilliard which is crushing. However, Archie is the comforting face who helps her put everything into perspective. Of course, this is still a show where a masked figure called The Gargoyle King is terrorizing the town. However, the reveal of who is under the mask may be losing its potency. It may just be a symbol that multiple people are willing to use in order to advance a specific part of their agenda. Tall Boy used it in order to open his own drug operation in town with the support of Hiram. And now, Moose's dad uses it in order to scare his son straight just like what was done to him many years ago. The season hasn't told a story about Kevin and Moose's relationship in a long time. Heck, it was easy to forget that Josie and Sweet Pea had a fling over the summer. But there is still emotional resonance to the struggle Moose feels in coming out and the pressure put on him by Cheryl. Plus, it all ends in such a terrifying way that implodes his home life. His father was jealous that he got to live the life that he wanted. In the end though, Moose can't be happily together with Kevin. Instead, he is moving away to be with his aunt after his father is arrested. He doesn't regret anything that happened with Kevin. They get to use the hidden bunker for their first sexual experience. But it's bittersweet as well.

Elsewhere, it's meaningful that the show pivots back to Toni as a character with a unique identity and not just part of a now iconic relationship. For most of this season, she has simply been defined through her relationship with Cheryl. They were mostly working together as a team. Sure, Cheryl had a bit more individuality. As such, things seemed a little off balanced. That was especially true when Toni was thrown out of the Serpents for an action that wasn't even built up in a satisfying way. And now, the pain of that moment from losing her family is given the time it needs to fully land. It means that Toni is having a serious conversation with Cheryl about what she has lost and how Cheryl needs to accept some responsibility for that. Of course, Cheryl sees it all as a multi-step process that can win over everyone she has offended. She does meaningful things for Moose and Toni. Plus, it should be interesting to see how a new gang - called the Pretty Poisons - will shakeup the town. Elsewhere, it's intriguing how Jughead's mom is the buyer coming to town in order to buy the drug business from the Lodge family. Hiram is back up on his feet now. And yet, Hermoine is the one making all of the decisions. Sure, she is doing so mostly behind his back. Gladys is doing the exact same thing by asking Veronica and Reggie not to tell her son about her illegal activities in town. She wishes to reunite with her family and emerge as the new power player in Riverdale. She may actually have the influence to do so now that F.P. also happens to be the town sheriff. She is in a strong position because the Lodge family owes her money and may be willing to do whatever she asks. She also has the right amount of skepticism about teenagers being the ones seemingly in charge of everything happening in this town. Of course, she is still using Jellybean in order to emotionally manipulate the rest of her family. So, things will remain just as complicated as ever before. But again, it's very appreciated that the show takes this time to explore the other members of its ensemble who don't get the spotlight very often.