Wednesday, October 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'Riverdale' - Betty, Veronica, Archie and Jughead Face Threats During Halloween in 'Chapter Sixty-One: Halloween'

The CW's Riverdale - Episode 4.04 "Chapter Sixty-One: Halloween"

When ominous videotapes begin appearing on doorsteps across Riverdale, widespread fear quickly returns to the town. At Stonewall Prep, Jughead learns about a series of mysterious disappearances that have occurred to former students. Archie's plan to create a safe space for the town's kids gets derailed when some unwanted visitors crash their Halloween party. Veronica comes face to face with trouble. Betty's past comes back to haunt her. A haunting at Thistlehouse rocks Cheryl and Toni to their core.

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 Sixty-One: Halloween" was written by Janine Salinas Schoenberg and directed by Erin Feeley

The audience should probably be questioning the legitimacy of the various flash-forwards seen. The show has frequently suggested one thing was true only to eventually change things down the line. Some deaths are more certain and finite than others. These flash-forwards are being utilized as foreboding warnings that function as a case of dramatic irony. In the moment, Jughead is comforted by the thought that Betty will always come to rescue him. And yet, the future suggests that the massive manhunt for him ends with his corpse being discovered. It's a solid tease to welcome further speculation into the core mystery of the season. This episode also introduces the idea that mysterious tapes have started popping up throughout town. They only show surveillance of each house. However, that is fairly unsettling and once again has all of Riverdale nervous about what might be happening next. Sure, the citizens are fairly morbid and callous to all of the murders that have happened here. People dress up as the Gargoyle King and the Black Hood for Halloween. Jellybean pretends to be killed just to scare Betty. That makes it an even more terrifying night for those still dealing with trauma from those serial killers. It can actually make the audience respect that the show is doing something new this season. Of course, it seems a little too obvious that whatever is going on at Stonewall Prep will ultimately be responsible for Jughead's eventual disappearance and death. Here, he is unsettled by Moose suddenly disappearing. That's only after he spends a night locked in a coffin. That's absolutely horrifying. It's all treated as tradition. A form of hazing for new students to endure. If this is the standard for such initiations though, then it seems likely that there are far more than four former students who have mysteriously vanished. Jughead learns some of the vague details about that as well. This hour clearly has a lot of horror influences and the willingness to scare the audience. However, it's also fairly expositional in setting up what comes next for these characters. There has to be a reason for Charles to still be in town and working with Betty and Alice. He suggests that Betty join an FBI recruitment program. Of course, it's worrisome that he happens to be listening in on her calls after helping her track down the source of her prank call throughout the night. Again, the audience should question if Polly truly was responsible or if Charles just said that to further alienate the siblings. Polly is institutionalized in a place where a serial killer just escaped. That keeps Veronica busy and separated from her friends. All of these threats are exciting and effective though. It's a solid Halloween episode. It proves that the audience should be suspicious about some of the newcomers to this world. Principal Honey may have destroyed Reggie's car after finding his own office pranked by the teens. Dodger presents as the local thug who prevents Archie from immediately feeling the satisfaction of providing a safe harbor for the youth of the town. He feels the burden of living up to his father's expectations. This story is mostly just a broad understanding of the pressures children face today. Dodger is nothing more than a one-note antagonist who is keeping Archie busy while he figures things out with Veronica over how to do right by Riverdale. So overall, it's a bit of a mixed bag this week. Nothing is outright bad. The scares are thrilling and well-done. The story with Cheryl and Toni being haunted though is not that great. The show was setting up the reveal of a triplet only for Cheryl to learn that she absorbed him in the womb. It's silly and detached from everything else. That's by design for this overall episode as everyone feels isolated and incapable of escaping their circumstances. They are all strong and independent though. There is just the tease that something more lurks on the horizon that they should be worried about. After four seasons, that's basically become commonplace for the show's mood though.