Wednesday, November 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'Riverdale' - Betty's Investigation Into Charles Takes Her to a Familiar Face in 'Chapter Sixty-Three: Hereditary'

The CW's Riverdale - Episode 4.06 "Chapter Sixty-Three: Hereditary"

As Archie struggles to keep the neighborhood kids away from Dodger's influence, he turns to an unexpected ally for help. Jughead uncovers a mystery surrounding the author of the Baxter Brothers books. Betty confronts Charles about his past. Veronica deals with a major shake-up at home. Cheryl and Toni get some unexpected visitors at Thistlehouse.

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-Three: Hereditary" was written by James DeWille and directed by Gabriel Correa

Because of the campy nature of its storytelling, Riverdale doesn't always have to put the necessary work in to earn some of its most outrageous twists and turns. However, the audience should still feel something when those big moments occur. As such, it's frustrating when an episode produces multiple moments where it's hard to feel anything towards the characters and what is happening to them. Hermione and Hiram are released from prison and make their way back together as a couple. There just doesn't seem to be much excitement from keeping them together in that context though. The most fascinating thing going on in the lives of the Lodge family is the introduction of Hermosa. Veronica has a sibling dynamic that is dysfunctional because they may actually be competing for their father's appreciation and admiration. Hermosa is certainly more under his spell than Veronica is. And yet, it's hard to remain truly engaged by all of this because Hermosa's grand moment of talking about Hiram's good nature is undercut by all of the heinous things he has done across the series so far. Archie feels that he once again has to turn to Hiram in order to bring about change in Riverdale. Hiram has a proven track record of results. However, his shady actions are morally compromising. He may not openly talk about committing crimes anymore. But it's very likely that he beats up Dodger within an inch of his life simply because Archie asked him to. That's the man the show has conditioned the audience to understand. That's the function he provides in this narrative. It's not necessary for things to be all that ambiguous. It's more fun watching as these operators make their grand moves out in the open to see how others will react. Again, not everything has to track necessarily in a way where the audience can pinpoint how it all makes sense in the grand scheme of things. But it's certainly confusing to watch the ongoing love affair of Charles and Chic. That just feels so random. Every season seemingly tries to find some new and engaging use out of Chic. Here, it presents itself in him revealing information about the time Betty, Alice and F.P. committed a murder and covered it up. That can be used as leverage. But it doesn't welcome a greater understanding of who Charles is. He's simply the latest twisted family member to show up in town working some nefarious agenda. That's what defines so many stories at the moment. It makes it simple and refreshing that Mary is sticking around simply because Archie needs a parent in his life. With the other family members staging long visits, it's because they want something. Hermosa wants to be a part of the Lodge family. Charles is working some angle with the Coopers. And now, the Blossom extended family descends on Thistlehouse demanding Cheryl agree to sell the family company. That corner of the show continues to be a ridiculous tangent that doesn't really fit in with what everything else is doing. It's distracting and hopefully it gets cut short sooner rather than later. That pivot may be happening with Cheryl and Toni knocking out the cousin who discovered the secrets in the chapel. However, that may not allow them to engage with the rest of the ensemble in a meaningful way any time soon. And finally, it's just random to see Mr. Chipping throw himself out a window and no one has a reaction to it beyond Jughead. It's meant to create an unsettling tone about the nature of Stonewall Prep. Those who step out of line wind up dead. That's the fate that befalls Mr. Chipping here and it's what the narrative has planned for Jughead eventually. It's just too scattered to make any sense at all at the moment. That's disappointing considering the show has had some strong and intriguing focus on new material this season. And now, it's just propping up ideas of what may create narrative complications moving forward. The better impulse would be to embrace the actual character details in the hopes of meaningful actions informing how the story eventually develops to that deadly conclusion. Jughead has reverence for his grandfather despite not having a meaningful relationship with him. That's apparently the only drive in that aspect of the story.