It's the Dark Ages, Dad... - Riverdale Ep. 08

Bros. Future dads. Construction workers. Archie and Jughead.
Bros. Future dads. Construction workers. Archie and Jughead.

Alcohol, drugs, sex, and yes even a version of rock ‘n roll, it’s all there on the screen alongside people named Jughead, Dilton Doiley, and Chuck Clayton. What’s more surprising is it works. The deep cracks of Luke Perry’s Martian landscape face; the artful bruises from intense but unseen fist fights; dudes in tight shirts; ladies in crisp dresses; the brightest damn yellow cab that has ever existed...

I fucking love this show.

This week, after a two week hiatus, the CW’s Riverdale returns and puts the focus on a group that’s seen some attention, but not nearly as much as we get here. It’s time to see some dad drama.

Both Archie and Jughead’s relationships with their respective fathers has generated a few arcs and plot points in past episodes, and given us an idea of who is bad and why, or who is good and why (or who isn’t good, and why; it’s not the same, trust me). Fred Andrews fired FP Jones from his construction crew because he was stealing and selling stuff. FP claimed that wasn’t why, but in fact it was because Fred was screwing him out of ownership, keeping all that sweet money for himself. FP’s argument sort of falls flat, since we see Fred struggling with money. Although, is he really? Look at that house. As he pouts with a beer in his kitchen and Archie walks in like a GQ photoshoot struck by lightning and given life, it’s hard to ignore how upscale the place looks. Maybe that’s a side effect of being a CW show (or any show), and maybe it’s a side effect of me living in Indiana, and knowing that $30,000 goes way farther here than either coast.

Let’s see, this week we find out Betty and Polly’s dad signed his pregnant daughter (Polly) up for “an appointment with a doctor”. I have no idea why the show shies away so vehemently from the word abortion, especially when they make it pretty goddamn clear that’s what they’re discussing. It could serve some purpose if the choice seemed at all driven by character, but it never does. I’m going to go ahead and hypothesize based on zero evidence - other than their uppercut approach to product placement - that Covergirl didn’t want them to say it. But it also could’ve been the CW itself. Or the Serpents! Those dudes are always looking to screw things up.

When confronted by Fred Andrews, Clifford Blossom steps out of his sleek black car ready to either golf, hunt, or potentially do the Jitterbug. Why’d you hire my crew away right as I was getting ready to break ground?! Fred asks. All Clifford Blossom does is fan a wad of thousand-dollar bills and proceeds to do a little soft shoe number called “Blossoms Are Bossome”. Or something close to that. What he actually says is the land Fred Andrews is trying to build on is Blossom land from way back, and something about how it was where they built their maple syrup empire (?), so yeah, blood is thicker than syrup.

The continuing saga of FP Jones unfolds as we see the infamous Jason Jacket from last episode, along with the Serpent who is seducing Kevin Keller, and maybe realizing he’s in love along the way. It happens only after Archie, Moose, and Kevin Keller head to a Southside Serpent bar called, and I’m not joking here at all, the Whyte Wyrm. Obviously Archie almost gets punched in the face by a guy called Mustang, but FP stops that. The funniest bit of this whole scene is when FP escorts the kids outside and Fred Andrews shows up about 10 seconds later, and tells Archie to get in the truck. FP says, Hey man, keep tabs on your kid why don’tcha, and then no joke, Fred turns to look at his truck and Archie is gone already.

There are accusations made about whether FP hired some goons to beat up a power generator on the construction site. FP squints, allows some moisture to collect in his eyes - like two cigarette burns collecting dew, above the ragged chin and cheeks of a block of wood sawed against the grain. “You think I could do that?” He almost has a little hiccup of sadness in his voice. It’s the first time he does this particular thing in the episode. The second is when Jughead and Betty drop in at his trailer, now converted into a refrigerator/cabinet for bottles of liquor and velvet panther posters.

“Did you have anything to do with Jason Blossom’s death?” Jughead broods and angles his chin. It’s very Bowie-esque, which should make Cole Sprouse proud as shit.

Again, Skeet Ulrich as FP Jones hits us with a wobbly voice and the pothole eyes (with a tiny mirror of rainwater in them), and asks if his son really thinks he’s capable of that.

“It’s the Dark Ages, Dad…” Jughead responds, and then yeah he says more, but I forget what because I rushed over here to name this article. That line is probably my favorite of the show so far. It’s so far outside the boundaries of what I expected from a show based on Archie Comics. And it showcases the tone lingering underneath the color palette of the show (that freaking taxi), reinforcing what it means when there is a bright light: there has to be a shadow somewhere.

There is an admission that yeah, Jason transported some drugs - or said he was doing so - for the Serpents, but whatever. He needed money. They were helping him, geez, get off their freakin’ backs. But oh wait, does Sheriff Keller know? Shiiiiit.

Outside of FP’s place Betty and Juggy stare at each other in perfect still frames of promotional material, and discuss what they just experienced.

“Do you believe him?” Betty asks.

Jughead, with basically zero hesitation and obviously an undiagnosed memory loss problem, says yep, he sure does. “Do you?” He asks.

And literally while she is shaking her head no, Betty tells him that she believes him. I would’ve probably had a few questions right there, but Jughead accepts his kiss as the newly labeled boyfriend of Betty Cooper.

Dads, oh dads. What the hell is going on? I’m glad you’re getting a good portion of the blame and craziness given to you, because it’s at least showing the writers are willing to blame both sets of parents equally. On the other hand, it does reinforce the idea of how stupid everyone on the show acts. Like, they invite Sheriff Keller to the place where Polly is HIDING OUT? Can’t imagine how that’ll backfire. And then when it does, what do they do? Invite Polly’s mom, who is basically a fan at any WWE event holding a sign that says “BLOSSOM? BLAH-SOME”. It’s not clever but it gets the job done. Oh guess what, the baby shower has a few bumps in the road.

This episode has nudged me off my dedicated Geraldine Grundy case. I’m now only 45% sure she’s the killer. Actually, how about this? Clifford Blossom was the money, Geraldine Grundy was the lure, and the Southside Serpents were the muscle. They kept Jason Blossom locked up as punishment for besmirching the Blossom name by cavorting with a Cooper, and then when he was running away after his lucky escape, he was accidentally shot in the face by a stray bullet, fired from one of Dilton Doiley’s young campers. Tune in to Rivertell, a weekly recap podcast, and follow #Rivertell on Twitter to chat along.

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