What circumstances do we find our attractive and emotionally mature Riverdale high schoolers in this week? Why, it's an investigation! And Detectives Bee and Vee are on the case. Who is their mark, and what has drawn the gaze of Riverdale’s dedicated P.I.s? One Geraldine Grundy, and the knowledge that she was present on July Fourth, or at the very least her car was (shit; clue one) for the gunshot heard by many, seen by few. Archie Andrews has admitted to being there as well. Not alone though. He admitted to Sheriff Cologne-and-Artful-Scruff (actual character name Sheriff Keller) he was there on July Fourth, and he was not alone...he was with his dog. Let's move past the obvious metaphors there.
Betty Cooper may not want to own up to it - or at least she won't yet, although the plot will arrive, put a pin in it - but she's got the investigative journalism bug worse than we knew. Passed down from her mom Alice and irradiated by this small town overflowing with lies and, so far, one homicide, her genetic gift has mutated into the exact same strain of muckracking as Mommy Dearest’s. Damn ethics, get the scoop! Flash forward to the moment when she remembers herself breaking into cars and picking locks and realizes she's just. like. mom. It'll set up a fantastic choice, one that could let her wander off (or derail, whichever seems more apt) the path she's on to be the angel who touches darkness but returns to the light, altered, but only enough to be dangerous in a cool way. Or she could embrace the darkness. Fun to imagine, unlikely to happen.
Betty can picture the stories behind all the questions. Guess who else can. Jughead. Go ahead and get ready for their kiss, followed by the “oh-no-we-can't-because-Archie-exists” conversation. It'll be annoying, and not because it's predictable, but because so far the outrage over Archie sleeping with one of their teachers has been incredibly minimal. Actual high schoolers might react this way, where they give his “we’re together” argument credence, because if he has feelings for her then it's real. It's a relationship. I hope not though. Betty does bring up how it's illegal, although she's basically shushed by Archie’s lush eyebrows and chin/jaw combo.
Some secrets were revealed, one about Miss Grundy and a good amount about Jughead (the latter sort of predicted by a prescient commentator), and the landscape of Riverdale got a tad murkier yet again. Miss Grundy had a gun and drivers license in her car (clue two; yep, Herbie tie-in officially set up, check out Rivertell for theories; also #Rivertell on Twitter). Jughead has a dad, a Southside Serpent, so his preference for jean jackets and brooding is obviously genetic.
And yeah, Miss Grundy gets told to leave town, lest she’s revealed as a pedophile. That's called being an accessory, everyone. Also blackmail.
Stamina is a concern. Not with the intricacies of teen drama, and not even with the characters living in their own bubbles. As previously discussed, reality went bye bye after the opening credits. We see Archie talking about a relationship with a teacher while sitting in a crowded diner, people directly behind him. I'm talking close enough they could feel his sweet and honest voice shivering their neck hairs. No need to whisper. Only the main characters can hear. Unless...what if...someone did overhear?!
Revelation fatigue is a danger with mysteries. Shows like Lost and The Killing have suffered from this. The viewer wants a mystery solved, only instead of all the threads twisting into a nice bow, they fray, and lead to even more mysteries. That can be fun. Some of my favorite episodes of Lost were the results of a mystery only being cleared up to reveal...another mystery! Except, well, that kept happening. It started to lack meaning and impact.
Eventually an end must come. If the storytellers have lost the audience’s trust after countless tricksy twists of mysteries leading into mysteries, they could end up with the dreaded question that kills this genre’s momentum dead: “That's it?” Riverdale is still pulling layers aside, showing us the shadows in the cracks. They'll start letting some light in around next episode, most likely giving us one answer to a smaller mystery (enter Veronica’s dad), and setting up larger ones to fall closer to season’s end.
An unsolved mystery can be intriguing and rewarding, but so far this isn't that kind of show, at least not thematically or character-wise. If they end up dragging the mystery out and not giving us solutions they'll first need to change their show’s tone, as well as the writing’s aim. As of now the mysteries are front and center, with the interior lives of each main character hanging back, although this episode gives us more than any other episode, particularly with Jughead. Emotional fallout will need to take center stage if we arrive at a place where the “end” is an unknown. What’s cool is it’s definitely possible too.