Riverdale review: “Chapter One: The River’s Edge”, Aired Jan. 26, 2017
Welcome to Riverdale, folks. It’s a lovely small town with a lot of deep and dark crazy times floating under the surface. Initially, before the show’s premiere, I heard praise and comparisons to Dawson’s Creek and Twin Peaks. After watching “Chapter One: The River’s Edge”, I can appreciate those parallels, but I can also see how the show can take things a lot further than it’s predecessors. Riverdale absolutely has what it takes to become your next guilty pleasure.
This isn’t your typical teen drama and Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) doesn’t fit neatly into any one box or particular trope. If anything he reminds me of shades of some of my favorite characters from teen dramas of yore. Sure he’s at the center of a love triangle (a CW staple and teen drama requirement), but love appears to be the last thing on this guy’s mind. This high school sophomore is rightly trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. His father, Fred (my first ever heartthrob, Luke Perry) has everything figured out. Fred wants Archie to work his butt off and get a football scholarship and go to school for a business degree so that “Andrews Construction” can become “Andrews and Son”. Archie has other ideas. While he was getting that rocking bod over the summer and hooking up with his music teacher, Ms. Grundy, Archie fell in love with writing music. Oh, there’s also the deep and dark secret he’s keeping with Ms. Grundy. Apparently the day Jason Blossom “drowned”, Archie and Ms. Grundy heard a gunshot near the river’s edge. Of course, they couldn’t come forward to tell the police what they heard because they were mid-hookup.
Ms. Grundy doesn’t want to come forward because then they’d have to admit that she’s a gross child molesting perv. Sure, Archie was all in, but she’s still gross and their relationship should land that chick in jail. Sorry, mini-rant over. But yea. The episode kicked off with the mysterious death of Jason Blossom. Initially, I wondered if his relationship with twin sister, Cheryl, might be of the Cersei/Jamie variety. That or they had some kind of suicide pact going on that didn’t go as planned. Either way, Cheryl told everyone who would listen that her brother had fallen in while rescuing her bracelet and he’d drowned. Maybe he did get dragged under the current and away from Cheryl. Someone could have still shot him when he was coming ashore. The show has a damn good whodunit feel ala “Veronica Mars”. Does that make Archie, Betty, and Veronica our teen investigators? At this point everyone except those three are suspects. Archie was clearly preoccupied with Ms. Grundy so he couldn’t be the shooter. Betty was out of town doing things like setting up book release parties and getting life advice from Toni Morrison. Veronica our reformed Queen B and New York socialite hadn’t arrived in Riverdale so she’s in the clear as well. It should be interesting getting to the bottom of things this season.
Enter Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) and Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart). Forget the love triangle birthed the moment Archie caught sight of Veronica walking into Chock-lit. At the top of the hour, there’s every reason to think that these two will be immediate adversaries. Over a boy. Thank goodness that is not what happens. These two ladies from different worlds feed off of one another in the best way possible. They are the perfect foils for one another and bolster each other up.
Veronica is reminiscent of a certain UES Queen B, but like Blair Waldorf, Veronica brings more to the table than excellent fashion sense and cutting wit. She’s smart and loyal. She defends Betty against Cheryl’s catty attacks and encourages Betty to go after the ginger Ansel Elgort of her heart. Veronica does this even when she’s interested in Archie herself. Like Archie, Veronica has other issues she’s dealing with. Pulling up roots and moving to small town, Riverdale and her father’s criminal record. Veronica also alludes to the fact that in New York, she was a bit of a mean girl and she’s trying to be a better person.
Betty initially comes off like a small-town Sandra Dee-type who is in love with her best friend. Granted, Betty is definitely that, but there’s more. This lady spent the summer with the likes of authors like Toni Morrison. She’s got more fire than people give her credit for, and it takes guts to let someone know you’re interested. Even though it’s Archie is seemingly oblivious to how she feels for her and she sees the way he reacts to meeting Veronica, Betty still takes a chance. Beyond the triangle, Betty also stands up to her mother when it comes to cheerleading and being friends with Veronica. There’s also the disastrous relationship between her sister and Jason Blossom. Betty definitely has a motive for wanting Jason dead. Even if she wasn’t in town. She couldn’t have snuck back just for that, right? Hmm…
The episode did a great job of setting up these characters and the overall mood of the show. It’s not just some teen drama. It’s moody and the mystery element is fantastic. All of these characters are pretty layered and I’m looking forward to seeing them come to life even more. There’s Jughead. Archie’s old pal. Why are these two on the outs? Archie and Veronica’s parents were a thing before she dumped him for a rich guy. They could start things up again. That could be awkward, but Hermoine and Fred are still rocking some serious chemistry. A double date between those four would definitely be weird, but not unwelcome. I mean, I’m sorry, Betty but girl I just don’t think Archie is that into you, dear. Like he said, you deserve someone who sparks with you the same way Archie and Veronica were sparking in that closet. Okay, that’s not exactly what he said, but that’s what he met. Betty is gorgeous and I can’t wait to meet the guy worthy of her. Whereas Archie? That dude was bowled right over the minute Veronica walked into their lives and plus he’s still got that problematic connection to Grundy.
So what did you think of that first episode? Who landed on your list of suspects for the murder of Jason Blossom? Are you onboard with Betty/Archie, Archie/Veronica, or Betty/Veronica (I’ve seen gifs for Beronica already especially after that kiss)? Speaking of Betty and Veronica’s smooch…that felt thrown in out of nowhere and I was with Cheryl calling them out on it. What did you think? Also, who else started singing the “Josie and the Pussycats” theme song the minute Archie interrupted their jam session?
Be sure to hit the comments to let me know what you thought of the series premiere. Who’s your fave right out of the gate? Until next week.
Riverdale airs on the CW on Thursdays at 9/8c
Photo: Riverdale/The CW