Welcome back, Riverdale fans! Here’s hoping you had a better summer than Archie’s poor dad Fred did.
Wednesday’s Season 2 premiere picks right up with Archie rushing a badly wounded Fred to the hospital after the shooting at Pop’s. The next morning, Betty is lightly bickering with her mother about her near-tryst with Jughead — “If that beanie-wearing cad defiled you…” Alice warns — and Veronica is enjoying a breakfast mimosa spiked with Daddy’s Cristal. But they and Jughead drop everything and rush to the hospital when Archie calls with the bad news.
Fred’s still in surgery — and having creepy flash-forward dreams to happy moments in the future where he keeps ending up dead — when Sheriff Keller stops by to ask Archie what happened at Pop’s. Archie describes the gunman as wearing a homemade black hood, with green eyes… but he’s obviously holding something back, too. Jughead notices, and Archie later tells him Fred just fired a bunch of Serpents from his construction crew. He’s worried one of them came back looking for revenge, and Jughead promises to use his Serpent connections to investigate further. Man, that new leather jacket is coming in handy already!
Meanwhile, Archie needs to get out of those bloody clothes already, so Veronica takes him home… and slips into the shower with him for some steamy grief sex. (She leaves her pearls on, natch.) But after the shower, Archie sees her going through Fred’s clothes from that night and snaps at her when he can’t find Fred’s wallet. He barks at her to leave — so no cuddling, then? — but Veronica refuses, knowing that he shouldn’t be alone right now. He breaks down and cries on her shoulder. Lots of emotions flying around!
Jughead asks a couple of Serpents to keep an ear out for anyone talking about Fred’s shooting; he’s convinced this wasn’t just a random robbery. Back at the hospital, though, Kevin is warning Betty not to fall too hard for Jughead. (Remember, he had his own bad experience last season with Joaquin the Serpent.) And she does get a bit freaked out when she sees Jughead driving F.P.’s old motorcycle. But the teen sleuths get an intriguing clue when they head to Pop’s looking for Fred’s wallet — and discover the masked gunman didn’t take any cash from the register. So… not a robbery at all, huh?
Veronica puts the blame for the shooting squarely on her mom Hermione; in fact, she directly accuses her of being involved because Fred wouldn’t sell his shares of the company back to Hiram. Hermione warns her to show some respect — “You are a Lodge, before anything else” — and even threatens to slap her! (Did the new Dynasty reboot start an hour early?) Ronnie makes up with Archie by presenting him with a brand-new wallet for Fred… and Archie’s finally ready to tell the truth about what happened at Pop’s.
It’s not really much of a revelation, though: Archie just feels like a coward because after the gunman shot Fred, he froze in fear and shut his eyes, not stopping the gunman or helping Fred. He’s obviously severely scarred by what happened, and when he sits by Fred’s bedside, we get the most heartbreaking flash-forward yet, with Fred dreaming of Archie and Veronica’s idyllic wedding day in the woods, with Scottish bagpipes playing. That’s enough to wake Fred up: He opens his eyes, and a grateful Archie vows that “nothing like this is ever going to happen to you again.” So when Fred gets sent home to recuperate, Archie stands guard downstairs, baseball bat in hand, staring at the front door. (Yikes… you OK, Arch?)
Betty reassures Jughead that she loves him, Serpent or no Serpent, before they share a kiss in the rain. But Jughead might be playing with fire here: He heads home to F.P.’s trailer to find those two Serpents roughing up a guy who was celebrating Fred getting shot. They think the guy was just being a loudmouth, but they still want Jughead to tell F.P. how loyal they’ve been. And things are getting weird for Veronica, too: She comes home to find her dad Hiram there (!), fresh out of prison and wondering where all his Cristal went. She gives him a chilly welcome-home kiss… and yeah, those Lodge family dynamics are going to take some time to untangle, I think.
But wait! This episode still needs a big twist, right? And we get one at the very end, with a scene in a neighboring town, where a young music student is leaving the house of… Miss Grundy! Yes, Archie’s cougar teacher is still up to her old tricks, making out with her teen student. (Gross.) Once he leaves, she locks her front door securely — but that’s not enough, because the masked gunman sneaks up behind her, strangling her to death. Folks, we’ve got a bona fide serial killer on the loose. Season 2, you officially have my attention.
* We can’t forget our old pal Cheryl Blossom, can we? That delightful spitfire waltzed into the hospital with her mom Penelope covered head-to-toe in bandages, telling Betty and Kevin that “there was a terrible fire at Thorn Hill last night.” (Yeah, set by you, Cheryl.) Later, we learned that Penelope got third-degree burns after running in to save a prized family portrait, and saw Cheryl snatch her mom’s breathing tube, telling her: “If you breathe, it’s because I give you air.” Damn, Cheryl! Good to see her with her old spark back, though.
* So who is the masked serial killer? Is it someone we haven’t seen yet, or a familiar face? And am I crazy, or did those green eyes kind of look like… Sheriff Keller’s? (OK, fine, I’m crazy.)
* Speaking of Sheriff Keller: What’s this new street drug he refers to as “the jingle-jangle”? Is it legal in California?
* What was with all the knockoff names for luxury retailers in this episode? “Bean & Beluga”? “Barnaby’s”? Heck, even Felicity could shoot in the real Dean & Deluca back in the day.
* Hey, we caught a glimpse of New Reggie! And he even had a line, I think! I understand why he laid low this week, though: Kinda tough to be Archie’s rival/frenemy when the guy’s dad is clinging to life.
* Comics shout-out: Jughead said Archie’s superhero name should be “Pureheart the Powerful.” And in the comics, that actually is Archie’s superhero name, in the “Super Teens” offshoot where he and his pals are superpowered crime-fighters.
* Didn’t Archie’s doctor warn him he can’t get the cast on his hand wet? In the shower, he didn’t have a plastic bag on it or anything!
* The week’s funniest line came when Jughead reacted to Pop calling the gunman “the Angel of Death”: “Jeez, Pop, lighten up. You sound like the cranky old guy in the Friday the 13th movies.” (Jughead scarfing down burgers and saying his appetite “increases tenfold” in times of crisis was pretty great, too.)
Was Riverdale‘s Season 2 premiere worth the wait? Give it a grade in our poll, and then hit the comments to share your thoughts.