Alright, Riverdale, it’s time for your midterm exam. We’re more than halfway through the sophomore season of The CW’s addictive teen drama, and with the show on break until March 7, it’s the perfect time to check in and see which aspects of Season 2 are clicking along nicely — and which ones need a few extra study halls to bring their grades up. (Hey, why are we using school metaphors? These kids are never in class.)
So grab a booth at Pop’s and join us as we dive into Season 2’s major plot points so far — the Black Hood, Archie and Hiram, Betty’s long-lost brother Chic — to see which direction the Riverdale gang should be heading in as we ramp up towards the finale. Here’s our take on what’s working and what’s not working:
WORKING: The Black Hood mystery
Setting a serial killer loose on the town of Riverdale was the show’s strongest storyline yet, and terrifying enough to stir up strong emotions among the townsfolk. The Black Hood’s eerie connection with Betty was genuinely creepy, and rang true in light of her Dark Betty alter ego. Plus, the ongoing mystery made each episode a fun guessing game, dropping tiny hints about the killer’s true identity. But then…
NOT WORKING: The Black Hood “resolution”
… the winter finale tried to tell us that school janitor Mr. Svenson — a character introduced just two episodes earlier — was the killer, and our first reaction was, “Huh?” It just didn’t make any sense, in light of the clues we’d been given, and felt like a storytelling cheat… unless he wasn’t the real killer, which is entirely possible. (That’s why we’re putting “resolution” in quotes.) Even if that turns out to be true, it still was an anticlimactic reveal, and a frustrating fake-out.
WORKING: Hiram taking Archie under his wing
The trauma of the Black Hood shooting sent Archie looking for protection, and he found it in Veronica’s dad Hiram, who’s been showing Archie how to act like a (crime) boss. Mark Consuelos has a reptilian charm as Hiram, and their combative dynamic adds a fascinating wrinkle to Archie’s relationship with Veronica. C’mon, what other show gives you a father challenging his teen daughter’s boyfriend to a wrestling match — and winning?
NOT WORKING: Jughead and the Serpents
Meanwhile, Jughead’s search for his identity hasn’t been as successful. We appreciate that he has bonded with the outcast Serpents as a way to connect with his often-absent dad F.P. But the Serpent stories so far have mostly been a drag, and they just take Jughead away from the rest of the gang. We’re not saying he should ditch the leather jacket entirely, but maybe give it a rest for a few weeks.
WORKING: Betty and Jughead, together again
Thankfully, Season 2 corrected its biggest wrong by reuniting “Bughead” — the show’s most adorable couple — after a brief break-up. (Their pairing is an inspired twist on the comics’ age-old archetypes.) Betty and Jughead make a formidable crime-solving duo, and we don’t need to tell you that Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse have sizzling chemistry together. It’s a simple equation: As long as “Bughead” are together, Riverdale is worth watching.
NOT WORKING: Betty’s brother Chic
We were intrigued at first when Betty learned she had a long-lost brother out there. But the recent introduction of gaunt webcam hustler Chic has been a letdown: He’s too guarded to be interesting as a character, and Betty and Alice’s immediate embracing of him just feels like a transparent set-up for them to get burned by him. (And isn’t it highly bizarre that Betty’s sister Polly — a new mother, no less — has completely disappeared from the show?)
WORKING: Gratuitous eye candy
Riverdale‘s producers are smart enough to know: There’s no plotting misstep that a lingering shot of a shirtless Archie can’t solve. And last month’s wrestling-centric episode, with the Riverdale High guys clad in tight singlets, took the usual man-candy quotient to an all-time high. Plus, if that’s not exactly what you’re looking for, there’s always Betty doing a striptease at the Whyte Wyrm.
NOT WORKING: A lack of Cheryl (and Josie, and Reggie, and Kevin…)
Riverdale has a bad habit of shoving its most interesting characters into the background and forgetting about them for several weeks. The most glaring example is the ridiculously entertaining Cheryl Blossom, who’s been unfairly sidelined for most of Season 2. But we could also say that about Josie, or Reggie, or Kevin… it almost feels like there’s a more fun alt-Riverdale happening off-screen among those four. (Like, remember when we found out Cheryl was obsessed with Josie? What ever happened with that?) Let’s get these guys some good, juicy storylines before Season 2 ends, huh?
Don’t agree with our grading of Riverdale Season 2? Hit the comments below to offer your counter-argument.