Holy s***, guys! Did Riverdale really just kill off two integral Archie Comics characters?! Let’s dive deep into Riverdale’s “Chapter 15: Nighthawks”.
Before we get there, let’s unpack this episode. The season premiere ended with Grundy, the resident pedophile, getting murdered by the man in the mask. A misdirect to make you think this is all connected to Archie? Well he certainly seems to think so. Our main redhead is still sitting up late at night with his bat guarding the house. I guess Mary left already (?) since he’s seen making breakfast for Fred. The mom’s on this show sure leave something to be desired. Archie is still in paranoia mode and completely convinced the man in the mask will come back to finish the job. So much so that he approaches Reggie about getting something to help keep him up; will our slightly more enlightened Archie end up with an addiction to Jingle Jangle, the new hip drug all the kids are taking? Perhaps not considering after almost bludgeoning Reggie to death with his bat, Reggie-kins passes the stellar comment about bringing a bat to gun fight and by episode’s end, Archie and his 4 brain cells are buying a gun from Dilton Doiley. This should end well.
The main plot this episode (at least I think it’s the main plot, it’s hard to tell because they sure are cramming a lot into these first 2 episodes, one would think they didn’t have a full season episode order or anything), is Pop’s Diner and Betty’s crusade to keep it open. Basically the shooting has rendered Pop and his diner persona non grata for the folks of Riverdale. Betty and Jughead make an attempt to convince Mayor McCoy to endorse the diner, she refuses because “reasons” and when it seems like Jughead is about to lose his father for 20 years, Betty becomes determined to save the place that means so much to all of them. She enlists Kevin and Veronica, who is looking for any excuse to avoid her parents to help plan a Retro Night.
Speaking of the Lodges, Hiram spends most of this episode trying to get Veronica to just sit and talk to him. He brings her flowers at school, offers to help with Pop’s, and even makes a generous donation. Veronica finally confronts him about the anonymous new buyer of Pops, Fred’s shooting, and the threatening letter he sent her in Season 1. All is denied and Hermione takes the blame for said letter, though we find out later on in the episode that’s yet another lie. These two are so hard to figure out. Is Hermione just as evil as Hiram? Afraid of him? Is he actually evil? It’s certainly questionable considering Smithers gets replaced by a younger butler this episode… Could he be the mysterious gunman? Who knows, the way Hiram is sneakily taking over… oh right, he is the new owner of Pop’s, just on the DL.
Veronica also gets a chance to be the supportive girlfriend once again when she takes Archie for a walk and suggests therapy or a school counselor. It’s nice to see these kids having actual conversations about the things happening in their lives. Veronica will decide to give her Daddy another chance after a heart to heart with Jughead on the issue of fathers. Finally, a Veronica/Jughead scene!
Over in Serpent-ville, things aren’t looking so great for FP. There’s a deal on the table for 20 years, 40 if he goes to trial. A desperate Jughead seeks advice from Tallboy, who is not willing to bust FP out of jail, but does offer a solution by way of one Penny Peabody, the resident Serpent Lawyer. She tells Jug the best bet is to have the family get on the stand and absolve FP of the crime; oh and she’ll be wanting a favor later. This, also, should end well. As a fan of Sons of Anarchy, I appreciate the writer’s attempt at getting motorcycle club culture correct. Ignoring of course the murdering, drugs, and gun running of SOA, at the heart of club culture is a family unit that helps one another. That’s prevalent when the Serpents show up to support Jughead at the end of last season and let him know they’re here for him. Last week, when they somewhat misguidedly tie up a suspect for Jug, is just another example. Of course, these favors come at some cost and FP seems petrified when he finds out Jughead got in contact with Penny. Time will tell if this club is more SOA and less friendly neighborhood biker gang.
Cheryl is doing her very best Cheryl this week, taking the Vixens back from Veronica and denying any assistance to Betty with Pop’s. When Jughead and Betty come to plead with Cheryl and her mother to help FP, they decline, no one is shocked. But have no fear, Skeet Ulrich is a recurring character and we’ll have to get FP out of jail somehow… enter Dark Betty. Betty blackmails Cheryl with releasing the tape of Clifford killing Jason if she doesn’t get on the stand and help FP get released. Oh and also, could she bring the Vixen’s to Pop’s for Retro Night. Cheryl, impressed with Betty’s blackmailing abilities, gets on the stand and asks the judge for leniency, claiming she overheard her father threaten FP and Jughead’s life if he didn’t comply. The judge takes this into consideration and it looks like my favorite River-dad will be back in his trailer in no time.
Back at Pop’s… Betty blasts social media stating Josie and the Pussycats will be performing to get folks to show up. Josie is miffed, but agrees to do it, Cheryl joins them and MELODIE SPEAKS! Albeit briefly, but for a split second Melodie wasn’t just pretty wallpaper. Ain’t 22 episodes grand?!
All of this brings us back around to those 2 comic characters dead by episodes end. Hope you didn’t get attached to Midge (I did) or Moose (I was hoping for a MossVin redux), as the man in the mask murders again; throwing out all thoughts we might have had about this all being connected to Archie, specifically. So what gives? Random murders? Can’t be. But what’s the connection? And did they really kill Moose and Midge! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If I could offer a tiny criticism as I mostly loved this episode… I need them to slow it down. SO MUCH STUFF happened this episode, and while enjoyable, it’s not necessary to cram all of this stuff into 43 minutes. The thing that’s nice about 22 episodes is the ability to sit with certain moments and stories. My concern: I don’t want them to run out of steam or rush stuff so quickly that by the time Season 3 or 4 comes around, we’re dealing with nonsense plots to satisfy the pace they’re setting.
- Jughead to Archie: “You’re the one who looks like Dream Warrior from Nightmare on Elm Street 3”
- Cheryl to Betty and Jughead: “Hobo. Bride of Hobo.”
- Reggie to Archie: “Only a dumbass lunatic brings a baseball bat to a gunfight.”
- Betty to Cheryl: ‘This is fun girl talk.”
- Melodie: “You do love your cheese fries, Josie!”