After a week off for Thanksgiving break, Riverdale returned with a stand out episode, perhaps my favorite of the season so far. Borrowing from its title, “Chapter 20: Tales from the Darkside” opens with an intro reminiscent of the 1980’s television sci-fi show of the same name. A voiceover scroll lets us know these events are part of what happened in Riverdale as if we were watching an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Much like the aforementioned show in the title reference, the episode is broken up into 3 separate tales — Archie & Jughead, Josie and Betty & Veronica.
Riverdale Recap: Chapter 20: Tales from the Darkside
Airdate: November 29, 2017
The first Tale opens with Archie and Jughead. Archie seems to have passed the Patron Saint of Bad Decisions baton on to Jughead this week as our favorite brooding Serpent makes one bad decision after another. The first being believing Penny Peabody that FP has been roughed up in jail without verifying this information from a credible source like, oh say FP’s lawyer, who would be the person informed had such an incident occurred. Safe to say most of us were well aware FP was fine and Penny was playing Jughead, but let’s move on. She asks Jug to transport a crate of god knows what and Jug enlists bff Archie to help him out. Along the way they get a flat tire, and none other than Candyman star Tony Todd, shows up to assist as Farmer McGinty. Candyman. Jingle Jangle. Horror. I see you, Riverdale.
Candyman only takes Jughead while Archie waits for CCC, television’s AAA to come fix the car. Once the tire is changed, Archie arrives just as Candyman has told Jug a tale of the Riverdale Reaper and is creepily discussing sinners and going to hell. This was all very Joy Ride feeling to me, quite fun. 90’s Teen Horror movies were a blast. Archie and Jughead bring the crate to a woman who looks and dresses like Mama Fratelli from The Goonies and we are now all worried for Jughead’s future safety. A quick visit the next morning to FP tells Jughead he’s been lied to (duh) and after confronting Penny, she assures Jughead he will be of further assistance to her like it or not. He has to pay off FP’s debt, whatever that may be.
On to the next Tale. How delightful to have a full 15-20 minutes of this episode dedicated to Josie McCoy. Ashleigh Murray is a treasure and she and us deserve to see her on screen more.
Josie has been practicing behind the Pussycats back to audition for a record label, all orchestrated by her girl Cheryl. Also, she has been receiving secret admirer gifts in her locker and when Chuck Clayton (ugh) asks her out, she assumes he’s the one leaving her presents. Val and Melodie confront Josie about her secret plans to ditch them and a rift has grown between our favorite band mates.
Mayor McCoy is on edge this entire episode worried about the death threats she’s been receiving and keeping Josie safe. So, when Josie decides to catch a ride home with Chuck, who’s trying to reform or some such nonsense (I’m not interested nor do I feel any sympathy for him. That’s what happens when you paint a character into a corner), Mayor McCoy flips out when she finds her cozying up to him in Pop’s. The next day Josie and Cheryl find a drawing of herself (Chuck’s been taking drawing classes, he wants to write comics) with the words “If I can’t have you no one can” on it; she freaks out and has the janitor escort Chuck to Weatherbee’s office.
Did anyone else notice the janitor was creeping on Josie the whole time… and that he also bears a striking resemblance to the Black Hood in the eyes? Oh, and let’s not forget this tale closes with Cheryl drawing a picture of her and Josie together… so Cheryl was the one stalking Josie? Where is this going? I can’t wait.
The most lighthearted portion of the episode belongs to Betty and Veronica as a B&V Team-Up has Veronica trying to prove Sheriff Keller is having an affair and Betty trying to prove he’s the Black Hood. #SheriffKiller. Veronica decides to suggest a sleepover with Kevin, which Betty is miffed she wasn’t invited to, and we learn a key piece of information regarding Kevin’s absent mother. She’s away, in the Navy! We also found out that we can add Tom Keller to the Hot Riverdad’s list! Veronica catches him working out while snooping for Betty… Heeeeeyyyy Tom!!! I see you!!!! Anyways, Betty isn’t satisfied and decides to check out the Keller household on her own which leads her to Tom’s room O’Black Hood. His home office has an extensive research board and the hood he took from Archie’s locker in the desk drawer. Betty still isn’t wholly satisfied that Tom is not The Black Hood even after she gets caught, which leads B&V to follow Tom in the middle of the night and find him meeting someone at a shady motel… that someone… Mayor McCoy! Those of you who thought something suspicious was going on between those two, you were correct. The girls agree to keep the secret from Kevin, it’s not their place or something they want to devastate him over.
The end of the episode brings the 3 Tales together at Pop’s when the Black Hood calls in telling Pop that “We’ve failed his test. We’re all sinners and the reckoning is upon us.” Well then.
This episode was so much fun and so well crafted. The entire opening reminiscent of Tales from the Darkside mixed with a true crime documentary of the 90’s was delightful. The tone of Archie & Jughead’s portion coupled with the Candyman actor led to a nostalgic teen horror flick. Cheryl going all Single White Female on Josie should be interesting moving forward, and how fun was the B&V portion? The split screen storytelling with the girls added to the 90’s television feel and fit in seamlessly with the narrative. Overall A+ episode of Riverdale, I’m sad it’s almost hiatus time.
- “Pure of heart” – Archie reading the paper (another Pureheart reference)
- “I don’t need a bodyguard, I’m not Whitney. Not yet anyway.” – Josie
- “Out of the way Bert & Ernie.” – Cheryl to Archie and Jughead
- “That must be his kill kit.” – Betty
- “His what now?” – Veronica to Betty in response.