We gave it an A-
I suppose one could argue that in the peripheral sphere of Archie iconography, in an echelon below foundational knowledge of Archie-Betty-Veronica-Jughead, the next most evocative symbol in the series is an American classic: the milkshake. It was only a matter of time before Riverdale debuted this key item—at the end of episode 2, marking the first union of our iconic foursome — but it’s more than an innocuous prop. The milkshake is the Patronus of Riverdale, as telling of its characters’ internal pathos as tea leaves. Are you a classic friend-zone vanilla like Betty, frozen to harbor universality as well as an intact cherry? Are you a Veronican chocolate, codified in society as a taboo pleasure but largely considered to be even more rewarding for its fringe delights? Are you an indecisive, sexy strawberry, much like Archie, himself an indecisive, sexy strawberry? Or are you the milkshake equivalent of whatever makes a Jughead?
In week two, our main quartet bonds happily over self-reflective milkshakes by episode’s end, perhaps demarcating an unofficial end to the “prologue” portion of The CW’s reintroduction to these characters. But in order to get to this delicious resolution, reconciliation is necessary, and episode two of Riverdale is all about reconciling, be it a friendship or cause of death. Regarding the latter, Jason Blossom’s puffy body is finally undergoing an autopsy following the reveal that he died from a gunshot to the forehead rather than drowning. This week, another bombshell drops: He didn’t die on July 4, but over a week later! (Allow me to get deep into this highly confusing timeline a little bit further down this recap, page 2.)
Meanwhile, for those still alive, opening up is even tougher. Veronica and Betty weather the first test in their new friendship. Archie and Jughead bury whatever sharpened their hatchet. Betty and Archie try to return to Plato’s cave after a moment in the light. Miss Grundy straddles a cello.
Let’s start with Veronica, woefully underutilized and appreciated this week. Betty is still frosty about V and Archie’s seven minutes in Cheryl-mandated heaven, so Veronica tries to restore their nascent friendship through sweet gestures like mani-pedis and cupcakes. (One thing I can’t reconcile vis-à-vis the weird retro-modern setting of Riverdale is the idea that Magnolia Cupcakes exists in the same world as Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe). Betty spurns Veronica’s amends, though, and if I do say so myself, her reaction to Veronica’s “betrayal” seems a little extreme, considering that Betty doesn’t even know that anything necessarily occurred in the closet. Maybe they visited Narnia? Fillory? Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30? And Veronica, too, judges her actions to the extreme; her self-diagnosis of “toxic bitchery” is equally undeserved. It was a game, and, as she confesses, she was only trying to make sure Cheryl didn’t take Archie instead. (Let’s just set aside the idea that Veronica and Archie actually do belong together until at least, like, week four.)
Ultimately and happily, Betty and Veronica’s rift is short-lived. Betty forgives her eventually, touched by how she supports tormentor Cheryl during her pep rally panic attack. But any good viewer knows that Betty will only dub Veronica v good for a v short time.
Next, there are the sweet conciliatory efforts of Archie, who must mend bridges with several people. Most pressing is Betty, who ignores his texts following his midnight refusal to reciprocate her feelings of love. Betty punishes him partly on behalf of a broken heart, and partly by the unconscious urging of her batshit insane mother Alice, who has been outrageously gaslighting Betty into avoiding quite literally everyone in Riverdale (except, presumably, Kevin, which seems shockingly tolerant for Mrs. Cooper). But as teen girls are wont to do, Betty is eager to disobey her mother — plus, she misses Archie and his perfectly-fitted V-necks — so she tries to swallow her pride and stay platonic friends with Archie.
It lasts for approximately 10 minutes. When Archie debuts his terrible new guitar tune and Betty realizes she’s not The One he’s singing about, she’s hit again with a sudden wave of despair and calls off their tentative friendship once more.
Archie’s other battle lies with pornographic cellist Miss Grundy, who continues to block Archie’s plans to confess their whereabouts on July 4th. Archie suffers through sleepless, sweaty, God-bless-The-CW shirtless nights, mulling his moral dilemma, so he once again demands that he and Grundy come forward, and Grundy once again cites her feared consequences of job loss and jail as a reason to hush.
Now, if you’ve ever watched a teen drama in your life, you know that Grundy is absolutely hiding something here and has deeper ties to this whole Jason Blossom mystery than Archie would naïvely fail to suspect. THEORY TIME. I’ve been trying to figure out the reason why Jason Blossom had to look exactly like the Cheez Nips version of Archie, and there must be more reason for it than simply serving to set off Cheryl’s pep rally breakdown. So dare I suggest that Grundy has a redhead fetish and that Archie wasn’t the only ripped ginger tween the teacher has seduced? I don’t think it’s a wild leap to guess that Grundy has some sort of connection to Jason Blossom — definitely sexual, potentially love, unlikely rainbow. My brain says yes, but my heart says yas.
NEXT: Jughead witnesses sensual finger grazing in the choir room