Pep Talk: Riverdale Episode 210, "The Blackboard Jungle"

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Riverdale 210 The Blackboard Jungle

Southside High has been closed, effective immediately. The good news is that this means Jughead (COLE SPROUSE) is returning to Riverdale High. The bad news is that his Southside Serpent friends are coming with him.

Veronica (CAMILA MENDES) organizes a welcoming party for the new students, as part of her promise to her parents Hiram (MARK CONSUELOS) and Hermione (MARISOL NICHOLS) now that she's not just their daughter but their business partner. It seems the closure of the high school will allow Hiram to swoop in and buy out the land later at a cheap price for his SoDale project. But there are students in opposition to the new students as well, like Reggie Mantle (CHARLES MELTON) and Cheryl Blossom (MADELAINE PETSCH), and they're not going to make it easy on the newcomers.

Jughead himself isn't too pleased with the move. Southside High was a wreck, but it was home. Plus, he's not too hip to Principal Weatherbee's rules of conformity, which forbids the wearing of any gang paraphernalia like their Serpents jackets. While he fumes, he's surprised that his fellow Serpents -- Toni Topaz (VANESSA MORGAN), Sweet Pea (JORDAN CONNOR) and Fangs Fogerty (DREW RAY TANNER) -- are actually pleased to be at Riverdale and its better resources and access to education.

Betty (LILI REINHART) is happy to see Jughead return, even though they're broken up, because she needs his resources to the social services network. Her sister, Polly (TIERA SKOVBYE), has returned home just to pack up and leave. She's had her twins (Juniper and Dogwood), and is returning to "the farm" to live there, with the twins not a part of her parents' lives. To make things up to her mom, Betty decides to go through the system and find her other sibling -- a son her mother gave up for adoption. By episode's end, we are introduced to Chic Cooper (HART DENTON), and are left to wonder what demons are driving him.

The real crux of this episode, however, is Archie (KJ APA) and his recruitment by FBI Agent Arthur Adams (JOHN BEHLMANN). Adams has been investigating Hiram and his business dealings, and his alarm bells have gone off with the "accident" that has befallen the St. Clairs. Archie takes up the offer, in exchange for safety for his dad and for Veronica, and goes off to see the injured Nick St. Clair under the pretense of re-collecting the hush money Nick had paid to Cheryl for his attempted rape of her. Nick blames a skiing accident, but Archie applies pressure (literally, to Nick's broken leg) to try to get to the truth, and ends up beating the defenseless guy.

And because the show is really all about Cheryl Blossom, we find out her mom, Penelope (NATHALIE BOLTT) has found a job to keep her and her daughter in the lap of luxury: she sleeps with the lonely men of Riverdale for money.

The Black Hood may be gone (although I doubt it -- and apparently so does Archie), Riverdale remains just as messed up as it has ever been.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0