Pep Talk: Riverdale Episode 402, "Fast Times at Riverdale High"

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Fast Times at Riverdale High

It's the first day of school -- the first day of the senior year for Archie (KJ APA), Betty (LILI REINHART), Jughead (COLE SPROUSE), Veronica (CARMEN MENDES) and Cheryl (MADELAINE PETSCH), and there's so much to do. The first day is always the most hectic one, what with all the planning about transferring to a totally different school, working with the FBI, avoiding the paparazzi, and convincing your former juvie roommate to join the football team.

What? Isn't that how the first day of school goes in your town? No? Then it must be RIVERDALE.

The first thing that really sticks out this season is the number of teenagers who are living without parents. Veronica's mother and father are both in different prisons, so she's sleeping over at Archie's place, which apparently is cool with his widowed mother. Of course, Mary Andrews doesn't seem to be around, either, so it's easy for Betty and Jughead to crash on the Andrews' couch together, since Betty's father is (maybe) dead and her mother is undercover for the FBI with a cult.

The Andrews' home is the only place they can get peace, however, since the tabloids are clamoring to get a statement or a photo of poor little rich girl Veronica Lodge. Meanwhile, Betty is bothered by the persistent apologies from Kevin Keller (CASEY COTT), when he tries to make amends for what he did to her at Edgar Evernever's "farm" -- including forcibly dragging her to an operating room to have her organs harvested. But despite Kevin's outward contrition, he still retains contact with members of The Farm, that has gone into hiding, and Betty hopes she can utilize those connections to figure out where The Farm has relocated, so she and FBI Agent Charles Smith (WYATT NASH) -- who, oh yeah, turns out to be her long-lost, not-dead brother -- can rescue her.

Fortunately, there's a spot of normalcy in the student body, in the form of Cheryl Blossom (MADELAINE PETSCH). Cheryl is organizing the back-to-school dance (sometimes known as homecoming). But the new man in charge, Principal Honey (KERR SMITH) has other plans. He won't allow a dance after last year's dance ended up as the scene of a mass murder of students. Not to be daunted, Cheryl makes an end-run around Honey, holding the party at her house... where she keeps the mummified corpse of her twin brother locked away for personal chats and spiritual guidance. Like I said: normal, right?

There are other subplots running through thie episode. Archie brings his gym co-owner, Mad Dog (ELI GOREE), to class so that he can finish getting his diploma, and maybe try out for the Bulldogs. But when Mad Dog shows up team captain Reggie Mantle (CHARLES MELTON), the action results in screaming from his overbearing father (MATTHEW YANG KING). The next day, Reggie is sporting a black eye -- and not for the first time we deal with the knowledge that his father hits him. This builds up to events that lead to an off-screen confrontation that Reggie says was productive. This being RIVERDALE, I suspect it means there's a dead body somewhere... Only time will tell.

And Jughead. Jughead's situation is perhaps the worst of all. He's being recruited -- not by a rival gang, not by Griffins and Gargoyles players, not by farmies -- but by (gasp) an elite preparatory school because of his exhibited skills in writing! Oh, the horror.

The episode continues with the glimpses of the future we got at the end of last season, teasing the notion that something horrible happens to Jughead, something requiring search parties and ending in Riverdale's favorite teens covered in blood.

Sounds like fun!


4.0 / 5.0