"Riverdale" Returns for its Melodramatic Midseason Premiere
by Noah Liedtke
The massively popular drama-mystery TV series “Riverdale” came back for the second half of season two on Jan 17 after a four week break. Airing on the CW, the highly anticipated return was watched by nearly two million people, not accounting for the many more that tuned in to watch the episode on the CW app. The drama has been surprisingly popular with the teenage demographic, despite the fact that it is based off of the comic franchise “Archie Comics,” which some would consider outdated. The characters have been given a more modern makeover for the show, an effort spearheaded by creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, which sees the cast deal with a number of topics that were never addressed in the original comics.
Set in the quiet small town of Riverdale, the show takes the four main characters through slowly-unfolding murder mysteries, with plenty of subplots to go around. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) make up the main cast, as well as the show’s main couples. The show takes place in the modern day, but there are plenty of retro set design choices that pay homage to the original comics, such as Pop’s Soda Shop, which acts as the main hangout for the characters.
Season one of the show saw the four deal with the mysterious death of queen-bee Cheryl Blossom’s (Madelaine Petsch) brother, Jason Blossom. After that mystery wrapped up, season two brought about a new murderer in the town, referred to as the “Black Hood.” The first half of season two focused not only on the Black Hood and his anonymous contact with Betty, but also Archie’s attempt at exacting revenge on the killer, Jughead’s involvement with the Southside Serpent gang, and Veronica’s reaction to her corrupt businessman father returning home from jail. The Black Hood’s identity was revealed during the mid season finale, but audiences have yet to see if the Black Hood is the true killer after all.
The latest episode sees the characters picking up where they left off: Southside High has been shut down, which means the students, including the Southside Serpents, must transfer to Riverdale High. This leads Jughead and some other Serpent members into clashes not only with Riverdale High students, but also the administration. Viewers also see Archie approached by FBI Agent Adams, who wants Archie to use his status as Veronica’s boyfriend to uncover important information on her criminal father. Betty also attempts to reach out to her long-lost brother Chic (Hart Denton), who was put up for adoption by her mother before Veronica was born, and the attempt is less than heartwarming.
Overall, this mid-season comeback was a pretty standard “Riverdale” episode, from the non-stop dramatic subplots to the intertwining of each character’s motivations. Although “Riverdale” may not be the most realistic show on television, it is definitely one of the most imaginative - the writing makes one feel like anything could happen, no matter how infeasible it is.
New “Riverdale” episodes air every Wednesday on the CW at 7:00 p.m., and the five latest episodes can be seen for free at anytime on the CW app. Season one is also available to stream on Netflix.