Here comes the time jump! As last week’s wistful graduation episode signposted, Riverdale has indeed fast-forwarded by seven whole years. And if you can accept a little creative licence – seriously, are we supposed to believe that none of the gang saw each other at all in that period? – Riverdale 2.0 has definite potential.
The episode begins with Archie (KJ Apa) being discharged from the army, against his wishes, after seven years of sterling service. His superior is sending him back to Riverdale to run the town’s new recruits program – a desk job he clearly has little enthusiasm for. It’s an efficient plot device, though, because within minutes Archie is back at Pop’s and reconnecting with Toni (Vanessa Morgan) in the new basement bar which she co-owns. She’s also pregnant but doesn’t want to disclose who the father is. Already Riverdale 2.0 is serving us intrigue.
Next we cut to Betty (Lili Reinhart) in a therapy session. She’s working for the FBI now – her dream job, of course – but glumly stuck doing desk work. We learn through flashbacks and conversations with her therapist that she made a major mistake with an elusive murderer called the Trash Bag Killer and ended up being held captive for two weeks. Betty insists she’s no longer having nightmares, but her therapist rightly suspects that she’s putting on a brave face. The Trash Bag Killer is still at large, and Betty is haunted by what he might to do to future victims.
Initially, Ronnie (Camila Mendes) seems to be doing better than her friends. When we make her reacquaintance, she’s having an anniversary dinner with banker husband Chadwick (Chris Mason) in a fancy Manhattan apartment. But in a not-so-shock twist, life is less idyllic than it looks. Ronnie’s husband wants to start a family – something she’s not ready for – and doesn’t approve of her own banking career. It turns out the couple survived a terrifying helicopter crash on the way to Martha’s Vineyard – an East Coast island frequented by New York’s elite – and he’s been over-protective ever since. Ronnie seems to need a break from him, but wherever could she go?
Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is living on the other side of Manhattan and trying to write his second novel. His debut was a massive success but he now has crippling writer’s block and time is running out: there are actual debt collectors knocking on his door. While drowning his sorrows at a local dive bar, he happens to meet a fan of his book, Cora (Megan Peta Hill), who ends up coming back for a one-night stand. But embarrassingly for Jughead, Cora turns out to be a wannabe author who really wants an introduction to his agent. When she fends off the debt collectors on his behalf, Jughead agrees to read her novel and put in a good word.
As for Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), she’s now a virtual recluse who has rebuffed Toni’s offer to rekindle their relationship. In the seven years since they reluctantly separated, Cheryl has redeemed the Blossom family name sufficiently to win over Toni’s relatives. The problem is now Cheryl herself: she’s convinced that her life is doomed to misery. We see her solemnly painting Toni’s portrait, a sure sign that her feelings haven’t diminished at all.
The episode ends with Archie arriving at Pop’s to find Betty, Jughead and Ronnie waiting for him. He phoned his old friends one by one, and they all came running back to Riverdale. With Toni in tow, they hatch a plan to reverse the town’s fortunes after Ronnie’s father Hiram (Mark Consuelos) spent seven years turning it into an impoverished “hellscape”. The gang are back together, and they have a shared purpose to revitalise their friendships.
Did you notice?
- Betty’s new nemesis, the Trash Bag Killer, seems to be inspired by a real-life murderer: Patrick Kearney, who claimed up to 43 victims in the ’60s and ’70s and often disposed of their mutilated bodies in industrial trash bags.
- Cora’s novel is titled The Rules of Distraction – a play on Bret Easton Ellis’ classic 1987 novel The Rules of Attraction. As we know by now, Riverdale loves a Bret Easton Ellis reference.
- The song Toni performs in the basement bar is ‘After Dark’ by Tito & Tarantula. It’s famous for soundtracking Salma Hayek’s dance scene in From Dusk till Dawn, which Toni’s sensual number is clearly an homage to.