“Riverdale, at its heart, was still a haunted town.”
Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) and friends are back, and Riverdale it seems, is just as full of secrets as it ever was.
Though months have passed since the Season 1 finale, it has been mere moments for Archie and his companions. Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) is facing the Grim Reaper, as his son rushes him to hospital, blood covering both Andrews boys. Though, frankly, the amount of blood Archie has managed to get on himself and his clothes is actually astounding, considering his father – the one with the wound – actually seems to have less on him.
The events of the previous night still linger in the minds of the other characters, though under rather different circumstances – Veronica (Camilla Mendes) wakes with a smile, still wearing Archie’s shirt, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) ponder what was and what could have been – much to the disappointment of Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick), who still views her daughter’s suitor as a mini-me of his father, poised to draw her daughter into a world of hurt.
Quickly, however, their bubbles of happiness are shattered, when the call comes in of Fred’s state, all jump into action, heading to the hospital to run to Archie’s aid. It’s no surprise to any of them at this point, that something like this could happen in their little town, but it is a strike that hits them hard. And, as Archie reveals what happens, we can tell he is holding back. There is something more to the story than the red-headed teen is telling his friends, and this is not going unnoticed.
He is not dealing with the event well, which is to be expected, but it is clear that his struggle goes deeper than the shock of his father’s injury. In his mind, the image of the shooter is firmly rooted, his bright green eyes peering through the makeshift mask – this distinctive feature certainly won’t be the key to Archie and friends tracking him down – and he gun he held is ever-present in Archie’s thoughts.
Elsewhere, Veronica is trying to be there for her new boyfriend in this difficult time, though she’s struggling, and in the back of her mind she knows that her family must be responsible for this. This episode sees a new side of the Lodges – a darker, more dangerous side – that leaves Veronica certain that Fred’s condition is the work of her mother, who last season was desperate to see the patriarch of the Andrews family get out of their business deal before husband could return. Hermione (Marisol Nichols) does little to assuage her daughter’s suspicion, instead choosing to come down on her with a firm hand, trying to mentally manipulate her daughter into returning to the spoiled little princess she was before, in lieu of her father’s imminent return. Though it seems this is a step too far, and Veronica is firm in her new identity, seeing her family for what they truly are, whether they are involved in the incident at Pop’s or not.
Jughead is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, he loves Betty and wants to be better for her, but on the other are the Southside Snakes. He begins to step into his father’s life – he may not be wearing the Snakes’ jacket, but that’s all he’s missing, as he inhabits his father’s trailer, he rides his motorbike, and calls in favours with the gang. However, it seems that Jughead does not know what he’s getting into, as everything with the Snakes comes at a price – and one that he may be unwilling to pay.
After last season’s revelation about Jason and Clifford Blossom, all eyes are on Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), who is determined to take out her anger on her mother. The hospital is treated to another pair of familiar faces (though one is bandaged) as, after torching the family home, Cheryl has left her mother with third degree burns, and a story for the others of a terrible accident that left her heroic mother scarred after she rescued her daughter. However, it’s clear when Cheryl talks to her mother that she holds all the cards – gone are the days of the manipulative matriarch calling the shots, the red-lipped Riverdale Vixen is in charge now.
Oblivious to the suspicions that is swirling around the events that led to his mortal peril, Fred Andrews is experiencing his son’s life as it could be – and as it might be without him. Graduation sees Archie and friends in their electric blue robes, then on to the partnership of father and son in business, to some scenes concerning Archie and Veronica that see a certain lot of set pictures making a lot more sense. Through all this runs the theme of Fred protecting Archie – he cannot leave his son yet. But, little does he know, his son is set on the same goal – he will do anything to ensure his father is never in this position again.
The Angel of Death is not done with Riverdale, however, as the end of the episode sees a familiar face making a return to our screens, not for long however, as the masked man returns to steal another from Archie’s life.
Riverdale is coming back strong with its second season, managing to keep an excellent balance between the teen romance, and the thrilling mysteries as they explore the ramifications of last season’s tragedies. And while the episode includes a certain shower scene that has no real business being in this premiere, the cast bring a real emotional depth that is certainly setting the bar high for the rest of this season.