“There’s more than one kind of home invasion.”
Riverdale returns after their midseason break, and to be honest, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ is an episode that appears to have been written by two different people. The first half of the episode, seems to be a portrait of toxic teenage stereotyping, where everyone is having sex, the girls go shopping and the guys chop wood in the forest – however, the second half delves into a darker topic, of home invasion and murder, as well as carrying the weight of some important character revelations.
When Hiram (Mark Consuelos) must remain in Riverdale on business, he offers a weekend of romance and fun at ‘Lodge Lodge’ for his daughter and her beau. As well as this, he proposes that the duo invite Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) along for the ride, because nothing says ‘romantic getaway’ like taking another couple with you. However, when it’s revealed that the lodge is basically in the middle of nowhere, it spells obvious danger for the group, like a poorly constructed horror movie.
Nevertheless, we soldier on with the couples, as Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Archie (KJ Apa) continue their seemingly relentless sexcapades, much to the chagrin of quietly romantic detectives, Betty and Jughead. But, jealous Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) throws a Barchie-shaped spanner in the works, when she calls Jughead to reveal that she saw his best friend and his girlfriend lock lips outside her house only a day after the couple split. Shocked, but not rocked, by the reveal, Bughead do the adult thing and speak to each other (something that’s becoming increasingly apparent that their hormone-charged counterparts aren’t so great at), though when the quartet jump into the hot tub, Veronica proposes a compromise to clear the air between them all – she and Jughead should kiss. Which is the obvious solution, if you think about it logically, and then do a complete 180° flip with the result.
All the light-hearted, completely unrealistic “romance” goes out of the window, however, when a game of tipsy Monopoly is interrupted by a home invasion at Lodge Lodge, by a few guys in black hoods – yes, we see what you did there, Riverdale, it was about as subtle as Jughead’s investigation techniques – who just want Veronica’s wallet, and not the wallets of the other three people in the house, or any of the valuables in the lodge. And when Archie is triggered by his Black Hood memories, and takes to chasing one of the thieves, his eyes are opened to the depth and danger of Hiram’s protection for his family. Archie should get out while he can, because this will only end in tears.
As for Jughead, his vendetta against Hiram has gone nowhere, and when he receives a call from FP (Skeet Ulrich) saying that Lodge Industries has purchased the trailer park, and paid off the outstanding rent, therefore ensuring that the Serpents can remain in their homes, it stokes the flames of Jughead’s anger, though given the positive result, his friends don’t understand why. But, things go from suspicious to straight-up conspiracy when Betty gets a call from her mom, explaining that Hiram has also bought the town’s newspaper, meaning that he also has control over Riverdale’s press. No more scathing reports from Bughead, then.
Elsewhere, things are getting complicated in the McCoy/Keller camps, when Sierra (Robin Givens) reveals to Josie (Ashleigh Murray) that her father knows about the affair with Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) and soon the McCoys will divorce. Incensed by the seemingly sudden collapse of her parents’ marriage, Josie decides that if no one else is going to, she will tell Kevin (Casey Cott) what his father is up to behind his mother’s back. Knowledge of this takes Kevin’s week from bad to worse, as it seems that his hidden romance with Moose (Cody Kearsley) is something that Moose is trying to hide from even himself. In what appears to be an extended advert for new movie Love, Simon, (as well as a series of insults to anyone who might even consider going to the cinema without a date) Kevin joins Moose and girlfriend Midge (Emilija Baranac) to watch a film that mirrors the situation Moose and Kevin find themselves in.
Also making a journey to the cinema, and bringing us what is arguably the best part of this week’s episode is the unlikely friendship that forms between Cheryl and Toni (Vanessa Morgan). As the redhead fights the blossoming friendship, a scene in the film prompts her reveal a heart-wrenching memory to the Serpent, and one which allows us to see an entirely different, more fragile side to the fiery “bombshell” and goes some way to explaining the strained relationship between Cheryl and her mother.
‘The Hills Have Eyes’ sees the teens come closer to danger than ever before, but more than this, it seems to show that come are in far more danger than they realise. With Archie moving ever further into the Lodge inner circle, and Chic (Hart Denton) getting creepier by the second, disaster seems a foregone conclusion.
An episode that takes us from teen drama stereotypes to more real, emotional plot threads, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ seems to unsettle the carefully cultivated balance that Riverdale has tried so hard to maintain. Hopefully this is just a blip in an otherwise well-orchestrated second season, and not a sign of what’s to come now that the Black Hood mystery is finally over.