Let me start by saying that, this time last year, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who loved Riverdale more than me. I lived for Archie, Jughead and Betty's love triangle, thrived on new cast member rumours and practically inhaled every fan theory about the Black Hood. But season two feels quite different, and not in a good way.
At the end of last year the show took a 'mid-season break' (whatever the fuck that is) after revealing the less-than-believable identity of the Black Hood. The intense season-and-a-half build-up to the ~exposé~ of the town's psychopathic villain turned out to be a complete flop. Honestly, find me one person who believed that Mr Svenson, the freakin' janitor, was so twisted and scheming as to plan a year of perverted torment throughout the Town with Pep – I'll wait.
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But why was the outcome so disappointing, you ask? Because the show committed the same mistake made by teen dramas like Pretty Little Liars: they introduced a character out of nowhere (i.e. Spencer's secret identical twin sister) a few eps out from the reveal with the sole aim of pinning the blame on them. Apart from being utterly transparent, and not very well executed, it's a plot writing cop-out.
Since then I've been, admittedly, a little pissed, but I was prepared to move on and give the show a chance to redeem itself. The verdict, however, is that season two hasn't recovered at all. In fact, the plot is just repeating itself over and over again.
Let's start with old mate Archie. After everything he and Veronica went through with the Red Circle dramz, Archikins promised to never keep secrets from Ronnie going forward. That lasted all of about five minutes because, whaddaya know, first he kissed Betty (which he kept on the down-low) and now he's spying on Hiram for FBI Agent Adams to see just how shady Ronnie's dad really is.
Archie's latest double-agent act smacks of something very similar that happened back in season one, when he was on a mission to find out if Hiram sent the Southside Serpents to vandalise Hermione and Fred Andrew's SoDale development site (shocker: he did).
Sure, he's supposed to be doing everything 'for the right reasons', but are we supposed to believe that Archie's so painfully dumb that he doesn't learn from his own mistakes, like ever? Apparently we are.
Meanwhile, over at the Cooper household, Betty is secretly exploring her 'dark side'. Again. But, unlike her near-drowning of Chuck in a hot tub, or pole dancing in the Serpent's lair, this time round Betty's corrupting herself with a kinky webcam service under the guidance of her long-lost (and equally 'troubled') brother, Chic.
It's also worth mentioning that Chic seems to be creepily obsessed with releasing Betty's inner badass, just like the Black Hood and the sabotaging missions he'd assign her. But, of course, we all know Betty won't learn her limits until she pushes it too far (see: the near-drowning hot tub incident or ruining of everyone's life that we mentioned earlier).
As for Jughead? Well, he's working with Betty to save the trailer park – his home – from closure after Mayor McCoy made an eviction notice in response to the destruction of Riverdale's General Pickens statue (supposedly by the Southside Serpents). Rewind back to season one and Bughead were doing a very similar thing... Remember that Twilight Drive-In? Y'know, Jug's then home that was also in danger from the Mayor? Then it turned out that Hiram hired the Serpents to trash it so he could secretly buy the land at a cheaper price.
Now, if you think this whole plot line sounds familiar, it's because it is. Basically the story goes like this: Hiram pulls strings with the Mayor to buy some land close to Jug's heart, the Mayor agrees, Hiram creates drama, Bughead join forces but, ultimately, Hiram gets the land.
Don't believe us? Southside High (the last of Jug's few homes) is a case in point. It's the THIRD piece of land Hiram ended up buying after co-ordinating the Southside Jingle Jangle scandal days before, something McCoy was also in on. Chances are, Hiram set up the shooting in Pop's so he could do the exact same thing.
And so, Jughead is homeless once more, McCoy is still corrupt and Hiram continues to profit.
It's the same shit, different day.
Honestly, I'm the first to admit, the show's not perfect. It's cheesy, semi-PG and the acting isn't always Oscar-level, and I was okay with that because at least it was entertaining.
Whatever happened to that good old-fashioned high school drama (filled with oppressive teen angst and cringe-worthy sexual tension), that you could binge-watch for days on end? Y'know, without being bitch slapped across the face by the feeling of déjà vu every single episode? Why are plot writers re-using the same stories a gazillion times, thinking we won't notice?
The thing about characters is that they need to grow. Don't keep putting them in a goddamn loop because, honestly, it's giving us the shits.
Bring back the surprising RiverD we know and love guys, we miss it.