Riverdale Season 2 Review
I remember how crazy I was about Riverdale season one when it finished. That season was everything you could ever love about these classic characters revitalized for the modern world. Of course a bit darker, and heavier on the drama/action, but all the same the same characters you knew and loved. Then came season 2 where all it took was the introduction of the Black Hood to change EVERYTHING. I mean the Black Hood is a very different character in the comics, but his M-O for the most part was the same, it was just one of those things they took and made their own for Riverdale.
It was very interesting how the atmosphere in this town also changed after a season. In the first season you could see how this was more of a murder mystery than anything else. Everything centered around that one murder of Jason Blossom and branched out from there. This season took a different turn when everything came down to the mystery of the Black Hood. One death after the other or attempted and suddenly this town was not at all the same as it was before. But even then, the Black Hood wasn’t the main attraction, it was all that he represented which stood out most. The Black Hood revealed a town full of sinners, and the stronger presence of Hiram Lodge on the other hand revealed the fracture in this town that needed to be mended. The evolution of Riverdale took the form of a fight for the soul of this town. Especially when the gangs are involved. The Serpents’ storyline was hit or miss at times when their actions felt forced, but all the same they added an element of chaos with a town that needed outcasts to put through the ringer.
By the end of this season you could truly call this a brave new world when all these characters who were writing themselves into boxes began to take control of their lives. The outcome was awesome, yet that never comes without consequence when dealing with those who might not agree with that kind of free-thinking.
While the Serpents’s storyline was both intense and action-packed, it wasn’t without troubles when it came to Jughead and his pride. I don’t like to use the word forced, but there was a lot of things that could have been avoided if Jughead played with his head. Their need for the Serpents to serve as that agent of chaos only hurt the show when common sense is thrown to the wind. When you get to the end of this season, you could say that the end justified the means, but it was still one heck of a struggle overlooking the things that could have happened a different way. It was only redeemable when Jughead was able to find it in himself to be the voice of reason rather than th guy who continues to instigate. The best writing for Jughead involved him taking advantage of his skills as a journalist to both dig up dirt on Hiram and help Betty with the Black Hood/Chic. He was poking the bear, but that is what you do in that kind of role.
Veronica has been the character to root for if you were looking for that mix of braveness and confidence. She could have easily stayed that naive girl to whatever her parents were doing and continued to take the heat, but how she took advantage of this was a testament to her grit. The kind that would never see her play the victim or pawn in someone else’s game. I got chills however, every time that Veronica thought it was wise to step on her dad’s toes. There’s something about the look that this guy gives you when he’s not pleased and I would have been cringing. I’m sure plenty would cheer for her in those moments, and that was probably better than the other times where she decided the family business was her priority. Which brings us to Hiram Lodge himself. This guy plays a wonderful villain who you can’t help but to love. He has that imposing presence, need to get what he wants, and would throw just about anyone under the bus to ensure that he got his way. I mean he in every way lived up to the hype that was built-up for him during season one.
Between the Black Hood and Chic, Betty had her hands full playing detective and keeping her dark side in check. Honestly I always thought that it would be Archie in this series who would be playing detective. That was a role familiar to him while Betty played the tough as nails girl next door. This one-eighty they took with her challenged what she was, and embraced what she could be through a deeper connection to this town and what goes on in the background. Of all the kids, I would say Betty was the most well-written as someone who had drive. Not everything she did was wise or recommended, but she never let herself get consumed by negative feelings. She saw things for what they were and had no problem saying it like it is.
I think if I had any problems with a character this season, it had to be with Archie. He’s not a dumb kid, but so many of his decisions challenged this. I mean Archie was off to a good start when it came to finding the Black Hood, but he lost his way the minute it also became important for him to impress Hiram Lodge enough to stay with Veronica. That was when he took a nosedive since there was nothing he could do where his actions didn’t come back to haunt him or anyone else. It stung more when he couldn’t help choosing another family over his own. I got goosebumps with that scolding his mom gave him. She pulled no punches saying the very things that came to mind for us. It also hurt that Archie finally seeing the light took till what was the very end, and by then he already dug himself too deep in troubles. Fred Andrews was luckily a good contrast even though he was good to a fault. You look for that one genuine character on Riverdale who you just couldn’t hate, and he filled that role perfectly. Sure that meant that he got a bit preachy here and there, but he represented exactly what anyone was trying to save through this fight for the soul of this town.
No character challenged you to hate them this season more than Cheryl. Her transformation from snobby rich girl, to reluctant hero was admirable. When she saw the light, she did not turn away from it once. Well maybe when she was having her friend obsessions, but that aside she was someone you could almost always count on to help out in her own way. Her form of help is obscure and sometimes unconventional, but nothing stops her from taking confidence in doing so. Dealing with her mom was also impressive considering it could take no effort at all for Cheryl to be the next victim after her brother. Her mom clearly lost a few screws after their troubles, and blood was not thick enough for her to do what she had to in order to get her power back. Other characters might break, but Cheryl stands out from the rest of the cast because she is forged in fire.
One area that I did like this season was the focus on substance over too much relationship drama. That doesn’t mean that this season was without it, but that also didn’t mean it was a priority. With that said, I do feel as though not everyone needs to be in a relationship. Just about everyone is seen with someone, and all that does at the end of the day is put distance between them. A lot of that glue which kept them together in the first season was lost to breaking off into pairs.
A sidenote. This is one of the few shows that can truly get away with musical numbers and I love every opportunity they take to show off the musical talents of this cast.
All in all, Riverdale season two was satisfying for everything that kept us coming back for more each week. They knew how to keep us at the edge of our seats, bracing for what comes next, fearing what’s right around the corner, and how to fill our heads with mysteries that get the wheels turning.