Riverdale‘s timeskip breathed fresh life back into the series, ditching the over-the-top plots for something more grounded in its Season 1 roots. When the Mothman trailer came out, many thought the show would go back to those outlandish plots, ditching the general normalcy of this season. We shouldn’t have worried.
The episode starts off with everyone assuming their new teaching positions, each suited to their own strengths. Veronica is an Economics teacher, Betty teaches mechanics, Jughead is in charge of English, and Archie is ROTC of some sort. Betty being in charge of mechanics is particularly interesting because of her mechanic background in the comics. Though the show has occasionally touched on her mechanic nature, it’s always nice to see it revisited — this is a natural role for her.
Polly’s arc becomes a huge distresser for Betty this episode, causing her and her family to worry about Polly’s whereabouts. Polly’s some sort of Craigslist (called Nedslist here) sex worker or drug dealer for truckers, and Betty is tracking down clues to find out who saw her last. With her stress so high, Archie takes it upon himself to de-stress her. The friends with benefits situation going on between them is interesting in that it’s clear it runs a bit deeper than just the sex.
At first glance, Bazzi’s “Mine” seems like a weird choice for their encounter in the car, but it totally fits — it’s about wanting to make the person you love happy. And when the Polly investigation starts to go south, she finds herself at his doorstep again, seeking comfort in him and what they have. Seeing where this goes is one of the more interesting aspects of Season 5 thus far.
Ditching the “Betty and Jughead solve every crime” aspect of Riverdale has also been completely refreshing. Now, we get to see Betty sleuth it out with her other childhood best friend, Kevin Keller. Seeing that dynamic return is another thing that brings the show back to its Season 1 roots and what worked so well there.
The other “most intriguing” plot of Season 5 involves Veronica’s marriage. Thus far, we know they had a honeymoon phase but the accident that nearly claimed their lives changed some things, and the couple is searching to get back to that. Chad, this episode, actually is more sympathetic than many might expect. Episode 6 does work to prove what makes Veronica and Chad work while also setting up their downfall. Chad is part of Veronica’s “New York” life, but she’s not sure she wants that anymore now that her “Riverdale” life has come back.
Chad, to his credit, makes every attempt to be accommodating, singing karaoke with her and visiting her — though some possessive qualities arise once Archie comes into the picture. It’s clear in this episode, that what Riverdale is trying to do with Chad at the moment, isn’t create a one-dimensional villain sort of character, but a more holistic character with ups and downs. But the longer she’s in Riverdale, the less pull she feels to that “New York” life — and the less pull she feels to Chad, despite his attempts to wed the two by offering to stay in Riverdale with her.
One of the more wild aspects of this season was Veronica being a stand-in for Adam Sandler’s character in Uncut Gems — and it totally sounds like she wants to move that operation to Riverdale, by the way.
Jughead’s plot is where the Mothman thing comes into play, and it’s played as some urban legend rather than some serious plot. This works for Riverdale‘s strength because as much as the outlandish plots are fun in a meme-y sort of way, the groundedness of Season 5 has been working in its favor far too much to just ditch it now. Tabitha Tate is actually the most interesting part of any Jughead scene thus far and her character is a much-welcomed addition to the cast.
Jughead himself teases Archie by referencing his infamous “highs and lows of high school football” speech which is a highlight of the episode easily. Riverdale knows that it can often be meme fodder –and the show works best when it embraces that and acknowledges its own camp in tongue-in-cheek fashion like that.
All in all, Riverdale’s 6th episode of Season 5 is another strong addition to the season, elaborating on plots and sticking with the grounded nature that made the show work when it first aired.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights on The CW.
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