One of the best parts about Riverdale Season 5 has easily been its return to more grounded forms of storytelling, allowing for more realistic and natural explorations of characters and plots. Season 5 episode 7 throws a lot of that away, unfortunately.
Toni and Cheryl have the first big plot of the episode, deciding to split control of the Vixens. This, of course, happens after Cheryl has a dance — off with one of her students to fight for control of the team — this is the kind of weird camp that makes Riverdale so fun. Toni and Cheryl in control of the Vixens feels like it’s putting the girls on a path towards inevitable tension and most likely, reconciliation following their break up.
Speaking of weird camp, Veronica Lodge decides to introduce “River Dollars” into the economy, which is Monopoly-like cash with her face on it. This comes as some sort of lesson for her economics class, but the town starts accepting the currency like regular dollars — it’s really weird but really funny. This of course, does not pan out and River Dollars are gone just as fast as they arrived.
Betty and Archie’s story takes a bit of a halt this week as the show focused on their individual lives more. Archie starts the fire department and has some interactions with other veterans, touching on the trauma he faced during the war. Betty attempts to locate Polly’s body, stumbling onto yet another crime scene.
She also becomes aware of the Trash Bag Killer’s return, the serial killer who held her captive for two weeks — both Lili and KJ do great work with their scenes regarding their respective trauma. It will be a mistake if Riverdale doesn’t have these childhood best friends heal together and/or rely on one another to get through these tough times, as both are dealing with some intense trauma their other friends wouldn’t understand.
Jughead’s plot is where the weirdness comes into play as Riverdale starts leaning into a story regarding alien abduction. Leave it to Jughead to ruin all the goodwill this show had garnered over the last 6 episodes, honestly. He hunts down the mothman legend and even gets a weird, alien-like corpse stored in syrup from Nana Blossom. At one point the diner shakes and he goes outside and a bright light flashes from above, totally implying aliens. It’s…weird. And if Riverdale hadn’t been leaning into the grounded storytelling and doing so well because of it, this aliens plot would probably be more enjoyable for what it is.
All in all, Riverdale‘s seventh episode of the season is a setback. The aliens plot is leaning into the territory it felt the show had long since left behind, which is a disappointment. However, if the show truly commits to the weird camp of it, maybe it can be just as absurdly enjoyable as the organ harvesting cult plot from season 3.
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