When Riverdale Season 5 first aired, it finally felt like the show was taking a bold step in a new direction, introducing unique plots and making some progress from its stagnation. Season 5, Episode 8, however, makes it clear that’s not the case, and any real progress made was just a ruse before the show returned to the same formula its kept for five seasons.
The show opens with another Betty/Archie scene — one that’s likely one of the last. Betty and Kevin have a conversation about this hook-up later, in which, Betty calls Archie the “light” in the dark she doesn’t want to go out. It’s a cute scene, and it’s really reminiscent of Season One, with Betty and Kevin’s friendship taking a front seat as they talk about Archie. Seeing Betty and Kevin’s return has been one of the best parts of Season 5, as the show eventually started latching Betty to Jughead and sacrificing her other relationships.
When things get rough for Betty and she starts having PTSD nightmares, she turns to Archie again. Only this time, Archie leaves the interaction disappointed, saying it wasn’t right. The show intends for this be the realization that they’re better off as friends, but it’s hollow that Archie describes helping her out in a moment of weakness as “not good” rather than making any real attempt to be there for her.
If the two had simply decided not to hook up and talked instead, healing from past traumas while acknowledging they’re better off as friends, that would have serviced their characters better. Somehow, Archie realizes he still has feelings for Veronica, a character who he hasn’t interacted with much at all this season.
Veronica also divorces Chad –something that happens after she decides to beat him at his own game and start flirting with other men. This plot is equally as disappointing as the Betty/Archie one because it feels like Riverdale just quickly threw away a huge potential villain in Chad.
When the season was announced, Veronica’s marriage was huge and just a few episodes into the timeskip it’s already gone? Veronica barely seems sad about it, which doesn’t bode well for the show. Yes, Chad wasn’t the best husband, but it’s just unrealistic for Veronica to have no real reaction to her marriage falling apart. The fact that she instantly turns to Archie is just boring.
“Boring” is the real problem here. Riverdale is based off Archie comics, a series based around one of the most iconic love triangles in fiction and the show itself is too scared to delve into that angle. This idea is even more ridiculous considering the show is a teen drama, a medium that thrives around the love triangle trope. When One Tree Hill was around, the show thrived on the Brooke/Lucas or Lucas/Peyton debates — when The Vampire Diaries was its heydey, even the marketing focused on “Delena vs Stelena.”
It’s such a convention of the genre and Riverdale just threw away the perfect opportunity to get into it. The Betty/Archie/Veronica dynamic is filled with chemistry on both sides of the spectrum that it really could be the next Brooke/Lucas/Peyton if it wanted to — and the fact that it constantly teases that it will be before going “nevermind!” is what’s so tedious.
For five whole seasons fans got more of the same “Betty and Archie have a moment, but he goes back to Veronica.” Retreading this ground without actually saying anything about it is tiresome. Even if Veronica/Archie is the ending plan, why tease Betty/Archie so much just to say nothing about it? Why not give them a real chance and ramp up some fan enthusiasm instead of constantly retreading old ground? It’s beyond disappointing at this point, it’s frustrating.
The aliens plot is also ridiculous, but in a way Riverdale fans had hoped the show moved past. With so much of this season focusing around realistic plots like failing marriages, PTSD, and growing apart, the aliens stuff feels out of place entirely. Maybe Riverdale will add its signature camp into the plot later to make it more palatable, but the idea of more mature storytelling being thrown away for it will always hinder it.
In most teen dramas, the timeskip is the time for some real change and more mature storytelling. Even Pretty Little Liars, which often veered into the ridiculous as Riverdale does, took the time to introduce new plots and mature their characters. By Pretty Little Liars’ timeskip, Spencer and Caleb had hooked up and Allison had become a teacher, moving past her mean girl ways.
Sure, we knew Spencer/Caleb wasn’t gonna last and that they were better off with Toby and Hannah respectively, but it still was a change of pace that helped prove why other ships were superior. In Riverdale, the characters still act the same –Veronica leaps into things over her head without looking back, Cheryl is still the mean girl, etc. It’s disappointing, but hopefully the show can throw some curveballs and make some real change for future episodes.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights on The CW.
Watch Now:Powered by
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!