Riverdale’s Edge #201: Time Dies in “A Kiss Before Dying”

In the long, storied tradition of The Teen Drama, there’s never been a show quite like Riverdale, which takes the famously wholesome Archie repertory and drops them into a dark, steamy soap where innocence is a liability and everyone looks unfairly gorgeous. Join Chuck Winters, Andrew Niemann, and Robyn MacLeod as they break down the good, the bad, and the flat-out amazing in this week’s walk on RIVERDALE’S EDGE.

“Our story continues.”

Andy: Jughead narrates the intro because I’m now certain this all a book he writes at the end of the series. No, but for real, I love the crazy opening of this which has a blood-soaked Archie driving madly to deliver his dying dad to their small town’s 1950s hospital.

Chuck: This is a fantastic episode for the underrated KJ Apa, taking us through the myriad of emotions Archie deals with while his father hangs by a thread. I love how, as wild as this show gets, it can still couch its characters in these small stories; the A-plot was basically just Archie dealing with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, and every time Apa had to play to that, he broke my damn heart.

Robyn: I haven’t been overly impressed with the development of this show’s women, but I did really like the scene where Veronica decides that she is going to stay and support Archie. A lot of the show relies on teen drama tropes; having someone bail on a significant other after he/she lashes out is a classic. So for Veronica to instead put her own feelings aside and recognize her boyfriend’s pain was a moment that I genuinely appreciated and thought was pretty powerful.

Andy: The grossest scene of the episode for me was Archie washing off his father’s blood in the shower and then Ronnie getting in with him to bone down. Girl, what are you doing? You’re gonna get blood on your pearls! This is right out of a Neil Breen film.

Chuck: Don’t be stupid, Andy. The shower scene didn’t use nearly enough awkward bandages. Or green screen. Or stock applause SFX.

Andy: “I can’t help you outta this one, Fred.”

That Gum Fred Likes is Coming Back In Style

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Chuck: So while Archie’s trying to push through, Fred’s in a coma, and he’s having these vivid dreams about Archie’s life as he grows up, takes over the family business, and eventually gets married to Veronica. But all throughout, he keeps being reminded that he’s been shot and is on the verge of death.

Robyn: The dreams reminded me of Scully in the boat when she is in a coma in The X-Files.

Andy: Fred’s creepiest dream was the one where his dad and brother are coming to drag him to the afterlife. This is the closest we’ve gotten to a supernatural presence in the show and that’s…interesting. Especially considering what town appears in the episode’s last scene.

Robyn: In case others, like me, don’t know the significance of “Greendale,” it happens to be the home of a certain teen witch (and, I can only hope, talking cat). Just in time for Halloween, perhaps?

Chuck: I just love how obvious those sequences are. This isn’t Kevin Finnerty, they’re not even trying to be artfully vague. Pop shows up after Archie reveals that he’s popping the question to Veronica in his diner: “You know what they say,” Pop tells Fred, prompting Fred to look down and see that he’s bleeding from his gut wound, “Time dies.”

Robyn: And literally “you are dead.”

Chuck: They’re still so fucking creepy, though! The lighting in them is so funky and weird. In that scene where Archie shows Fred the ring, Director Rob Seidenglanz and new DP Brendan Uegama douse the scene in wild red and violet hues, with little flecks of white playing against Fred’s face. The imagery is just intense.

Robyn: It reminds me a bit of the Atomic Blonde lighting.

Andy: I kind of chuckled at Fred idealizing that Archie would wear a kilt at his wedding to Veronica.

Robyn: And Hermione wearing white to her daughter’s wedding.

Chuck: Fred wakes up after he takes a bullet for Archie in the coma dream; as he explains it (paraphrasing), “I came back to protect you.” Which is so corny, but Luke Perry is so genuine in this role, he can sell “corny.” Plus, with all the other dark shit going on around them…

That Horn Is Playing the Bughead Blues

Andy: The seeds for the eventual Bughead ship break-up have definitely been sown. On the plus side, Jughead seems way more like the Jughead from the comics this episode. He told Pop to “lighten up” and also ate a huge burger! This Jughead just also drives a motorcycle.

Chuck: You know, for something that threatens his relationship with Betty, I have to ask: How much does Jughead really want life as a Serpent? The show makes a convincing case for him being so torn on this: loving the privileges and brotherhood, sick over everything else. This isn’t Goodfellas; the honeymoon period is brief. He’s getting hit with the good and the bad at pretty much the same time.

Robyn: I thought it an odd choice to have Betty be so against the Serpents (rightfully so) and then decide to stand by her man. Perhaps realizing that life is fragile etc., but it seemed sudden.

Andy: I think Betty is influenced a bit by her mother whether she likes it or not. She’s a person who values trust but any breach of that trust will send her packing.

Chuck: I think it’s just a cave on her part; an unhealthy one. When that goes down, it’s raining like hell, like an ironic commentary on the state of the relationship.

Robyn: Some grade 11 pathetic fallacy for the viewers.

“Dude, I think it might be best for us to never piss Cheryl off again.”

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Chuck: Oh my sweet fucking goddamn holy shit Jesus, WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL, CHERYL BLOSSOM?

Robyn: I guess this season’s theme is ‘revenge’?

Andy: Cheryl made a Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? reference and I screamed at my television.

Chuck: Part of me kind of thought that they’d never explain why Penelope was bandaged up and burned beyond recognition after she was so obviously outside the fire. “Cheryl is SCARY” is all the explanation we need. It makes sense that Penelope was vain enough to run back in and save a family portrait, but for Cheryl to threaten to pull her card and reveal “what really happened at the barn?” I KNEW there had to be more to Clifford’s death than a routine “shamed into suicide,” but the way she delivered it!

Robyn: What’s cooler than being cool? A lot of power dynamics have shifted this episode.

Chuck: Cheryl Goddamn Blossom squeezed her mother’s oxygen hose shut and said “You breathe because I allow it,” and it came off as the scariest shit in the world despite being a villainous cliché. The power dynamics right now are her wiping her ass with the Riverdale town registry.

Andy: Cheryl is going to become the mayor by the end of the season.

Hiram Lodge Believes In America

Robyn: Am I correct in remembering that this is the first time we see Ronnie’s dad’s face?

Chuck: Yeah it is! And it’s from afar in low light, in this amazingly sinister, powerful shot.

Robyn: And her mom is just there as sort of, set dressing, holding a drink, in an evening gown.

Andy: Hermione is super villainous so far and I’m kind of loving it. I suppose this has everything to do with Papa Lodge’s influence.

Chuck: I don’t know what I was expecting when Hiram Lodge showed up, but him being Don Corleone is AMAZING.

Robyn: He was a lot more young and handsome than I thought he would be? He is almost like the male equivalent of the mom, and I was not expecting that—but he looks like he is Veronica’s dad?

Chuck: Mark Consuelos was great casting visually, yeah. And the whole dynamic between Veronica and her mother just shifts the closer he is to home. Even in the chapel, where Veronica accuses Hermione of putting a hit out on Fred, the way they talk to each other was less “mother and daughter” and more, to continue the Godfather parallels, “Michael and Fredo.”

Robyn: It seemed like both women were dreading the return of Hiram; while Veronica decided to fight it, her mother decided to embrace it, going so far as to “tattle” on her daughter (“she drank your Cristal”). I was a bit disappointed to see Hermione go from HBIC to sidekick, but we will see how that plays out.

Andy: I almost wonder if we’ll see a glimmer of Veronica’s ex-heel persona this season due to Hiram’s presence. The man seems like the damn devil!

Putting a Bow on the Grundy Thing

Chuck: I kinda love that they brought back Ms. Grundy / Jennifer Gibson just to confirm she was a serial predator and then gruesomely kill her off.

Andy: Oh, Grundy, we hardly knew ye but Sideshow Luke Perry can’t die! She had to take one for the team.

Robyn: The Grundy thing is so fucked up. Not her death, her preying on another kid.

Chuck: Somebody I know pointed out that technically we just watched a victim of abuse (if you believe her story, which I do) get violently murdered on-screen. Which…I don’t know how to feel about that.

Robyn: It’s such a quandary; we find out for sure that yes, she was preying on kids, that is confirmed, but we only have her word that she was being abused and leaving that open leaves room for questioning her. Not that her being a victim of abuse excuses her gross abuse of power and her being a sexual predator, but it is uncomfortable that her words are left unsubstantiated…oh fuck maybe the killer is her husband, and he thought she was with Fred, not Archie?

Chuck: I could get behind that. I can also get behind the idea of this being some fucked up Striking Distance shit being pulled on Archie. Or maybe (this one’s stolen from our friends at Sex Archie, a podcast you should totally be listening to) that this is just some vigilante, and he attacked Fred for his DUI. We’re finally getting our Archie Meets the Punisher story!

Robyn: It’s about time!

Andy: Golly, I sure hope the Predator makes a guest appearance.

Your Stars of the Episode

"New Reggie" Charles Melton.

“New Reggie” Charles Melton.

Chuck: My star goes to Madelaine Petsch mostly because I’m afraid of what will happen to me if it doesn’t.

Andy: I’d like to give New Reggie (Charles Melton) a shout out for stepping in the vacated role like it was no big deal.

Robyn: The make-up/SFX team for this episode did a really great job. Cheryl’s mom was very convincing, as was the blood on Archie, and Fred’s wound. But the real Star of the Episode was The Punisher.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7 CT on The CW. New episodes are available on The CW’s website in the US, Netflix internationally.

Post By Chuck Winters (39 Posts)

Film school graduate who never learned how to bitterly hate half of everything he watches. He lives in noted cultural hotspot Suburban Long Island, where he is working on his first novel.

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