Riverdale’s Edge #206: “Death Proof” is Automatic, Systematic, Hydromatic

In the long, storied tradition of The Teen Drama, there’s never been a show quite like Riverdale, which takes the famously wholesome Archie repertoire 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.

CHAPTER 19: “DEATH PROOF”
Written by: Tessa Leigh Williams & Arabella Anderson (episode “Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!”)
Directed by: Maggie Kiley (Brightest Star, Dial a Prayer)

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Robyn: This is getting really emotionally taxing to watch. The last episode stayed with me for the past week, and now we have a victim, Cheryl, not being believed by authority figures, it’s rough. I was really hoping to not have to talk/think about assault again this week.

Chuck: Not just authority figures; her own damn mother! A lot of the show’s heart concerns how the older generation constantly fails or lets down the younger generation, and how that generation has to hold on to each other to make it through. There’s more to say on this subject but I don’t want to ignore your understandable frustration here: Do you feel like it could have or should have eased up? Was there a way?

Robyn: I think we have been set down a very orchestrated path that heavily involves Cheryl, so I understand it from the storytelling perspective, but it’s trying to watch.

Andy: I think it’s crucial to note too that in the same episode we see Cheryl being used as eye candy for the drag race.

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Chuck: That’s true too, but from my (privileged) perspective, that was entirely Cheryl’s choice. She heard there was a drag race on and was like “My Grease fantasy has come true!” But yeah, this is the danger when you introduce a rape plot and you’re not really careful about it.

Robyn: My guess is that they didn’t want to paint Cheryl too heavily with the victim brush, it’s a real fine line the show is walking, I’m really not sure how to feel about it—but I admit, I thought “Damn, Cheryl looks good.”

Andy: Speaking of the drag race…

Chuck: There was one! Tallboy wants to unite the Ghoulies and the Serpents after Mayor McCoy goes 1984 on the Southside’s asses, and Jughead isn’t having it, so he and Archie, on FP’s advice, challenge the Ghoulies to a race for territory.

Andy: I don’t know if it was as fun as the episode previews led me to believe. Most of this focused on the very obvious Sugar Man plot. Jughead has a new mentor who’s never been really focused on before this episode? I wonder how that will turn out.

Chuck: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Andy. We’ve all seen Breaking Bad, the story of a kindly teacher mentoring a troubled student. It’s just like that!

Robyn: You know, I had always thought there was something more with that teacher, but he had such a small role, I had kind of dismissed it.

Andy: My fault for thinking they were building up The Sugar Man as a minor antagonist but the whole subplot felt rushed to me. Also does his death tie the Black Hood to the Lodges? Or is he actively working against them?

Chuck: I think the Lodges are opportunists—very crafty opportunists—but they’re not monsters. I’ll say this, though: This is the first murder victim from Southside. It’s going to be interesting to see how the town reacts to it, given that the urban bigotry of the town has reached a fever pitch at this point.

Robyn: I think they might be evil, though perhaps not as evil as Mr. Blossom.

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Chuck: So let’s talk about how The Sugar Man got caught. Betty’s still caught up in that game The Black Hood is playing with her, but when she’s ordered to find the identity of The Sugar Man, she plays this time with a better understanding of the stakes.

Robyn: Credit where it is due, this was a team effort, usumcasane on twitter referred to it as the Plucky Pearls Detective Agency!

Andy: I actually think Betty knows the stakes this whole time and by helping the Black Hood she’s gaining his trust. The drug dealer’s identity turns out to be an easy mystery (Cheryl knew it) but it really just proves that Betty is always one step ahead. It’s weird to me that Jughead seems very uninterested in the whole thing. He just wants to get back with Betty. We do learn that Toni is more into girls, however.

Chuck: It’s weird to me that Betty and Jughead’s reconciliation happened largely off-screen, as did Betty and Veronica’s.

Andy: I didn’t like that last week’s plot points had been completely undone within an episode. That to me feels a little too soapy and while this is a show on The CW I somehow expect more.

Robyn: Just like Betty/Kevin.

Chuck: To be fair to Betty and Veronica’s case, though? Veronica knew that something else was going on. She even admitted as much to Archie. She just wasn’t going to let Betty slide for it without an apology. The quick reconciliations between Betty and Jughead, and yes, Betty and Kevin, felt a little too forced though.

And speaking of shit that should’ve happened on-screen? Our last image of Nick St. Clair shouldn’t have been of him making flippant rapist douchebag remarks to Cheryl. It should’ve been of him screaming in pain and sobbing like a little boy with a really bad “owie” after getting into whatever accident the Lodges arranged for him.

Andy: I did like the moment between Josie and Mayor McCoy where she guilted Josie for her drug use by bringing up her addict father. Mayor McCoy is just…the worst. She definitely has some skeletons in her closet we haven’t seen yet.

Chuck: You know, maybe that’s the point of these quick reconciliations; because the parents of Riverdale, save for Fred Andrews (who now looks to be developing a painkiller habit, so there’s fucking that), are so determined to make life hell for their kids, they really have nowhere to go but towards each other. That big meeting about Nick St. Clair’s drug party, leading to raids on Southside High, made that damn clear.

Robyn: As a teen, I think I was also pretty willing to forgive.

Andy: The theme of Riverdale continues to be about how parents screw up their children.

Chuck’s Star of the Episode

Chuck: Archie. Archie. For fuck’s sake, son. Calling the cops on your friend’s drag race to entrap the opposition? Branding Jughead as a suspected snitch? I have to give you this star for the same reason Jimmy Conway gave Spider that money after telling Tommy DeVito to go fuck himself in Goodfellas.

Andy: Archie’s trauma has really made him a thundering dumbass this season but it’s still a pretty classic take on the character. I like how Jughead was unhappy to see Archie because he thought he was gonna get dumped through him again.

Robyn: Ejecting Jughead from trouble was Archie’s go-to move this episode.

Andy’s Star of the Episode

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Andy: I feel so powerful after correctly guessing that Betty was playing along with the Black Hood’s game in order to draw him out. Betty Cooper is handily my favorite person to watch this season because she’s so central to the mystery. I love how the show is playing with her as the unreliable narrator.

Chuck: Your average CW star doesn’t often go on to bigger and better things, but Lili Reinhardt’s got a hell of a career ahead of her if her agent can get her the right breaks afterwards.

Robyn: I keep paying too much attention to what hairstyle she is wearing—is she Nancy Drew today?

Robyn’s Star of the Episode

Robyn: Cheryl Blossom. She is being put in some really terrible situations and the actress is delivering.

Andy: Madelaine Petsch deserves more than what the writers are giving her this season that’s for sure. She hasn’t made a face/heel turn even once yet!

Robyn: Her convo about Kevin to Betty was really good, but it was a very short moment.

Chuck: Cheryl, as a character, continues to be one of the most surprisingly layered residents of Riverdale, jumping between moments of extreme fabulousness and extreme creepiness that mask a fragile, wounded soul.

Your Riverdale Locks of the Week

Who is The Black Hood?

Chuck: 3:1 Sheriff Keller, 5:1 Hal Cooper. In my mind, it’s been a horserace between Keller and Hal. The fact that Hal would know so much about Betty had me feeling him for a while, but now that we’ve seen that he was able to get to Mr. Sugar Man in jail, Keller’s overtaken him.

Andy: 2:1 Sheriff Keller. I also am starting to think that the person calling Betty is NOT the Black Hood but rather someone who either works with him or has their own machinations.

Robyn: Could it be multiple people? The information about Betty is really creepy but I feel like Hal is not cut from the Punisher cloth. I’ll say 3:1 Sheriff Keller, 4:1 Hal. We know that it is someone whose face Betty knows, if it is someone we haven’t seen yet on the show, that would be rough. Dilton Doiley?

Riverdale returns November 29 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 (42 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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