Welcome back to my weekly Riverdale recaps! You can find all of my previous recaps for the show here.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the last episode of Riverdale, so I’m glad that “Chapter Eleven: To Riverdale and Back Again” picked up the slack and really set the stage for the final two episodes. It raised plenty of suspicion and pitted Veronica and Archie against Betty, who looked just about ready to explode after finding out they both went behind her back to investigate FP. Veronica suspects her dad hired FP to kill Jason, but they ultimately find out that FP was framed after a warrant is issued and he’s arrested.
For a while, all of the characters were on the same page, supportive of one another, trying to do the right thing. It was their parents who screwed up and had more drama than they did. But “To Riverdale and Back Again” pushed boundaries and broke trust that will probably be hard to get back after this. Veronica is driven by fear that her father will be out of jail soon and is an accomplice to Jason’s murder. Archie is actually trying to be a good friend to Jughead and Betty gets kind of caught in the middle of it all, but truly believes that FP is innocent. And while each character’s reason is understandable, the fact that Veronica and Archie sneaked around is not necessarily good look, even though breaking into FP’s house ended up benefiting them. I’m worried that this wedge is something that will push both Archie and Veronica away from Betty, but especially Veronica as she and Betty’s friendship is one of the highlights of the show (and has been neglected as of late).
Cheryl’s storyline in this episode was a little more vague. She’s shown interacting with her parents and with Polly, but she’s eerily quiet and her expression almost calculating as she walks away with her grandmother’s engagement ring in hand. She has a look on her face while watching Veronica and Archie perform together: is it jealousy after being rejected by Archie and suddenly seeing him with Veronica? Is it steely determination? Is it the look of someone who has a plan and has already made a move? It’s suspicious that she has such a calm rage just as it’s discovered that FP was arrested for Jason’s murder and it’s definitely something worth pondering.
The episode carried more weight because it finally felt like the plot was moving forward and all of the characters were somehow involved in some way. It proved that Riverdale is capable of balancing both plot and character development at the same time. Jughead’s storyline was the most sympathetic if only because it seemed like everything was finally coming together for him–he was going to move back in with his dad and FP was going to try and bring back Jughead’s mom and sister. However, another wedge that really seems to be settling in is the one between Betty and Jughead. It really feels like the show is trying to separate everyone from Betty and it’s a bit off-putting. Veronica and Archie worked better together here, but their budding romance still needs more development.
Ultimately, “To Riverdale and Back Again” provided some much-needed plot progression and gave the characters lots of material to work with. It introduced Archie’s mom into the show and created some awkward moments between her, Hermione, and Fred. There were tense character interactions, suspicion, and suspense. The cliffhanger ending will lead nicely into next week’s episode. My one major quibble with this episode, unfortunately, is that Josie and the Pussycats appeared for only twenty seconds at the beginning of the episode and then never showed up again. It’s very frustrating that the show continues to sideline them and their stories, and I hope they find a way to make them a bigger part of the narrative before the season ends.