Most of the characters in “Chapter Fifteen: Nighthawks” got some good character moments and development (except for, you guessed it, Josie and the Pussycats). The second episode is far better than the premiere and helped further along the plot, all while dealing with certain ramifications and character relationships. For all its drama, the episode had some spring in its step and used certain scenes for humor, which is a nice change.
Archie is running himself into the ground after his dad’s shooting. He’s not sleeping and keeps having flashbacks of the masked man creeping up on the house. His stress following the ordeal and the pressure of thinking he must be awake to keep his dad safe at all hours of the day is weighing him down. He refuses to budge though and is constantly following up with the police. This is definitely only the beginning of Archie’s downward spiral. Between getting some substances from Reggie that’ll keep him awake longer and, later, a gun, Archie is making concerning decisions. He says the gun is just for protection, but that’s just an excuse and this is something that can (and probably will) end in disaster.
However, despite questionable decisions, this is the most Riverdale has ever made Archie feel like a character who cares about what’s going on. Last season, Archie felt more like a caricature, a guy who’s there but blank. He did things and was part of the group, but it wasn’t always clear why or how he felt about much of anything. Within these last two episodes, Archie has dealt with a lot and it finally feels like he has a purpose. It’s clear he cares about his dad more than anything else he’s had to deal with and so that’s a big part of the reason. For the first time, I’m looking forward to what they have in store for him.
Betty is one of the MVPs of the episode. She takes on a project to help keep Pop’s afloat and also sets aside time to help Jughead with his dad’s case. The latter leads her to threaten Cheryl with releasing the video of her dad killing Jason if she doesn’t testify that she forgives J.P. and that he was coerced into doing what he did. Her threat is clean and she doesn’t even blink while talking to Cheryl, her confidence getting her what she wants even if she had to resort to other means. On the Pop’s side, she’s hurt that the diner might be bought and there’s a sweet moment where Betty recalls all her memories from being at Pop’s. It’s
For all the judgement she’s bestowed on the Southside Serpents and others, she dealt in bribes and deception the entire episode. They were for good causes, but she’s also walking a thin line between her own moral compass (which comes off a bit entitled in some instances) and those she judges. Her actions also showcase the fact that she isn’t as wholesome as her outer persona leads to believe, which we saw for a short while last season. I wonder if the show will draw comparisons to her mother because they’re beginning to parallel each other. For awhile, it seemed Betty was untouched by the “not like my parents” syndrome, but, like everyone else on this show has proven, a parent’s influence is deep-rooted and it’s hard not to pick up on certain habits despite trying your hardest not to.
Meanwhile, Veronica is skipping dinners with her family and is still angry with her father. The main reason being that she had defended him throughout his arrest and gave him the benefit of the doubt. But after being sent the letter threatening her mother to get Veronica to testify, she’s flipped a switch and isn’t interested in repairing her family, just getting away from them. But her father is still playing games and coerces Hermione into having Veronica believe that she wrote the letter. This further drives a wedge between the Lodge women while Hiram goes back to being the sympathetic father in Veronica’s eyes.
Honestly, Veronica is dealing with a lot and the relationship with her parents seems to be falling apart so fast that her accusations about Fred’s incident keep coming up. Does she want to believe that they would commit such an atrocity, or hire someone who would? Or has she just lost so much faith in them that it’s easier to believe that they’d conspire to have Fred killed rather than hope that they’ve become better people. Ultimately, it’s Jughead who convinces her to give her dad a second chance. Now that his dad is in jail, it’s hard to find a reason to hate him since he at least tried to be a better father last season. Veronica takes this reasoning and doesn’t immediately let her father off the hook, but is more than likely to bridge the gap moving forward. It would be nice if we got a bit more of Veronica and Hermione interacting. Their relationship has really taken a turn for the worse and it’s concerning that it might not ever be better.
Ultimately, “Nighthawks” moved the plot forward and provided some great character moments as well. The mystery isn’t stalling, but progressing, even though there isn’t much information about the killer yet. Betty, Jughead, Veronica, and Archie are being developed at a nice pace, but it’d also be wise of the show not to continue neglecting Josie and the Pussycats. Josie, in particular, since we saw some of her family life last season. Her mother is the mayor and yet, nothing happening in the town right now is of concern to her? It’s unrealistic and Riverdale needs to work harder to center Josie as a character and give her a story of her own. Otherwise, the episode was fairly solid and the intrigue is there to propel it forward.