Archie is a questionable friend sometimes, Jughead is so distraught about the events of his birthday that he attempts to self-sabotage his relationship, Betty faces her inner darkness, and Veronica testifies on behalf of her father. But even though it seemed like there was a lot going on in “Chapter Ten: The Lost Weekend,” it was a fairly simple episode spoiled by the staged drama and filled with the most teenage behavior this show has ever had (and I don’t mean that in a good way).
There are three more episodes left in Riverdale’s first season, but it seems to have slowed its race to the finish line regarding Jason Blossom’s murder. Aside from some small developments and occasional character progression, the last couple of episodes have been plagued with a slower pace, no leaps in plot movement, and the show seems to have lost a bit of its way. It’s like Riverdale is stuck and is stalling before its finale. “The Lost Weekend” was extremely lackluster and had too much contrived drama and brought back some unresolved, but problematic, situations.
Chuck is back in school but angry that he no longer has a shot at Notre Dame after Betty and Veronica reported his behavior to school officials. His presence makes Betty’s blood boil and the two have the events of their last confrontation hanging heavy in the air between them. Yes, Chuck isn’t a great person and his treatment of women is uncalled for, but equally uncalled for is Betty’s aggressiveness toward him given her own questionable behavior last time . Her actions are meant to imply that there’s a darkness within her and that she isn’t just the “girl next door;” I’m glad that she is looking within herself and opening up to Jughead about it, but the fact that she and Veronica roofied someone and handcuffed him is still glossed over. Thankfully, the situation this time around found Betty becoming more aware of herself, although I do wish she’d also acknowledged that what she did to Chuck was still wrong and completely out of bounds.
Despite Archie telling Betty that Jughead doesn’t like parties, he helps Betty plan one anyway knowing full well that his best friend wouldn’t have wanted one in the first place. Jughead gets angry about being forced to conform and be “normal” and takes it out on Betty. Later, however, we get a nice one-on-one between them that allows both of them to air out their grievances and differences in a more healthy way. Jughead and Betty continue to develop their relationship and it’s nice to see it being handled in a way that shows some kind of maturity on both their parts. They both have issues with sharing secrets with people and letting them into their lives in a more personal way. Betty is scarred by her mother’s advice to not tell Jughead everything because that’s what Alice did with Hal (we know how that turned out). On the other hand, Jughead is not used to people caring or being kind to him at all and so he has to get used to that. So far, they strike a nice balance.
However, one of the most frustrating things happening with Riverdale is that it’s becoming even more apparent that the supposed ensemble show is having a hard time balancing its cast. With more of the focus going to Betty and Jughead’s relationship, several other characters are seeing the short end of the stick. Veronica and Betty continue to interact less and it’s beginning to create a void within the show’s narrative. Archie and Veronica hook up, but there wasn’t any real development in their relationship outside of their initial kiss at the start of the season, so the whole thing fell flat and felt tacked on. The parents barely had a role in the episode and I would have liked to see more from Hermione given what Veronica was going through with regard to her dad’s threat and the overwhelming need for her mother to not have any more secrets.
Then there’s Cheryl, who is angry with Veronica about their fathers’ business dealings. Cheryl then proceeds to take out her frustration on her friends, whom she fires (note: they’ve never said a single word to each other despite their so-called friendship) and then teams up with Chuck to crash Jughead’s small gathering where they then decide to share everyone’s secrets against their will. It’s a power play and bullying at its finest. Technically, no one had to sit around and listen to Cheryl, but they did anyway. Veronica accuses Cheryl of “twincest” and being jealous of Polly, everyone finds out about Miss Grundy’s car at the lake the morning of Jason’s disappearance, and the secret gets out about Betty’s dark turn. If the show needed so badly for these secrets to be out in the open, they could have executed it differently, but instead it was too much of a contrived mess.
Finally, “The Lost Weekend” truly showcased Riverdale’s inability to include Josie and the Pussycats. Cheryl fires her friends, a party is thrown on Jughead’s behalf, and secrets are spilled, but nowhere in the episode will you find Josie. This is the third episode in a row that she’s been absent and, while Val does show up, it’s only for a very brief moment. If you blinked, you might have missed her. The more concerning problem is Ashleigh Murray’s Josie is a series regular and the show doesn’t use her or the rest of the Pussycats to their full potential. Josie is Cheryl’s friend too, but they pair have yet to interact. A party is thrown and Josie wasn’t invited even though Val was there? The show is supposed to be an ensemble cast, but the last few episodes have certainly not felt that way as the focus continues to shift in a direction that is proving to be a detriment to the show and the development of its characters. “The Lost Weekend” was a disjointed episode and entirely too underwhelming given its proximity to the season finale.