‘Riverdale’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 1, Episode 7: ‘In a Lonely Place’
Welcome to Riverdale, the CW show about Archie Andrews and his pals ‘n’ gals! Archie Comics aficionado Chris Sims and CW teen drama superfan Emma Lawson will be your recappers for our weekly breakdown of what’s hot and happening at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.
This week, Riverdale finds out about Polly Cooper, Betty and Jughead smooch some more, Veronica goes out for some angry dancing, and the town's dads do some dad stuff, for good and for bad. "In a Lonely Place" was written by Aaron Allen and directed by Allison Anders.
Emma: This episode started with what felt like a fever dream: the whole Archie gang dressed in their '50s Sunday best, being the sweethearts we know from the old comics. It's strange that this is the weirdest part of the show, but that's Riverdale for you. How did you feel about the cold open this episode, Chris?
Chris: Before the episode aired, the Archie Comics Twitter account posted some photos from the set when they were filming this sequence, and they were pretty amazing. Betty's just a little bit off --- Regular Riverdale Betty already has the ponytail, so her hair seemed a little too fancy --- but Veronica looked amazing. That outfit she has on is stellar, and is actually not that far off from the kind of haute couture clothes that Veronica wears in the regular series. Plus, it's pretty fun seeing Cole Sprouse and KJ Apa in what's essentially Archie cosplay.
Emma: I noticed that I actually have Throwback Jughead's shoes, and I've decided to now knit his whoopee cap, so I'm just going to make myself an "S" shirt and call it a day. I loved that they echoed Jug's classic "S" shirt from that cold open in his pajama look, as he crawled out from a closet under the stairs at the high school like some older, sadder Harry Potter. I honestly wished they hadn't tweeted those pictures, though; it would have been so much more powerful coming in clean.
Chris: I was actually okay with it. I mean, I suspected it was going to be a dream sequence, but with Riverdale, you never know --- it might've been that they were putting on a school play in order to trick the murderer into revealing themselves. And hey, even though we knew it was coming, at least the dream has that twist ending of Jughead imagining himself literally stabbing Archie in the back by pursuing a relationship with Betty.
Emma: Oh, I guess that was what the backstabbing bit was about! The Betty-Jughead relationship hardly strikes me as such, given Archie's complete disinterest in Betty romantically. I can understand Jughead feeling weird about it, given that they're all basically a big best friend triad, but it's not really a betrayal of Archie.
I wish Jughead had gone back in time. Make it even weirder, please.
Chris: Even on this show, I think we're two, maybe three seasons out from Jughead's Time Police making it to television. If we were placing bets, I'd say it's slightly less likely than Afterlife With Archie happening, but still more likely than Jingles the Christmas Elf showing up. But anyway, you're right about the Archie/Betty/Jughead dynamic here. We even get a scene later on where Archie is initially a little weirded out by sigh "Bughead," but he moves past it pretty quickly. Which, you know, he should.
Emma: This is probably the least interesting aspect of this episode to talk about, but whatever, we're here. Can I just say that if Jughead is holding Betty's hand, walking her home, and he can't even allude to the fact that they're dating or something, maybe he shouldn't be dating? But whatever. I did think both Jughead and Betty opening up to Archie and Veronica respectively about the situation was actually pretty cute. "We may have had a moment" and Betty's adorable head tilt definitely get the Veronica Lodge stamp of approval.
Chris: Can I be real with you, Emma?
Emma: Always, Chris. I've seen you sing along to pop songs in a burger joint, I feel like we are fast friends now.
Chris: Aside from the ship name, I actually really like the way that Jughead/Betty is playing out on the show.
Emma: I will never kink shame you, Chris.
I like it more the way it's played out this episode, but we're still in some very tense situations. I want to see how they interact in some of those quiet moments, when they're just kids and not detectives.
Chris: I don't really want to see these characters together forever or anything --- I don't even really want to see them in a romance --- but I think it's being done in a way that's really interesting. We had a pretty good discussion of Jughead's asexuality last week, and I still think that one of the immutable elements at the core of his character is that he exists outside of the standard dynamic of love triangles, but I also totally buy what they're doing here as exploring and questioning what they want from other people.
Until very recently, we've seen Jughead as isolated --- he's not living with his family, he wasn't talking to Archie after their falling out over the summer, and he certainly seemed like he wasn't part of the core friend group --- and seeing him trying to reconnect with people on a level that's expected of him is a very interesting way to take his character. I'm still hoping for a resolution to it that resets Betty and Jughead as capital-J, capital-F Just Friends, but I really do like what we're getting from it here.
Plus, seeing them awkwardly hold hands or be unsure of how to describe their relationship, or even their pretty chaste kissing stands out as a nice contrast to everyone else on this show, who is just 24/7 in the bone zone.
Emma: I get where you're coming from. Jughead is alone --- his mom and Jellybean have left town, Jughead himself is escaping his deadbeat dad by squatting in the school, hiding it from his friends, and he was totally alienated from Archie for a good long time while he was busy with Ms. Grundy --- it's no wonder he's looking to make meaningful connections with people, and Betty's the best gal there is. Their relationship does feel like a first relationship, especially for shy, awkward types like Jug and Betty. They're feeling things out, but I do hope they realize that actually, kissing each other is pretty gross.
I'm so glad Jellybean's not dead! And now she wants people to call her JB. That kid is the coolest.
Chris: I want to stress that I think an asexual Jughead is the way to go, for a lot of reasons --- representation, character, all that stuff --- but I also think that a teenager trying to figure himself out by trying relationships is maybe the only authentic experience we've seen in this show where a high school pop band has matching kitty cat outfits and a staggering production budget, a street gang menaces a diner with a boxed rattlesnake, and where a teenage girl has a string of pearls to match literally every outfit from pajamas to swimsuits.
Yeah, I definitely lost my bet about Jellybean. I was 100% sure she'd be dead. And on the subject of initials, I like the subtle indication that going by "JB" is a way to reconnect with her dad, who goes by "FP" instead of the mouthful that is Forsythe Pendleton Jones Jr.
Emma: That was my thought too. Maybe their mom doesn't want to reconnect with sketchy Skeet Ulrich (who is actually really good? Like equal parts menacing and mournful), but I bet JB does. Jughead does too, but he wishes he didn't. In this episode, Archie discovers Jughead showering at school at 6 AM and realizes that his best friend may not be in the best situation. Jughead comes clean about where he's living, and why, leading Archie to talk to his dad to try and get FP his old job back. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
Chris: It actually went better than I expected --- Jones the Elder actually shows up for work, although his pride and some lingering hard feelings lead him into a conflict with Andrews the Elder. It turns out that they founded the construction company together, and Archie's dad muscled Jughead's dad out on account of his self-destructive tendency to, you know, steal things.
Emma: Every problem in this town boils down to someone's dad screwing someone else's dad in business. The Coopers and the Blossoms, the Andrews' and the Jones'. Maybe Jason also got involved in a bad deal --- we do know he was selling drugs --- and that's why he got offed. Capitalism, it kills.
Chris: Hm. If dads are the source of all problems, then could the real villain here be... Pop Tate?!
Emma: Don't you even suggest it, Sims!!
Chris: He's the dadliest one of all!
Emma: Is Pop Tate even a real Pop? Or is he just the father of the whole town? Is Pop Tate immortal, leading Riverdale into ruin since 16-whatever?
Chris: I actually don't think he is. There's an obscure bit of Archie continuity about how his own dad was the original Pop, and he inherited the name along with the restaurant after working there as "Junior." But who knows? Perhaps those milkshakes are the source of all the sins flowing down Sweetwater River.
Anyway, in Non-Jughead developments, Cheryl discovers that Polly Cooper escaped from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy on the night that all the evidence about Jason's murder was burned, and while she initially starts going on a tear about it --- tweeting "#PollyCooperKilledMyBrother," according to Kevin -- she quickly comes around once she realizes that Polly's pregnant with her brother's baby.
Emma: Cheryl's devotion to Jason continues after his death and is now getting projected onto this poor baby, who is now another pawn in the Blossom/Cooper blood feud. Cheryl wants to help, and Polly needs money. The Coopers make it clear that Polly could come home, but her baby definitely can't. If she wants to keep the baby, which she does, then she needs some money to find a new place to live. Money is nothing to the Blossoms, so Cheryl thinks she can help, but she quickly realizes that her parents are not actually invested in helping Polly so much as they're interested in acquiring her baby. Mama Blossom works some magical manipulation on Betty in this episode; it was like watching an Old Master paint.
Chris: I really love how fast the shift is with Cheryl, which shows you exactly how her family works. She goes from wanting Polly dead to offering to help her at the drop of a hat, because if she's pregnant, then that means this is now a Family Problem, and Family Problems aren't dealt with in public. You pay them off, hush them up, and maybe lock them in the basement for a few months.
Emma: She also knows almost immediately that her mom is about to double cross Polly and Betty, which tells you even more about her family. The more we find out about the Blossoms, the more I hate them, but honestly it's the Coopers that freak me out the most. The Blossoms are over the top in their evilness, whereas the Coopers are much more mundane and normal about it. We all know a family like the Coopers.
Chris: I feel like the only thing separating Riverdale's Coopers from being the Blossoms is the lack of money. It really makes me wonder how Betty came out so nice. Then again, we know she has a dark side.
Hashtag Dark Betty Forever.
Emma: I suppose if they had the money for a terrifying house with a cemetery in the yard, they would probably be as creepy as the Blossoms are too. Their attic was terrifying! Who needs that many old dolls? We see the attic, of course, because on Betty's walk home with Jug she tells a story about Polly's first attempt to run away from home, when she ended up in the attic. Hey, it worked once, right? Betty goes to investigate and bam, there Polly is, leaping out and putting her hand on Betty's mouth like every nightmare I've had about a home invasion.
Chris: Polly's line about how she wrote the book on sneaking out is a great response to Betty's wide-eyed wonderment at how a person was able to sneak into the house she grew up in, where she lived as recently as like three months ago.
Emma: Betty may have read the Nancy Drew Detective Handbook but girl doesn't have a ton of street smarts.
Chris: She does do some nice detective work, though, through a couple of chats with her mom. Alice says that Polly wants to give the baby up for adoption (she doesn't), and the Blossoms essentially want to steal it to make Jason II, so in the end, Betty turns to the one person she has left: Veronica, whose mom allows Polly to secretly move into their apartment.
Emma: This seems like a bad plan. I mean, fine in the short term, but the Lodges have their own issues. Like a lack of income, Hiram Lodge being in jail, and Veronica and Hermione's epic fight. Veronica is pissed at her mom because she's fooling around with Fred Andrews and forged Veronica's signature on the document that gave the construction contract to Fred's company. She takes it out on her mom by going wild with her online shopping and --- gasp! --- going clubbing on a school night.
I have issues with this, just like I had issues in Sunnydale with The Bronze. What club exists in these small towns? That operates on a weeknight and lets in underage kids? A town with a maple syrup based economy can't be big enough to support a proper club! They do it on Teen Wolf too, except that one's a gay club!
Chris: But they didn't let them in! They snuck in, and when the club owner tries to kick them out, Reggie threatens to report them for... well, for letting Reggie into your club, which is a bad idea no matter how old he is.
Josie threatens to call her mom, too, and f'real? "I'm going to call my extremely demanding mother and tell her I've been out drinking on a school night" sounds like a bad plan.
Emma: Josie calling her mom would result in mutual destruction, though --- the club would still get in some serious trouble for letting in underage kids. The worst Josie would get would be a long grounding.
I really thought Reggie was going to get gross with Veronica on the dance floor, but it actually seemed like the four of them had a really nice time.
Chris: Reggie's weird nice streak on this show is freaking me right the heck out. I need him to, like, steal a car or something. But yeah, Veronica and her mom come to an agreement that allows them to coexist peacefully, and Polly is part of that. But Jughead, on the other hand, feels the downside of basically having a spotlight episode when he's brought in for questioning by Sheriff Keller.
Emma: Keller found his prints on Jason's torched car, which is understandable since he and Betty found it. But Jughead's prints were on file from an incident six years ago: "attempting to burn down the school." Okay but really, what 10 year old hasn't thought about burning down their school?
Chris: There's another great moment here when Keller talks about how Jughead was bullied a lot, and Jughead goes: "Yeah. My name is Jughead."
Emma: So good. Keller figures the bullying might make for a motive, though, which combined with a previous spot of arson looks a little suspicious. I don't love Keller's attitude towards Jug in this scene, but he does need to investigate every possibility. Jughead clams up, though, and asks for a lawyer instead of providing an alibi for July 4. We know he was supposed to be going on a road trip with Archie, but since that didn't pan out, we don't actually know where Jughead was that day.
Chris: Fred Andrews ends up falsifying an alibi for Jughead, and after FP proves to be too drunk to come get his own kid out of jail, Jughead agrees to move in with Archie for a while. Which, I believe, wraps up the episode and brings us to the Ship of the Week! Who got your attention this time, Emma?
Emma: I loved Penelope Blossom and Alice Cooper's face off in the forest this episode, I feel like that hate could easily turn into a fiery passion.
Chris: That's... an interesting ship.
Emma: There's no kinkshaming on ComicsAlliance, Chris!
But you know my forever ship is B&V. Veronica's acceptance of Jughead in Betty's life was so sweet. "If he helped my girl navigate some turbulent waters... Well then, Veronica Lodge approves." My girl!
Chris: Same, but again, we barely got them in this episode, and as much as I'm enjoying Jughead/Betty and their hopefully ill-fated romance, I don't really want to endorse it. So instead, I give you... Queen Beryl.
By which I mean Betty/Cheryl.
Emma: I'm into it.
Chris: Cheryl's moments of fumbling towards being an actual person are some of the best character bits on this show, and I really like how she turns on her family in order to warn Betty that the Blossoms don't have Polly's best interests in mind. I really hope she keeps evolving like that.
Emma: Cheryl is a highlight of this show, period. I think we'll see plenty more of her and her character development.
Well that's it, Pals! Join us in a few weeks for Riverdale's 8th episode. In the meantime, I'll start working on my lowkey Jughead cosplay. Let us know what you thought of this episode in the comments!