“Who’s with me? Who’s ready to go to war?”

This week’s Riverdale sees relationships all over town broken, as its residents begin to take sides over Hiram Lodge’s (Mark Consuelos) plans for Southside High.

It’s a tough week for Veronica (Camila Mendes) as the reveal of Lodge Industries’ plans for Riverdale has left many of the teens bitter. Unbeknownst to her parents (because apparently, it never occurred to them that the schoolkids are up on their politics, which strangely they all are) Veronica is taking a lot of hits from her fellow students for her family’s business decisions. Come on, V, when you joined forces with your dodgy dad, you had to know this was coming.

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Making a wonderful return in the wake of the Lodge Industries town betrayal, is Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser) on a one-woman mission to take down Veronica by telling the school exactly what she has been involved in. Oh, and ‘shaking’ her – a.k.a. chucking a strawberry milkshake right in her face in the middle of the cafeteria. And with the help of Josie (Ashleigh Murray) telling her everything that her mother found from working alongside the Lodges, Ethel makes a very artistic handout which explains (among other things) that Veronica knew about the plans for Southside all along – the reveal of which, causes Betty (Lili Reinhart) to distance herself from the friend that has lied to her for weeks.

It isn’t all fun and games for Betty elsewhere this week, as off the back of finding that Chic (Hart Denton) isn’t who he claims to be, when the test for Blossom blood comes back negative. The plot thickens, however, when Alice (Mädchen Amick) admits that the reason Chic has no Blossom blood in him, is because Hal (Lochlyn Munroe) isn’t his father – according to Alice, neither is FP (Skeet Ulrich) but knowing Riverdale, he probably will be, just to make things weird between Betty and Jughead (Cole Sprouse). In the face of her creepy half-brother, Betty gets super crazy, going from holding a lighter by his face and waking him in the middle of the night, to threatening to tell the police that he killed that drug dealer. Although, as Chic rightly points out, it was her and Alice who cleaned the house, and moved the body – and it was Betty alone who took his phone and call someone from it, so if she was to go to the police, more of the evidence points to her having killed.

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This week’s episode sees Archie (KJ Apa) turn on basically everyone but the Lodges, because of his strange blood bond with Hiram – a relationship which is seems more and more cult-like as the weeks go on. Frankly, each new episode of Riverdale seems to be making Archie more and more stupid, as despite both his mother and father making some good points about why he shouldn’t be siding with the Lodges over his own family, Archie insists that Lodge Industries are doing the best thing for their town. An opinion that also sees the teen come to blows with childhood friend Jughead, who wants to preserve Riverdale’s South Side, his home, and stop it from becoming Hiram’s business playground. Seriously, isn’t Archie meant to be like 17? Why is he so sure he knows what is better for the town than people who have lived there for over twice as long?

On the other side of the picket line, Jughead decides to embark on a hunger strike to protest the demolition of Southside High, before moving on to a protest more likely to reap results – he, and a group of teen Serpents, chaining themselves to the gates of Southside. A peaceful protest that begins to gain publicity, Hiram is eager to shut Jughead down – and when trying to bribe FP doesn’t work, he sends in Archie “errand boy” Andrews with bolt cutters, releasing the Serpents and sending them on their way. But, with onlookers filming the entire ordeal, chances are this will have repercussions for the Lodges in the next couple of weeks.

Elsewhere, things take a turn for the worst in the Blossom household. Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), after overhearing her mother and uncle plotting against her and her grandmother, is fearing for her life; which she tells her friends during a Crimson Peak-esque sleepover, that ends when Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) ends up at the bottom of the stairs – but the question on everyone’s mind is, did she fall? Or was she pushed? Though it seems the latter is more likely, when a paralytic drug is found in her bloodstream when she is taken into hospital.

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It isn’t all doom and gloom for the redhead, however, as before her grandmother’s “accident”, Cheryl began to admit her feelings to Toni (Vanessa Morgan), the Vixens’ newest cheerleader. However, when Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) drives Cheryl out of town on the pretence of concerns for her mental health, telling Toni that she has gone to an all-girls boarding school in Switzerland, it seems that the Blossom matriarch may well have rid herself of her “problems”. But, with Riverdale full to the brim with amateur sleuths, will Toni and the teens manage to track Cheryl down, and rescue her before every trace of the fiery bombshell is eradicated?

VERDICT:

While this week’s episode was good, Riverdale seems to have abandoned the grounded, gritty thrills of the Black Hood saga, in favour of way more politics than there should be in a teen drama, it seems that the rest of Season 2 will be following the town’s mayoral election and the high school’s presidential race. Now, with all the teens at odds with each other, if they could throw in some more mystery and murder, it would make it all more interesting. Fingers crossed.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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