“Welcome to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, home for troubled youth, where Cheryl Blossom finds herself more troubled than usual.”

This week’s Riverdale pits friends and family against each other, as town politics reach new heights, and the discovery of a car in a swamp throws one family into turmoil.

Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is having a rough time this week, after her mother had her locked up “with the Sisters” due to her apparent deviant behaviour, leaving her in the facility that time forgot, undergoing gay conversion therapy. Yeah, that happened. Spending her days in misery, forced to believe that her emotions aren’t valid, we spend woefully little time with this thread, and considering that the next episode features the teens performing Carrie: The Musical, you can imagine how much effort is being put into fleshing out this story. It’s disappointing to say the least, as Petsch is doing some quality work.

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The only saving grace of this storyline, is that we see Toni (Vanessa Morgan) rally the troops in order to find out what has really happened to Cheryl. Not believing Penelope’s (Nathalie Boltt) story of sending her daughter to a boarding school in Switzerland and seeing that Cheryl’s social media has been untouched for days, Toni is sure that there is something more sinister going on, so along with Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Josie (Ashleigh Murray) the trio force their way into Thornfield in order to find out the truth. However, when Penelope spins the girls another lie, leaving Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) to risk her life in order to try and help Toni find her granddaughter.

Enlisting the help of the only other gay person they know, Kevin (Casey Cott), who conveniently knows all about the Sisters of Quiet Mercy’s off-the-books conversion therapy, he explains that there is a “secret gay hook-up tunnel” that guys use to escape the building and meet up with others in the woods. With that, they have found their way to Cheryl. One impractical outfit change later, the girls set off to rescue their friend – seriously, though, who wears high heels in a situation that will most likely result in a lot of running? If they had worn flats, they would have been able to outrun the nuns more quickly. Just saying.

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Elsewhere, tensions are still high between the Coopers – with Betty (Lili Reinhart) living in the Jones’ trailer, apparently leaving both Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and FP (Skeet Ulrich) sharing a sofa bed, Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) begins to worry that her daughter is heading down the wrong path. But, things go from bad to worse when Alice arrives home to find Chic (Hart Denton) sitting all Poltergeist in front of the TV, watching the news that Shady Guy’s car that Betty and Jughead pushed into the swamp has been found. Panicked by the discovery, Alice calls FP, worried about what their next move should be, but when he insists that they continue as normal, Betty is forced to return to the Cooper house, despite her ultimatum that should would not set foot in the home until Chic left it.

From here, the situation gets worse for the Cooper household, when the car is retrieved by its owner, Shady Guy’s girlfriend, Darla (Azura Skye) – and, ever the show’s least helpful character, Chic ends up leading her straight back to the Cooper’s, where the family prove that they have the worst poker faces, and Darla demands that they give her $10,000 for her silence. Though mother and daughter find themselves at odds over Betty’s relationship to the Serpents – along with the fact that the Serpents consider Alice the ultimate turncoat enemy – the leather-clad tween branch of the gang arrive in the nick of time to ensure no harm comes to the Cooper ladies. Realising that he has continuously put her family in danger, Alice tells Chic that he needs to leave (unfortunately just the house, not the series, though it’s doubtful anyone would miss the character) before she visits the Serpents, telling them that she is no longer going to work against them – the South Side is where her roots are planted, and she can’t just forget that. Which means that we’re likely going to be seeing both Cooper women with Jones men, in a weird kind of parallel.

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In other news, Archie (KJ Apa) is still being kind of stupid, continuing to side with Hiram (Mark Consuelos) over his own father. While Fred (Luke Perry) is readying himself to announce him run for mayor, his son is busying trying to impress Hiram’s “associates” Lenny and Carl (not to be confused with Homer’s friends on The Simpsons) by pretending he’s a killer – which they understandably don’t believe. And when the Lodges find themselves without bodyguards, Archie enlists the help of his school friends to form ‘The Dark Circle’ a group of teens ready to beat people and blow up their cars. Standard stuff. Archie is making so many ridiculous decisions this season, and it’s getting harder to understand why he is turning his back on his family and friends in order to side with his girlfriend’s dodgy father.

When Riverdale returns on April 19th, the high school (in a not-so-smooth transition) is putting on a musical, which is unlikely to go off without a hitch, and with all the teens at odds, is there any way they can repair what has been broken?

VERDICT:

Without a gripping mystery at its heart, Riverdale is becoming a set of separate story threads without much tying them together. It remains to be seen whether the coming episodes will bring a shocking twist, but with only five episodes of Season 2 left, they really need to pull something out of the bag.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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