Riverdale Recaps S2E9: Silent Night, Deadly Night
Well, fuck, egg on my recaps: last week, I wrote about House of the Devil as a midseason finale and it turns out, uh, it’s not. I have no idea where I got that delusion from and I apologise for the mistake, but hey, you get to enjoy another Riverdale recap before the holiday season proper sets in. So, bully for you?
Honestly, I watched the new Riverdale episode, Silent Night, Deadly Night, yesterday and I have yet to come up with anything truly compelling to say about it. It’s not that it was a terrible episode – it was certainly better than the contrived CW bullshit of last week – but it was also kind of a mess and felt like a weak ending to the once-promising Black Hood plot (if it really was an ending, but we’ll get to that).
What this week lacked in high school drama, it made up for in Riverdale’s gloriously gothic aesthetic and attitude. Heralded by the return of the MR James villain of Grandma Blossom, the show settles back into it’s usually striking direction and lush colour palette. It’s also a more violent episode as usual, with Betty recieving a severed finger, Jughead apparently carving a tattoo off someone’s skin, and Betty being forced to temporarily bury Archie alive: it’s all surprisingly bleak and dark for a show which usually leans to the campier end of horror like this, but I actually kind of like it. Once more, it’s Cheryl and the Blossoms, in a plot that really embodies the notion of Christmas gothic, who steal the show, but Jughead’s plot revolving around freeing his father from the abuse of the lawyer who freed him has a twisted Christmas cheer that I’m also into.
Some of the more regular stories move forward this episode – Hermione and Hiram finally let Veronica in on the goings-on of Lodge Enterprises, while Fred struggles to pay his medical bills and the Blossoms face up to a reality outside of their existing fortune- but the real meat of this episode is the somewhat humdrum end to the Black Mask plot. And yeah, like any good Scooby-Doo episode, it’s the creepy janitor. But it’s a reveal that feels thin as hell, and didn’t feel like the satisfying end to this story that we’ve been led to believe was coming.
Yeah, arguably, the Black Mask plot was more about what it brought out in the town than the specifics of who the killer was, but it’s still what launched the story into action this year, what the meat of this season has been about, and now that it’s been apparently revealed it feels anticlimactic. It honestly feels, in retrospect, like the show was leaving it’s options open so they could decide which way they wanted to go with the Black Hood. And, in the end, they went with the one that has the most palpable impact on the show going forward, which feels like a disappointment. Cliff Blossom’s involvement in Jason’s murder felt important and striking and earned, but this one…eh. It’s a convenient way to clear the plot out for something else, and functional bow-tying around the story that I have to admit I kind of now hate.
But, with Riverdale actually away for a midseason break after this, where do they go from here? Aside from the clear conflict set up with Archie and Betty’s shared kiss and the former’s reconciliation with Veronica, I can’t see the entire rest of the season being set around the fallout from the Black Hood arc. Last season only had an episode of epilogue at the end of the Jason plot, but with that much more screentime to fill, I’m really not sure how Riverdale is going to do it. There’s been a distinct lack of Dark Betty this season and I hope we lean in to some more of that in the following half-season, and I actually quite enjoy the slightly edgier story they’ve been giving Archie so far. But this clutch of episodes have ended on a muted note, and frankly it’s hard to see where they’re going to go from here.
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