Riverdale: #JusticeForEthel

Jughead’s dumb narrations get dumber with every episode. This week, he spouts off a grocery list of opposites. Good versus evil, light versus dark, etc. Wow. So deep. Much pretentious.

Anyway, Cheryl admits that she lied in her original statement. You see, Jason wanted to leave Riverdale for unknown reasons and asked Cheryl to help him stage his death. Cheryl adds that she heard a gunshot when Jason disappeared into the woods, but the sheriff doesn’t believe her. He cites that Cheryl has been acting oddly, being way too obsessed with planning school dances and pep rallies to be innocent.

I knew someone else in this universe had to notice it was weird how Cheryl was way into pep rallies.

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Even though Cheryl was not charged with anything, Mrs. Cooper, who runs the town newspaper, writes the headline “CHERYL BLOSSOM: GUILTY AS SIN.”

Betty confronts her mother for leaking Jason’s autopsy in the press and being a generally insensitive person who is taking way too much pleasure in the Blossoms’ misery. Mrs. Cooper ignores Betty and tells her to channel her passion for non-alternative facts into reviving the school paper.

Meanwhile, Archie finally goes to Principal Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller about hearing the gunshot. Why is Weatherbee always present when students are questioned and not, I don’t know, their parents and/or legal counsel? Anyway, Archie admits that he wasn’t alone when he heard the shot…he was with his dog.

Betty decides to follow through with her mom’s challenge and tries to recruit her friends to help with the school paper. Jughead agrees because he’s the only other person pretentious enough to still believe in print media, but Veronica turns down Betty’s offer to go on a date with the big man on campus, Chuck.

Wow, the writers didn’t even pick Reggie to be the douchey jock Veronica dates? Poor Reggie. He’s a major “Archie” character but he’s been pushed to the background. Okay, I’m adding “Make Reggie a real character” to the list of things this show needs to do, right behind “Give Jughead his burger” and “Give those kids real acting lessons.”

Veronica goes on her date with Chuck and they take a selfie together because as the old saying goes, “If a teenage girl goes on a date but never posts it on Instagram, did it really #happen?” Chuck and Veronica get along, bonding over the fact that they are one of the few people of color on the CW.

However, at school the next day, Veronica dismissively tells Betty and Kevin that Chuck was not the “stuff of Oscar Wilde” and doesn’t plan on seeing him again. But it’s good that he’s no Oscar Wilde, Veronica. If he was, you wouldn’t have dated him.

A group of passing girls tease Veronica for getting a “sticky maple” from Chuck. Turns out that Chuck posted their date selfie on his page and is claiming that he had did sex stuff with her. *Insert rant about kids today and their social media oversharing and et cetera here*

Veronica is furious and calls Chuck’s post “slut shaming.” “I am not a slut and I will not be shamed,” she declares. Betty wants to report Chuck to the principal’s office but Veronica prefers direct confrontation She and Betty barge into the boys’ locker room and demand Chuck take the photo down. Chuck laughs at them. He’s the star football player and his dad’s the coach and therefore, he can do whatever he wants with no consequence. Veronica and Betty are discouraged.

For the school paper’s first big story, Jughead interviews Dilton Doiley, who was leading his scout troop on a hike by the river on the day Jason disappeared/died. Dilton insists he already told the police everything but Jughead notices a shifty-eyed scout who looks like he wants to say something.

Cheryl thanks Archie for supporting her story and as a favor, convinces the Josie and the Pussycats to give him music lessons. Josie scoffs at Archie’s offer to write songs for them, saying he will never be able to understand their experiences as black women. She claims the origin of the Pussycats’ name comes from the fact that they have to “claw [their] way into rooms” Archie can walk into as a white dude.

Betty and Veronica find more girls who were wrongfully sticky maple’d, including Ethel AKA Barb from “Stranger Things”. Hi Barb! Let’s pretend you didn’t die in the Upside Down and instead you got sent to an alternate universe to have a minor role on a CW show, which we can all agree is sometimes a fate worse than death.

Ethel reveals that the football team keeps score of the girls they’ve banged, or at least pretended to bang. Cheryl overhears and dismisses their vendetta, saying that boys will be boys.  She also adds that Jason never told her about the playbook and therefore it can’t be real because twins tell each other everything.

Veronica, filled with righteous feminist anger, tells Cheryl off. “Call me or any of the beautiful, smart, intelligent women here a slut one more time,” she threatens.

I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of feminist think pieces on this scenes and to be fair, slut shaming is a societal problem that feels especially magnified in a small environment like high school and sometimes girls are even worse slut shamers than boys and it’s pretty impressive that a CW show is addressing these issues, but the writing is cheesier than a wheel of mozzarella so that makes it hard for me to muster a lot of praise for it.

Jughead confronts the shifty-eyed scout, who reveals that the gun shot came from Dilton teaching how to shoot guns, which he isn’t supposed to. Oh my God, this show really is that fake Archie trailer.

Thanks to Ethel’s tip, the gang, including Cheryl, find the mythical playbook that details the football team’s gross misogyny and sexual objectification. Betty is shocked to find her sister’s name marked as Jason’s conquest and becomes furious. “This is what they think of us as women. That we’re objects to abuse and use,” she says disgustedly. She decides they need to take revenge in a major way.

The plan is for Betty to slut it up and lure Chuck to Ethel’s place. Betty’s version of slutting it up is putting on red lipstick, which Mrs. Cooper disapproves of. “Let me be an easy, breezy, beautiful Covergirl, Mom!” snaps Betty.

Because he’s a horny teenage boy that does not bother to question why the best friend of the girl he wrong is throwing herself at him, Chuck thinks Betty is just lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets. He agrees to go to Ethel’s andis surprised to find Veronica there. She explains that she and Betty have decided that instead of fighting over boys, they should share them.

Betty shows up in a bad wig and Victoria’s Secret lingerie and announces that she is not Betty for the night.

Meanwhile, the rest of Riverdale is at some town event. Fred Andrew approaches Ms. Grundy and asks if Archie has any real musical talent. Despite what Archie thinks, Fred does want to be supportive of Archies’s new interest in music but worries about building him up for nothing. Ms. Grundy compliments Archie’s musical talent and that’s enough for Fred to believe his son could be the next Ed Sheerhan.

Mrs. Cooper approaches the Blossom family for a quote for the paper but Mrs. Blossom punches her in the face before Mrs. Cooper can finish her sentence.

Josie and the Pussycats quickly play the new song they wrote with Archie to distract the crowd. Although he is  grounded, Archie sneaks out to watch them play and invites Jughead along. Jughead approves and then leaves to shake down Dilton into talking to the school paper. Not to be outpettied, Mrs. Cooper snidely informs Hermione that Veronica has been branded the school slut.

Unbeknownst to her, Betty is giving Veronica a run for the bad girl title. She handcuffs Chuck to the hot tub and turning up the heat until he admits on camera that he made up having sex with Veronica. She also pours maple syrup on his head and forces his head underwater until Veronica makes her stop.

The next day at school, Betty hands out copies of the school paper, which includes her hard-hitting expose on the playbook. Veronica confronts Betty about losing control the other night, reminding Betty that she called herself “Polly” and Chuck “Jason.” Betty insists Veronica misheard her and refuses to discuss the issue any further. The girls get punished for the article but Hermione gets them a light sentence and forces the school to punish any players who participated in the playbook. Cheryl apologizes to Betty for Jason treating Polly badly and Ethel is happy that in this universe, people actually care when bad stuff happens to her.

Jughead’s ominous narration warns that although it was a victory for the girls, it has terrible consequences in the weeks to come.

But in the present, Dilton asks to leave the gunshot out of his story in exchange for revealing that he saw Ms. Grundy at the river.

The Real Archie’s Mysteries I Want Solved:

  • It’s been three episodes. When is Jughead going to get his burger?
  • Where is Reggie? He’s a major Archie character but he’s been largely ignored.
  • Is Ethel going to show up again? Please say yes.

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

TV Show: Riverdale

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  • Olaf_the_Lofty

    I’m afraid that scenes of teenage football players shirtless in the locker room now always make me think of the YouTube series “The Most Popular Girls In School”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y00LDb7sJzo

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