Riverdale Review: Riverdale is back with its forbidden romances, murderous villains, and of course, its tickling ring. Let’s break down this week’s episode by story, shall we?
With each new diary session on Riverdale Season 4 Episode 18, the pre-series crush spiralled deeper and deeper down the hole. Everything that built up before Riverdale has come to this moment.
Riverdale Review: Lynchian (Season 4 Episode 18)
In the previous episode of Riverdale, while the town was in the midst of getting their Hedwig on, Jughead was combing through the mysterious videotapes that have been left on doorsteps throughout the town.
One of those tapes included someone wearing a Jughead mask being bludgeoned with a rock by someone who was wearing a Betty mask. Meanwhile, Betty and Archie were getting closer and even kissed.
But will that kiss turn into something more? Will Jughead finally find who’s been sending the tapes? Find out that, and more, in this week’s episode, “Chapter Seventy-Five: Lynchian.”
“‘Lynchian.’ Adjective to describe something inspired by the noted American filmmaker, David Lynch. And/or to describe something that is both incredibly macabre and incredibly mundane.” Jughead shows Charles, Betty, and Alice the newest tape that the mysterious voyeur has sent.
So, the tape was dropped off at the station in a bin with all of the other Voyeur tapes? Yes, but the other Voyeur tapes were just static shots of people’s houses at a distance. It’s a recreation of whatever someone thinks happened to Jughead in the woods.
Riverdale Season 4 Episode 18
Betty says she’s not getting pulled into some creepy new mystery, but Jughead can feel free to get sucked into this one. Charles adds on that he can always use an extra set of eyes and ears.
Throughout much of the chapter, both Betty and Archie stood at a crossroads about what to do about their feelings. They had kissed, had secret meet-ups, and held hands while acknowledging that they felt strong feelings for each other, but they didn’t want to hurt Veronica and Jughead.
The overlining point was that they loved Jughead/Veronica and didn’t want to lose either. What Riverdale left ambiguous, however, was if Archie and Betty were in love with each other or not.
The decision was one of stopping themselves from doing something that would complicate things further.
Riverdale tried to justify the decision of Betty ending things abruptly by including the scene of Cheryl, and the line of Betty talking about feeling comfortable with Archie. These pieces didn’t fully work long-term.
There are many things going down in “Lynchian,” but the main event is clearly the conflicted feelings between Archie and Betty, who are dealing with the fallout of their musically themed kiss, and trying to figure out what it all means.
It’s refreshing to watch Riverdale slow down long enough to sit with the characters and their feelings. Watching Archie visit Fred’s grave, while Betty searches through old journals as they work through what they’re hearts are telling them, feels more true to teen drama than Riverdale has ever really been before.
Where the characters end up, however, is more or less where they started, proving this potential pairing may be more of a plot device than a new relationship. What begins as a childhood best friends to lovers trope, quickly swerves into a vessel for breaking the core four characters into pieces.
Generally, a forbidden kiss would be an excellent strategy to force characters forward, especially ones who have been stuck in the same place for too long. Just the kiss itself coming to light is enough to spark dire flames in Riverdale’s core group of friends.
Unfortunately, the way “Lynchian” chooses to get there, feels like a half-finished story. In its choice to use Betty and Archie as a means to propel its characters forward, the episode ends up moving them nowhere at all.
Betty first insists a part of her will always love Archie, and that feels organic to the show’s narrative.
Betty and Archie have known each other from childhood, and have loved each other (in one way or another) every day since. A push-pull between those feelings reigning supreme over the bond she’s built with Jughead — mixed with a desperate fear of losing him — would be true to the dynamics that have formed over the past four seasons.
Cheryl being used as a mouthpiece for Betty’s feelings is a different story. Not only is it a straight contradiction to her position on the matter a few episodes prior, but canonically, Betty and Cheryl were not friends as children. In fact, they were enemies, as proven by Betty’s diaries.
Luckily, the episode ends with a sweet Betty and Jughead moment; her steadfast agreeance to jump back into status quo sleuth mode, selling her decision as earnest.
Which is all good and fine, but the truth still has to come out sometime, and what’s written in the diary Alice saves from the fire is more than slightly questionable.
On the other side of town, Riverdale is returning to its roots, with a villain actually grounded in a reality that feels hauntingly disturbing.
Jughead is at his best here, and it’s well past time he bonded with Charles. Betty’s gotten plenty of sleuthing screen time with their brother as of late, and sharing is caring, after all.