I thought I’d seen it all from “Riverdale,” and still they manage to surprise me. Foolishly I believed that we were past the insanity of mothman and an organ harvesting cult, and that, miraculously, the writers would start writing coherent plots. Of course, I was wrong. This is “Riverdale,” after all. And, believe it or not, season six seems to be the weirdest yet.
“Riverdale’s” fast pace is legendary, but this season opener takes the cake. We start on a demolished house, the closing shot of season five—and also the end of the “Rivervale” miniseries nightmare that we endured last fall. A bomb has gone off, destroying Archie’s (KJ Apa) entire house. The three occupants—Archie, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are all alive, suspiciously undamaged from this threat.
They have superpowers now! That’s how they survived! There’s really no way to easily transition into that one. This show refuses to make sense, but, at this point, it really doesn’t have to. Archie is now invulnerable and incredibly strong. Obviously, that’s what Archie really needed: more strength. Aggressively stuffed into the “wholesome boy next door” archetype over and over, Archie remains the most basic character ever created, an embarrassingly white bread man with the personality of a cardboard box and a never ending slew of “good” qualities. Meanwhile, Betty, his now girlfriend, has the power to sense threats. Whenever someone is about to turn violent, Betty can see them glow red, giving her the opportunity to stop them from hurting others. Yep, it’s knock-off Hulk and the girl who can fix him.
Meanwhile, Jughead goes deaf. As Mr. and Mrs. Perfect are getting literal superhuman abilities, Jughead loses his sense of hearing. Honestly, I don’t know what to say. I have no idea where they’re going to take this, but I have to assume it’s going to be something ableist. Likely, they’re going to try to tackle something important—like how deaf people are neglected in a hearing society that doesn’t sign—but will instead do the “Glee” type of representation, where really, everyone just wishes they hadn’t even tried. Luckily he has his girlfriend, Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) to help him through this. She has no plot lines outside of Jughead, so she’ll have plenty of time to encourage him as he watches his best friends benefit from the bomb that destroyed his sense of hearing.
How did this bomb get inside Archie’s house anyway? Probably Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), Veronica’s (Camila Mendes) father and go-to villain of this show. Whenever anything bad happens in Riverdale, Hiram is the number one suspect—and usually the one who actually committed the crime. He’s been working with the Ghoulies, the evil gang of Riverdale, not to be confused with the Serpents, the good gang that almost every single main character is part of. But, he might not be doing anything else evil since Veronica killed him. Or, more specifically, she hired a hitman. Against her own father. Personally, I think some therapy would do Veronica—and honestly whoever’s in charge of her plotlines—some good. These daddy issues are really out of hand.
But not everyone believes that Hiram was behind the murder attempt. This is “Riverdale,” nothing can be too easy. Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) believes she is the cause of this, thanks to a curse she put on Archie, Betty and Jughead last season. I guess the writers figured that if they could get away with superpowers, why not introduce the occult? In an actual surprising twist that I enjoyed, Cheryl’s grandmother Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) backstabbed her granddaughter and allowed Cheryl’s body to be possessed by a dead, witchy ancestor named Abigail. This Abigail plotline is not promising at all, but always nice to see the elderly woman go rogue.
Perhaps “Rivervale” was a warning. The five episode miniseries was a lead-up to the show’s 100th episode, and took place in Riverdale’s counterpart, Rivervale. This new town was exactly like the original, except tragically cursed. A new character died every episode from some new horror, from La Llorona to the Devil himself. Maybe instead of being a chance for the writers to get all the insanity out of their system, it was foreshadowing the magical elements that were soon to come. However, this isn’t the first time “Riverdale” has blurred fantasy and reality. Back in early seasons, the Gargoyle King was terrorizing the town, only to be ended in a Scooby-Doo style reveal. Mothman was prominent for last season, until that too turned out to be a side effect of legends passed down too long. I don’t want to get too excited about the possibility of real magic on this show, but it looks like it might actually happen this time.
I should just give up on this show, but I’ve invested too much time to stop now. Besides, no one has even sung yet this season! I can’t miss that. Are there any musicals about witches or superheroes? Unfortunately, I’ll be tuned in to the CW every week, eager for whatever garbage the “Riverdale” crew serves me up.