House of the Devil – Recap
Last night’s Riverdale episode, “House of the Devil” confirmed something I didn’t want to believe. This season has been a dud. What started as a strong, dark tale, paying homage to old horror titles of yesteryear has fallen victim to poor story arcs and multiple plot holes.
We were to be entrenched in the mystery of the Black Hood, a murderous vigilante, while also exploring the town’s other nefarious activities. Hiram Lodge’s thirst for a turf war. Alice Cooper’s disgust for the Southside. Cheryl Blossom’s dueling with her mother. But somewhere between the end of the Red Circle and Wednesday’s episode, we took a wrong turn.
Again this episode focused on our two couples: Bughead and Varchie. We get a random glimpse of Josie and Cheryl – for what reason I have no idea. At this point their attempts of including the black girl has stripped her of any agency, purpose or interest. Moving on.
Jughead and Betty stumble upon the urban legend of the Conway murders – a devoted husband and father shot his family inside their home with a shotgun. Thinking it’s related to the Hood’s killings, they set to investigate. Their plans are interrupted with the news FP is being released from prison.
Plot hole number one: how is FP free after a few weeks behind bars? There had been no trial or hearing since Cheryl’s testimony last season. But I digress. Either way they want to prep for his return home as a law-abiding, non-practicing Serpent. So they entrust Archie and Veronica to do some research.
Betty and Archie agree – but only because they’ve fallen into a rough patch romantically. Archie said the “L” word expecting reciprocity. FAIL. With this hovering over them, they dive into these murders and discover all the family didn’t perish. One son survived. Could he be the Black Hood?
Speaking of his Hoodness, we haven’t seen or heard from him since Betty threatened him like Rambo. Not a single death or attack on one Riverdale soul. Yeah he’s sending mysterious mailers to the sinners in town, but nothing concrete. You can’t have a slasher series without multiple people being slashed. Plot hole number two.
After Varchie’s studying they find the living Conway – – it’s the nervous janitor at Riverdale High. Long camera shots in past episodes let us know he was someone of importance. Yet he yields no indication of being the Black Hood. Misdirection like a mother shut your mouth.
Back in town, Betty and Jughead throw FP a retirement party as he must agree to leave the Serpents alone as condition of his release. This is where things get weird. Betty invites her mother Alice, as she a First Girlfriend of a Serpent wants to support her man. Alice reluctant shows up clad in her old Southside Black Canary attire. We know Alice’s past, even hinting at her once upon a time involvement with FP. But we never got an arc detailing this internal conflict to deserve her quick 180 degree change.
Then Archie and Betty arrive as the musical entertainment. I guess because of their current relationship status – #ItsComplicated – they stray into a random arrangement of Tears for Fears “Mad World” in which Veronica somberly storms off the stage. Archie chases after her to dormant booing.
I believe somewhere between FP coming home and her conversation with Ms. Topaz, Dark Betty took over Betty Copper. Like the Phoenix losing all inhibitions within Jean Grey, Dark Betty sashayed on stage ready for her Serpent close-up. In front of total strangers, her mother, her boyfriend, and his father, Betty did s strip tease and finished the song. Awkward.
Things snap back to normalcy as FP announces his non-retirement from the Serpents. When questioned by Juggie, FP reveals he took upon the debt Jughead insured from Penny. After Jughead betrayed his trust, FP still took the fall to save his son. He’s the single greatest parent in all of Riverdale.
In a matter of seconds, two relationships come to an end. Veronica realizes her inability to save “I love you” back to Archie is something she has to figure out on her own. And Jughead sees Betty’s yearning to know his life on the Southside will only get her hurt. Both couples go their separate ways.
This season of Riverdale has been a mixed bag. Unlike season one, the slasher narrative isn’t following as tight of an arc. Its attempt to focus on multiple plot devices is wearing thin, exposing a lack of neat storytelling.
I can only compare it to another series that suffered a sophomore slump. Fox gained overwhelming success with the initial season of Empire. With ratings through the roof, they rushed a second season. In doing so, the show’s narrative took a hit. Late in its fourth season, the show has finally stoked that initial magic as ratings have continued to trend down.
Riverdale is still young with the rest of season two in 2018. Hopefully it can avoid a similar fate. In the meantime, catch up on everything you missed in Riverdale by checking out my previous recaps–all there on FanBros.com!