After the experimental episode, "Tales from the Darkside" Riverdale
continues to shake things up in season 2. This episode, entitled "House of the Devil," is nearly as strange as the semi-connected vignettes of the last installment. However, Riverdale
does change up the usual formula by switching up the roles of the two main couples. While Bughead (Betty and Jughead) worry about their parents, Varchie (Veronica and Archie) dive headfirst into the Black Hood investigation. It turns out that the two might've been better sticking to their lanes as the change-up ends up leading to two disastrous outcomes.
Betty Gets Bitten with Serpent Bug
In self-aware Riverdale fashion, the role reversal is woven into the episode as Bughead literally asks Archie and Veronica to take their place. Jughead and Betty discover that the house of the Riverdale Reaper murders is the exact same as the one Black Hood sent Betty to during their phone conversations. This convinces them (and everyone watching) that The Black Hood is somehow related to the house. Betty and Jughead ask Archie and Veronica to look into this new lead because they're busy dealing with a huge development, the release of F.P. from jail.
Thanks to Penny Peabody, F.P. is free and that makes Jughead's Serpent life even more complicated. Especially since F.P. declares that he wants out of the Serpent life entirely. While season 1 Jughead would've been overjoyed to hear this, season 2 Jughead is incredibly distraught. Jughead is in so deep with the Serpents that there's no way he's getting out. Jughead decides to stick with the Serpents as F.P. tries to go straight, even taking a job at Pop's (though that means he has to deal with Cheryl who is still crazy and is still weirdly fixated on Josie).
While unfortunate, this development makes sense for Jughead and F.P. It's a lot more confusing though when Betty decides she's going to prove her love to Jughead by becoming a Serpent girl herself. Betty and Jughead decide to plan a "retirement" party for F.P. at the Serpent bar and Betty learns that typically women are initiated into the Serpents with a strip tease. (Riverdale at least has the sense to call it sexist and dated.) Neverheless, this gets Betty's wheels turning and she becomes determined to become a Serpent and that just doesn't fit. "Dark Betty" is certainly a thing but the whole reason for the Black Hood phone call arc was Betty being scared and rejecting that side of herself. For Betty to embrace it, even for her relationship with Jughead, just seems forced and out of character.
Archie and Veronica Have Date Night in a Murder House
Betty is not alone in her relationship angst. Archie and Veronica are just as screwed up. However, their problems are much more interesting because they're borne of their characters. It boils down to the fact that in a moment of passion, Archie lets slip that he loves Veronica and she has no idea how to respond. Rather than deal with their feelings, the couple engage in the typical Riverdale coping mechanism, obsessing about murder.
The two take up Betty and Jughead's offer to ignore the L-word bomb and discover that the Riverdale Reaper murdered an (almost) entire family in their home. There were only four bodies found out of a family of five. One of the sons survived the massacre and went on to become Mr. Svenson, the creepy high school janitor who is probably the Black Hood ... according to me.
Archie and Veronica are thinking on similar lines and go to confront Svenson thinking that the trauma of having his entire family murdered eventually turned him into a serial killer. While Veronica and Archie do their best to do a Bughead impression and get confession, it doesn't work. Svenson certainly sounds like a serial killer but Archie becomes convinced that they have the wrong man. However, since Archie is usually wrong about everything, the theory still has some legs. And it's okay to cut Archie some slack since he's still dealing with unrequited "I love you."
A Romantic Massacre
All the relationship problems come to a head at F.P.'s retirement party. Specifically when Archie and Veronica sing the song "Mad World" (which Veronica apparently loves). Evidently, singing a song from a 2002 Jake Gyllenhaal movie is too much of an emotional connection for Veronica and she storms out. She tearfully tells Archie that she can't tell him that she loves him because something is broken inside of her and she can never "get there" with him.
This is heartbreaking and seemingly the end (at least for now) for their relationship. Yet it makes perfect sense that Veronica is emotionally stunted and screwed up because her parents are the definitions of emotionally stunted and screwed up. This was a natural inevitably for wholesome Archie and complicated Queen Bee Veronica. The same cannot be said of what happens with Bughead.
As Archie and Veronica are breaking up, Betty takes her cue and decides to do a singing striptease to "Mad World." It's absolutely bonkers. It is the saddest and most bizarre "sexy" scene put to TV. Practically no one, including Jughead, is happy to watch it. Mercifully, F.P. interrupts Betty and drops his own bomb. He's not retiring from the Serpents after all. He's coming back to join them.
Jughead, supremely confused, confronts his dad and F.P. tells Jug that he knows about Penny Peabody. F.P. is going back to the Serpents so Jughead can get out and he's not happy about it. Jughead realizes he's ruined his father's life and he is starting to "drag down" Betty too. In order to protect Betty, Jughead breaks up with her. This is exactly the same thing that Betty did to Jughead a few episodes ago and it felt just as temporary and unnecessary back then too.
While Jughead and Betty's second break-up is, more than likely, just a passing phase, Riverdale does hint as some consequence for the double heartbreak. As Archie and Betty arrive home from their break-ups, they both go up to their rooms. Archie takes his shirt off (of course) and stares at Betty from his bedroom window, in a way that suggests he's finally looking at her in a romantic way. However, this seems like an even worse idea than another lame Bughead break-up.
But what do you think? How did you feel about this romance heavy Riverdale episode? Was this the end of both Varchie and Bughead? Should it be the end of either? Do you think Archie is romantically interested in Betty now?
(Image courtesy of The CW)