Content Warning: The following review contains mentions of an adult engaging in a sexual relationship with a minor as portrayed in the show.
On “Chapter Two: A Touch of Evil,” Riverdale gives us a better grasp of the problematic “relationship” between Archie and Ms. Grundy as well as thickening the murder mystery on which it’s being built.
Jughead starts us off with a narration about Jason Blossom’s untimely demise. We see Archie having trouble sleeping, so he uses his customized iPhone with the Samsung text messaging system to talk to Betty. She refuses, so he decides to sneak out for a good ol’ nighttime shirtless jogging. He goes straight down to Ms. Grundy (who may be referred to by this writer as Ms. Statutory Rapist or some variation of the such) and talk about the elephant in the room: they *did* hear the gunshot that may have killed Jason.
However, it is not that easy. Ms. SR is adamant against coming forward, so she uses her maybe-cold manipulator rhetoric to dissuade him for the moment. Now, let’s just take a moment to see how exactly she says this:
“I could lose my job. You could get expelled. We could go to jail” – Ms. Reverse Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking.
It’s also noteworthy how she used “WE could go to jail” instead of “I could go to jail” which would be more appropriate given how she is the perpetrator here, but good to know that she knows what she is doing is illegal.
Betty decides to talk things through with Archie. He apologizes for not liking her back, but she is suddenly fine with it, so they will remain friends.
Thankfully, Jughead plays a bigger part in this episode, and despite his very Suicide Squad-esque line this episode – “Sardonic humor is just my way of relating to the world” – he did have a lot of good moments with Archie. Also because, you know, I’m 100% a sucker for positive depictions of friendship. Sadly, it didn’t start so nicely as Jug tries to talk to Archie, but it resuls in a very dry and non-reciprocal conversation.
Betty walks up to the secretary’s office with Kevin (who still needs character depth) because she had gotten a delivery. It turns out Veronica had bought flowers and cupcakes for Betty as an apology. Betty accepts it and tells Kevin it is the path of least resistance.
Riverdale High gets news that the scheduled Pep Rally will not be canceled even with the new information that Jason’s death is now being treated as a homicide.
Jughead tries to talk to Archie again, and we finally get some idea why they stopped being friends that summer, which was a part of the show’s description that fell especially flat among comic readers. It turns out Jug and Archie were supposed to go on a road trip during the 4th of July weekend, but Andrews canceled very last minute.
There’s a science class scene that bungled up to Kevin telling Moose – the guy he was gonna fool around with when they found the body – that maybe he should just stick with what he knows: girls. Yikes. Later on, Kevin also says that Moose should just stay in the closet despite a previous line about sexuality being a spectrum. We’re still waiting for Moose’s response to those remarks.
Betty’s mom, Alice Cooper, appears to be bribing the forensic doctor running Jason’s autopsy for information for her article: the deceased had ligature marks on both wrists and a hint of cryonecrotic preservation.
Veronica, Kevin, and Betty find Archie playing guitar on the quad. He sings for them, which causes Betty to start crying. Her feelings are too strong, and she can’t be around Archie for now.
After being third-degreed by the school’s principal, Archie goes to talk to Ms. Rapist at her office. The scene plays out with the context that she truly has genuine and reciprocated feelings for Archie no matter how wrong they are. She is once again convincing Archie not to come forward and even says “Archie, I’m putting myself in your hands.” I know I’m not an expert in statutory “relationships,” but doesn’t this line sound like a classic manipulator technique? To everyone’s happiness, Jughead spots the duo almost kissing through a window.
At the Cheerleading practice, Cheryl, the proud owner of an “HBIC” shirt, realizes that all the attention at the rally will be focused on her, so she needs to get Josie and The Pussycats to perform. After Betty makes a mean remark about the closet incident last episode, Veronica decides to drop some Truth Bombs ™ on Betty about how she needs to acknowledge that what is going on with Archie is no one’s fault. Betty, however, takes the low road and walks away with Cheryl just to spite Veronica.
Now at the Cooper’s house, Cheryl decides to get on board with the queerbaiting boat this show has apparently chosen to embrace and very gently and seductively do Betty’s makeup while not-so-subtly interrogating her about Polly Cooper, whom she thinks is Jason’s actual killer. This ends up with a very protective Betty telling Cheryl to GTFO, or she would kill her.
“A stab in the dark: I’m guessing she cares more about herself. She is the one telling you not to say anything, right? She is messing with you and she is messing with your mind.”
Sadly, this conversation ends with Archie threatening to do something to Jughead if he tells anyone about Ms. Grundy and the gunshot.
Betty takes the opportunity to apologize to Veronica for being unprecedentedly mean, and it’s nice. The latter gives the former the advice regarding Archie that sometimes a friend is better than a boyfriend.
At the student lounge, the mouthy kid Reggie decides to accuse Jughead of being the murderer. Jug defends himself and attacks Reggie’s spelling ability, which is, as you know, *so much worse than being accused of murder* that prompts the jock to attack Jughead physically. However, Archie steps in and defends his former friend’s honor while getting himself a black eye.
Now at Riverdale’s Pep Rally. Archie tells Ms. Grundy that he will tell the truth the following day after his dad gave him some well-deserved advice about doing the right thing. He apologizes to Jughead next, and That’s! What! I’m! Talking! About! my dudes.
Josie and The Pussycats perform while the cheerleaders do their routine, the football players celebrate, and the director of the episode has the time of their life exploring the fun in overusing lens flares – a clear JJ Abrams homage. The fun is interrupted by Cheryl who, seeing Archie using her brother’s shirt and being the only other ginger kid in sight, runs away crying. Veronica goes after Cheryl and finds her weeping in the locker room. This is the time when a bit of potentially intriguing (or not) info is dumped: according to Cheryl, Jason was supposed to come back.
Betty asks Veronica to go for a milkshake at Pop’s, and the two make a friendship vow. They are interrupted by Archie and Jughead arriving at the diner to which Betty asks them to join. We get about 10 seconds of just four teenagers hanging out before another bomb drops: the next day, Archie goes to the principal to confess but is interrupted by officers at the school. They sort of arrest Cheryl because the autopsy results came up, and Jason had been murdered a week after July 4th.