Photo: The CW

What’s up, Riverdale fans. I’m pinch-hitting for your awesome regular reviewer LaToya Ferguson this week—thanks for having me. Big fan of the show, excited to be here.

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This was also an excellent episode for me personally because the Betty-Jughead relationship has been one of my favorite parts of Riverdale since very early on, and “The Lost Weekend” broke down some important walls there. It was kind of beautiful to watch.

The jumping-off point is that it’s Jughead’s birthday, and naturally Betty wants to throw him a party because he hates his birthday. It’s a classic move—not just by girlfriends, but by lots of different people. They’re convinced the person they love will end up having a good time and be grateful that the well-meaning friend/family member/significant other went to all the trouble. Nine times out of 10, the person on the receiving end of the unwanted attention truly does not want the attention and everything goes to hell quickly.

With Betty and Jughead, it’s not just about her wanting to do something nice. That’s part of it, because Betty genuinely does want to make the people she cares about happy, but another big part of it is that she sees this as something she’s supposed to do, as part of wearing her perfect Betty mask, making sure her perfect ponytail is high and tight and flitting around like she doesn’t have a care in the world. And Jughead, bless his heart, indulges her for as long as he can stand it because he also cares about her. But when Cheryl and Chuck crash the party with 100 of their closest friends (and two kegs), stuff gets real between Betty and Jughead, and it’s spectacular. Their fight in the garage about how “not normal” Jughead is was beautifully done, because all Jughead sees is how screwed up his life is and how screwed up in the head he is (he’s not, but we’ll get to that) and what is a perfect girl like Betty doing with him?

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Except part of the reason I’ve been shipping Betty and Jughead since very early on is because she’s got her own mess of crap going on. It’s been right there since the pilot—the pills, the squeezing her palms until she bleeds. Betty is just as messed up as Jughead, though neither one of them is “messed up” at all. Jughead is awkward and feels like he doesn’t fit in, but that’s how a lot of teenagers feel. Same goes for Betty’s darkness inside. They’re actually more normal than anyone would care to admit and it’s wonderful that they found each other.

One thing I really liked that this episode did was Jughead’s dad telling him not to ruin things with Betty. I was convinced Jughead was going to slink off into the night and we were going to have to wait weeks for him to reconcile with Betty. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see a different side to F.P. and that Jughead actually listened to him. The subsequent make-up conversation in Pop’s was just as lovely as the fight in the garage, with the extra added detail that Jughead took off his hat. He took off his hat for her! And Betty was still proudly displaying her Jughead sweater.

These two are so great that it makes me feel warm all over. It cannot be overstated what a great job Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart are doing. They have outstanding chemistry together, and they’re really killing the material they’re given. Big thumbs up.

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In other news, well… we didn’t get much on the Jason Blossom front, which is fine. The big reveal is that Blossom Maple Farm has been making regular payments to Lodge Industries for 75 years. That’s a lot of maple syrup. So, we’re slowly piecing together the Clifford Blossom-Hiram Lodge-Southside Serpents of it all, but you know this mystery isn’t going to be solved in episode 10 of 13, and it was more fun to focus on the relationships anyway.

Nice to see Kevin and Joaquin going strong. Joaquin may be a Serpent plant, but you can tell he genuinely likes Kevin, so it’ll be fun to watch that tragedy play out over the final three episodes. Joaquin is just the right combination of “someone we’ve grown to like” and “not a series regular” that he could be very dispensable if the show needs to up the body count at the end of the season, but here’s hoping that’s not the way it goes, and maybe Kevin can have a permanent love interest.

The Archie-Valerie thing is hopefully over. Look, the Pussycats are great. In fact, we haven’t seen enough of them in recent episodes. But Archie and Valerie never felt earned to me. He just kind of jumped to her after Grundy hit the bricks with no real foundation laid. Archie getting involved with Veronica at least feels more organic, though I’m not super jazzed about that one either. I get why it happened—he’s a little drunk, she’s a little drunk, they’re both sad about their parents—but I don’t want this to become “a thing.” Don’t ruin your track record of zigging when most teen dramas zag, Riverdale, by having Betty suddenly be all jealous of Archie and Veronica, who are suddenly now a couple—1) Betty and Veronica are too good for that, and 2) Veronica can also do better than doofy Archie.

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If Archie must have a love interest—and honestly, why does he have to have one?—can it not be a teen drama cliché situation?

And finally, on the relationship front, it was nice to see Veronica choose her mom and also continue to fight against her father. I’m concerned that this will come back to bite her—Hermione may be more involved in everything. But if Smithers says Hermione is unequivocally good, I am choosing to go with that because Smithers knows what’s up.

Stray observations

  • Why were some dudes wearing pig and horse heads at the party? That is super creepy. Stop that.
  • The payoff of F.P. marching Chuck out of the party and then also being a father to Jughead for a brief moment was great, but it’s still weird that Betty invited him to the party at all. Invite him to dinner, fine. But to a teenage get-together? And then he showed up. It was a raging kegger and he just… decides to stay? Not break it up, not leave and go home. He just hangs around? Really weird. Also, this was a great joke and I wish I’d thought of it first: “These kids have NO idea what happened at the last high school party Skeet Ulrich was at. #Riverdale” —Kaitlin Thomas.
  • But speaking of F.P., I am now dying to find out his history with Alice Cooper. Who knew she was from the wrong side of the tracks? What if the previously mentioned abortion was not Hal’s but F.P.’s baby? Did F.P. advise his son not to let Betty get away because he let Alice get away and regrets it still? I commented way back when I watched the pilot that the teen drama stuff was fine, but I was totally all in with the parents, and I stand by that (even if the teen drama turned out to be much better than I was expecting). The parents on this show are excellent.
  • At the end of Betty and Jughead’s garage fight, Jughead gives the most excellent wince after he knew he went too far with the Archie comment. It reminded me so strongly of a Skeet Ulrich facial expression that I rewound the DVR to watch it several more times. The casting choice of Sprouse and Ulrich as father and son is just stellar.
  • “Oh, it’s Kevin.” Sprouse’s delivery on that line when he had to hug Kevin was priceless.
  • Who knew Lili Reinhart can sing like that? I did not know, but it was beautiful. Also, it was the perfect combination of sweet, sexy, and creepy, so kudos to her for nailing that really awkward moment.
  • “You catatonic bimbos didn’t even vote. So you stuttering sap-heads are too dim to exercise your own rights and you’ve got the combined vocabulary of a baked potato. Consider this your last practice as River Vixens and your last week as my social handmaidens. You’re fired, on all fronts. That’s all. Shoo, bitches.” Nobody does a tell-off like Cheryl Blossom. In my head, there’s some kind of Charmed-like show forming that features Cheryl, Madison Sinclair and Cordelia Chase as awesomely evil queen bees.
  • Speaking of Cheryl, that “Secrets & Sins” game felt a little weird from a writing standpoint. I’m all for revealing party games on teen shows, dating back to a memorable slumber party on Beverly Hills, 90210 when I was a kid. But Cheryl’s presentation and all the subsequent blurting out of grievances was all very weird.
  • That being said, Veronica calling out the twin-cest was epic. The show has been tip-toeing around it for a while, sometimes playing it up more heavily than other times. Will the show really go all Flowers In The Attic on us? Doubt it. But at least someone finally just said it out right.
  • “I drunk-dialed my dad, Ronnie.” First of all, ha. Oh, Archie. You dude-bro doofus. Secondly, I’ve been waiting for Molly Ringwald to show up all season, and now she’s here and everything is perfect. Did I mention how much I am HERE for the parents on this show?
  • You bring your friend decaf the morning after a raging party? Monster. Unless that’s what Betty always drinks and in that case, she’s the monster.

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