'Riverdale' Season 2 premiere recap: Bloodbath blues

Photos: The CW

Warning: This recap of the “Chapter 14: A Kiss Before Dying” episode of Riverdale contains spoilers.

Some television shows you watch for the storytelling or the jokes or the labyrinthine mythology concerning immortal monsters locked in perpetual love triangles. But Riverdale is the show I most want to LIVE IN, “San Junipero” style. I want to hang out in Pop’s Diner and sit on the couch in that high school break room. I want to walk the snowy sidewalks and attend drive-in movies and town-wide talent shows. I want to talk conspiracies with Jughead and talk s*** with Cheryl and go jogging with Archie and play football with Archie and play guitar with Archie and Archie but also Archie, plus Archie. Yes, bad things happen in Riverdale, but for an hour a week I can’t help but wish those bad things were happening to ME. It is the coziest, scariest, most beautiful place on television. Meet me there!

Friends, let’s talk about Riverdale‘s second-season premiere, “Chapter 14: A Kiss Before Dying,” which was very good!

We began right where the Season 1 finale left off: Luke Perry had been SHOT, and now his son was careening through the streets of Riverdale playing bumper cars with everyone in his path. The human body contains about five liters of blood and Luke Perry had already lost seven of them!

Obviously Archie was in a panic trying to save his father’s life, but the amount of blood he was leaving in the hospital’s driveway and hallway, to say nothing of the ankle-deep puddle he’d left in Pop’s Diner … well, it was downright rude. Riverdale was now a town-shaped bloodstain. Anyway, despite not having a driver’s license Archie got Luke Perry to the hospital, and now it was the surgeons’ time to shine.

Between not getting to eat breakfast, his blood-fountain of a father, and now a terribly stained letterman’s jacket, Archie was NOT having a great morning.

Then suddenly the gang were all in caps and gowns, and I began to panic I somehow missed the previous four seasons of Riverdale and we were now entering the dreaded college years all of a sudden? No high school show ever recovers from graduation, so this was a grim turn of events! It was much too soon for this show to be jumping the shark already!

Except, thank G, it was only a dream sequence. Luke Perry was borderline dying, so for much of the episode he kept envisioning important moments from Archie’s future that he’d be missing out on. But let’s be honest, if he dies before the gang graduates high school he’ll be lucky to not witness their college adventures. Just imagine the bad new characters and love interests. Someone will probably date a professor. No, thank you.

At this point word began to spread among the other teens that Archie’s dad had been shot. Betty’s mom, Shelly from Twin Peakswas just gearing up for another day of snooping in her daughter’s life when Betty got the call. But honestly, I was so distracted by Shelly’s hairdo that I was hoping the episode would devote at least one or two scenes explaining what was going on there. What kind of night had she had? Was she doing OK? This was one mystery left frustratingly unresolved.

I loved when his friends arrived at the hospital and Archie, despite being drenched in blood and verging on a nervous breakdown, still looked like he was in a Tyler Shields photo shoot. Not a complaint! Distress looks good on him.

I realize you don’t know me very well yet, but probably my favorite recurring thing on Riverdale is Betty’s friendship with Veronica. I never truly believed they’d be rivals; they’re both so great and wonderful and charming. So, yes, I enjoyed when Veronica rested her head on Betty’s shoulder in the waiting room. So sue me. I have no assets and plenty of time for paperwork. Anyway, their friendship is the best. There is another recurring thing that I really enjoy on Riverdale, but I can’t quite remember what it could be…

Hmm. It’s escaping me at the moment. There’s definitely at least one other thing I love about Riverdale among all the other things I love about it. I’m sure I’ll remember.

So, yeah, anyway, while Archie awaited word on whether his father, Luke Perry, would survive or not, he did what any distraught, traumatized person would do: He took a shower. Then his girlfriend was like, “I would really like to bathe but I also care very much for water conservation,” so they agreed to just take a shower together. They then shirtless hugged and kissed a little on the mouth. So Archie’s day wasn’t ALL terrible, is what I’m saying.

Back at the hospital, Betty and Jughead were surprised to run into Cheryl Blossom (true queen of Riverdale), who had swung by to check on her mother, who had become burnt beyond recognition in the house fire Cheryl had set. Obviously Mrs. Blossom could’ve just run out of there, but according to Cheryl she ran back in and I guess rolled around in the flames for about 20 minutes and now she looked like a charred skeleton with eyelashes. But she was hangin’ in there! So Cheryl wasn’t an orphan just yet.

Oh, right, I remembered the OTHER thing I love about Riverdale, as evidenced by this GIF I made: extremely good sweater care. Veronica really knows how to handle a cardigan!

Despite the hot shower and steamy sexcapade, Archie was still feeling bad and terrible about his possibly dying father, so he lashed out at Veronica a little bit. He just wanted to be alone to, like, cry, and maybe write a song, who knows. At first Veronica became upset and was ready to storm out of there and avoid human emotion for the rest of her life, just like she used to. But then she changed her mind and forced Archie to hug her.

So good. I know they are a recent couple on this show, but what a very deep and emotional moment. In my opinion they are trauma bonding, so they will probably be together for a long time. (Just kidding, this is a teen soap. They will break up over a misunderstanding at a school dance in a few days.)

The mystery of who exactly had shot Luke Perry and why was still unsolved. Archie attempted to pick the masked man from a masked lineup but couldn’t! Back at the diner, Pops admitted to Jughead that the killer hadn’t even bothered stealing money from the register, so the kids decided the shooting had most likely been a hit job. But who wanted to murder Luke Perry? And why had his wallet been stolen? For his part, Jughead took advantage of his biker-gang connections and started asking all his newfound thug friends if they knew of anything, and despite them beating a possible candidate within an inch of his life, they came up empty as well! Still, it was a nice gesture on their part.

Jughead’s slide into possible member of the Southside Serpents continued apace, and the fact that he’d started riding his father’s motorcycle and planned to crash in his father’s mobile home gave Betty pause. Yes, she was still very into Jughead, but was he becoming too much of a bad boy? What happened to the introspective loner who used to only express himself through overwrought voice-overs? Who was this tough guy?

For her part, Veronica suspected that her mother had perhaps ordered a hit on Luke Perry so as to clean house before her estranged husband arrived back in town. It was a harsh thing to accuse one’s mother of, and Hermione was NOT happy about it. But I loved that they had this conversation while praying in church, because even the statue of the Virgin Mary looked scandalized.

Personally I almost never accuse my mother of murder at church in front of Mary’s watchful eye. I at least wait until we’re in the parking lot, or in the Wendy’s drive-thru.

In another touching scene, the other familiar faces from Riverdale High showed up at the hospital to support Archie. Kevin, New Reggie, even Josie and her Pussycats arrived to lend their “nine lives” to Luke Perry, which was a very confusing offer. Are they possibly supernatural like Catwoman in Batman Returns? Has the impending Sabrina tie-in already begun? I have questions.

Then Jughead ate a burger. That’s a thing people always want to have happen, right? Like because it’s a famous Archie comics trope? OK, weirdos. You can have your favorite trope and I’ll have mine.

Riverdale is so good still.

Oh, God, I truly loved this scene between Cheryl and her very badly burnt mother. To be quite honest, the Blossom family is dysfunctional, which, hear me out: The way I know they are dysfunctional is because they sometimes speak to each other disrespectfully. Also, there was the time Mr. Blossom shot his son in the head for no reason and then hanged himself and then Cheryl burned the house down. True, many families have experienced worse, but let’s just agree that the Blossom family could use counseling. Well, it’ll have to wait, because Cheryl seems pretty dead-set on terrorizing her enabler mother from here on out. Blocking her oxygen tube was an especially cute move. And honestly? Go for it, girl! Team Cheryl forever.

Despite how heroic Archie appeared to literally everybody, he was grappling with a sense of failure over how he’d reacted when there was a gun pointed at his head. While he’d wished he’d, like, tackled the assailant or at least stuck a finger into his father’s bullet wound, instead he froze and did nothing. For that he was overcome with regret and self-loathing. Which, ummm. Relax? You’re good, guy. Nobody is mad at you for being scared of dying. Take another shower.

Probably my third favorite thing on the show is whenever Cheryl has a moment of basic human decency. In this case, Archie walked in on her kissing Luke Perry’s forehead (which left a hilariously large lipstick mark on his comatose face). She was grateful that Archie had saved her life by dragging her out of a frozen lake the day before and merely wanted to pay it forward. What she didn’t know was, Luke Perry was in the middle of a dream sequence thinking about Archie’s WEDDING. There were bagpipes and fog machines and Jason Blossom and everything. But just before the gunman could run in and shoot up the wedding, Luke Perry jumped in front of his son to save him. And this was what caused him to wake from his coma: He had decided to not die so that he could hang out and save Archie’s life more often! That’s just a good dad move right there. Welcome back, Luke Perry! You are merely one bottle of moisturizer away from looking A-OK again.

But not all dads are great, as evidenced by the arrival of Veronica’s crime-boss father who operated his underworld businesses under the street name Kelly Ripa’s Husband. He was back in Riverdale and he expected his wife and daughter to help him return to his shady ways. But Veronica was different now. She dates goodhearted hunks and hangs out with blond angel babes and she was NOT about to abide his bad vibes. Sorry, doddy.

“Chapter 14” ended with a surprisingly gruesome scene of brutal murder! The local statutory rapist from Season 1 who’d previously used Archie as a human jungle gym was still living under the stolen name “Miss Grundy” (a truly disgusting name) and had merely moved to the next town over, where she was still teaching music to teenage hunks in exchange for hot makeout seshes. Well, at least that used to be the case, because at this point a certain masked killer arrived and slit her throat with a cello bow! I am fairly sure this exact thing hasn’t yet happened on To Catch a Predator, but it should!

Oh, gosh, I’m so glad Riverdale is back. “Chapter 14: A Kiss Before Dying” needed to follow up the events of last season’s finale, but it did so in an emotional, heartwarming way without being sentimental. Part of the beauty and coziness of this show lies in how the characters seem to really love each other. Those simple moments of camaraderie in the waiting room, even Cheryl’s genuine concern for Archie’s dad … They all add up to a world where bad things may happen to good people, yet we still want to be there with them. This show remains a true pleasure, and I have a feeling it’ll just keep getting better. Let’s do this, Season 2.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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