In season 4’s best episode since the premiere, Riverdale finally has its teens attend much-needed therapy sessions. But how much actually changes?
Calling back to season 3’s “The Man in Black,” Riverdale slows down the action a bit for another vignette-style episode that finds our teen heroes finally going to therapy and facing their demons.
Suits‘ Gina Torres shines as Riverdale High’s guidance counselor/licensed psychologist, Mrs. Burble, who has plenty of words of wisdom to share. But do the kids (and one parent) actually listen? Plus, who gets accepted to college and where… even though none of them ever do homework?!
Admittedly, “In Treatment” partially feels like the writers attempting to justify and explain some of their more outlandish and underdeveloped storylines; nonetheless, it’s season 4’s second-best episode to date. Here’s a look at what went down.
When Alice opens Betty’s admissions letter from a Yale (a rejection letter) without her permission and flips out after finding birth control pills hidden in her bedroom, Betty decides she’s had enough and FINALLY calls Alice out for being a terrible mother during a joint session with Alice and Mrs. Burble.
Alice repeatedly claims she was only acting in Betty’s best interest and trying to protect her, but Betty points out she’s lied about oh, so many things and abandoned her to join a cult — to which she donated all of Betty’s college tuition money.
Betty also questions why Alice gets on her case instead of helping people who actually need her like, you know, her other kid Polly, who’s in an institution. Alice then drops a bombshell that she focuses on Betty because she loves her “most” — awkward.
Guilt-ridden, Alice flees the therapy session. When Betty returns home, she finds an unopened college admissions letter waiting for her, and a check from Alice. Betty then tells Alice that she loves her “most,” too. It feels like a rather shallow resolution to their conflict, considering Betty has every right to literally never see or speak to her mother again.
But, perhaps, it’s just meant to lull Betty into a false sense of security ahead of next week’s episode, in which Alice apparently comes at her with at a knife, indicating their conflict is far from over.
Remember when Veronica said she was a “shoe-in” at Harvard? Well, as patently absurd as that notion is, it turns out she was right. However, after learning Hiram sent the dean of admissions a bottle of rum, Veronica questions whether she actually got in on her own merit after all.
Veronica furiously explains to Mrs. Burble how Hiram constantly interferes with all of her endeavors, and the counselor offers up a hot take: Veronica and Hiram are “obsessed with each other” because Hiram sees Veronica as an “extension of himself” and Veronica sees Hiram as her “ideal future self.”
Mrs. Burble then makes a radical suggestion: if Veronica wants to cut ties with Hiram… she needs to actually cut ties with Hiram. In that spirit, Veronica turns down her acceptance to Harvard in favor going to Yale and warns Hiram that she’s starting up her own rum business and will destroy him.
Mrs. Burble pulls no punches with Jug, pointing out that his “persecution complex” is driving him to neglect his studies and his father in order to focus on righting the wrong done to his grandfather, who was actually a pretty terrible person.
Mrs. Burble then suggests that he should, instead, try seeing Forsythe through FP’s eyes, and Jughead realizes he’s been a bit selfish, considering everything FP has done for him over the years to give him the opportunity to attend Stonewall Prep and advance his writing career. In Jug’s defense though, FP was far from a perfect father himself. In fact, in many ways, Jug made it to Stonewall in spite of FP. Remember when he was homeless because he didn’t want to leave with his alcoholic father?
Ultimately, Jughead decides to catch up on his college apps and write his Baxter Brother chapters. Plus, he hugs FP and tells his father that he loves him and appreciates everything he’s done for him. However, Jug doesn’t drop his investigation. Mrs. Burble told him to “do the work” if he was going to stay on the case, and he does. He discovers that DuPont and his grandfather are the only living members of the Quill & Skull. Everyone else died over the years under mysterious circumstances.
First, major kudos to Madelaine Petsch and KJ Apa who delivered heartbreaking, standout performances in their therapy sessions. Here’s what happened.
Principal Honey tells Cheryl she has to do a psych eval if she wants to remain captain of the Vixens. While Cheryl’s prickly defense mechanisms pop up here and there, she ultimately tells Mrs. Burble everything: she talks to her dead twin brother’s body, thinks he answers back and is being haunted by a doll possessed by the spirit of her other dead twin brother, who she supposedly absorbed in the womb.
To her credit, Mrs. Burble doesn’t even blink and offers Cheryl some much needed validation. She tells Cheryl that she’s not crazy because a) she’s allowed to miss Jason and she knows he’s not talking back, even if she wishes that he could, and b) she’s being gaslit into believing her other dead brother is haunting her. That last part is rather ironic considering Cheryl was the one who gaslit Toni into believing they were being haunted by her dead brother in the first place.
Anyway, Cheryl takes a test that confirms she didn’t absorb her brother, Julian. But questions remain: namely, who’s gaslighting her and why?
Additionally, Mrs. Burble tells Cheryl she’s recommending a coach take over supervision of the Vixens so that Cheryl can focus on herself. Cheryl is understandably devastated, but it goes without saying that Mrs. Burble absolutely made the right call. On the bright side, Cheryl has officially been accepted into Smith College.
Well, Mrs. Burble really tries to help Archie, but she can only do some much. Archie breaks down during his session, confessing that he’s angry and sad all the time and feels tremendous pressure to fix Riverdale and follow in Fred’s footsteps but fears he’s putting Mary and others in danger.
Mrs. Burble notes that Archie’s “compulsive behavior,” a.k.a. his vigilante activities, is a sign of a grief-induced addiction, and he needs to find a more constructive outlet for his impulses. She suggests he start a hotline, so he does, but he still can’t manage to put down the mask for long.
In other news…
- With Dodger and his family still at large, Archie moves into the community center to protect Mary.
- New VHS tapes appear on everyone’s doorsteps with very close-up footage of their houses.
- A new flash-forward reveals Donna and Brett come forward as eyewitnesses claiming that Archie, Betty and Veronica killed Jug. Surely, they have an agenda, so what is it? And what’s the truth?
Did you enjoy this week’s episode of Riverdale? Were you a fan of Mrs. Burble? Let us know in the comments below!