Riverdale season 5, episode 2 review: Sense of an ending

Riverdale -- “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders” -- Image Number: RVD502fg_0044r -- Pictured: KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders” -- Image Number: RVD502fg_0044r -- Pictured: KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 5 laid the groundwork for the end of a significant era for the show, but could the character-focused offering justify some of the show’s jarring creative decisions?

Riverdale has finally made triumphant return to TV screens and it has done so in the outrageously bizarre way that only Riverdale could. Kicking off its fifth season in fittingly memorable style, the premiere episode took some time to allow its teens to actually be teenagers for once, but their long-awaited prom was interrupted by the villainous Auteur.

Even without the unwelcome interruption from the videotape stalker, it wasn’t all happiness for the students of Riverdale High. This was especially true with Archie Andrews who struggled with his direction in life to such an extent that he even willingly told his girlfriend, Veronica Lodge, about his affair-that-wasn’t with Betty just so they would break up.

His decisions didn’t necessarily make sense, but neither does being a teenager and it’s Archie who pretty much carries the sophomore outing of the season as he continues to struggle finding a place for himself in Riverdale. However, “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders” is full of shock twists as it brings the season’s overarching narrative to a surprisingly neat close.

What happened in Riverdale season 5, episode 2?

Like the previous episode, “The Preppy Murders” is a hybrid of realistic teen troubles and off-the-wall lunacy. On one hand, the struggles continue to mount for Archie as a videotape from the Auteur re-enacting the day the Black Hood shot his father sends him into a downward spiral that not even his mother can get him back from. On the other, you have the continuation of the Auteur mystery itself as Betty and Jughead grow that much closer to identifying the person responsible.

Of course, Riverdale is all about piling on stakes (even if some of the outcomes feel completely void of them), so Archie was put under further pressure when he discovered that the person responsible for killing his beloved father Fred needs his help while Betty and Jughead discover that their half-brother is a lot more sinister than any of them imagined.

From the heart

In spite of the fact that “The Preppy Murders” was actually a pretty huge episode that essentially brought a close to the overarching story, it only truly thrived when it focused on Archie. Some of that was down to the flat conclusion to the Auteur story but most of it was simply down to how magnificent the drama, the conflict and the performance of the Archie one was.

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As Archie struggled in life, feeling purposeless in the days leading up to graduation, the videotape from the Auteur sent him over the edge. The internal conflict that he felt as he struggled over his decision to write a letter in defense of the person responsible for his father’s death was so authentic that it was a stark reminder that, in spite of its wacky reputation, Riverdale is at its best when the stories are stripped back and involve real human drama.

You felt for Archie and you felt with Archie and KJ Apa made it easy because that was an absolute masterclass of a performance. And he, Molly Ringwald and Ryan Robbins all did an admirable job in allowing Riverdale to deliver one more moving tribute to the late, great Luke Perry.

End of an Auteur

If you’re familiar with legendary British soap opera EastEnders, you’ll know what a “doof doof” moment is. If you’re not, it’s essentially a jaw-dropping cliffhanger in the closing moments of an episode that the iconic “doof doof” beats of the theme tune bellow over ahead of the end credits. Well, to use that analogy on this episode of Riverdale, it was certainly full of ideal “doof doof” moments. In theory, that’s a good thing. However, the story didn’t always feel like it built up to said “doof doof” moments in the right way.

Seeing Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones solve yet another crime in that unusual town of Riverdale was exactly how the Auteur mystery should have ended, but this writer couldn’t help but feel like some of the execution felt, well, off.

The reveals that Charles was the one killing all of the Stonewall Prep students and that Jellybean was the Auteur were fine, but it never really felt like the characters had any time to process the events. Oh yeah, you read that right, Bret’s dead too, but we didn’t have any time to process that either because we were instantly thrown into the plot.

This has been a recurring problem with Riverdale over the last couple of seasons as these huge game-changing things just happen and the characters are so nonchalant about them as they quickly move on, leaving very little time for aftermath.

Charles being a serial killer? Jellybean being the Auteur? Charles and Chic being a thing that apparently led to nothing? Considering these were narratives that were playing out over the course of the season, it all just came together in a very going-through-the-motions fashion.

Nonetheless, it was an acceptable conclusion to the Auteur mystery and leaves this writer intrigued to see what stories remain for the show’s graduation episode next week.

Riverdale Ramblings

  • Veronica and Hermosa working together grew on me real fast. An alliance that I didn’t know I needed!
  • The look on Hiram Lodge’s face when he essentially lost everything because his family was being kind to him was meme-worthy. Veronica’s right though, Riverdale does need a break from Hiram Lodge.
  • Cheryl Blossom really said “Imma return from my weekend break and make a fashion statement at the same time.” And. She. Did.
  • Jughead and Betty’s embrace after his good news was another nice and authentic moment that Riverdale could do with a little more of.
  • We really needed to see Alice and FP’s reaction to the fact that their son is a serial killer. For a show that spent so much time focused on Charles when he wasn’t on the show, you’d think it would be a little more concerned with him when he finally was.
  • Was Charles arrested or was the fact that he wasn’t the Auteur enough for Betty to back off?
  • I feel like being that hybrid of realistic teen troubles and off-the-wall lunacy wouldn’t work in any show other than Riverdale. I’m not even sure it really does work here, but no other show could go from Archie’s well-storylined emotional conflict to Penelope’s “killed again LOL” and make it believable. Somehow, someway, Riverdale pulls it off.
  • BEST LINE OF THE EPISODE: “I’m going to become a Real Housewife.” – Hermione Lodge (as she should).

S5E2. Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders. B-. <em>Riverdale</em> delivers an acceptable but underwhelming conclusion to some of its season-long arcs in an episode that is elevated by the grounded nature of Archie Andrews’ powerful storyline.. Riverdale

Riverdale returns to The CW next Wednesday, February 3, at 8:00 p.m. ET to air the episode that would have originally served as its season 4 finale.

Next. 10 questions Riverdale season 5 must answer. dark

Did you enjoy Riverdale season 5, episode 2? Have you been enjoying Riverdale season 5 so far? Let us know in the comments below!