Pep Talk: Riverdale Episode 502, "The Preppy Murders"

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Riverdale 502, The Preppy Murders

The fifth season of Riverdale has only aired its second episode, and it already feels like all the air has been let out of its tires. "The Preppy Murders" wraps up just about every mystery that was left -- some of them too quickly and too pat -- in what feels like a rushed job of writing. Granted, it could be that these first few episodes might have been meant to be the last few episodes of the previous season, cut short by COVID-19, and perhaps that's why this episode has such a "finale" feel about it. But there wasn't much left to springboard out of for the rest of the season, let alone the next episode.

Archie (KJ Apa) is going through emotional turmoil since having received a VHS tape from The Auteur showing a recreation of the moment the Black Hood had him on his knees at gunpoint. He's been taking out his rage on the heavy bag, and to add further mental anguish to the mix, his mother Mary (Molly Ringwald) is asking him to write a letter to the courts asking for mercy on the teen who killed Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) in a hit-and-run accident. Archie struggles with letting go of his anger to the point he gets into a fight with his uncle Frank (Ryan Robbins), who has returned to Riverdale to put to rest his own haunted past.

Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) concocts a plant to redeem the Blossom family name in Riverdale, in the hopes that it will make things easier for Toni (Vanessa Morgan) to get her family's blessing on their relationship. She wants to reopen the maple factory, but needs the shares of all the other Blossom extended family members on the board to sell to her. Like the red-headed Addams Family caricatures they are, they refuse, so Cheryl turns to her mother (Nathalie Boltt) for advice. After a weekend out of town with Toni (at her mother's suggestion), Cheryl returns to find she has full ownership of the entire Blossom company, in a manner which could only be arranged by one with her mother's talents. I've got to say, law enforcement in this show is really gullible in the excuses it will swallow, but this isn't supposed to be CSI.

If it were, however, then there would certainly be less reliance on teenaged super sleuths Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse). Betty gets a 3am call from Bret Wallis (Sean Depner) from prison, saying he has information she wants that he will trade if Betty asks Veronica (Camila Mendes) to pull strings with her father to get Bret placed in solitary. The next morning, however, Bret is found dead, his eyes gouged out. Later, Betty gets another late night call from Bret's preppy alumnus, Donna (Sarah Desjardins), claiming another preppy has been murdered and that she fears she is next. Betty confirms the story and -- while all roads seem to point to the killer being the owner of Blue Velvet video, David (Birkett Turton), his own body turning up as a seeming suicide seems to wrap everything up. Except it's too clean for Betty and within the space of one episode we have revealed there is another serial killer stalking Riverdale -- and he is summarily unmasked, captured, and forced to confess at gunpoint. But he is not The Auteur, who is still leaving videotapes even after David's death. Don't worry, that mystery gets wrapped up as well -- with the person and motives revealed being both a surprise and a disappointment, and something that should leave quite a mark on Archie if he's ever told about it.

Which just leaves Lodge family drama, which isn't all that much either. Hiram (Mark Consuelos) is still getting into fistfights, thinking that returning to his baser nature has put his disease into remission. But when the Mallow clan come to take revenge on Veronica, it's Hermosa (Mishel Prada) to the rescue. Together the two sisters develop a plan to force Hiram into retirement, which comes along with Hermione (Marisol Nichols) making an announcement of her own that would take her to yet another, real-world, television series set in New York.

And that's it. There are no mysteries left to solve. Nothing to do but graduate high school and turn out the lights. But the season is far too young for that, right? So hang tight and let's see if this crazy ride is coming to an end or if the writers have some new curveball to throw at us next week.

Grade: 
2.5 / 5.0