Riverdale’s mid-season premiere brings together the Northside and Southside with the high school merger–and fist fights.
In the second season of The CW‘s Riverdale, Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) solved the mystery of The Black Hood’s identity. Now Riverdale is left to pick up the pieces and restore a sense of normalcy in the mid-season premiere. However, one of the wealthiest families has other plans. We see bits and pieces of Lodge Industries’ plan, which involves bribing the mayor with re-election campaign funds, and using their daughter Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) to smooth things over with the merging of Southside High and Riverdale High. Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) was shocked to find out that her mother Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) has become Riverdale’s own lady of the night to the lonely men of their town. And, surprise! Polly Cooper (Tiera Skovbye) showed up, no longer pregnant and having had the twins, named Juniper and Dagwood. She came by for some of her belongings, giving minimal information to her own sister and making it clear that she didn’t want to include their parents in her brief return to the Cooper household.
Meanwhile, the high school merger doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. The tension between the Southside Serpents and Principal Weatherbee (Peter James Bryant) result in a dress code, graffiti, detentions, and even a suspension for Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) – who insists that he isn’t giving up his Serpents jacket. In a moment of honesty with his father, Jughead admits that the Southside Serpents had become his family in Southside High, and they no longer have a place of their own in Riverdale High. In an attempt to repair their family, Betty reaches out to Jughead’s social worker and eventually gets her brother’s last known address. Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro) doesn’t approve, but Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) confides in her daughter that she wants to see her son. Their meeting doesn’t quite go as planned after Chic (Hart Denton) discloses that he visited their house sometime after he turned eighteen, but didn’t think his presence would be wanted; not to mention his current shady living situation and career choices. And that’s not the end of the shocks from this episode! An FBI agent recruits Archie to spy on the Lodge family with his suspicions that Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) is conducting illegal business activities, and wants Archie to get insider information from the Lodge family about their business dealings.
If you weren’t shocked at least once this episode, were you even watching Riverdale? Let’s see what our roundtable guests thought of the mid-season premiere!
Kelsey (@MsKelsey_H) – Writer, editor, and lipstick connoisseur.
Jeanette (@Twirl4meK) – Sales associate, Howard alum, Disney fanatic, television aficionado
Lauren (@lauren_kate1985) – Australian made, cat mom, lives in fandoms to escape from reality.
Maggie (@jugsangel) – wannabe Veronica Lodge with a passion for fictional character analysis
Bre (@NancyRiverDrew) – Almost graduate, journo, Team Bughead, likes to say she’s a Betty, but she’s probably more of an Ethel
1. We found out that the mystery camera person is an FBI agent. What do you think of that proposal to work with Archie?
Kelsey (@MsKelsey_H): I don’t trust this Agent Adams. All he did to gain Archie’s trust was wave a badge and a business card that’s not hard to fake. All of those meetings are super sketchy, and even if Archie gets protection in writing there’s no guarantee Adams can fulfill that promise.
Jeanette (@Twirl4meK): I think I’m with Archie in that it seems kind of barely legal to ask a minor to do this without his parent’s knowledge or consent. But when in TV Land, I guess… I love that Archie got a written promise of protection for Fred and Veronica, though. Although this whole thing is definitely poised to cause some strain on their relationship, keeping a big secret like that that’s all about her parents’ shady dealings, that she herself is kind of in on. Which, actually, if Archie finds out about her collusion… *raises eyebrows*
Lauren (@lauren_kate1985): Poor Archie just keeps getting drawn into these situations that are far more adult than he’s fit to understand. Remember back when all Archie wanted to do was play football and write music? An affair with a teacher, watching his dad get shot, leading a vigilante group and getting buried alive later, and suddenly he finds himself being used by the government to bring down his girlfriend’s father. He’s got such drive to do the right thing, to protect the ones he loves, that he can never say no. It’s got the potential to end in heartbreak if he’s not careful. Veronica is very observant, so here’s hoping that Archie will be able to explain the situation if he gets caught.
Maggie (@jugsangel): I think it’s very interesting. It will definitely push Archie to his limits and allow the audience to see a different side of him, a darker one. On the other hand, a lot can go wrong, especially if Hiram finds out. There’s already a bit of a rivalry between them, I can imagine this would only make things worse. I also like how this situation is bringing one of his strongest characteristics to light, his protectiveness towards the ones he loves, in this case, Fred and Veronica.
Bre (@NancyRiverDrew): Agent Arthur Adams is definitely not from the FBI. Federal agents almost always approach people in groups of two or more. Archie was right in stating that he needs parental permission to question him. Obviously, something is up. I like the plotline in that I am interested in finding out more about what the Lodges are up to, but this definitely puts Archie in danger. Since the “agent” is so interested in the story with the St. Clairs, I wonder if they hired him to investigate Hiram. Agent Adams was so persistent on getting Veronica to confirm she told her parents about what Nick did to her.
2. We’ve seen a bit more of the Lodge Industries plans for Southside High, and now the involvement of Mayor McCoy. What do you think their business plan is really about?
Kelsey: Gentrification. They’ve already broken ground on a high-end apartment building that I doubt most Riverdale residents can afford. If they’re going to build a business front on the land of the former South Side High, I think they want to become the only employer in town and have their way with the town.
Jeanette: As far as I can tell, the Lodges are buying up as much Southside land as possible. And secretly. For what reason though…I’m still in the dark. I mean, if the plan was just to improve or gentrify the area or whatever, why would it have to be so secretive and underhanded? Why buy Pops’ under the guise of “an anonymous charitable donor”? Why is Mayor McCoy approving a sudden school closure under bogus pretenses? I REALLY DON’T KNOW!
Lauren: Is there oil under Riverdale? It’s really hard to even envision why Hiram Lodge wants to acquire so much land in a sleepy little town, especially given the lengths he and Hermione have gone to in order to get it. Maybe there’s a personal vendetta to all of this, though against whom remains to be seen.
Maggie: The purchase of the Southside High land combined with the Drive In land that they had previously bought in season 1 gives Hiram a relatively large amount of the Southside, so I think he might be trying to build some sort of empire of his own.
Bre: Since the Lodges’ conversation with Veronica in 2×09, I was wondering if Hiram was considering a run for mayor, but given this is the second promise of funds for Mayor McCoy’s re-election campaign (it’s a small town, how much does she need?), I think that is unlikely, at least for now. I was surprised they bought into Fred’s company, instead of buying back his share of the SoDale project. It seems like that is why they keep mentioning that they need Fred on their side. They probably want to build something on the high school’s property, too, and create a “new Eden,” but somehow I think the goal is to make a new paradise for Hiram.
3. The Cooper’s were reunited with their missing son, Chic, but it didn’t go quite as planned. What were your first impressions of Chic?
Kelsey: I’m not sure. Midseason premieres are always full of red herrings, and they were leaning pretty hard on the whole “vaguely dangerous and angry” vibe with Chic. He’s got a manipulative streak (he’s a Cooper, after all) but I think he might end up being one of the more morally gray characters who is good to know in a pinch.
Jeanette: First of all, “fantasy fulfillment?” Ummm, I don’t even WANNA know what that means, so he can keep that to himself. As for first impressions of Betty’s replacement sibling? Typical “bitter abandoned child” stuff, nothing extraordinary, it’s been done a million times over in a million daytime soaps and nighttime dramas. As for that ending scene…that’s obviously leaning towards something sinister. Or it could be a bit of a misdirect. But I will put this out there: We don’t actually know what that fight with the hostel manager was about, or who started it, or why…
Lauren: It’s probably intentional, but was anyone else just a little bit creeped out by Chic? He’s so intense. Obviously, he’s been through a lot in his life, and it wasn’t the situation that Alice had thought he would end up in, but he clearly has a lot of anger and resentment bubbling inside of him. Jughead’s narrative, about Betty bringing another monster into her family’s lives, has all the potential to become a reality.
Maggie: I really liked him, much to my surprise. I wasn’t thrilled when his arrival to the show was announced since there are already so many characters but I think there’s a lot of potential there. He looks like someone who’s been through a lot and is in quite some trouble so I think it’ll be interesting to keep finding more and more about him. At the end of the episode, his creepy stare at Betty made me very intrigued so I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.
Bre: That ending scene was 100% the creepiest thing featured on Riverdale so far! I think the episode wanted to set him up as a possibility for the Black Hood, but I am wondering if he was standing in Betty’s room to protect her. He resembled the Dark Betty we saw in 1×03 when she sought to gain justice for Polly, so I’m intrigued by what we will learn about Betty’s mental health through her brother. In terms of the history we do know about Chic, I think he is in a similar position to Cheryl: He is lacking someone to love him. He has been unwanted and abused his whole life. It was touching to see the Cooper family surround him and apply first aid when Betty brought him home. Here’s to hoping the Coopers will be able to fill a void he was missing.
4. Looks like Penelope has found a new career, and Cheryl isn’t too happy about it. How do you think that will change the Blossom family dynamic?
Kelsey: On one hand, I’m happy that if the storyline is done well, it could destigmatize sex workers. However, the way Mrs. Blossom is doing it is an extension of her emotional abuse towards Cheryl. This might be the breaking point for Cheryl and I hope she breaks with her toxic family. Maybe she can move in with the Coopers!
Jeanette: The Blossom women, oh my GOODNESS, what is going on in that place? It just gets weirder and weirder by the episode! And their dynamic seems to change every other episode, so who knows?
Lauren: Penelope is relishing being in charge of her own behavior after being forced to be so prim and proper for so much of her life, and doesn’t Cheryl hate it?!? Watching this battle for control in the Blossom household (which is kept behind closed doors because heaven forbid the Riverdale plebs think that there is anything amiss) is going to be one of the highlights of the season for me.
Maggie: They never really had a very good mother/daughter relationship and I think this might just be the last straw. I hope Cheryl starts taking control of the family a bit more, she’s very cunning and no doubt intelligent so I could see her being able to do so with not that much trouble.
Bre: Cheryl took control in the first half of season 2, and now Penelope is the rebellious teenager trying to gain back some sort of control, it appears. I think this will lead to some more headbutting between the two of them, but they obviously care about each other. Penelope burned the check, and Cheryl accepted a new one from the St. Clairs so that her mom wouldn’t have to prostitute herself. Their family is an absolute shambles, so I hope the Blossom women will learn to lean on each other some more.
5. Looks like Riverdale High and Southside High aren’t handling the school merging too well. Do you think that will accelerate, or hinder, the civil war that’s been brewing since season 1?
Kelsey: I thought Jughead came off as a little cult-member-y with the whole Serpent loyalty stuff, and I’m glad he found a middle ground. I think this new development with stall the civil war for a while, but then a big flare-up right around sweeps would be in order.
Jeanette: Well at first things were definitely being accelerated (seriously Reggie, framing the Serpents for vandalism? He might as well have been standing there with green paint on his hands, he looked so obvious and proud of himself). And ironically, the Southsiders were handling it better than the Riverdalians (like Toni and Sweet Pea pointed out, being relocated to a better environment, they got the better end of the deal), who came out swinging when the Serpents were just trying to mind their own business. And although the Riverdale uniforms are a bit much (is that gonna be a permanent thing?), Jughead seems to have calmed things down with the Swords & Serpents Club, as the gang goes into “quiet hibernation”.
Lauren: Honestly when it was first made clear that the two high schools were merging, the expectation for me was that there would be trouble every day within school walls, but it was actually refreshing to see Toni and Sweet Pea make an effort to fit in by agreeing to remove their jackets and hide tattoos during school hours for the sake of education and opportunity. It actually seems like the Serpents are more open to the integration, even despite Jughead’s reluctance. Led by Reggie and Cheryl, if anyone is to make the first move at what will inevitably be an acceleration of the war, it will be the movement of the entitled Northsiders rather than the Serpents.
Maggie: I think it’ll end up accelerating it, now that they’ll all be in the same place there’s no way of avoiding conflict like we saw this episode but I also think that once they realize this is their reality now they will get used to it and maybe even become friends. We saw Fangs and Kevin exchange some interesting looks (I ship it) so we’ll see what happens.
Bre: It will accelerate it, for sure. And based on the images of the Serpents protesting (so much for lying low, Jughead) in next week’s episode, I’m predicting a clash is coming sooner rather than later. It was sad to see how thankful the Serpents were to be going to a decent school, and it was obnoxious how unwelcoming the Riverdale High students were to them. Here’s to hoping the children can set an example for the greater town of Riverdale in the tension between the community’s two sides, but chances are, things are going to get worse before they become better.
6. Archie voiced his opinion that they might not have caught the real culprit behind The Black Hood (Svenson). If that’s the case, who is your guess for the identity of The Black Hood?
Kelsey: I always thought the Black Hood was the work of two people. I think Svenson was a fall-guy who didn’t actually have anything to do with the actual shootings but maybe was involved another way. I think that Tall Boy did the shootings (including Fred), and some other manipulator. My money’s on Agent Adams.
Jeanette: I thought it was pretty obvious that the janitor wasn’t really the Black Hood. He was a fall guy, and that was a set-up. It was just too quick, too easy, too…that’s it? And his “motive” still doesn’t make much sense. As for the real identity (or identities, if it’s multiple, a la “Scream”), I don’t know… Does Chic have green eyes?
Lauren: Laying my cards on the table, my money on the identity of The Black Hood has always been Hal Cooper. He has the right eyes and the right shape of face that has been evident every time we’ve seen The Hood in action. He’s got a wicked temper, but he never seems to be able to establish dominance over the headstrong Alice, who often belittles him and makes it clear that she’s in charge. Betty rarely listens to him either. We don’t know a lot about Hal’s past; he could have any number of reasons for being The Hood.
Maggie: I think it might not just be one person, my guess since the beginning of season 2A was that Hiram was ordering the murders and Tall Boy was executing them, since we already saw Hiram doing business with FP it wouldn’t be far-fetched for him to reach out to another serpent but now I really can’t find a motive for Hiram to be the one behind all of it. I still think Tall Boy could still be the one under the hood and maybe Hal is the mastermind behind the whole thing, he’s the only character we already know that could know all those things about Betty.
Bre: The Svenson reveal was disappointing, so I’m glad that was not the end of the Black Hood. The finger pointing was clearly at Chic this episode, but he is too young to be the face under the mask. Since we haven’t been given much more information, we’re still playing with the same theories from the first half of the season, though. I like the idea of Ethel having to do something with making the phone calls and perhaps her father or a Serpent doing the actual attacks. But at this point, it’s still too early to tell.
7. What are you most hoping to see in the second half of season 2?
Kelsey: Honestly, they planted the seed that Polly may have joined a cult and that the Farm is not an idyllic as it was portrayed at first. That’s super interesting to me, especially since Polly and Jason had some connection to the Farm before his murder. I hope that gets resolved somehow – maybe that’s a good way for Chic to go undercover to see what’s going on with Polly since she wouldn’t recognize him?
Jeanette: More of my favorite character dynamics that don’t get the most attention, like Veronica/Jughead, Veronica/Cheryl, Archie/Cheryl, Fred/FP, Alice/FP. And I’d definitely be interested in the possibility of Veronica finding out about Archie’s dealings with the FBI. Archie/Veronica/Hiram & Hermione/the FBI, that could be one dramatic square. Also, more insight into Alice’s Southside past.
Lauren: I relish every moment that Cheryl Blossom is on screen. Her intense desire to be in charge and the steps that she takes in order to get it are both predictable yet completely surprising at the same time, and watching her fight to establish her dominance both in her own home and within the Riverdale High system is always a highlight. I’d like to see The Pussycats reunite as well because their performances are great!
Maggie: I’m a sucker for romance so I really want to see Betty and Jughead come together again and help each other out, maybe they could be the ones solving the Black Hood mystery once and for all like they did with Jason, with the help of Archie and Ronnie of course. I’m also interested in seeing how the civil war will pan out since it’s something they’ve been building up for so long.
Bre: Yeah, I’m going to say it — Bughead! There was that nice scene with them at Pop’s, but I am hoping to see them reconnect and be honest with each other again. Plus, I miss the detective duo working together again and unearthing the secrets of the town. It sounds like Jughead is doing interviews for The Blue & Gold next week, so fingers crossed!
Final Verdict: Riverdale asks a lot of questions, and has us wanting more!
Archie is leading a double life by helping the FBI agent on the case against Hiram Lodge. And what about the Lodge family? They’ve confided in their daughter about their plan for Pop’s and now Southside High, but the viewers don’t have the full picture yet. Which has us asking – what other information does the FBI already have on him? Archie has such a pure heart and always wants to believe the best in everyone. Let’s just hope that doesn’t backfire on him! Driven by the desire to do the right thing Archie also got Cheryl the money that the St. Clair family owed her. Now that Penelope doesn’t need her new business venture, Cheryl is shocked to find that her mother enjoys taking charge of her own life and finances. I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll see the Blossom women disagreeing over Penelope’s newfound career.
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The merger between Southside High and Riverdale High put added stress on the already delicate balance in Riverdale. Will this be the spark that ignites the civil war? Or can they make peace and come together as a community? Our money is on the first option. What are the Southside Serpents planning while they’re laying low? And why does the Lodge family need Southside High’s property for their business? The unveiling of the Black Hood’s identity seemed a bit too easy from the mid-season finale. Is Archie alone in thinking that the Black Hood is still a threat to their small hometown?
As for the Cooper family, has Polly really cut ties with her family in favor of life on the farm with the cult-esque group? And did anyone else see Betty’s reaction to the reveal of the twins’ names? Or was that just me? Now that Betty has invited a stranger into their house, there will be a lot to learn from each other. Alice made the very tough decision to give Chic up for adoption in high school, but I’m sure a life in the foster care system is not what she envisioned for her son. There are so many questions yet to be answered. Luckily, we only have to wait seven days until the next episode of Riverdale!