Was Riverdale Hinting At A Complicated New Ship Last Night?

Photo: Courtesy of the CW.
The Riverdale musical episode, Wednesday’s “A Night To Remember,” was an embarrassment of riches if wild plotting and incredibly tight jeans are your thing. Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) danced. Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) doused herself in blood. Midge Klump (Emilija Baranac) got stabbed into a wall. What a time! Amid all of these big, look-at-me moments, it’s difficult to catch the more subtle ones, especially as all of your attention is being dragged towards Cheryl’s Carrie White But Somehow Scarier cosplay at Thistlehouse.
So, you may have missed a quiet suggestion there is a new romantic relationship brewing in the halls of Riverdale High School. And, the individuals aboard that ship are Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) and none other than former RHS pariah and newly apologetic thespian Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway).
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Longing glances are the engine upon which all sexy teen romances start in pop culture. We’re talking about everything from Romeo and Juliet all the way to Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) in Riverdale season 1. Before Bughead had actual sex and serpent-themed public strip teases, they shared sexually-loaded stares over milkshakes at Pop’s. Veronica and Chuck had one of those moments in “Night To Remember.”
The scene in question arrives when Veronica, playing rich bad girl Chris Hargensen in RHS' production of Carrie: The Musical, and Chuck, who is playing Chris’ villainous boyfriend, Billy Nolan, are rehearsing “The World According To Chris.” Of course, the pair are supposed to be a little flirty. Even Betty and Archie have a sweet number pretending to be Carrie couple Sue Snell and Tommy Ross. Yet, you'll see absolutely no sexual chemistry bubbling between those two. As Betty’s portrayer Lili Reinhart even told Refinery29 of the musical couple, “It’s a part of the musical and doesn’t have any deeper meaning than them playing the roles.”
Ronnie and Chuck, however, do not feel nearly as innocent. The first warning sign something very suspicious is happening between the on-stage pair comes when Veronica gives an extremely, let’s say, attentive Chuck a choreographed lap dance. But, you know what, this is a Riverdale musical, and sometimes sexy things go down. And, sometimes those sexy things don’t mean anything. For example, there was that entire episode where Archie essentially dated Cheryl in return for a guitar, and that went nowhere fast.
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But, things don’t stop for Churonica with the Kevin Keller-demanded chair grinding. Veronica hops off of Chuck’s lap and finishes the rest of her performance while he sits on a corner of the stage. Hypothetically, Veronica doesn’t have to look at Chuck again at this point. After all, he’s a few yards away, and her boyfriend and co-star, Archie, is around here somewhere, right? Yet, Veronica turns her head to give Chuck a very clear “Look back at it” stare when she’s finished, and she is standing in the kind of dance position that perfectly points her behind, clad in the world’s aforementioned tightest denim, right at him. Chuck is a little breathless over the whole thing, Veronica is extremely breathless, and it looks like everyone involved needs a quick cigarette break.
Even Twitter couldn’t ignore the very obvious sexy vibes bouncing around these two. Capital letters abounded in response to the sexually-charged display, with one person writing, “ALSO AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO SAW THAT THING BETWEEN VERONICA AND CHUCK LIKE I SWEAR SOMETHINGS GONNA HAPPEN BETWEEN THEM.” No, @ElectronCookie, you are not the only one to see all of that sexual tension.
Considering just how intense Chuck and Veronica’s connection seems to be, their later conversation seems to push a possible romance even further. Ronnie is the one who invites Chuck, a known slut-shamer, back into the social fold after a year out in the cold, and uses a few highly flowery compliments to do it, comparing his behavior to that of “a proper Victorian gentleman.” This means Chuck is now free to spend so much more time with the main Riverdale crew, Veronica inclued. So, if Chuck and Ronnie are headed towards any type of romantic relationship, or a one-sided crush, the entire future storyline won’t seem completely implausible.
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Although a possible Veronica-Chuck ship seems immediately problematic for one obvious reason — Varchie has dominated season 2 to the point where Archie is now a part of his girlfriend’s mob family — it more importantly shows just how far we’ve come since Riverdale gave us its first big feminist statement. Viewers first got to know football star Chuck in the iconic episode “Body Double,” which took on sexism at Riverdale High. Chuck was the king of the slut-shamers and used the social media “sticky maple” tactic to announce to the public which RHS girls he had allegedly slept with. Not only was that behavior a misogynistic attack, it was also a lie. Chuck “sticky mapled” both Veronica and Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser), despite the fact he never had sex with either of them. Chuck was a creep who deserved to be excommunicated.
That’s why it’s so important Veronica, specifically, is the one who allows Chuck to be raised from his position as persona non grata. Veronica is the last young woman Chuck hurt in a real and upsetting way. She and Ethel, who really should have been involved in this decision, are the only people who should be able to let him off the hook.
Now the only looming question is: yes, Chuck has spent the last year going to church and atoning for his creepy sins, as he told Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) in “Tales from the Darkside,” but does that mean he deserves a relationship with someone he viciously slut-shamed? My knee-jerk reaction is “hell no,” but, Riverdale has a tendency of making heroes out of monsters. Just ask F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich), who literally hid the body of a dead teen last year.
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