The true themes of Riverdale season 4 are finally coming into focus. Now that the CW drama has wiped its grief stricken eyes over the death of Luke Perry, it can head into its weird, deeply noir future. No episode thus far has crystalized this fact quite like Wednesday night’s “Hereditary.”
As with previous seasons, each core Riverdale High student has their own distinct storyline this year. Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) is careening towards his mysterious flash-forward disappearance/death — and the current chilling events at Stonewall serve as that future crisis’ backstory. Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) is handling yet another familial civil war (now with a surprise half-sister and so much chatter about rum) and Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is fighting crime again.
Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), surprising no one, has stumbled into her 78th serial killer plot. Oh, and someone was probably murdered.
Let’s get down to the most bonkers moments of the episode and try to unravel them. They’re in no particular order, because Riverdale excels in the chaos.
So Stonewall Prep is cursed, cursed
As Riverdale signaled last week with “Witness for the Prosecution,” Jughead’s hottie grandfather Forsythe The First may just be the original author the infamous Baxter Boys novels. Jughead confronts supposed OG Baxter creator Francia Dupont (Malcolm Stewart) with his theory. Dupont stonewalls Jughead and threatens to have him kicked out of his new school. Someone is hiding something.
Desperate for answers, Jughead turns to the current Baxter ghostwriter Mr. Chipping (Sam Witwer) for help. Chipping agrees, knowing the investigation could hurt his own career. The next day, however, things take a turn for the horrific. Chipping attempts to talk to the Stonewall literary club about Heart of Darkness. Yet, he keeps stopping short, grimacing, and coughing as if he is trying not to throw up. I assumed Chipping was poisoned. I was wrong.
“I’m sorry Jughead. That I couldn’t help you,” Chipping sighs before diving head first through a window. When Jughead starts yelling for his classmates to call an ambulance, he turns around to see one of the most chilling sights in Riverdale history: All four of his salon co-members frozen, blankly staring at him as if a man hadn’t just flung himself out of a three-story building.
Jughead, you in danger, girl.
The absolutely wild tale of Chic and Charles
Way back when we first met Betty’s not-brother Chic (Hart Denton), he explained that he wound up in the Cooper home after living with the real Charles Smith-Jones. Now that we know Charles (Wyatt Nash), this story has always seemed odd. Charles is an FBI agent — how could he have hung out with a petty criminal like Chic over the last few years? Was Chic’s season 2 tale completely fake? Or was Charles not telling the whole truth when he first appeared on Riverdale at the end of season 3.
“Hereditary” finally sheds some light on these mysteries. Charles’ final scene proves he is in cahoots with imprisoned Gargoyle King Chic, his boyfriend. We’re left wondering if Charles is even in the FBI and what his true motive is for the teen serial killer class.
What we do know is that a key part of Charles and Chic’s scheme is ensuring the entire Cooper-Jones family trusts Charles — Betty most of all. That is why Charles helps his biological family cover up the season 2 murder of the Shady Man (a dangling storyline Chic supposedly raises to the authorities off-camera).
Whether Charles actually stabbed someone — as Chic tells Betty is fact but Charles denies, all as a part of their plot — is to be determined.
Archie is unmasked, of course
Last week, I noted that Archie is awful at his supposedly secret vigilantism. “Hereditary” proves he is even worse at surreptitious crime fighting than I originally believed. In the cold open, we see Archie in his Watchmen-style hood cuffing children to cars to keep them from getting into larger criminal trouble. Then, roughly 30 seconds later, Archie appears sans hood to point the kid out to authorities and usher him into a life of non-crime.
It could not be more obvious Archie is the Southside’s new savior.
Red’s new adult enemy Dodger (Juan Riedinger) is no fool and puts together the two-piece puzzle in front of him. This realization leads to a drive-by outside of the Andrews home. This near-deadly event has been my concern since the beginning of the season. Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald) did not leave Chicago for this mess.
At least this storyline has given us a gift of a scene: Archie asking Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) if he could, like, do crimes to stop Dodger… and Hiram Lodge, No. 1 lover of crimes in Riverdale, pretending he could absolutely never commit such a sin. Still, Archie finds a bloodied Dodger wrapped up in a rug behind the gym. Hiram has never heard of a crime he didn’t like.
“A woman has needs.”
When Hiram isn’t definitely not ordering attempted murders, he is meddling with his family members. It’s Hermione (Marisol Nichols) turn in “Hereditary.”
In a scene out of a far more adult erotic thriller, Hiram shows up to the Lodge home to pop his shirt off, convince his estranged wife that attempted assasinations are their foreplay, and do the deed. It’s a moment is so abrupt and sensual, you may initially assume it’s a dream sequence. But, no, the Lodge parents are simply very horny for each other.
When Hermione prepares to inform Veronica of her backslide into loving Hiram, you practically expect her to simply sigh, “A woman has needs,” from the dining table. Instead, Mrs. Lodge mumbles something about being a murderer like Hiram and shrugs. She has more important things to worry about, like her upcoming vow renewal.
Cheryl & Toni murder a guy?
A Riverdale relationship hasn’t really been put to the test until the pairing in question is forced to cover up a felony. Ask Betty and Jughead, who dealt with murdered The Shady man, F.P (Skeet Ulrich) and Alice, who also dealt with the late Shady Man, or Archie and Veronica, who spent an entire season interrogating the morality of the mob.
Fan-favorite Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) have now entered that illustrious club thanks to the events of “Hereditary.” The episode introduces a trio of new Blossom family members, all of whom are so terrible, their appearance causes Cheryl to pass out. Then, when she wakes, they threaten to institutionalize her to further their business machinations. Immediately she orders the red-haired vipers out.
Still, Cheryl’s uncle Bedford pops up in the Blossom chapel under the cover of night to figure out what his niece is hiding. It’s Jason’s nightmarish corpse and the inexplicable haunted Julian doll. When Bedford attacks Cheryl, Toni smashes him over the head with a massive candlestick. The last we see of Bedford, his brains are spilling onto the chapel floor.
Cheryl and Toni (and Julian!) are now bonded for life.