Riverdale High School has a counselor. Don’t ask where she was doing the gang outbreak, or the seizure outbreak, or the time a serial killer broke into the school to ruin a dance. Just accept that she exists now, is named Mrs. Burble, and is played by the glorious Gina Torres.
Season 4’s “In Treatment” serves as Mrs. Burbles introduction. As college prep and town creep pressure rises for the RHS seniors, Mr. Burble has increased her office hours. Over the episode, Riverdale season 4’s first-string cast — Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa), and Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) — stops by to talk about their darkest problems. It’s a smart way for Riverdale to metabolize the astounding number of traumatic and horrifying events that have befallen these kids.
Some of those students even leave Burble’s office seemingly optimistic about the days ahead (although the end-of-episode flashfoward still reminds us Jughead’s “murder” still awaits them ).
Since it’s especially wild to hear what a licensed professional thinks about every mad twist of Riverdale, we’re going to go through all five sessions. Don’t worry, each one is as bonkers as every other moment on the CW show.
Cheryl Marjorie Blossom's “haunting” is (almost) solved
Cheryl has clearly always defined herself by her unbeatable resolve in the face of mounting gothic horror. However, the moment Mrs. Burble asks how Cheryl is really, truly, doing, she cracks. It’s a deeply moving thing to see.
After Cheryl unloads most of the latest nightmare she is living, she expect Burble to tell her she is crazy. After all, a huge chunk of Cheryl’s paranoia is owed to the haunted doll she believes is running around her home and possessed by the spirit of thee triplet she allegedly absorbed in the womb. Burble suggests a different plot was afoot. The counselor believes the twin cannibalism story is a hoax and a human is moving the doll around to drive Cheryl mad.
To prove her point, Burble recommends a chimera DNA test for Cheryl, which will check her cells for dual DNA markers. If Cheryl has two different sets of DNA, she did feast on her sibling in vitro. Yet, Cheryl’s test comes back negative — she is not a chimera. So, who is messing with Ms. Bombshell?
“Which Empire?,” Or How One Woman Learned To Stop Worrying & Handle Jughead Jones
Jughead’s trip to Burble is filmed like a paranoid 1970s thriller. He appears shaky and sounds deranged as he unravels the Stonewall Prep conspiracy he’s currently obsessed with. Is this how the world sees Jughead?
No matter the answer, Ms. Burble doesn’t let Juggie’s unsettling behavior get to her too much. When he bizarrely announces he’s “On the cusp of bringin’’ down their empire,” all Burble cooly asks is, “Which empire?” Soon enough, Jughead lays out his entire theory about Stonewall, The Baxter Brothers, and his grandfather. It sounds unhinged.
For once, someone adds some much needed context to Jughead’s wild theorizing. Burble reminds Jughead how his desire to lionize his grandfather — a man who abused his dad F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) and later abandoned his family — may be hurting F.P. This fact finally dawns on Jughead, who looks ashamed for his behavior. Then, Burble urges Jughead to genuinely investigate this conspiracy he believes in so much, rather than B.S. about it to avoid his avoid his writing. By the end of “Treatment” Jughead has found a gaggle of new mysterious deaths connected to Stonewall’s secret Skull & Quill literary society.
Mrs. Burble is a genius.
Veronica’s life gets a little too close to Game of Thrones
Veronica’s complicated relationship with her dad Hiram (Mark Consuelos) has always been a little too intense for comfort. Burble spends therapy hinting their familial connection is sexually charged in a way the Game of Thrones cast would really get.
“You’re locked in a constant battle for identity with your father,” Burble tells Ronnie. “You’re driven by compulsive forces like love, sexuality, obsession … You’re locked in a dance of death with your father, Veronica.”
I will never be able to unhear these words.
The Smith-Cooper women get therapy
Alice opens the episode enraged that Betty is taking birth control. It’s an odd idea, considering the fact that Betty and Jughead sleep in the same bed at home, at Betty points out. What did Alice think her daughter and her boyfriend were doing all that time? Sharing milkshake recipes?
At least Alice’s latest nonsensical fit pushes the Smither-Cooper ladies into counseling (Alice crashes Betty’s appointment, naturally). The result is one of Riverdale’s most emotional scenes. After four seasons of manipulation, Burble and Betty force Alice to confront the many terrible things she has done to her daughter. See: Alice committing Betty, Alice abandoning Betty to join an organ harvesting cult, and Alice giving Betty’s college fund to said cult.
Alice defends all of those actions, claiming Betty is “too young” to understand. Burble pushes Alice on her instance to infantilize Betty, pointing out how many of her harmful decisions actually helped Alice prolong Betty’s “childhood.” After some back and forth, Alice admits she loves Betty “most” — more than terrible Polly (Tiera Skovbye) or suspicious Charles (Wyatt Nash).
Alice looks stunned and ashamed to finally admit that truth out loud. When Betty comes home to the Smith-Jones home, she finds a check on the kitchen table. It’s the beginnings of a college fund.
Archie Andrews whiplash continues
In the second-most touching moment of “Treatment,” Archie is finally forced to look at his dangerous, self-sabotaging behavior in the wake of Fred’s (Luke Perry) death. Burble points out to Red that his supposed selfless vigilantism is actually his own version of dangerous compulsive behavior. Archie isn’t helping. He’s slipping into the depths of grief-induced anger.
Burble warns that if Archie doesn’t try to instill some healthy coping mechanisms soon, he may not be alive to save anyone else like Fred would have wanted. Archie appears to take Burble’s concern seriously and asks what he should do. Since Burle is an adult, she recommends some good ideas, like an anonymous tip line and inviting more people to volunteer at the community center. With tears in his eyes, it appears Archie is going to listen to reason at last.
Then we cut to the Andrews home. Archie informs his mom Mary (Molly Ringwald) he is moving out to live in the community center — where he was recently held at gunpoint — full time. In his new lodgings, Archie installs an anonymous tip line. Burble definitely meant Archie should help the police start one such service. When the line gets its first tragic call, Archie immediately breaks a pencil, grabs a baseball bat, and picks up his mask, which he pretended to throw out earlier.
Archiekins is in more danger than ever.