If you, like me, obsess over Riverdale, you may have seen a spate of tweeting from the show’s stars that revealed that there was going to be a scene that referenced the old Archie comics in the most direct way the show has ever done. It was an unrelenting parade of misery, but for me it was absolutely delightful.
The second we saw these images, every single member of the io9 staff had them pegged as coming from a dream sequence (although I held out some hope that it was a spell of Sabrina’s that had gone awry—that would have been a great entrance for that character).
But no, of course it was a nightmare dredged up by Jughead’s troubled conscience over his newfound romantic feelings for Betty.
You have to admire Riverdale’s commitment to avoiding the classic Archie-Betty-Veronica triangle by any means necessary. We had the Archie-Ms. Grundy-Betty-Veronica plot; and we had Archie kissing Josie and the Pussycats member Valerie, which, honestly, I think is the best endgame this show could hope for (along with Betty and Veronica partnering up). Jughead and Betty is the latest piece of spaghetti the writers have thrown against the wall in order to not do Betty vs. Veronica. And it’s not great.
I really, really hope that this thing ends with Jughead on the path to recognizing his asexuality, which was a great addition to his character in the comics and is 100 percent more interesting than all these teens playing musical love chairs. And would be a wonderful contrast to how terrifyingly sexualized teens in most teen dramas usually are.
Jughead’s nightmare isn’t just reflective of his conflicted feelings about Betty in regards to his friendship with Archie; it’s reflective of how deeply uncomfortable Jughead is in anything resembling a normal family, given how supremely fucked up his family is.
Jughead’s life is, even by Riverdale’s standards, the worst. Last night, we found out that after the last place he was squatting in was destroyed, he started living in the school. Also, his mom left with his sister (who is still somehow named Jellybean in this show). His dad is a gang member, a drunk, and very bitter about what he sees as his misuse at the hands of Archie’s dad. who fired him some time ago. And then Jughead becomes a suspect in the death of Jason Blossom for no reason. Later, Jughead’s dad decides to go punch the sheriff because... he thinks that helps?
Anyway, there was a ton of other stuff this week, because Riverdale is basically the turducken of TV shows, but the show really belonged to Jughead this week. It felt like he was being punished for not having suffered more in previous episodes. Honestly, living in vintage Archie-land would be a major improvement for Jughead.