Everyone is in the hot seat this episode. After Nick came in like a hurricane last week, our fearless gang of teens are still trying to clean up the mess. But when Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller step in and start going after every teenager in the Southside Serpents, things get sticky.
Betty comes clean to Veronica, so between her and Archie, Betty has a good support group back together. Things with Jughead are still sore (and Jughead himself is also slightly rejected by Toni), but I have hope for these two. While Betty works on Reggie’s car (oh finally, we see Betty working on a car), Jughead stands by. Despite Betty not being OK with Jughead joining the Serpents (and consequently challenging a rival gang to a race), it’s clear they are still very much in love. But this rift will need time to heal. Betty takes a back seat this episode, though, allowing for one particular redhead to shine.
After nearly being raped in last week’s episode, Cheryl is in a bad place. Her mother is gaslighting her, making her a prisoner in her own home. After dropping charges against Nick St. Clair, we get to hear Mrs. Blossom question what her daughter was wearing, or what she did to provoke him. When Cheryl questions her mother about possible drug dealer ties, her mother plays dumb. Cheryl is snapping, and that fire we saw at the end of last season will come back full force soon. Will her mother be at the receiving end of her wrath? I’m willing to bet yes.
This episode’s look is also stunning. Seeing Betty, Cheryl, and Veronica in pseudo-Rockabilly gear is always fun, and the name “Death Race” is very appropriate for the episode. Riverdale is already a stylish show with beautiful cinematography, but this episode really highlights it.
This was a good filler episode that moved the plot along, but above that it had an amazing, poignant message about assault. Young people watching this, take note. What Archie did for me 20+ years ago (essentially, taught me to not be an asshole) the writers of Riverdale are doing now. Despite the show and the comic being very different, this is Archie at its core. And I am here for it.