Riverdale S01E11/12: To Riverdale and Back Again/Anatomy of a Murder
Director: Kevin Sullivan (episode 11), Rob Seidenglanz (episode 12)
Starring: K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (episode 11), Michael Grassi (episode 12)
A review by Amelia Wellman
I missed last week’s Riverdale when it aired and the subsequent review I should have written for it (my bad!), but after watching episode eleven, To Riverdale and Back Again, and twelve, Anatomy of a Murder, I’m glad I missed it last week so I could watch them back to back.
Why? Because shit has gone down and I’m so happy I got to see it all at once!
To Riverdale and Back Again and Anatomy of a Murder have Jason Blossom’s murder back at the forefront of the drama. Veronica and Archie team up to look for the incriminating evidence that Betty’s mother is sure is being hidden by Jughead’s dad, Polly snoops around the Blossom mansion looking for the incriminating evidence that she’s sure is there because no one with as bad a wig collection as Clifford Blossom is innocent of anything, and Jughead tries to recover some integrity after his “I’m weird” speech in the last episode.
Or at least he does in my mind, because Sprouse pulls out a pretty great performance as he struggles with what’s coming to light about his father and the fact that his mother isn’t willing to take him in when he decides he’s done with Riverdale. And while we’re on the Jones family, Skeet Ulrich is honestly such a joy in Riverdale as Jughead’s dad. Who would have thought that Scream’s Skeet Ulrich, hired because he was a “Johnny Depp type”, would turn it up to eleven playing a white trash, absentee father while Molly Ringwald phoned it in as the deus ex machina, absentee mother?
Veronica and Betty pull out the stops in these two episodes as well and even Archie, who no one has cared about up to this point, gets some time to develop beyond redheaded, guitar playing, dudebro looking for the next thing to put his dick in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Apa’s Archie is (generally) one of the worst versions of the character to ever exist. He’s short tempered and pushy and selfish without any of the bumbling charm that’s sustained Archie in other iterations of the character.
But throughout To Riverdale and Back Again and Anatomy of a Murder, we actually get to see some of that charm. He gets in a few moments of loyal friendship to Jughead, defending him when no one else will, he goes on a caper with Betty, and he even calms Veronica down while she’s on her bloodthirsty pursuit of evidence to either prove her own father’s guilt or acquit him of the crimes in her own mind. Here is an Archie Andrews that I can get behind! Too bad it took him twelve episodes to get here.
Come the end of Anatomy of a Murder, it is revealed who killed Jason Blossom. The conspiracy that had gotten exponentially bigger in these two episodes finally comes to a head! Not all of the whys have come to light, but the who has and it makes for a very striking scene, thanks in large part to the creepy symmetry of the Blossom family. The expressionless, put together composure of Cheryl and her mother as they, in calm synchronization, point to what is the final nail in the coffin of this mystery, is absolutely chilling and, of course, a gorgeous piece of cinematography.
And, as a surprise for me because I honestly thought Riverdale season was wrapping up in twelve episodes, there’s one more chapter coming next week. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s going to tackle after To Riverdale and Back Again and Anatomy of a Murder.
After what happened in these last two episodes of season one, I have no idea why there’s another episode upcoming. Everything that needed answering (for now) has been answered! The middle episodes lag just a little as character drama is brought to the forefront and the mystery of Jason’s murder is a second thought while Archie tries to work out who to stick his dick in next, BUT when this gets into the nitty-gritty, Twin Peaks, small town, weirdo murder mystery? This shit is compelling beyond belief! The upcoming season finale of episode thirteen? Maybe it will wrap everything up. Maybe it will start the season two story line with a cliffhanger. Maybe it will ruin everything. But I can confidently say that from episode one to episode twelve, Riverdale is a definite watch it!