Riverdale S01E05: Heart of Darkness Review
Starring: K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes
Director: Jesse Warn
Writer: Ross Maxwell
A review by Amelia Wellman
Betty Copper is going to Nancy Screw this town out of the delusional little bubble they all live in and I am so down!
Riverdale’s fifth episode, titled Heart of Darkness, centres around the Blossom family and serves to remind us all (as if we’ve forgotten) how terrible, weird, and unsettling the Blossom clan is. Jason’s memorial is being held at their family estate of Thornehill and the Blossom parents, instead of inviting friends and family to help grieve their loss, have invited their own handpicked suspects in the murder investigation. Cheryl is understandably upset by this and, at Veronica’s encouragement, rebels against it. And while Betty and Jughead poke around Jason’s room looking for clues to move their secret investigation forward, they learn some very interesting but distressing news from the Blossom twins’ grandmother.
To pull a phrase from Archie’s Weird Mysteries, things are gettin’ weird in Riverdale!
Archie’s storyline this episode has him angsty about his football season and his music. Val of the Pussycats is becoming chummy with Archie and I’m not eager to see Archie try and stick his dick in another Riverdale woman. The Pussycats deserve better. Look elsewhere, Val.
Meanwhile, Veronica spends some time with Cheryl, and we get a more dimensional look at the Blossom bitch that terrorizes Riverdale High as Ronnie endures a painful dinner with the Blossom parents and then has to look over Cheryl’s shoulder as she flips through photo albums. At one point she calls Jason “crazy handsome”. No, Veronica. Don’t even say that to humour Cheryl. Jason is as inbred as a purebred dog. I’m sorry if that’s insulting to the actual man that’s playing this character, but between the feathery red hair and skin so pale he’s nearly translucent, it’s just not a good look.
Jughead and Betty steal the show this episode as they set up their own murder board in the Riverdale High newspaper office and begin seriously looking into Jason Blossom’s murder for themselves. I’m loving their friendship almost as much as I’m loving the Betty and Veronica dynamic. While they snoop around Jason’s room, and the grandmother calls Betty over to talk, Jughead whispers in her ear and puts a comforting hand on her back. Their friendship is so cute. I want to just constantly see them sleuthing around together. Plus, Jughead in a suit. ‘Nuff said.
The striking cinematography of Riverdale continues in Heart of Darkness with a beautifully gothic opening scene pulled right out of Crimson Peak. Cheryl walking down a dark wood staircase, a candelabra in her hands, walks towards Jason’s casket in the Thornehill Manor only to come face to face with his animated corpse. It’s a dream of course, but Jason’s corpse is actually in their parlour. It’s haunting, a perfect way to show the antiquated way the Blossom family leads their creepy lives and the burden of responsibility for Jason’s death that weighs on Cheryl’s mind. These stylized segments are at their best when given their own space to shine, and Riverdale knows how to use them generously, but still manages to avoid distracting from the narrative of the story. It’s all there to serve a specific end.
And the closing shots in the Thornehill family cemetery, combined with the voice over from Jughead? “Now that Jason was buried in the Earth, it would only be a matter of time until something poisonous bloomed.” It’s the kind of writing that actually justifies using a narrator. With prose this elegant, I really want to read the book Juggy’s writing!
The gorgeous look of Heart of Darkness was topped off with the perfect soundtrack. Both songs and original score have been solid every episode thanks to CW favourite Blake Neely, but I especially noticed the song choices this episode. Think Up Anger’s slow, remorseful cover of “Shout” by Tears for Fears as Cheryl takes the podium at Jason’s memorial was a beautiful addition to the scene.
Keep watching! I’m sure that comes as no surprise to readers that regularly look at these reviews, but I think Riverdale has passed the stage of watching for curiosity’s sake and I can honestly say that I’m watching because it’s good. Against a steep set of odds, Riverdale is legitimately entertaining.