Riverdale S01E04: The Last Picture Show
Starring: K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes
Director: Mark Piznarski
Writer: Michael Grassi
A review by Amelia Wellman
Drama is washing over Riverdale like a rising tide in episode four, titled The Last Picture Show. Jason Blossom and his mysterious death don’t get much more than a single mention as Jughead fights to save the drive-in movie theatre, Miss Grundy is ejected faster than a driver not wearing a seatbelt during a head on collision, and Lodge-based conspiracies make Veronica even more woke than she already is!
I want to open on Grundy. As of the closing commentary, she’s gone. For good? There’s no way of knowing. But if I had to guess, I’d say yes. CW dramas have a way of moving through conflicts at the speed of light and the Grundy/Archie affair always felt more like an unhealthy executive decision than anything integral to characters or plot. Beyond getting rid of Grundy, The Last Picture Show expands the three that are turning into the clear winners of the series: Betty, Veronica, and Jughead.
Betty’s longstanding comic book history of car repair has come in, introduced when she breaks into Grundy’s car and Veronica stares on in admiration. She even comes out as a Nancy Drew fangirl! Because of course she is! Lockpicking a lockbox with a smile on her face, Betty begins to go into details about which Nancy Drew mystery taught her how to do that. It’s such a cute little detail and a nice change of pace from the screechy, frantic girl who’s been defined by the people around her in the series up to this point.
The Lodge’s play a big role this episode with a conspiracy concerning land purchases, despite Hiram Lodge being in jail for fraud and embezzlement. Veronica’s mother is tied up in a scheme that involves the South Side Serpents, a biker gang that’s been devaluing the South side of Riverdale for years. And Veronica is having none of it. This here is some of the best character development: from rich bitch to the moral compass of the group. You would assume that Betty would provide the stable base but having it be Veronica offers both ladies a chance to grow in unexpected ways.
And Jughead? He spends this episode upset about the closing of the Riverdale movie theatre. Is he upset as a movie lover or is there something bigger at the heart of Jughead’s frustrations? The final reveal at the end definitely answers that. It’s a deeper look at his family life, his motivations, and an amazing showcase of Cole Sprouse’s acting chops at something that doesn’t have him tormenting Mister Moseby by trashing the lobby of his hotel.
The one character I continue to have massive misgivings about is Kevin. His whole part in this seems to be that he’s gay. Which isn’t diversity, it’s tokenism. When the only thing he brings to the story is his sexuality, yeah I’m not so sure that he’s necessary to have around. If he doesn’t grow through the series, Kevin is going to probably do more harm than good. C’mon Riverdale, we deserve better. Kevin deserves better.
Keep watching! As the character drama ramps up I am drawn further into every little detail that’s being presented. The ending of The Last Picture Show especially tugs at the heartstrings and that is a sure fire way to keep me coming back.