Saturday, May 13, 2017

'Riverdale' Is Awesome and Special Because of Bughead

The debut season of the new, addictive teen drama Riverdale has just ended.  And it left a lot of questions.
Is the drug business the sole reason Clifford Blossom killed his son, Jason?  I don’t feel that’s the whole story.  Did he really hang himself?  Or did Cheryl and/or Penelope have to do something with it?  Why did Cheryl burn their house down?  Did she just go full batshit crazy, or there’s a purpose behind it?  Has the ordeal completely tipped Cheryl to the Dark Side?  And where was Grandma Blossom?  Heck, was she inside the burning mansion?  Will Jughead become a Southside Serpent?  Will this be the beginning of the end for Bughead?  I’ll be beyond pissed if this happens.  Will Jughead ever stop being angsty?  Will Betty snap, revealing a split personality?  Who is Betty’s secret brother?  Do we know him already?  What’s the deal with Hermione Lodge?  Is she a Lady Macbeth (as Veronica puts it) deep down?  Her double-facedness is quite intriguing.  Where is Miss Grundy now?  Will she come back?  I don’t think her whole arc is just about seducing Archie.  Who shot Fred Andrews?  Most importantly, who ordered the hit?  Hiram Lodge is the easy answer, but did he really?  Is Fred still alive?  Man, my heart sunk when he got shot, and I’ll be heartbroken if he dies.  Will Archie and Jughead ever have a legit bromance?  Among all pop culture best friend characters I’ve encountered, theirs is the one that has the least rapport (considering that their comic book and cartoon counterparts have an impeccable one).  Will Archie ever genuinely make good music (honestly, as much as the show pretends he’s good, he’s an unimpressive musician – K.J. Appa can shred like nobody’s business in real life though)?  Is Valerie really no longer mad at Archie?  Their last talk ended with her going ballistic at him, but in the finale, she was totally cool with performing alongside him with the other Pussycats, just like that.  Will Sabrina and the supernatural truly enter Riverdale?  Does Riverdale really have the vision and capability to piece all of its fascinating puzzles in a gratifying way, or was it just pretentiously winging it all this time?
It’s maddening that we’ll have to wait at least until next year (season two’s probable time of release) before the possibility of answers is made available.  But the frustration of waiting is only a testament on how much this show gripped its audience.

In retrospect, well, I just realized that its payoffs aren’t really that gratifying.  It’s because it tends to set up and build up its mysteries in a way in which you would be brought to expect bonkers solutions for them, but the actual revelations are, honestly, not as mindblowing as anticipated.  But, still, there’s no resulting feeling of disenchantment or being cheated.  It’s because the way the narrative unravels is so engrossing and delightful that, regardless of the resolution, the whole thing feels complete and filling.  In other words, the journey is so rewarding already that even if the destination isn’t as awesome as hoped, it was still a terrific experience.  And I can trace this sentiment to the sharp script (the dialogue alone is to die for); fantastic direction and acting; and crazy, interesting, lovable characters.
And a great cast.
However, the main reason I consider Riverdale a triumph – as what I had first posited when I presented my initial thoughts of the show – is because it brought Bughead about.  Furthermore, if you think about it, the first season has really been about Betty and Jughead.  They are easily the most interesting characters of the series; among all the character arcs, theirs – as individuals and as a couple – are what’s worth caring for the most.  And between Jughead serving as narrator and the fact that almost all of what’s happening involve them in some way, the two of them are the major driving forces of the plot.

Truly, in its debut season, Riverdale proved to be a good, worthwhile re-imagining of the “Archie and Friends” comic book property.  But Bughead is what really made it an awesome and special show.
Riverdale is Betty and Jughead's world.  Archie and the rest are just living in it.

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