‘Nighthawks’ is probably a prime example of what Riverdale is. Everyone gets together to save Pop’s, but in doing so may have accidentally created a haven for criminal activity. This doesn’t even begin to cover the plethora of blackmail, threats, murder and drug dealing going on before we even get to Pop’s big night, not to mention Archie Andrews purchasing a gun.
Not slacking for a moment after the intensity of last week’s premiere, ‘Nighthawks’ is another hugely enjoyable hour of television that sees Riverdale take the optimistic, good nature of Archie Comics and swerves it into an atmospheric, neon-lit, brilliantly plotted gutter where it looks as if we can look forward to every episode this season ending on a nore of violent death.
This clashing of the old and modern is becoming ever more the driving force of the show; everything looks like it should be the 50’s, but with references to The Godfather and Scarface, and Archie Andrews purchasing a gun just so he can get some sleep, and this coming after buying drugs of Reggie, once again Riverdale is reminding the audience that this is not the Archie Comics of your parents’ generation.
Whilst not being a gritty show in the manner of something like The Wire, there is definitely a feeling that this stylish interpretation of one of the most famous of comic book characters is feeling even darker than last season. A key plot twist involves Betty Cooper blackmailing Cheryl Blossom, and that’s actually some of the more decent behaviour going on in the episode.
Speaking of Cheryl Blossom, once again Madeline Petsch shows herself to be the most brilliant performer on the show. From her show stealing entrance in last week’s premiere, this week we find out that she’s practically living in a gothic melodrama straight out of Hollywood from the 50’s. What else can one say about having dinner in a greenhouse no less with your badly burned mother, and then attempting to bring peace to her by making her watch a USB drive containing a recording of your father’s murder?
Okay, that last point would never have featured in a Bette Davis movie, and whilst I think the intention of Cheryl is decent, for once, just the fact that they have dinner with Jughead and Betty in a greenhouse that even The Addams Family might think was pushing it is a gloriously funny image.
Throwing a lot into a single episode, everyone gets their moment to shine again. Betty felt somewhat sidelined last week, the only one to feel like they were, but this episode makes up for it by having her blackmail Cheryl and save help save Pop’s. Her sentimental reasons for doing so are beautifully delivered by Lili Reinhart and feels like something straight from the comics. To then have her resort to blackmail to help Jughead is another reminder that this is *not* Archie Comics as we know it.
This darker beast of a show loves nothing more than to remind us that this is what happens when the real world intrudes onto something as pure as that of the world it’s interpreting. Whilst blackmail is going on, Jughead is finding himself being roped into a Godfather style scenario with the Serpents’ lawyer, Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan), who wants Jughead to repay her with a favour at a later date. The only thing missing from the whole scene is Peabody leading Jughead out of her office telling him to accept this as a token of her daughter’s wedding day.
This is the second week in a row where it’s felt like a character in the show has felt like they’ve walked into a CW version of a Godfather movie, what with Veronica’s father looking like he was starring in his own version of it last week. Mark Consuelos steps out of the shadows this hour and we get to see more of him, and like everything in Riverdale, just when we think we’ve got to grips with him, a darker side quietly erupts. Whilst it looks as if Veronica’s mother, Hermione (Marisol Nichols), is really pulling the strings, it turns out that both Lodge’s are as bad as each other and surely it’s only a matter of time before Veronica gets caught up in the middle.
The moment between them in Pop’s where they appear comfortable with each other whilst talking about buying Pop’s and being jovial over the threatening note that Hiram sent to his daughter ensuring her co-operation last season is dark, and yet shows a loving couple who, in a dark and twisted way, could represent relationship goals. So just remember, be honest with your spouse, even when talking about crime and be a happy people.
Ending with another brutal murder, and once again in an incredibly violent manner for a CW show, the curtain drops on another enjoyable episode of Riverdale. It’s likely we’re going to have wait out the entire season to find out who The Hooded Killer is, but at this rate it’s going to be an incredibly enjoyable ride.
Riverdale airs every Thursday on Netflix in the UK. Let us know what you think of the season.