Over the last couple of months, eager fans have been patiently counting down the days, hours and minutes until the release of the second season of the Netflix original series, Riverdale. The first season, consisting of thirteen explosive episodes, captivated viewers with its eerie and dark storyline masked behind lovable characters living in an outwardly picture perfect town. Thanks to the series’ immense popularity, Netflix released the second series last month.
The story of the small town of Riverdale centres on life-long friends Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones. At the beginning of season one, new girl Veronica Lodge enters the group. The series begins following the tragic and mysterious death of Jason Blossom, a high-achieving popular boy who had gone missing while out rowing on Sweetwater River with his twin sister, Cheryl. His body is soon found however it is clear that his death was no accident. Throughout the first season, the characters balance their busy personal lives and friendships whilst trying to solve the mystery of Jason’s murder.
Arguably the most important character in Riverdale is Archie Andrews. Archie is a kind hearted but conflicted sophomore at Riverdale High. He is a keen sportsman, particularly in football, however his deepest passion is writing and performing music much to the disapproval of his father. Archie manage other dilemmas in the first season including his damaged friendship with Jughead and the sudden interest of several girls after he becomes more physically attractive over the Summer after working on his dad’s construction site.
Betty Cooper is Archie’s girl-next-door, life-long best friend and neighbour. Suffocated by the intense pressure her mother puts on her, Betty develops a darker side throughout the season – a stark contrast from her initial studious and pristine image. She maintains her beautifully sweet and need-to-please nature while her crush on Archie and friendship with Veronica blossoms. Deep down, Betty is very powerful but isn’t able to unleash her strength due to her mother and Cheryl Blossom’s dominance over her. Veronica puts a stop to this and viewers get to watch Betty’s confidence bloom.
Jughead Jones is an introverted social outcast who openly describes himself as a ‘weirdo’. He was life-long friends with Archie however they encounter unknown issues over the Summer which result in a strong rift between them. Jughead is inquisitive and intelligent and spends a lot of his time documenting and investigating the murder of Jason Blossom. This doubles as a voice-over narration in each episode. Regardless of his lone-wolf exterior, he interacts and remains close with the other main characters in the series.
The final central character of Riverdale is confident, sophisticated and eloquent new girl Veronica Lodge. Having recently move to Riverdale from New York, Veronica uses this fresh start as an opportunity to abandon her spoilt and entitled attitude and reinvent herself in order to become a better person. She is instantly attracted to Archie upon her arrival however decides to suppress her feelings as she befriends Betty, who is clearly in love with him. Veronica moves to Riverdale with her mother following the arrest and incarceration of her father after he is involved in an embezzlement scandal. She and her mother have lost most of their wealthy and high status due to the scandal so Veronica spends most of the first season adapting to her new life, persona and friends.
These four complex and endearing characters form strong bonds as time goes on, often joined by Betty and Veronica’s friend Kevin Keller, who is the openly gay son of the town’s Sheriff. The characters also have conflicts with queen bee Cheryl Blossom as she torments Betty and manipulates the group. Confident and silver-tongued, Veronica challenges Cheryl and they become enemies. The softer side of Cheryl is also revealed as she uses her mean attitude as a cover for her deep pain over the death of her beloved brother. Regardless of the bad blood between them, the girls frequently support each other showing that their rivalry shouldn’t really be taken seriously.
After watching the shocking season finale, it is difficult to predict what will happen next. While many questions are answered, many more questions are opened up. Riverdale has certainly shaken off its picturesque image and as time goes on, the town becomes a darker and more dangerous place. As more gruesome and shocking events unfold, we will likely see the characters’ relationships and inner strength be tested. Archie in particular, is set to face a series of challenges within the season and the gang will have many more secrets to discover.
Riverdale is on weekly on Wednesdays on Netflix.
Review by Jemima Dover