This episode of Riverdale, titled “Heart of Darkness” focuses mainly on Jason Blossom’s memorial. The first half of the episode is pretty much the lead up to the memorial, and the second half takes place at the memorial itself. This was a pretty big episode as far as shedding new light on certain characters. There were also a few important revelations in this episode that helped to further the theories of who could have killed Jason.
Archie spent the majority of this episode wrestling with what he wanted to do regarding music and football. He started out the episode seemingly determined to focus primarily on football so that he could get a scholarship and go to college to study music. However, that plan took a hit when Valerie, one of the members of Josie and the Pussycats, told Archie that she had a contact in the music scene that could help him out. Archie takes his number and eventually has a meeting with him. This is where one of my issues with this episode occurs. The first meeting between Archie and Oscar is fine enough, with Oscar telling him that he needs to write down his music so that they can be on the same page. Archie does this and then comes back for another meeting with Oscar. At this point, Oscar tells Archie that he thinks his songs are juvenile, and that he doesn’t think he has the focus to make it. He then pretty much tells Archie that he can’t help him, making this entire plot thread meaningless. I’m no expert, but a teacher or mentor who gives up on a student before a single lesson, doesn’t seem like much of a mentor. The way that plot thread ended so abruptly just makes me wonder why they did it at all. They could have just had Valerie offer to help Archie herself, and skip those unnecessary scenes. On the plus side, Luke Perry has a genuinely funny scene as Archie’s father when he walks into Archie’s room to see him and Valerie working on music together.
Most of Veronica’s time this episode was spent with Cheryl. She receives an invite from Cheryl for a sleepover the night before Jason’s funeral is to take place. She accepts the invitation and once there, realizes that she is the only person that Cheryl invited. They both have dinner with the Blossom parents, who both seem to be pretty despicable people, especially the mother. Penelope is a bitch, making it easy to see why Cheryl is the way that she is. She outright forbids Cheryl to speak at Jason’s memorial, saying that she would undoubtedly say something to embarrass the family. You immediately get the feeling that Cheryl’s relationship with her parents is extremely strained, and was probably that way even before Jason’s death. Veronica does her best to help Cheryl through this night leading up to Jason’s memorial, and it seems like the two may actually be developing somewhat of a real friendship. One of the best scenes in the episode comes at the memorial, when Cheryl comes down the stairs and into the room wearing the same white dress she was wearing on the day Jason went missing. Everyone else is wearing black, but she wears that white dress and walks straight up to the podium and starts speaking, which was basically a big “fuck you” to her mother. I loved seeing Cheryl stand up to her mother like that, although it seemed to have consequences, as later in the episode she tells Cheryl that she is going to ship her off to boarding school. I don’t imagine that will actually happen, but still.
Betty, Jughead, and Kevin successfully recreate the Sheriff’s murder board that was destroyed when his office was ransacked in the last episode. I really like that Betty is fully embracing this whole investigative reporter arch that her character is on so far. She has a real reason to want to find out who killed Jason, so her motivations seem genuine. In order to get some more information, Betty confronts her father in the garage and asks him to tell her what exactly happened between Polly and Jason. Hal tells her that Polly and Jason got into a big fight that left her devastated. He then tells Betty how he came home one day to find Polly attempting suicide in the bathtub, and that’s why they sent her away. Betty also goes on a “date” with Trev to try and get more information about Jason. He tells her about how Jason started to sell off a bunch of his stuff not long before his disappearance.
At the memorial, Betty and Jughead sneak off to Jason’s room to look for clues. However, they are caught by Jason’s grandmother, who thinks that Betty is Polly. Through their interaction, it is revealed that Jason had proposed to Polly and given her a ring. Later, Betty confronts her father once again, this time about what she learned from Jason’s grandmother. This scene shows Betty’s father doing a complete turnaround from how he was in the garage scene. He tells Betty about how Cheryl’s grandfather killed her grandfather and that has led to generations of feuding and hate between the two families. He tells Betty that Polly is sick and that Jason made her sick. He also says that she isn’t coming home until she is no longer sick, and then warns Betty against digging any further into the matter.
Probably the most important revelation of the episode comes right at the end, where it is revealed that Betty’s father is the one who ransacked the Sheriff’s office, stealing a bunch of the evidence that he had gathered. This places him right in the thick of the murder suspects, especially when combined with his vaguely threatening speech to Betty earlier in the episode. It seems that next week we will finally be seeing Polly for the first time, so that should undoubtedly shed even more light on what happened between her and Jason, and maybe give us yet another suspect in his death.
Overall, this was a solid episode. Not my favorite of the season, but still filled with enough important moments that further the story along. I am fully invested in the story and the characters at this point, and can’t wait to see what comes next.