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Riverdale Throws It Back With The Breakfast Club Homage

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The Riverdale parents… We love ’em, we hate ’em, we love to hate ’em. This week, “Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club” gives us an insight into their teen lives and their involvement with the Gryphons and Gargoyles.

Recap

After Gryphons and Gargoyles (G&G) manuals popped up at every Riverdale High locker, adults are taking extra futile steps to prevent the kids from playing. At home, Betty finally confronts Alice about the game with some evidence – the coroner she and Jughead bribed found a file about a similar case (mysterious death, blue lips) around the time Alice was in high school. Alice finally complies and agrees to finally come clean.

Welcome to the flashback! Prepare for lots and lots of 80’s hits!

Gradually we meet our main players, before they became the adults we know now: the rebellious Alice, who just found out she’s pregnant; FP, the star football player, lying about his family’s Southside origins; Hermione, a pristine daughter of an immigrant mother, looking for a way out; Penelope, a mousy overachiever; Sierra, a political activist; and Fred, a musician athlete, with a heart of gold (so no changes here).

After one day all of them, for various reasons, get in Saturday detention, the teens decide to take this time and actually get to know each other, to share their dreams, fears, and struggles. We found out that Sierra McCoy/Tom Keller romance isn’t a new development at all. The couple was madly in love in high school, and they had to hide their relationship from their bigoted parents. Hermione is already dating Hiram Lodge, who she hopes is gonna be her ticket out of Riverdale. Fred Andrews, on contrary, plans to stay here forever, because he loves this town, but also needs to take care of his sick dad. One of the bigger revelations comes from Penelope, who as it turns out, was adopted by the Blossoms from the infamous Sisters of Quiet Mercy orphanage to be groomed to become their son’s wife. Yikes.

Bughead what? Varchie who? McKeller is the only straight couple we root for.

A fight breaks out amidst confession time, and the kids get additional three Saturday detentions. Forced to spend more time together, they actually start to get close and become sort of friends. One Saturday, while trying to get her, um, Gamelad out of the teacher’s drawer, Hermione finds a mysterious board game, Gryphons and Gargoyles. Having nothing better to do, the parents gang decide to play it.

They get sucked in pretty fast and agree to continue playing even after completing the detention. They form the Midnight Club, getting together late at night at school, dressing up in silly costumes to fit their chosen characters. Somewhere in the process, Alica and FP start sorta dating, as well as Fred and Hermione. One night the gang bumps into another team of players, that includes Hiram and Tom, and decide to join forces and play all together.

One day, all players get letters from the alleged Gargoyle King in their lockers, inviting them to the Ascension party. Everyone thinks one of the Game Masters set it up, which we later find out isn’t true. To the party, Hiram brings Fizzle Rocks, the 80’s version of Jingle Jangle, and everyone, except secretly pregnant Alice, take them. The drugs-infused shenanigans ensue, and Alice breaks from the others in the process. On her way back to the classroom, she starts seeing very weird things: from creepy writings and Fresh Aid filled chalices in the bathroom to the Gargoyle King himself in the halls. While running away from the creature, she almost runs into principal Featherhead who, she assumes, learned of their trespassing. She manages to get unnoticed and runs home.

The next day, Alice tries to find out what happened to the rest of the Midnight Club, and Hermione tells her Fred’s dad passed away while they were at the Ascension party. In another news, principal Featherhead is missing.

After the funeral, Alice confesses to the rest she saw Featherhead that night. Penelope insists they keep it a secret because being high and trespassing on the night the principal went missing isn’t the best look for them. A week later, the principal is found dead, with blue lips, at the school’s broom closet.

Alice confronts the Midnight Club and demands to know what happened after she left. But the rest turn on her instead, stating she’s the only one who actually saw Featherhead that night, and conveniently left early. Also, everyone denies wearing the Gargoyle King costume, the one Alice saw in the hall. After plenty of arguing, the gang decides to burn the game manual and scatter the rest of the game elements across the town, so it can’t be traced to them.

With the game destroyed, the Midnight Club is officially over. Everyone goes their separate way: Fred gives up on his musical dreams and starts working at his dad’s construction company; Sierra and Tom break up in hopes to reconnect when the timing is better; FP caves to his abusive father and finally joins the Serpents; Penelope clings closer to Blossoms for stability and protection; Hermione returns to Hiram; and Alice herself tones down the bad girl act and catches herself a fella named Hal Cooper…

After her mom finishes the story, Betty still has plenty of questions. Mainly, who poisoned the chalices that got Featherhead killed? Alice doesn’t know the answer but is pretty sure it’s someone from the Midnight Club. When Betty wants to dig deeper, Alice begs her not to get involved. She explains how intoxicating and therefore dangerous G&G is. Betty promises not to play but she won’t stop the investigation.

The next day, Betty arrives at the bunker to tell Jughead about the Midnight Club but instead, she finds him, Cheryl, Toni, Sweet Pea, and Fangs playing the game. Clearly not well, he insists it’s all making sense now and soon he’ll ascend and meet the Gargoyle King.

Thoughts

What an episode! I had high hopes for this one and for the most part, it did not disappoint! Sure, it didn’t really move the plot, and didn’t answer that many questions, but boy oh boy was it fun! This episode is the exact type of quirkiness I need from Riverdale! It may be silly, but unlike the rest of the episodes, this one was silly intentionally, and therefore I don’t get as mad.

First and foremost, I just gotta mention young Alice! Ugh, the stylist’s mind! The styling overall was very cute. The only one I didn’t love was Penelope – this supposedly mousy, goody-two-shoes character didn’t exactly much well with Madelaine Petsch’s stiletto nails and Kylie Jenner lips (yes, I know Madelaine’s are real).

The soundtrack choices for the episode were a little too on the nose, but every single one of those songs is a bop so I’m not complaining. If it ain’t broke and all that.

I enjoyed exploring the parents’ dynamics we didn’t really see before; FP unsuccessfully hitting on Hermione was hilarious. I honestly didn’t expect McKeller feels to hit me this hard, but they sure did. I don’t know why, but for some reason knowing the fact they had such a genuine love in high school and had to wait all these years to get back together was very touching.

On the other hand, I was very disappointed we didn’t see Mary. Where was she?! As much as I enjoyed getting few of my questions answered about the freak show that is the Blossom family, I felt like Mary would’ve been a much better fit for this plot than Penelope. And Madelaine could’ve played the other redhead mom just as well. Maybe even better.

I also felt like the parents falling into their “adult” roles felt a little too contrived. I’m not really mad, cause I understand they had just one episode to put this all in, but still, some decisions felt kinda unearned. I don’t really get why FP decided to join the Serpents after all, and Fred’s decision on completely giving up music seemed a little overdramatic.

Also, just an observation, but it’s interesting how at the end the boys – FP and Fred – gave up their dreams of better life and ended up following in their fathers’ footsteps; while the women – Alice, Penelope, and Hermione – all ended up basically attaching themselves to a more powerful/successful men, to achieve that “better” life.

The last thing, I saw some people complaining about how unrealistic it is that all the parents went to school together and dated each other, and now their kids are at the same school, dating each other. Let me tell you, as a person not from a small town, but from a secluded, tight-knit neighborhood that very much much feels like a small town, this is not far fetched at all. You’d be surprised.

So what do you think? Is yet another Riverdale parent a murderer? Who is hiding under the Gargoyle King costume?

Next week, Jughead continues losing himself in the game, and the juvie plot is back! Yay…


Images Courtesy of CW

Instead of sorting her actual life out, Nastia prefers living vicariously through dozens of fictional characters.

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One thing that I think you missed, that I feel was the primary purpose for this episode, was that it gave us our pool of suspects for the Gargoyle King.
– Hiram
– Hermione (The front runner for me)
– Penelope (My personal favorite in the flashback)
– Tommy
– Sierra
– FP
– Alice
– Fred
There were a few others, but I feel that their incidentalness to the show makes them bad suspects.

Television

Archie Goes Full Dufresne On Riverdale

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After last week’s exciting change of pace, Archie and the gang return to the present time in “Chapter Forty: The Great Escape” and boy, is it a drag (no, not the fun kind).

Recap

As Archie’s brilliant escape plan to run in the middle of the day, in plain sight of the guards and other prisoners, is failing miserably, we’re back at the bunker, with Betty catching Jughead and the Serpents playing G&G.

Betty tells Jug everything she’s learned from her mother, while Jughead shares his own discoveries about the game. He insists that G&G somehow reflect the real life, Riverdale’s life specifically. Betty is skeptical, so she decides to deal with feasible suspects aka the Midnight Club for now, while Jughead continues playing in order to get to the Gargoyle King his own way.

After Hiram lets Veronica know about Archie’s unsuccessful escape attempt, she decides to take the matters into her own hands. Through her connections in the, um, teenage filial of the local mafia she unknowingly gets herself invited to the warden’s little fight club. She gets a little private time with Archie and they sorta figure out a possible way to break Archie out.

Meanwhile, Betty recruits Josie, Kevin, and Reggie to discreetly question their parents about the Midnight Club. To their kids’ surprise, Mayor McCoy and ex-Sheriff Keller deny even really knowing each other back in high school, let alone dating, while Reggie gets a black eye for even mentioning G&G to his dad.

Unfortunately, the investigation has to be cut short when Veronica comes to all of her friends for help in getting Archie out of juvie. Betty tries to get Jughead on board, but he’s so cut up in a game that he sees the juvie break as nothing more than a great idea for the Serpents’ next G&G mission.

Speaking of juvie, Archie is granted a fancy meal with the warden, who informs Archiekins it’s also gonna be his last one. “The final meal before the final fight”, he says. Warden Norton also all but says outright its’ Hiram’s order. Archie takes a chance asks to hear how Hiram managed to set him up, and warden complies. When asked if Hiram also “owns” him, warden declares his soul “belongs to no mere mortal”, probably alluding to God… Or someone else.

Back at the speakeasy, Veronica lays out her elaborate escape plan for Archie. Basically, they go in undercover to the fight club, create a diversion with self-created smoke bombs (… I know), Archie escapes through the sewer drain, at the end of which Betty will be waiting for him on the Jug’s motorcycle (that she drives impeccably now, apparently).

Mid 2000’s teen rom-com shenanigans realness

Right before Archie starts his final match, he gets stabbed by Joaquin. The latter immediately apologizes and insists the warden said this is the only way he can “ascend”.

It’s game time! Literally and metaphorically. While the gang executes their rescue mission, Jughead and the Serpents are on a G&G quest of their own, that coincidentally mirrors everything the other team is doing. While trying to open the sewer drain grade, Kevin sees Joaquin running for his life through the woods. Kevin decides to follow him and leaves his task to Betty.

Back at the fight club,  Archie is up for his match. And his opponent is no other than Mad Dog. Archie tells him about the escape plan, but it seems like Mad Dog has accepted his fate.

Veronica runs into her father at the fight club, but before he can do anything to stop them she, Reggie, and Josie are setting the pan in motion. Their very slow distraction works and Archie jumps into the drain, while Mad Dog heroically holds off the guards.

At the end of the sewer, Betty meets injured Archie. They race on a bike through the woods to safety, but unfortunately, get caught by the warden and the juvie guards. But PLOT TWIST! It isn’t Archie up on a bike, it’s Kevin. They were a decoy for the guards, while Ronnie and the rest of the crew got Archie to safety at the bunker, where Jughead and the Serpents also just finished their G&G quest.

Tony patches up Archie’s stab wound, and the gang notices the warden has branded Archie with a symbol, similar to those on Ben and Dilton’s backs.

Back at the Lodges, Hermione is going off on Hiram for participating in the underground teen fight club as if she, as a mayor, doesn’t have enough problem to deal with. Veronica arrives just in time for some ass whooping as well.

But *now* we said it.

At Pop’s, Kevin tells Josie and Reggie that he didn’t find Joaquin after all, all while the news of Archie’s escape is heard on the radio. The triple also decides to play G&G by themselves, to find out what their parents, and Betty, don’t tell them about the game.

While watching over Archie at the bunker, Betty and Jug discuss how warden Norton fits into this whole G&G narrative. In the meantime, the warden himself is at his office, getting notified the mayor is here to see him. But unfortunately, they’ll have to reschedule, because the warden just drank the good ol’ cyanide-infused Fresh-Aid.

The episode concludes with Jughead getting back home from the bunker when he finally encounters the Gargoyle King himself.

Thoughts

I honestly don’t have a lot on this one. The episode revolves solely around juvie plot and we all know how I feel about it. The escape sequence is extremely silly, but sticking with Riverdale for so long, nothing fazes me anymore.

My favourite scene was probably Hermione cussing out her dumbass family.  Marisol Nichols did some amazing acting, and it was just so pleasant seeing Hermione to blow up like this. In Season 2 her character felt very Stepford wife (but make it mafia), so it’s great to see her getting some of that agency and character back.

The theory that someone of the Lodges is the Gamemaster behind this G&G madness grows stronger this episode. Killing the Red Paladin aka Archie was obviously a part of Warden Norton’s quest, and we know from the warden himself Hiram ordered to get rid of Archie. Or was the warden lying? Also interesting how Hermione was at the juvie when Norton ended his life. Could be nothing, could be something.

Next week, Archie is fugitive on the run, while Jughead discovers a new piece of the G&G puzzle…


Images courtesy of CW

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Analysis

I like my women… competent

Patrycja

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Criminal minds is a show that I enjoy watching despite sometimes watching it trough my fingers. It never fails to get my adrenaline going. One of it’s many great traits is the selection and capability of present female characters, be it unsubs or agents. The lead women are versatile and different while still having a few common traits. Furthermore they’re always competent and do the job the best they can.

The leader

Emily Prentiss is one of member of the team that was with them from almost the beginning. She went trough all the career steps, finally becoming the team leader.

Her being in charge was one of my favorite story lines. She earned that privilege with exceptional service and field work with various agencies. Her character replaced Aaron Hotchner as unit chief in season 12 after he resigned. It’s wonderful to finally see a woman leading a team; it happens so rarely. She has a great deal of experience with many different cultures as her parents were diplomats. That’s also how she speaks a few different languages, and it’s a skillset that has helped solve quite a few cases.

While on cases, she’ s rarely upset or lets her emotions get in the way, which is one of the reasons why she makes a great unit chief. She is level headed and calm and always factors many different scenarios into her decisions. With that being said she is also quick on her feet and can make split second decisions when she needs to.

While being calm and collected she still empathizes with the victims and their families and doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice herself to protect others. She’s not only a skilled field agent but also an undercover operator, which was shown in her stint catching Ian Doyle. That particular unsub also forces her to fake her own death without informing her team, with JJ and Hotchner being the only exceptions. She eventually reunites with the team in season 7 after the whole Doyle debacle was over.

She isn’t with the BAU the entire time. As previously stated she also work with other agencies like the Interpol. Even if she isn’t always with the team, she is referenced and talked about or pops up for a visit. Her work as unit chief hasn’t always been smooth sailing either. She was reassigned after she pursued a case and went toe to toe with Linda Barnes, who disbanded the team.

The mother

Jennifer “JJ” Jareau is the only women on the team with a family. She has two sons with her husband Will, who was a police detective in New Orleans. The fact that JJ is a mother strongly affects the way she acts and responds.

Although she started working when she wasn’t a mom, she always sympathized with the victims and their families the most visibly. Since she started as a police and media liaison, JJ was often responsible for contacting the families of the victims or their loved ones. She always did a great job while consoling them.

Her early role as media liaison made her the “media face” of the bureau, as she often spoke at press conferences. She was also responsible for choosing the cases the team would be working on, so her job came with a lot of responsibility. Her excellent work in that position was the reason for her reassignment and classified assignment. After her comeback in season 7, she made the change to profiler and her responsibilities were taken over by Hotch and Penelope. She is a skilled profiler, as even before she was one she was often crucial to solving cases and did that job even without the title. Her transition was also easier because she observed the team as their liaison.

She was one of the two people to know that Emily didn’t die. As they are close friends. JJ was also the one who met Prentiss in Paris after her “death”.” That close friendship is a recurring theme with the two characters, as Prentiss comes back when Jennifer is missing.

JJ has been trough tough times including the suicide of her older sister, her classified assignment, not to mention the toll the cases take. While she can wear her heart on her sleeve, she is also a skilled operator who will do anything for her family and for the people she loves. As my choice of calling her “the mother” implies, Jennifer is the one who takes care of all the team members. She shares a special bond with Reid, who is the godfather of her son Henry.

Finally, Jennifer is also a great leader, which was showcased when she replaced Emily Prentiss in the role of team leader. Although she has the ability to lead she doesn’t aspire to be the BAU’s chief. She’s content being an SSA.

Baby Girl

The first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Penelope Garcia is her relationship with Derek Morgan, well, and her unique personality.

Penelope is a former hacker gone good who’s now a technical analyst. Out of all the Criminal Minds characters, she’s the most colorful one—literally. Garcia often offers comic relief and a sense of light and joy to the intense show, and is the one the audience can probably relate to the most if you exclude her computer knowledge.

She is very emotional and openly shows all of her reactions. It doesn’t surprise anyone that she can’t look at horrific crime scene photos; her office is filled with colorful and cute stuff because of the horror that fills her screens (that’s what Hotch says to Strauss while describing the analyst). She also often speaks a bit too intimately when talking to team members, especially Derek. She gives him nicknames like chocolate thunder, etc, and he, in turn, calls her ‘baby girl’. These would normally be considered sexual harassment (which was even addressed in a funny scene in episode 9×12).


But it never actually crosses that line because they have a mutual understanding that it’s a consensual conversational choice. In fact, Penelope’s special relationship with Morgan is what initially drew me to the show. There is just something in how different they are personality-wise while still being very close to each other and understanding the other perfectly that compelled me. And while my shipper heart never understood why the two never dated, I have to admit that sticking to a platonic relationship between these two was a great move.

She makes him laugh and calls him out on his BS. He grounds her and helps her focus and get the job done. Their close relationship is probably the reason why it took Garcia a long time to warm up to Luke Alvarez, who replaced Morgan after he retired. It was implied that Garcia and Morgan are still in contact despite him not being on the show; she is even the godmother to his son.

As previously stated, Garcia is a skilled computer expert and former hacker. Her work is often crucial to finding the unsub. While that is her primary job, after JJ’s promotion she also became the liaison for the team. A job she shared with Hotch till he retired. The best way to describe her is that Penelope’s character is the counterbalance we need to all the heaviness and seriousness of the show.

Criminal minds proves that we can have a show that perfectly balances it’s male and female characters. It offers us a selection of women who all are intelligent, skilled, competent, educated, professional, and strong while staying human and showing emotions.


Images courtesy of CBS

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Television

Tailor Soldier Spy: Black Lightning 2×05

Sarah

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Black Lightning, Anissa, and Jennifer with the phrase Get Lit
Hello and welcome back to Black Lightning season 2 after one of those weird one-week hiatuses that networks sometimes do!

Last episode, Lynn was struggling to navigate her pure heart clashing against Dr. Jace’s conscience-less one at the ASA; Anissa was vigilante-ing and Thunder and Black Lightning diffused several bombs at a neighborhood clinic; and Jen was imploding under the pressure of house arrest to the point where she finally responded to Kahlil’s messages and met him at Garfield.

This week, our fam is still pretty much in the same boat as they were in the previous episode, but with the sudden devastating addition of Gambi’s supposed death by assassins (presumably sent by Tobias).

going out in a blaze of glory

The general rule for things like this is that if there’s no body (which in this case there isn’t), the character isn’t dead (see also: Delphine Cormier). But for now, we’re all operating under the assumption that Gambi’s dead, which makes for some heartbreaking crying from the entire Pierce family, including Jefferson who at first won’t believe Gambi’s gone. It’s so sad, y’all.

when ur faves cry, u cry

In her grief, Anissa indulges her central character flaw, aka using Grace/sex with Grace as an emotional crutch. When she shows up at Grace’s apartment, she has all kinds of claims about how she now knows what’s important and Grace is the only person besides her family that she cares about, but in the morning when Grace asks Anissa to look her in the eyes and promise she won’t hurt her again, Anissa can’t do it. Really Anissa? Please stop with this nonsense. I love our bulletproof lesbian but given the way she treats her girlfriends, I would not date her.

Grace, for her part, looks like she’s about to turn into some kind of supernatural being with creepy-crawly skin, which is also something that’s happening to some other Freeland residents such as a skittish boyfriend of one of Anissa’s pregnant patients who turns up dead at the clinic (did I mention Anissa now works there because she can do everything?), and a cop who pulls her over as she drives out to check on said pregnant patient. CREEPY.

but this is sexy tho

Jen, meanwhile, has some particularly great moments this episode, the first being her witty one-sided banter with her online learning program. We also get to see the conversation she and Kahlil had at Garfield, which consisted of both of them quietly lamenting their circumstances. When Kahlil asks her then, and again later in the episode, of she thinks they can fix whatever they have together, Jen is a true Strong Female Character and basically is like, no dude, we get each other on an important level but we cannot be a thing anymore. (Anyway that’s what her facial expression said, I’m pretty sure).

Lynn aka perpetual Black Lightning MVP finds herself tricked into believing Dr. Jace has used Lynn’s amazing brain-power-math to crack a code that will save all the pod kids, but it turns out it will only save half of them and the rest of them die. This is not great for Lynn’s giant heart and after slapping Dr. Jace’s smug face and having her dragged off by security, she is left alone to deal with the mess and be extra sad because yeah, Gambi’s gone too. And because she’s Lynn, she’s also doing all the emotional labor on behalf of Jefferson who is in denial about Gambi until the end of the episode. Someone give this woman a trophy and a massage.

sad face emoji

Tobias (I guess we have to talk about him too) is busy being horrible as usual, relentlessly intimidating Kahlil and also blackmailing a councilman into helping advance his agenda to take over Freeland and ultimately kill Black Lightning. So, great. That guy sucks.

the only option for a last image: Gambi & Jefferson

That’s it for this week, friends! Do you think Gambi is really dead? Do you think Anissa needs to get her lesbian act together? Do you think Jen will be ok?!?!?! Come back next week and maybe we’ll find out!


Images courtesy of The CW

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