Welcome to my review of Riverdale‘s ninth episode – “La Grande Illusion”. Be warned: SPOILERS AHEAD!
This week’s episode of the CW Archie Comics series revolves around the Blossom family’s traditional maple syrup tapping, which Archie is asked to attend as Cheryl Blossom’s date. He agrees to go and uses the opportunity to gather information on Betty’s sister, Polly (Tiera Skovbye). Meanwhile, Veronica tries to help her classmate Ethel (Stranger Things‘ Shannon Purser) after the revelation that Veronica’s father’s illegal doings caused problems for Ethel. In addition, Alice wants revenge on the Blossom bloodline, and she thinks she’s finally found the way to get it.
I like the way they handled the Blossom family in this episode. Up to this point, there really hasn’t been any indication as to exactly which side they’re on. At the beginning of the season, Cheryl was portrayed as your typical high-school rich b*tch that everyone envies but nobody likes. The death of her brother Jason (and the reveal that he was murdered) made her character even more dramatic and teary-eyed. While this episode was certainly dramatic, Cheryl also showed more signs of aggression than she has in the past, viciously coloring out Archie’s and Polly’s faces in a photo at the end of the episode. It isn’t likely that she killed her own brother, but she’s certainly acting like she has the power to murder someone.
The episode also dealt with the breakup of two major characters: Archie and Valerie. While it wasn’t surprising that there was tension between the two in this episode, I didn’t think that their relationship would be over this quickly. Once Valerie’s true thoughts on why she ended the relationship are revealed, it’s easy to see where she’s coming from. However, their romance never really got off the ground, and it’s hard to feel emotion when there’s so little that was actually shown of them over the past few weeks.
The dialogue and acting are subpar in this episode. At the beginning of the series, there just seemed to be more emotion coming from these characters, and at this moment, it isn’t working for me. If the show is going for a more dramatic approach, then yes, the writing and acting are great. But as of right now, the actors are just churning out their lines, making it “just fine” to watch. If the writers and creators want this show to succeed going forward, they need to step up their game. I loved this show from the start, but it’s starting to get a little dry. I only hope it can pull itself together near the end of the season, especially with the arrival of Archie’s mom (Molly Ringwald) next week.
The subplots this week (except for Cheryl’s and Archie’s) went pretty much nowhere. The Veronica subplot this week was interesting enough, but it had very little to work with and that dragged it down. The show had my interest piqued with the revelation that Polly is actually spying on the Blossoms, but it has been shown before in other series and films, and with better writing to go along with it. Even the Betty subplot this week was kind of dull. Like I mentioned before, they just went nowhere with these characters this week except doing what they can to set up what’s next.
Overall, “La Grande Illusion” was fine. It wasn’t a terrible entry in the season, but it is definitely one of its least memorable, thanks to subpar writing and acting, in addition to the episode just serving as a bridge between story arcs. The episode gets a 7/10.