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Ghosts from our pasts often have a way of sneaking up on us and the skeletons in our closets often find a way out at the most inopportune of moments.  Riverdale’s citizens are in for a flashback this week when the ghosts from their pasts come back.  None of us like when the ghosts return, but in Riverdale’s case, it is even more unpleasant.  It was an episode full of unwelcome reunions, drugs, and criminals on the loose in this week’s mid-season finale of The CW’s Riverdale titled Chapter Eighty-Six: The Pincushion Man.  Things also took a dark turn and left us with a massive cliffhanger in true Riverdale fashion!

Thoughts? Ask Again Later

Before I go into the recap, I must open with some thoughts that came to mind before I started.  First of all, the title of this episode concerned me as soon as I saw it.  It sounded- for lack of a better word, ridiculous.  I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.  I assumed it would be a voodoo-type scenario where they branch into the supernatural once again, but the reality was quite dark and not at all expected.  Well played on that front, Riverdale.  Although the title was worrisome, Jughead’s mustache was probably the most concerning part of the last two episodes.  I really hope when it returns this summer, that he no longer has that mustache!

Outlook: Not So Good

So why did I mention ghosts from the past returning?  I’ll get to that shortly, but this week was so full of drama that if you blinked you would miss something.  Betty’s FBI Agent friend, Glen, is in Riverdale to investigate Polly’s disappearance.  The duo seems to have some sort of history at first glance, due to what appears to possibly be a morning after scenario at the show’s start, but that may be short lived.  As the episode continues, he brings up to Betty that he is writing a dissertation on nature vs. nurture and using her family as the subjects.  Does he know Betty at all?  How does he expect her to react to that news?  As for the ghosts of Betty’s past, after an incident at the prison, Chic and Charles end up back at the Cooper residents for a very unhappy reunion. 

I do not have to go into detail for this one, but obviously this encounter turns violent quickly and results in some bloodshed.  Well, I was hoping we were rid of the Charles and Chic storyline. But Riverdale has a way of continuing to bring the skeletons in it’s closet back out, and not in a good way.  In fact their inability to move on from certain events is one of my biggest problems with the show, because it is never the events that the viewers want.  In fact, it is quite often the worst plot points of the show’s history that they continue to revisit time and time again.  We all remember the cult right?  

Thornhill Leads To The Supernatural

Over at Thornhill, the maple trees are not producing any syrup.  This leaves Cheryl worried about the future of her family’s business and Nana says it’s due to the Blossom curse.  As if that is not enough of a problem, why not add another?  Hiram still wants the maple groves for himself.  In a futile attempt to buy them for Cheryl, Reggie, who is trying to regain Hiram’s trust after the football team incident last week, attempts to swoon Nana on Hiram’s behalf to buy the groves out from underneath Cheryl. 

Nana, who wants to rid the family of the curse, sells the groves to him.  It seems as if Hiram has won. After a visit from Cheryl, he learns that Nana is not legally allowed to be in control of anything pertaining to the groves. So he’s left empty handed.  It is at this point that Hiram, through the help of Reggie, takes matters into his own hands.  

Is Varchie Endgame? Signs Point to Yes

What is Riverdale and Archie without Veronica?  This week we see tension on their horizon as Veronica heads back to New York to try and get Chad to sign their divorce papers.  How does Chad get her to return? With some good, old fashioned blackmail, that’s how!  Veronica’s intent is for it to be a short trip and come home to Archie once all the loose ends have been wrapped up.  She says she has to take care of things.  Although she goes to New York with the intention to end things with Chad for good, when do things ever go the way Veronica wants them to? 

While Veronica is out of town Archie faces challenges in doing the honorable thing versus taking orders from his superior in his civilian life. This week was no exception to that struggle.  Although Archie’s arc was on the back burner this week, this is one of my favorite plot points this season.  His character is one of the only characters who seems to have at least a little growth.  

Where’s Jughead? Cannot Predict Now

If you have been following my reviews you know that last week I said the parts with Jughead feel more like a spinoff within a show rather than cohesive with everything else going on.  This week was not much different.  Aside from some visions he has of Betty, which I will get to in a moment, he has not had many scenes with the rest of his friends in a while.  All his scenes are instead with the new manager of Pop’s, Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook). The writers are definitely pushing the struggling author trope with Jughead.  How is that the struggling author trope you might ask? 

Well because after a heart to heart with Tabitha he admits that his best work comes from a drug-induced state in the form of maple mushrooms that help unlock the trauma parts of his brain.  Upon revealing this information, he asks her to watch him while he takes them, to ensure he does not do anything drastic.  So there you have it.  I guess it is true what they say, behind every great author, is a dark secret.  Like I said, ghosts from our pasts, they have a way of coming back to us. 

As for where this drugged state takes Jughead, we will not find out until the show returns, because-SPOILER ALERT- he disappeared AGAIN!  It’s almost as if the show relies on Jughead because it knows that he’s a fan favorite, and the reason most people watch the show still.  Alright, maybe not most people, but I am definitely guilty of this. 

So, What now?  Reply Hazy, Try Again

As you can see, this episode was a lot to process and follow.  I know the pandemic caused certain stories to be more rushed then what was probably originally intended.  I want to forgive them for the rushed nature of this episode, and I do, but only a little.  In my opinion, it’s still as if they are struggling on where they want this show to go and what type of show they want it to be.  I think the writing is getting slightly repetitive with barely any character development.  Everyone basically stays the same, except a few characters.  I understand I am not a television writer, but Riverdale, please take the time off to find a bit more focus in the second half of this season, because this is getting messy. 

I like some mess, don’t misunderstand that, but too much of it just makes for harder clean up.  It was not all bad, however, in fact, I’ll give this episode 3.5 stars.  After all, we had no aliens this week and it improved greatly from some of the previous episodes of this season.  Is it on an incline once more? Things can always take a turn in Riverdale, sometimes for the worse, but after all is said and done, we all still join in for the ride!  You can catch this week’s episode on or the CWTV app now. 

Riverdale will return on The CW July 7th at 8 PM.