WE INTERRUPT THIS WEEK'S SNARKY RIVERDALE RECAP (RIVERDALE RECAP)
Episode 4 of Riverdale’s second season, “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” aired on Wednesday, November 1st. That was five days before the most recent mass shooting in a Texas church on Sunday, November 5th. By now, we’ve all heard about the shooting, and we have all become a bit more used to saying the most recent mass shooting—a thought that is much more terrifying the more that we say it. I watched “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” on Saturday, November 4th--a day before 26 people were robbed of their lives.
When I first watched the episode on Saturday, I kept thinking of multiple ways in which I could use snark to discuss Archie’s possession of a gun on Riverdale. To do so would be in poor taste, and I am left with other thoughts regarding Archie’s gun.
To recap this Riverdale episode sans-snark:
Archie finds himself slipping further into the darkness of wanting revenge on the Black Hood Man for having shot his father and imposing fear on the town. In his mind, it makes total sense that he stands a chance against a murderer. Fred, his father, even mentions that he is much more afraid of who Archie is becoming than of the Black Hood Man. When Archie gets suspended from school after a locker search conducted by the principal and sheriff reveals a black hood (a mix-up of sorts), he asks Veronica to retrieve something he hid at school in a toilet’s tank. That something is a gun wrapped up in a plastic Ziploc bag.
Here we have a teenager that thought it was safe to bring a gun to school.
Veronica confronts Archie about the gun, and the audience along with Veronica is left stunned when Archie admits that he wants to kill the Black Hood Man.
Here we have Archie, a dramatized character on a “who done it” TV shows for teens, representing the concept of “if I have a gun, I can help in a time of danger.”
However, let’s go back earlier in the episode. Before Veronica confronts Archie about the gun, and before Archie gets suspended, Archie pays a visit to the southside of Riverdale. He believes the Black Hood Man is from the southside because so far, all his victims are from the good part of town—the northside. How is he doing this? By spray painting red circles on various buildings to show the Black Hood Man that the Red Circle is a threat.
A couple of teen Southside Serpents (the big bad gang on this show) catch him in the act of spray painting. They try to start trouble, and here is where we see Archie lose it. He takes out the gun and waves it around, effectively scaring off the other boys. While he is waving the gun around, Archie looks terrified.
When I saw the terrified look on his face, it reminded me of the first time I shot a gun at a shooting range. I was scared when I held the gun in my hand. Having never held a gun or even seeing a gun up close until then, I felt this huge responsibility in my hands. I also felt fear for what I held in my hands, the unknown. I identified with that look on Archie’s face in this scene because I thought for a second the reality of the weapon that he had in his hands had set in.
This was, of course, erased when Veronica confronts Archie about the gun. It’s like he had forgotten that fear he briefly had beforehand.
The climax in Archie’s narrative for this episode (and I’m choosing not to spend time on the other non-Archie, non-gun elements of this episode) occurs during a fist to fist face off between Archie (aided by the football team/rest of the Red Circle members) and the Southside Serpent teens. The number one rule for this face off: no guns.
The scene itself is visually stunning. You have a fight between two sides, the haves and the have-nots—a classically staged fight. On top of that you have pouring rain intruding on this fist fight, which makes everything more chaotic than it would normally be. And just when a Serpent is about to use a knife on another kid, Archie unable to be the savior in that moment, a gunshot goes off.
Who had the gun? Veronica. She stepped in at the right moment and shot into the sky to break up the fight.
Unlike Archie, Veronica didn’t seem shaken after having pulled the trigger. In fact, she became a savior for using the gun in what I imagine the writers meant to show was a peaceful way. However, a peaceful gun is very contradictory.
In a way, I also felt a little like Veronica. It took me a couple of tries during my first shooting range experience to finally feel confident while holding the handgun. Once I did, I felt this other fear—the kind that comes when I realized just how much I enjoyed the adrenaline from shooting the gun, and how that itself was a conflicting feeling. I feared the weapon originally, and then I ended up fearing how the rush felt encouraging in the moment.
The actions and attitudes of the characters in this episode reflect our own complex and tumultuous relationship with guns as a nation. Archie essentially knew that guns were dangerous, but he believed he could be in control if he ever needed to use it. Meanwhile, Veronica protested the use of guns and only used it to warn off the Serpents.
Archie’s gun narrative comes to an end when he and Veronica dispose of the gun by tossing it into the river. It seems just like we do as a nation after a mass gun tragedy occurs, we discuss the pros and cons of gun control—we continue to not see the problem before us, and after much discussion—we move on just like Archie and Veronica. Out of sight, out of mind.
Until it happens again, and I have a feeling that just because the gun flowed down the river… it won’t be the last time we see it on the show or in our actual lives.