Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Haunting Of Riverdale: Part Three

Growing up, I always preferred Betty over Veronica.  Yes, Veronica was rich beyond anybody's wildest dreams (the exception, of course, being her own dreams), and she had gorgeous raven black hair...but I liked Betty.  It wasn't the blond hair, it wasn't the obsessive behavior amount of doting she laid on Archie, and it wasn't the "oh, she's the good girl next door" aspect.

I think what I liked about Betty was just how she seemed to be the polar opposite of Veronica, in that she had many different layers to her character, while Veronica seemed to be all about the money.

However, I realized later on that Veronica Lodge isn't the anti-Betty at all.  She's actually her own, surprisingly well-developed character.  I mean, sure, her key attributes are still the ones listed above, but then I start to think of how she interacts with the group.  She has never once refused to buy something for her friends, lend them the use of her father's enormous estate, or acted the least bit stingy when it comes to using what she has to help people, whether it's her father's company jet for a quick trip around the world or simply having the exact plot device flown in for delivery with "I want it now" speed.  She was always accepting of other people, whether it was their sexual orientation, religion, or lifestyle choices (she was the only person who accepted Jughead during his "hippie" phase in the 70s), but wouldn't hesitate to put down their fashion choices.  But she was never the athlete, the key superhero, or the one you'd expect to get down and dirty.

So the fact that these episodes have had this kind of a spotlight on Veronica, taking the same shallow character we expect and adding a responsibility to things that are almost literally "out of her world," it's added yet another layer of growth onto an already complex character.

Let's jump in to the third episode of the "Scarlet Saga" as I (and only I) am calling it.

I think it's pretty safe to assume we're still in that same week, even though I think there were episodes that aired in-between all of these.

We open up at the same abandoned farm where Medlock was buried for centuries.  You'd think that if you've been under a building complex for centuries you'd be pretty sick of the whole place and try going somewhere else, but what do I know?  Medlock is still looking like what would happen if you dug up William Hickey and propped him up in a chair, but when Scarlet wishes out loud (foolish mistake!) that there is something she can do, and then proceeds to drain her life force (unlife force?) to restore his own.

Man, centuries in a coffin, those (and I use the term loosely) "clothes" must be pretty rank by now.  Also, it's too bad that restoring his "youth" and vigor didn't heal any of the scars.  Or make him look any less ridiculous.

Medlock is still fixated on the "eternal night of the vampires" business, which I suppose means we should get over to Veronica to see what she's doing.

Veronica, of course, has turned the entire Lodge Mansion into a huge Halloween bash.  I can pick out a bunch of secondary characters in the background, which is a cute detail.  Archie shows up looks like some weird suit of armor with a squirt gun, Jughead is Rudolph, and Betty is dressed up as the captain of the cheerleader squad.

"But Betty, you are the captain of the cheerleader squad!"

"It's the realism that makes it such a great costume."

Veronica, meanwhile, is taking the duties of a fortune teller in a small sequestered tent, but seems AWOL when Betty and Archie stop by.  However, a withered old crone shows up to take over the responsibilities, and it's kind of scary that nobody recognizes her.

Once Veronica finally shows up and we get the "whaaaaa?" moment out of the way, Scarlet explains to the three that Medlock betrayed her and cast her aside (for the second time, you might remember).  She sulks a bit because she "thought they were friends."

Um, the way you were doting on him makes Betty and Veronica's fixation on Archie seem sane and rational, lady.

"Just friends."  Right.

Veronica acts like it's no big deal having Medlock walking around again, figuring she can just blast him with the sun stone again.  Unfortunately, the sun stone crumbled to dust the last time it was used, leaving the amulet as just a cheap piece of costume jewelry.

The secret to keeping the "eternal night of the blah blah blah" from happening is to keep Medlock from, um... er... "making friends" with the chosen one.  Seriously, that's how they explain it in the show.  If Medlock "befriends" with Veronica, they're in a heap of trouble.  Oh, and apparently "befriending" her means turning her into a vampire.  Again.

 Fortunately, Veronica's safe as long as Medlock can't get into the house a- hey, how did Scarlet get in?

Oh.  The butler invited her at the door.  Welp, they're doomed.

Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Scarlet discuss strategy, but despite Scarlet's insistence that keeping Veronica safe is the most important thing (you know, that whole "key to preventing eternal night"), Archie decides that the most important thing is to warn their friends and get them safe first.

Things...aren't going well for the good guys.

Once the party guests realize that it isn't just a really well done make-up job and that vampires actually are real, most of them evacuate pretty quickly.  Archie, Betty, and Veronica rush to the kitchen to try to find some garlic (or garlic powder, in a pinch), where we discover that the loyal butler, Smithers, has also been turned.  Betty soon gets turned as well (despite absolutely kicking Reggie's ass with an elbow to the solar plexus and an over the shoulder toss into a refreshment table), and Archie gets kidnapped to be used as bait for Veronica.

For the record, this now leaves the good guys as: Veronica, Jughead, and a withered old Scarlet.

Things are really not looking go- wait, there's one more?

Dilton Doiley's there?

...Dilton.  Doiley.

The kid who, years ago, was doing this:

The kid who, at various times of his life, has invented everything from a fully functional flying carpet to time travel and once had his own book where he had to deal with everything from alien invaders to Godzilla attacking the city.

So, with the single greatest brain in Riverdale (and, arguably, Earth) on their side, what's their plan to deal with vampires?

Super Soakers full of garlic water.  Greeaaaaat.

Spotting Archie slumped in a chair, Veronica rushes over to him (it's reasons like this I expect her to die in Afterlife With Archie)  just to find that he's been ... um, "befriended" by the vampires as well.  In no short order Jughead and Dilton both fall, leaving just Veronica (and Scarlet) to save the world.

Okay, so Veronica's going to do something really clever, like pull open the doors to reveal the sun already rose while they were distracted, or that Dilton gave her an insta-kill tool or something for the big bad himself...

Except no.  Veronica gets turned into a vampire as well, leaving our cast completely transformed.  The prophecy has come to pass, the chosen one is "befriended" and as the first rays of sunlight start to creep into the barn entrance, we can fully expect everlasting darkness to sweep th-

Hold on.

So here's the big reveal.  Veronica was never the chosen one to begin with.  Remember back in the first episode when Veronica gave the amulet to Archie to give to Scarlet, saying she must be the chosen one based on how she handled herself?

Yeah, it turns out Veronica was right all along.  Scarlet, now apparently human (or, to quote Facebook, "defriended") holds up the amulet, fully turns on Medlock, saying she has "new friends now."  She says the magic chant that triggers it...and yanks open a curtain allowing sunlight to shine down on Medlock, reducing him to dust.

With the threat of Medlock over, all the vampires turn back into their normal selves, except for Scarlet who turns back into her younger human self, becomes transparent, and then floats off towards the sun like Patrick Swayze at the end of Ghost.

Remember that last post, when I said how stupid it would be for the world to be saved through the power of friendship?  ...well, it was pretty dumb, but it wasn't bad.  I'll admit, I didn't expect the twist at the end considering how much build-up there had been to the whole "Veronica vs. Medlock, the final round" story.

So, with just one episode left, we're almost done with Archie's Weird Mysteries.  The vampire storyline is ended, so what could be next?

Well, how about some g-g-g-ghosts?

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