“Riverdale” is a bit of a weird show.
Take the last episode, for example (oop, spoilers by the way), in which Jughead is on the case of some mysterious graffiti, while Betty is dealing with a dead body.
That’s two very different levels of crime to be addressing, and it’s not entirely clear whether we’re meant to see Betty’s confrontation with mortality as the sudden, sharp tonal shift that it is on paper.
An initial trailer for next week’s episode makes it clear that the future of the show hinges on the random no-name stranger that Betty has now found dead on her living room floor, as she, her mom, and chic, work to hide the body, get rid of all evidence, and hope that they don’t get caught.
“Riverdale” has always been an almost humorously dark show, grim for the sake of being grim, with characters acting irrationally because it’s fun to watch moody teens be moody.
The writers have long been flirting with Betty’s potential for evil, making her a big focal point of this season as she indulges her dark side. Perhaps, then, it seemed logical to take her that next step so that she ends up elbow deep in a dead man’s blood.
If the showrunners on “Riverdale” think that there’s an easy way back from this, they’re wrong. In the real world, any teenage girl that is forced to confront a dead body (let alone heft it out into a sewer system without getting caught) is going to be left with some emotional scars.
Yet “Riverdale” never seems particularly eager to address the consequences of trauma. Murder and death are all par for the course, and it’s likely that, once everything is all said and done, the show will attempt to pass Betty’s role as an accomplice to murder as no big deal.
In truth, it’s not going to be possible for audiences to forget about this after the fact. We’re in “Macbeth style “Out, damn spot!” territory here, where ideally, Betty should be haunted by these actions for a long time to come.
Otherwise, if the character just rolls with a murder cover-up without a hint of lasting remorse, it’s going to be difficult to believe anything that happens in the near future – especially when the show is very clearly building towards a climactic moment of Dark Betty stupid behavior.
One thing’s for certain: no amount of striptease poledancing karaoke is going to make Betty feel better this time. The show might have just gone too far, to the point where the character will forever be irredeemably tainted for audiences who can’t abide her edgy actions.