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Riverdale Season 4, Episode 8 Recap: Some Thin, Some Thick, All Life-Changing

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Until now, the high school from 13 Reasons Why was the proud recipient of the Worst High School Guidance Counselor award, but Riverdale episode 8, season 4 snatched the title by revealing that Riverdale High School had a guidance counselor this whole time. Where was this lady when Cheryl’s brother died? Or when Betty’s dad was unmasked as the Black Hood? Or when the entire student body joined Chad Michael Murray‘s cult? Better late than never, I guess — if anyone needs therapy, it’s this ragtag group of traumatized teens.

RIVERDALE EPISODE 8, SEASON 4 Recap: WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!

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Riverdale’s ‘90s stalker is back, and this time he’s about a foot closer to his victim’s homes. But Archie and the gang don’t have time to worry about that because it’s time for the first round of college admissions, baby! Principal Honey calls for the high school guidance counselor to offer extended office hours because these kids will absolutely get rejected from their safety schools.

Alice blames Betty’s Yale rejection on her thriving (and safe!) sex life, not once stopping to consider that Betty and her friends spend more time solving murders than going to class. The mother-daughter duo attends counseling together where Betty lists the various traumas her mother has put her through (joining a cult, giving her entire college fund to said cult, almost getting her kidney stolen, etc.) which is a convincing argument for why this guidance counselor should have shown up months ago. Alice’s empty nest fears and Betty’s acknowledgment of how much therapy she’s going to need to unpack this sh*t as an adult was a little too real for a show that usually teeters on the edge of low camp. They love each other the most, but that’s what makes it so hard.

Archie gets sent to counseling for falling asleep in class, where it is revealed that Archie hasn’t applied to any colleges. He wants to stay in Riverdale to clean up the town and carry on his father’s legacy. Was University of Phoenix not an option? Archie basically admits to vigilante-ism after the counselor explicitly tells him she’d have to report any violent behavior. But she isn’t a regular psychologist, she’s a cool psychologist. She offers to volunteer at the center, gives him ideas for an anonymous tip line, and encourages him to stop acting like a rage-fueled adrenaline junky. Archie decides to move into the center full-time until Dodger is off the streets to keep his mom out of their violent crosshairs. Arrow Archie is no more, but the fight isn’t over yet. He’s just going to show his face when he beats up bad guys. And that’s… better?

Principal Honey informs Cheryl that she has 26 absences and if the counselor deems Cheryl psychologically unfit, he’ll take control of the River Vixens away from her. If anyone needs therapy, it’s Cheryl. She admits to talking to her brother’s corpse, which isn’t a great way to prove her mental fitness, but the counselor insists Cheryl isn’t crazy. She’s just grieving. As for that demonic doll haunting Thistlehouse, the counselor offers a valid theory that someone has been gaslighting Cheryl. We would’ve come to this logical conclusion much sooner if Riverdale wasn’t an ever-growing ball of crazy. The counselor doesn’t think Julian ever existed and gives Cheryl the number for a lab to prove it. Cheryl still loses the Vixens because she needs time to focus on herself, but she’ll always be the HBIC in our book.

The Dean of Admissions at Harvard personally calls Veronica to deliver her acceptance, but it’s clear that Hiram bought her way in. Veronica visits the counselor to vent about Hiram’s constant meddling and control, but the counselor sees this power struggle as a mutual obsession. Hiram sees Veronica as an extension of himself, and Veronica sees Hiram as her ideal future self. Veronica doesn’t see it, but we’d watch a show about Veronica the mobster in a heartbeat. The counselor suggests that Veronica attend Harvard but otherwise cut ties with her father completely. Instead, V turns Harvard down and banks on getting into Yale. Actually, Veronica misinterprets everything the counselor told her and decides to go all-in on her fight with her father to defeat him in a business battle, for good. This is why you go to more than one therapy session, y’all.

Jughead no longer attends Riverdale High, but he still gets to benefit from this long-overdue therapy mandate instead of, say, Kevin who definitely needs it more than Jughead does. Jug needs to find letters of recommendation at his alma mater and gets roped into a session while he waits for his transcripts. Jughead explaining his theory about the Baxter Brothers and Mr. Chipping makes him sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Dropping references to The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye only makes it worse. The counselor thinks Jug is using his persecution complex to avoid writing. He can still investigate but should stop the wild conjecturing. She also helps Jug realize that lionizing his abusive grandfather is hurting his father, leading to an adorable father-son moment back at home. Inspired by the counselor’s suggestion to find some actual proof of wrong-doing at SVH instead of just whining, Jug does a quick Google and finds out that former Baxter Brothers authors have been dying in mysterious accidents for decades. Now was that so hard?

We’re getting closer to the midseason finale, so the mystery of Jughead’s death looms large over Riverdale episode 8’s finale. Betty, Veronica, and Archie are picked out of a police lineup by Jug’s BFFs Brett and Donna as Jughead’s murderers.

THE MOST CW MOMENT

When the counselor assumed Archie’s masked nighttime activities were cruising in Fox Forest.

HOW WE FEEL

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Riverdale episode 8 was phenomenal if only to hear four seasons of insane plotlines calmly read by a sane person. This might be my favorite episode in the series just for the brief glimmer of self-awareness that shows Riverdale‘s writers are in on the joke. They know they’re creating the TV equivalent of jingle jangle, and we’re all along for the ride. Hopefully, Riverdale taking a step back to look at its legacy of crack!plots before diving forward into the worst spring break since James Franco was relevant will help the series make sense going forward and slow the pace to something human.

Betty’s rant to her mother about how using birth control and practicing safe sex *is* the responsible thing to do instead of expecting high school students to abstain from sex altogether is the subtle sex-ed lesson we need! Go off, queen. This episode even talked about gaslighting during Cheryl’s session, another important issue among teens (and adults) today. This wasn’t a Very Special Episode but it had some Very Special Lessons from Gina Torres’s fantastic guidance counselor. Where do we book our appointment? Hopefully, she’s a recurring character because these characters have trauma that can’t be dealt with in one afternoon.

The actual Riverdale writing is only getting better (not that it’s ever been less than peak comedy), but Jughead’s in-universe writing might be getting worse. We’re not even talking about this new storyline where he’s an apathetic student avoiding his passion because he’s terrified he’s going to fail (too relatable, Riverdale). Literally, the “Jughead original” narration was not good this week. The VHS stalker is called “Watcher in the ‘Burbs” now, really? And Jug’s worst-case next step for this new threat is that it might resort to breaking and entering… Where’s the drama there? What happened to his flair for the dramatic? And don’t even get us started on his description of college admissions letters: “Some thin, some thick, all life-changing.” Is Jug talking about college application responses or d*ck? If we felt the need to ask, it’s probably not Pulitzer-winning stuff.

This episode was peppered with tiny delights that aren’t significant enough to merit an entire paragraph’s dedication, but I’d be so bummed to let this Riverdale episode 8 recap pass by without mentioning Betty’s ridiculous FBI sweater. Like, what, they let her into this not-so-selective FBI for Kidz program and suddenly she’s walking around repping their merch like she joined a college theatre company? Pure entertainment. Toni’s bad*ss Fashion Nova-style pants that she wore *to high school*? Inspiring. Oh, and how these high school students are astoundingly well-read and make weird off-the-cuff references to Ingrid Bergman and Sigmund Freud even though they’re never studying and supposedly learning Newton’s Laws of Motion in their senior year physics class? Gold. And don’t forget that this new principal is only here to shake things up because the last one was murdered in a Dungeons & Dragons cult ritual!

Riverdale, we may poke fun at you, but it’s just because we love you the most. Never change.

Riverdale Episode 8 FAN REACTIONS

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