Anyone who has a passing familiarity with the Archie comics knows this fundamental truth: They center around a love triangle between a ginger fuckboi, a good-girl blonde, and a bad-girl brunette. The CW’s sexy noir spin on the comics, Riverdale, is working hard to turn the classical version of the story on its head. In doing so, it might very well be subverting the so-called “good girl.”
It’s spent its initial two episodes establishing a murder mystery. And while its second episode “Chapter Two: A Touch of Evil” seemingly concludes by revealing the culprit (the devious Cheryl Blossom) as Jughead’s noir-style voiceover tells us, that’s hardly the end of the matter. After all, then there would be no show. It stands to reason that someone else — perhaps several others — had a part to play in the death of the malicious Jason Blossom. And so far, all the evidence stacks up behind none other than Betty Cooper.
Just like in the Archie comics, Riverdale’s Betty (Lili Reinhart) is something of a milquetoast pushover on the surface. She spends her time pining over a guy who doesn’t deserve her and forging friendships in which she gives while the other party takes. Unlike the comics, Riverdale has also saddled her with a vindictive and controlling mother who gets lines like “An accidental drowning? Who cares. But a sociopathic son … murdered? That’s a national obsession waiting to happen.”
She also implores her daughter to discard her toxic friendships — and that’s where it gets interesting. In conversation with Veronica, Betty refers to her mother as crazy. “My mother is crazy. The boy I like doesn’t like me back,” she says. When we see her interact with her mother, telling her she’ll learn her lesson, she’s seemingly just humoring her.
But later, Cheryl Blossom comes to her house and pretends to be nice in an effort to antagonize Betty. Overplaying her hand, Cheryl presses Betty about her sister, who is currently living in a psychiatric facility, thanks to some mysterious past event involving the murdered Jason Blossom. Betty snaps at Cheryl, “Get out of my house or I’ll kill you.” It’s a jarring moment, filled with rage bubbling beneath Betty’s placid surface.
It looks like Betty is a bit more like her mother than she’d like to believe. And while it’s too soon to tell exactly what role she could have played in Jason’s death, because of her sister’s backstory, the motive is there. Whatever the case may be, Betty’s good-girl persona is cracking just two episodes into Riverdale. As a person who seemingly has the least amount of secrets, just might be the dark horse contender for its most diabolical character.