We learned something very important this week: This entire time that teens have been fighting crime, talking to corpses, and dismantling bombs, all they needed was a good guidance counselor!! Gina Torres, where have you been?!
I have to say, I appreciate this episode for a number of reasons. First, I love when a show acknowledges how ludicrous it is, which is precisely what this episode was about as each teen went to Mrs. Burble’s office and delivered a laundry list of things that have gone wrong in their lives, essentially since the start of the show. I also appreciate this episode because it seems to — fingers crossed! — nip quite a few of these issues in the bud, or at the very least, start the process of ending some of the stories that have dragged on a bit too long.
Let’s take this case by case, shall we?
Case No. 65b: Elizabeth Cooper and Alice Smith
After the episode begins with Alice finding out that not only did Betty NOT get into Yale but that she’s on BIRTH CONTROL, Betty decides she wants to talk to Mrs. Burble about her controlling mother. Alice, proving Betty’s point, essentially forces her way into Betty’s session, where Betty gives Mrs. Burble a LOT of information all at once. Her mom was in a cult! She was also in the FBI! Betty has serial killer genes! Her mom had her sister committed! And Mrs. Burble? She doesn’t flinch. Honestly, someone give this woman a raise.
Betty also doesn’t understand what the big deal is with her taking birth control. She’s simply being safe, trying to make sure she doesn’t end up like Alice or Polly. And why is Alice surprised? “Jughead and I sleep in the same bed,” Betty says, once again making a very good point.
When Mrs. Burble finds out that Alice reads her daughter’s diary, it’s clear whose side she’s on. But Mrs. Burble is also quick to see Alice’s motivations: If she can control Betty, she can hold onto her childhood a bit longer. She’s already lost two children, she can’t lose Betty too. Betty asks why her mom can’t spend more time doing this sort of stuff to Polly when Alice, parent of the year, exclaims, “I love you more! I love you most!” (Quick, everyone call your parents! They do have favorites!)
By the time Betty gets home that night, her mom has written her a check for her college money and Betty lets her mom know, “I love you most too, mom.” Then again, how could she not when Betty’s other options are Polly and her serial killer father?!
Case No. 70: Archibald Andrews
Archie hasn’t applied to college because computers confuse him. I’m assuming. Although he claims it’s because Riverdale needs him to clean up the town. It takes Mrs. Burble about 30 seconds to figure out that Archie is the town’s vigilante, and she calls him out on his anger. And then, in a real breakthrough, Archie recognizes that anger. How could he not be angry after everything that’s happened to him and his friends and his dad?! “I hurt all the time,” he says. “All I want to do is make sure no one else does.” And while I still hate the vigilante plot for him, this speech at least put some interesting meaning behind it.
Mrs. Burble identifies Archie’s behavior as an addiction and suggests he start a tip line as a way to help without putting his loved ones in harm’s way. So, Archie heads home, tells his mom he’s moving out, moves into the community center, and starts a hotline. And then he THROWS AWAY HIS MASK!!! It’s a real moment… that’s ruined by episode’s end when he gets the first call on the hotline and decides to dig the mask out of the trash, pick up his bat, and get back on the town. Don’t we all feel a little safer?
Case No. 72: Cheryl Blossom
After Principal Honey calls Cheryl out on her 26 absences, he notifies her that he will be putting an adult in charge of the Vixens. He then sends her to Mrs. Burble. If Mrs. Burble deems her psychologically unfit, the adult stays. Otherwise, Cheryl gets her Vixens back.
I would like to take a moment to recognize that Cheryl just told Mr. Honey, an ADULT, “I have suffered NUMEROUS family deaths! My mother disappeared, I am raising twin toddlers, and I am the sole caregiver for my nana” and that adult did not so much as flinch. COOL.
Mrs. Burble, however, is more helpful (though no one has called child protective services yet). Mrs. Burble quickly calls Cheryl out on the fact that her brother was killed, her father killed himself, she spent some time in conversion therapy, she got sucked into an organ-harvesting cult, and had a near-death experience in Sweetwater River. CHERYL SHOULD BE INCREDIBLY MESSED UP! But when she finally admits just how messed up she is — the whole “talking to her brother’s corpse” thing — Mrs. Burble seems to gloss right over the fact that Cheryl has a taxidermy corpse in her house!!
Instead, Burble focuses on the fact that Cheryl thinks Jason is talking back. She assures Cheryl that he does not actually talk back, Cheryl just wants him to. And when Cheryl tells her about Julian and the Thistlehouse haunting, she wastes no time in saying, “Ghosts don’t exist.” Mrs. Burble diagnoses Cheryl as someone who’s being gaslit by someone who wants to make Cheryl THINK she’s crazy. As for Julian, there’s a test that will tell Cheryl if she absorbed a twin.
All of that is great, but can we go back to addressing the CORPSE IN HER HOUSE!!! (P.S. Burble is letting an adult supervise the Vixens for now.)
By episode’s end, we find out that Cheryl did NOT absorb a twin. So now the question is: Who is gaslighting her?
Case No. 75: Veronica Luna, née Lodge
After Veronica gets the phone call she’s been waiting for — she got into Harvard! — the dean of admissions tells her to thank Hiram for the bottle of rum he sent, which immediately makes her question whether she got into Harvard solely because of Hiram. And off to Mrs. Burble she goes.
This might be my favorite therapy session purely because Mrs. Burble CALLS VERONICA OUT ON HER S–T! After Veronica complains about how terrible her father is and how he tried to kill her boyfriend, Mrs. Burble informs her that she still willingly lives at home. According to Mrs. Burble, what Veronica feels toward her father isn’t love, isn’t hate, it’s just … obsession!!! “You and your father are obsessed with each other,” she says. Veronica then claims her father is “objectly” a bad person, which, if you were wondering, is not a word.
Mrs. Burble diagnoses Veronica with both the Oedipus and Electra complexes, which means it’s time to cut ties with dear old dad. In teen-speak, Mrs. Burble says it means “he’s trolling you so why not ghost him?”
So Veronica informs her father that she’s going to kill him — not literally of course. She’s going to make her own rum and take him down on the battlefield of business. And once that’s done, their dance of death will be over for good. Also, she’s going to Yale.
Case No. 77: Forsythe Pendleton Jones III a.k.a. Jughead
Following Archie’s lead, Jughead also hasn’t applied to any colleges and when he stops by Riverdale High to get his transcript, he gets a mini-session with Mrs. Burble despite his “Holden Caulfield stance on phony small talk.”
Jughead gets going about the case he’s working about Mr. Chipping — seriously, the speed with which these kids tell a stranger EVERYTHING proves that they’ve needed to talk for a WHILE — and Mrs. Burble identifies his persecution complex. He uses his investigations as an excuse to neglect his writing. Mrs. Burble then goes IN on what Jug’s investigation must be doing to FP. After all, Jug’s on a quest to prove that the man that caused FP all that pain was a wronged hero. She instructs Jug to try and see his grandfather through his father’s eyes, and just like that, Jug snaps out of it … sort of. He still intends to work on the mystery, but he also intends to do his homework. And when FP gets home that night, he gives him a big hug.
Cut to the flash-forward: FP has Bret and Donna at the station, and they identify Veronica, Betty, and Archie as “the kids we saw kill Jughead.” So I feel like we can now say that they definitely didn’t kill Jughead, right? Because who’s going to believe anything Bret and Donna say?
I also have questions about the so-called “Watcher” who sent around another set of creepy videotapes and no one seems to want to know who it is?!
Overall, I really liked this episode. Having every character lay out all of the insane things in their lives made the show feel very self-aware, and quite frankly, the writing in those therapy scenes was great. I only wish that the VERY DIRECT Mrs. Burble would stick around (and that Archie would take her advice and put down the mask.)