It’s been very obvious what Veronica (played by Camila Mendes) and Archie’s (KJ Apa) relationship arch has been since Riverdale’s seven year time jump started. Last week, it seemed to finally reach the point that both characters deserved and had wanted, but this week the show does a complete reverse and it’s not the first time. Was Varchie’s decision the right call? Let’s break it down and discuss. Warning: for the remainder of this article, we will be getting into heavy spoilers; so only continue reading if you’ve seen episode 5×18.
I’ll be honest, I had very mixed feelings after watching their storyline in 5×18 and as I’m writing this, I still feel pretty torn. There are both positives and negatives about how the writers chose to go about Veronica and Archie’s “closure” for this season, because it’s not really closure at all, but rather a ”to be continued,” which is a common phrase for them.
We start off just as we left the couple last episode, happy to be together and clearly in love. Veronica suggests moving in together, not wanting to waste any more time after spending seven years apart. Archie immediately agrees and the two discuss which location would work better. Archie mentions how “long term,” his house has more room and they would be able to grow into it. This is actually one of my favorite lines (if not my favorite) because it shows Archie is clearly thinking of a real future with Veronica, one that eventually involves a family together. This reflects back to when he told her in season 3 that he saw their whole future together and knew she was “it” for the moment he met her. I also love that he’s the one always saying these lines. The scene is an adorable one and it’s unfortunate that theme can’t last throughout the rest of the episode after all they’ve done to be together.
The rest of their storyline does make some points, but feels overwhelmingly rushed and out of character in some parts. Veronica makes an amazing dinner for Archie, Jughead, and Frank, but the firefighters get called to the station after reports of a fire, which just seems thrown in since we haven’t acknowledged the firefighter storyline in what feels like more than a few episodes. Veronica beautifully sings “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” and while it definitely can fit her character for more than one reason, the song doesn’t actually fit her relationship with Archie and never has, but rather her former relationship with Chad. During the musical number, she also touches a New York City postcard on the Andrews’ fridge.
In regards to that scene, Veronica’s solo will actually only be included in the streaming version rather than with the live version of the episode. This is definitely not ideal for the audience considering how crucial the musical number is to show viewers how she’s feeling and it makes the already rushed storyline feel even more out of the blue after last week. With multiple characters have more than one song, it feels like one of those should have been cut instead of Veronica’s only song and some of the only real context in regards to her storyline with Archie. After she finally was getting good treatment and some real progress with her storylines, this feels like a huge step back.
The next morning, we find out Archie stayed at the station, which again just feels like an unnecessary addition to cause more tension about them moving in together and almost setting the storyline up for failure. At work, Reggie excitedly talks about becoming a licensed stock broker and having a NYC penthouse, which Veronica clearly desires after it was stolen from her by Chad. When Archie does finally get home, apologizing for missing another dinner (again, unnecessary), Veronica asks if they can check in about where he sees himself and them in the next five years. He hesitates for a second, starting off by saying how he would never want to hold her back from anything, but in his heart he still sees himself in Riverdale. Archie asks her if that’s a deal breaker, but Veronica assures him that it’s not.
The thing is, this conversation is important and fits their “small town boy, big city girl” trope, but I find it very hard to believe they wouldn’t be trying to plan something that they both want. Not to mention, Archie doesn’t ask Veronica what she wants, which doesn’t make sense with them wanting a future together and isn’t very in character for Archie. If anything, I feel like Archie would’ve been doing everything in his power to make sure she felt comfortable at the house rather than barely being home to help her adjust. On top of that, it’s very obvious they could never go through with Veronica’s NYC dreams because the show takes place in Riverdale. The conversation does continue later on, again by Veronica starting it, and this time we finally get to the source of how Veronica is feeling, which was beyond important. She opens up about how she felt in her toxic marriage with Chad before commenting how she’s starting to feel the same muted feeling here since she moved in. Comparing the two relationships is such a huge red flag that the topic is being handled the wrong way.
Archie would never treat Veronica the same way her abusive ex husband did and further, he would never expect her to be some stay at home housewife or give up her career to become a mother because he actually knows her. Acting as if there’s any actual similarities between the relationships or men is a disservice to who Archie is as a character as well as his relationship and history with Veronica. Archie does immediately apologize, obviously not wanting to make her feel that way, but Veronica says she thinks they should take a beat to figure out what they’re doing and shouldn’t rush things. The issue with this is they had almost the exact same conversation a few episodes ago about holding off until her marriage was finalized. It just feels like another step back even though its clear the two characters both want the relationship to work, so why can’t they be given the chance to actually make it work the right way? This would’ve been an amazing opportunity for the writers to build the relationship stronger than before and allow both characters to work together to build the future they want.
The idea of taking a beat does sound logical because both characters need to mature more before such a big step and Veronica did just get out of a horrible marriage, but then comes the next issue, Archie suggests they go back to dating and having fun like they used to. This comment leaves me torn because honestly, I think it would have benefited them to do this and relearn each other so they can be stronger as a couple. I can see Veronica’s point that they’re not in high school anymore, but at the same time maybe dating would be better for her after getting married so young. Breaking them up and then having them not speak or be with other people, because let’s be honest those are the only two options on this show, doesn’t make any sense. Dating would have been the more logical decision. This suggestion on Archie’s part does amplify one huge point: Veronica is always Archie’s first choice. He wants to be with her no matter what the capacity is. This was proven earlier in the season when he broke off his arrangement with Betty because he still had feelings for Veronica, despite the fact that she was married at the time.
The last part we see from this storyline is Archie heartbrokenly sitting on the couch as Veronica packs up her stuff in his room. They get a brief part of the group musical number, Veronica looking over to Archie before she goes, singing “The price of love is loss.” Archie then sings back, “But still we pay.” The two continue together, finishing with “We love anyway.” Definitely an interesting choice of lyrics for them given their storyline and decision. Archie watches Veronica go, moving from the couch to the window for one last glance as she walks away from the house. On a completely different note, I genuinely can’t believe that after four seasons of musical episodes, Veronica and Archie have still not had a real duet despite dating in almost all of them. Definitely don’t understand the logic there, especially when they have joint storylines like in this one.
It’s very clear they’re setting the couple up to be together long term and it’s there in the both dialogue and context, but these unnecessary reunions back to back with breakups just feels like bad storytelling. Their arc this season was finally reaching its conclusion and then it all basically gets thrown away in a poorly written and rushed episode storyline. This is also obviously setting up for the theorized/rumored alternate universe aka Rivervale, which will be the five episode special for season 6, but it just leaves audiences feeling exhausted after the couple has fought so hard and dealt with multiple obstacles to be together.
Veronica should want different things in her relationship with Archie than she did in high school, that makes perfect sense, and so should Archie. She should vocalize the things that were wrong with her first marriage so they don’t repeat, that’s something fans have been wanting for the entire season. There were so many different ways to address these concepts properly and in a way that benefits these characters as well as the relationship, but this way falls short for more reasons than one. I would feel a lot better and happier with the decision if I truly felt they would actually execute it when it comes to Veronica and her future relationships (Archie or not), but it seems more like another excuse to keep the couple apart for now and I don’t think her feelings will be remembered by the time season 6 rolls around.