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Riverdale exists in its own bubble, where time and logic simply don't matter. The show occurs in a nebulous time frame that melds a '50s aesthetic with 2010s technology without batting an eye. Reasonable rules don't exist, and anyone trying to bring real-world logic and reason to the town is met with a confused look and a hefty amount of suspicion.
The teens of Riverdale have encountered everything from all-out gang warfare to rampant drug trade, teen vigilantes, a cult, and black market organ harvesting — not to mention the multiple serial killers and utter psychos that have rolled into town.
And while Riverdale has always embraced the horror genre, it's (mostly) stayed true to it's over the top, teen soap opera-y roots served with a side of murder and mayhem.
But then there's Cheryl Blossom.
Spoilers for Riverdale ahead.
Cheryl is living in a completely different story than the rest of Riverdale. In fact, it often feels like she exists in a completely different genre of television.
While Betty, Jughead, Archie, Veronica, and the rest of the Riverdale teens handle common teen issues with a side of murder, Cheryl stars in her very own Gothic horror story.
When we first meet Cheryl, she's living that perfect rich, fashionable, popular kid life in an old fashioned and ornate manor house that's straight out of Gothic literature. It quickly becomes apparent that everyone around her believes in the supernatural to the extent that it has actually become real to them. Curses, misfortunes, and death follow the Blossom family, starting with Jason's death and culminating most recently with the possible appearance of the ghost of Cheryl's dead triplet.
Nightmares, emotional distress, paranormal activity, and evil omens have followed Cheryl since the beginning. But the first time we get a glimpse at just how Gothic things are going to get is after Cheryl learns that her father was the one who killed her brother. Announcing that "the only way to truly start over is through purification," she douses the house in gasoline. Dropping a lit candelabra to the ground, Cheryl stands back and watches her entire world burn with a serene smile on her face.
By the time the Black Hood starts offing people left and right in Season 2, it's no surprise that Cheryl finds herself right in the middle of the action. It's not long after Cheryl assists Betty in her investigation that the Black Hood shows up at the door of Thistlehouse holding an ax. Not one to take things lying down, Cheryl evades capture, slips into her red hunting outfit (one that would look right at home in the Arrowverse), and picks up her bow and arrow.
Standing her ground outside the house, Cheryl shoots an arrow that just barely misses and then calmly suggests he run while he still can as she only misses when she means to. When the Hood doesn't heed her advice, she shoots him dead in the shoulder, and when he runs off into the woods, she doesn't hesitate to give chase.
This wasn't what the Black Hood was expecting; Cheryl's outward appearance can give off the air that she would an easy target, but that's far from the truth. What really happens is that the Hood is just an ordinary, human murderer who has wandered expectedly into her more extreme story. That's why she's able to turn the tables on him as quickly as she does; she's working with calculus level math, and he's just an algebra problem. And it's not the last time in the show that she'll defend herself or her friends with her archaic weapon of choice.
Cheryl's story continues to flirt with the supernatural throughout Season 3, but the Gothic horror elements really kicked into high gear at the end of the season. After escaping the clutches of The Farm, Cheryl goes full-on Norman Bates and brings the corpse of her dead brother Jason home with her to Thistlehouse. She sets him up in the chapel with a warm blanket, surrounded by candles, and begins visiting him daily to read to him and tell her about her day.
Cheryl is aware that this behavior is not exactly expected, as she does her best to keep Jason hidden from her girlfriend Toni Topaz, her grandmother Nana Blossom, and anyone else who passes through Thistlehouse, but it's her new normal. Even after Toni discovers Jason, Cheryl refuses to get rid of her brother, which ultimately leads to a new high (or low depending on your point of view) for Cheryl in the battle she is waging on her family.
However, it's when her aunt, uncle, and cousin come knocking, looking to get a piece of the Blossom maple fortune, that things truly go to the next level. After her uncle has discovered Jason in the chapel and threatens to expose Cheryl's particular brand of crazy, Toni comes to her rescue by killing him with a blow to the head. Such a mundane murder feels out of place in Cheryl's world (it's more up Betty and Jughead's alley). Still, it's only the inciting incident for a bigger picture.
After all, with her aunt and cousin still poking around, they aren't able to dispose of the body before the two show up looking for him. That's when Cheryl takes a page out of Arya Stark's playbook and seemingly serves them dinner and pie a la Uncle (with a completely straight face). And her aunt and cousin look horrified and rightfully disgusted, Toni is the only one at the table who seems to have any idea how bats*** crazy all of this really is. Toni may be firmly on Team Cheryl when push comes to shove (or murder), but she's also the only one who sees just how crazy and out of touch with reality all of this really is. It's her reactions to Cheryl's circumstances that show just how different her world is from the rest of the town.
Cheryl's story is often hauntingly tragic, but she never allows herself to play the victim. Her parents and family have been continually battling for her soul and trying to force her into a mold she doesn't fit, leaving her conditioned for constant war. But Cheryl absorbs that trauma and turns it into strength.
And while her storylines are more Gothic horror than teen murder dramedy, her over-the-top and outlandish plot-lines still fit in perfectly with the rest of Riverdale. The only question now is: Where does her story go next?