It took me a while, but they finally got me. After almost a year of resisting the siren call that is the CW’s Riverdale series, I finally found myself on an airplane with few entertainment options available that would neatly fit inside the exact amount of time that I had before landing. From what I had in front of me, Riverdale won out. Like many grown adults before me, by the time the first episode was over, I knew it had me hooked. Within a week I had binged the entire first season, purchased the official licensed replica of Jughead’s crown-cut beanie, and begun making broad declarations about ships, such as said Mr. Jones with Betty, a pairing I never thought I’d be so invested in during my years of reading Archie comics as a kid.
By the end of the first season I’d already found myself completely wrapped up in the mystery of who killed Jason Blossom, as well as the mystery of seriously what is this show? Every conversation I’ve had with literally anyone who watches it expresses their sentiments in exactly the same exact way, which is “It’s total trash and I can’t stop myself.” A friend on Facebook likened it to that bag of off-brand party mix you find late at night after everyone has gone home and you just keep nibbling away at even though you know you shouldn’t.
Then, finally, at the end of the first season, I noticed this pretty blatant easter egg that unlocked the mystery of Riverdale for me. By that I mean this bus sign from the background, when Southside Serpent and shady boyfriend Joaquin is splitting from town. The final destination of his bus? San Junipero.
Cut to last week, when we also saw the premiere of Black Mirror’s fourth season, which kicked off with "USS Callister," an episode all about Jesse Plemons using a mod program to turn his own best-selling spaceflight simulator Infinity into a hellish episode of Star Trek stand-in Space Fleet, or how someone created Jesse Plemons by using a Weasley mod on a Matt Damon simulator. Presumably if he weren’t so busy unleashing his rage upon innocent immortal computer re-creations of the random people in his life, Plemmons’ character could have tried to license Space Fleet mods in order to sell a version of his game to audiences who would chomp at the bit to live inside such a universe.
Now, what if someone doesn’t care quite as much about space? What if rather than exploring the universe out there, they wanted to live in a darkly filtered world of teenage intrigue and solve mysteries? What if they created a slightly more benevolent world than Callister’s, and filled it with a disturbing amount of seemingly unprotected sex and some strange world of high school in which no one ever has homework or even needs to study, and instead trips over each other's lips every other moment and also figures out whodunnit? And what if that person was just a HUGE fan of Archie comics?
Y’all, don’t you see what’s happening here? Riverdale is an artificial construct within the Black Mirror universe. It’s a virtual reality world. It’s a video game. Essentially what we’ve gotten sucked into watching this last year is an elaborate game someone has been playing. Now I’ve finally solved the mystery. Now I’m finally free.
I mean I’m probably just gonna keep watching, though.