Riverdale showed off a Betty that no one ever expected in Thursday night’s episode, “Body Double.”
After seeing the way her mother Alice was corrupting the Riverdale local paper, Betty decided to reinvigorate the high school’s paper and become a reporter of her own merits. Her first story? Taking down a slut-shaming circle of jocks who were degrading Riverdale High’s female population to win their own perverse game. It’s a matter of principle to Betty when she discovers that Veronica is the latest victim, but it becomes a much darker matter when she finds out that her older sister Polly was also subject to the same cruelty.
Betty goes beyond writing a story to get revenge for the two closest women in her life. There’s a black wig, a dangerously warm hot tub, maple syrup and a whole new side of Betty before her revenge was finished. Adding that dark edge to the iconic girl-next-door was a purposeful inversion of the character for showrunner and executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
“In the comic books, people are always saying that Betty and Veronica are the same except one wears a blonde wig and one wears a brown wig. They’re drawn very similarly as well, but I think that’s changed in the more recent iterations,” he tells TVGuide.com “I was obsessed with the idea with Betty and Veronica being two sides of the same coin. The idea that Veronica would be the bad girl trying to be good and Betty would have some real darkness to her was really intriguing.”
While we’re still getting to know Betty — and her sister Polly who will appear in episode 6 — the darkness isn’t something that will take over, at least not this season. “Body Double” was just previewing a taste of what’s lurking underneath Betty’s perky, overachiever exterior. However, it will affect Betty and Veronica’s friendship going forward now that Veronica has seen what her new BFF is capable of when she’s pushed to the limit.
“I don’t think Betty shows her dark side a lot or frequently,” Reinhart explains. “She certainly doesn’t in Season 1, at least. Veronica is the only one who has been exposed to Betty’s dark side.”
Veronica isn’t ready to turn Betty in just yet, but the episode has raised some serious alarm bells about whether Betty is handling everything okay. “Veronica is pretty much the only person who sees it in the beginning,” Mendez chimes in. “I think that’s why she’s always checking in with Betty too. I’m always watching her hands to make sure.”
While Veronica is the only one of the core group to have actually seen Betty go full dark side, she is not the only person who knows what Betty can get up to. Alice is also aware of her daughter’s ambiguity, which might explain why the matriarch is so ruthless when it comes to keeping Betty on the right side of the tracks.
“Betty does self-harm, but Betty’s mom Alice is also very aware of Betty’s dark side,” Reinhart says. “That’s why Alice is very overbearing and has her hands on every aspect of Betty’s life, because she wants to make sure her daughter is not going to embarrass her or have a breakdown like Betty’s older sister Polly.”
© Megan Vick
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