Riverdale – And Percival Pickens Is . . .

Riverdale!  You are crafty devils! First you gave us Mr. Crypto in Rivervale.  Some characters saw through him immediately.  The rest got informed by Veronica.  Now, we’re safely back in Riverdale and left all the nonsense of Rivervale behind (although have we?).  This mysterious man, Percival Pickens, is now our target of evil and as I’ve said since he stepped on the screen – the devil.

Don’t get me wrong.  As an English major, I’ve read “The Tempest” and “Doctor Faustus.”  I’ve discussed the devil in Church and religion classes but to see the sneaky way you brought him into the show is amazing.  I am not an avid fan of horror – it gives me nightmares.  When I do watch or read the horror stories, they have to meet the following criteria:

  • have characters I pull for to win.
  • have characters that are so richly drawn I hate.
  • and have a compelling story.

Enough said on that and this present story line on Riverdale meets all three.  Let’s forget the super trio.  I know their powers have a part to play and just get to the nitty gritty.  Percival Pickens is the devil incarnate.  Just like in Rivervale, he’s there for a purpose and I’m betting it is to destroy Pop Tates’.  If you remember in Rivervale, Crypto wanted Pop Tates’ under his control as it would be the only safe haven for the good people of Rivervale.  As I see in the synopsis for Easter Sunday (April 17), dear old Percival wants to control Pop’s for his own purpose.  Also, I hope you caught the line from Archie:  “Percival wants to destroy Riverdale.” Really, I think it is only Archie.   Percival can mind control the other brain dead citizens but it doesn’t appear to work on the Riverdale core characters.

Now, here’s what convinces me that we are dealing with the devil.  It’s a tried and true formula used by Shakespeare, Marlowe in the past but none other than Stephen King today (which I will point out at the end).  Let’s look at the important ones.

Percival arrived in town.  Now, Riverdale has never played up the Pickens connection like they do in the comic digests.  He arrives quietly and aims for the home of the “heart” of Riverdale, the Andrews’ home.  Percival doesn’t say why he wants the bombed-out structure that needs rebuilding.  He doesn’t make the offer directly to the owner, Archie.  Percival presents his offer to Mary.  Mary is older and Percival is sure his charm will win what he wants except Archie comes in and stops the plan.  Percival is foiled on that attempt.

When Percival makes his next move, we have no clue to one of his powers.  Percival can influence the mind and make people do what he wants.  It takes Jughead’s power to realize this!  So what does Percival do.  He hits on using Alice.  Let’s face it.  Alice isn’t the brightest resident of Riverdale.  She’s already belonged to a cult.  (Don’t point out it was to help the FBI because I don’t buy it.  She could have stopped the harvesting of organs long before the FBI arrived.)  Percival knew she was an easy mark and went for it.  We didn’t know what he said that was so convincing but whatever it was worked.  Alice immediately wanted to clear out the homeless.  Why would the devil want this, you ask?  It makes Percival look good to the town because he is helping (although shipping them off to another town makes it worst for that town).  Of course, it must be an easy mark number two and fellow cultist, Kevin Kline, who gets sucked into the scenario.  With Kevin laid up in the hospital from an injury on “Skid Row,” Sheriff Tom Kline will promise anything because of his son’s injury.  I also blame it on the fact that the calming influence of Fred Andrews is no longer in town.

Now, lets move on to Percival’s mental suggestion to Alice and Tom to clean up the gangs.  Now, it took me a little time to figure this one out.  Percival knows that the Serpents protect their own (don’t know about the Ghoulies because they like destruction).  If Toni and Fangs saw Percival as a threat, Percival’s gig could be up.  The Serpents would side with the townies and help prevent whatever he has planned.  Thus, he must hit at (and use) any angle to get rid of them.  With Toni on the board, it will take more than a simple mind control trick. 

Remember!  Somehow Toni, Tabitha and even Fangs seem immune.  So, knowing the bad blood (and a little help from Cheryl who wants Fangs gone), Percival plants the suggestion of a drive-by at Pop’s and shots the place up.  This gives Percival the chance to suggest that they should be destroyed and Alice and Tom jump on it.  Stealing the baby (again possibly planted by Percival in Ghoulies’ heads) was the catalyst that caused the gangs to be destroyed or arrested.  (And we also now know that Percival will cause people to commit suicide since that’s how all but Trula of the Ghoulies died. It wasn’t Kline and company!)

For now, the last example I bring is that Veronica set the underworld on finding information on Percival.  You would think that someone like Percival might suspect that would happen but surprise, he missed something.  When the “bodyguard” and his friends went looking, they found no evidence of a Percival Pickens ever existing.  There is no back story for him, no place of birth, etc.  Jughead’s learning of Percival’s ability to transmit suggestions happened at the same time Jug was beginning to use his powers.  And Percival knew of Jug’s power because he sensed it.  Jughead can’t use his mind reading telepathy against him (or so it appears). 

Now let’s get to the good stuff.  Remember my reference to Stephen King.  It has been nagging me for three weeks about where did Percival come from until Sunday night.  I mentioned in my recap the King television mini-series, “Storm of the Century (written by King for television in 1999).”  I didn’t mean to watch it but got roped in and remember it to this day.  In that King story, a mysterious man, Linoge, appears suddenly in the island town off Maine’s coast during a blizzard.  The town is cut-off from the mainland, without help, phones or supplies.  The mystery man keeps saying: “Give me what I want and I’ll leave.”  In the meantime, the storm rages and people start dying by suicide.  The man plants the idea in people’s minds to kill themselves.  He also knows their sins.  All he wants is a young child he can raise to be like himself.  Once he gets said child, he will leave.   Long story short – the town draws lots, it falls to the good guy (sheriff) to lose his son, the man takes the son and leaves town.  Years later, the hero sees his teen son in another city.  His son has become like the old man he is with complete with a fanged tongue.

Now, I’m not saying Toni’s son, Anthony, is the one that Percival wants, and Lady Llorna will be back.  Frankly, for some reason, Percival wants Archie dead.  I’m not saying he doesn’t want to destroy the town.  Remember the season’s promo had all but Pop Tates’ on fire.  And if Cheryl is back to being Cheryl (not Abigail), I’m not saying Percival will win.  What I’m saying is that the comparison is there.  Add to it, Randall Flagg of “The Stand” and you have a foe beyond belief.

I offer kudos to Riverdale for doing this and offer my congratulations.  This is what I had expected from the show – characters — I care about, that I can laugh at, that I can pull for to win.  Percival will try his best to destroy the town.  In the end, will Percival win or did the trio get their superpowers to destroy Percival?  We’ll have to wait and see.

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