Riverdale is back, and there's a whole new killer in town for season 2... The smash-hit adaptation of the Archie comics premiered its second season with a tense episode that picked up where season 1 left off: with Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) shot by a hooded man in Pop's Chok'lit Shoppe. The fallout from that cliffhanger was the core of the season 2 premiere (although Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and her new psycho side got a look in as well) as Archie (KJ Apa) and the gang waited at the hospital for news about his Dad.
There was a little extra intrigue as well, of course - this being Riverdale and all. Veronica (Camila Mendes) stepped it up as a girlfriend, and challenged her mother over this interestingly-timed shooting. Betty (Lili Reinhart) tried to deal with Jughead's (Cole Sprouse) new connections to the Southside Serpents, and the Angel of Death struck a second time. In amongst all that drama, it was easy to miss a throwaway line that references Archie's heroic tendencies, but comic fans caught the reference to Archie the Superhero.
JugHead's Easter Egg
After Archie's father is shot at the diner, Archie drives him to the hospital himself because the ambulance is taking too long to arrive. Once he's there, and Fred is in surgery, his friends arrive to comfort him and wait with him to hear any news. Archie is berating himself, wondering if he should have waited for the ambulance, if it would have been better for his Dad to wait, rather than driving him to the hospital himself (and as we see later, he's berating himself for not doing more in the diner, as well). It's at this point that Jughead is quick to chime in and reassure his friend that he did everything he could, and that he saved his father's life by getting him into surgery as quickly as possible.
Are you kidding me? You saved your Dad's life. First Cheryl, and now your Dad, if you keep this up you are going to need a superhero name. Pureheart the Powerful.
Jughead has a point - this is the second life that Archie has saved in as many episodes. In the season 1 finale, Cheryl Blossom tried to kill herself in the frozen river, to be with her twin, and it was Archie who managed to drag her out and give her mouth-to-mouth. Now, he has managed to bring his father in to the hospital just in time to save his life, too.
Comic Captain Pureheart
For fans of the Archie comics, of course, the name Pureheart the Powerful was a little more than just a Jughead Jones joke. Back in the '60s, Archie Andrews actually did become a comic book superhero, if only for a short while. In 1965, the Archie gang actually all got super-powers, probably because of the huge success both Marvel and DC were having with their super-people.
Archie became, of course, Captain Pureheart, who later became Pureheart The Powerful. Pureheart can tap into superpowers because he is (you guessed it) pure of heart - and those powers included superstrength and the ability to fly using jet boosters. He wore a costume with a heart on the chest bearing a 'P' symbol, that was either red or orange with a blue cape. In many ways, he was modeled on Superman, with a similar chest symbol and powers. Captain Pureheart never wore a mask (or even glasses), but was still never recognized as Archie.
The rest of the gang also got powers of their own in this alternate Archie universe. Betty became Superteen, Jughead became Captain Hero, and Veronica becoming Miss Vanity. Even Reggie turned into Evil Heart. Most of their powers are roughly the same, super strength, a measure of invulnerability, etc, although Captain Hero also had a collection of gadgets to help him fight evil, and a magic incantation to chant when he wanted to power up. The team had a short run in the '60s, followed by a brief resurrection in the '90s, before being put to bed (for now).
Could Archie Become Riverdale's Superhero?
Although this Easter Egg is a whole lot of fun for comic fans, it's highly unlikely that Riverdale is going to start introducing actual superpowers anytime soon. Although the CW has had huge success with their DC TV Arrowverse, Riverdale is a very different kind of show - and not one that really lends itself to superpowers. Instead, the focus is on murder mysteries and the dark secrets of a sleepy town, something that works beautifully as it is, but wouldn't necessarily mix well with a caped hero diving in. Who would Captain Pureheart even fight, when the premise of each season is that no-one knows who the bad guy is?
We may not be seeing Archie in tights any time soon, but Jughead has a point with his flippant comment; Archie seems to be developing something of a hero complex. This is actually far more interesting for the show than a teenage boy gaining super-strength, and the premiere made it clear that Archie's new drive to protect his family is going to be a major part of his story arc this time around. Hero complexes rarely bode well for the heroes, either, so this may be something that drives Archie to neglect the rest of his life, potentially even driving a wedge between him and Veronica as the season continues. We'll have to wait and see what 'Captain Pureheart' does next, but we're betting it'll still be in his Letterman jacket, not new jet boosters.
Riverdale season 2 continues next Wednesday @8pm on The CW.