Archie’s Weird Mysteries “Driven to Distraction”

This episode originally aired October 9, 1999 and was written by Michael Patrick Dobkins.

Continuing this October’s look at all forty episodes of the show, this is now episode two and I already feel like I’m going to regret this. 

On today’s episode, Archie gets a new car. It’s a nice looking Mustang type car in animation but everyone is mocking it. Betty and Veronica are working out in the backyard, apparently Betty lives right next door to Archie. Is that always cannon in Riverdale? They hear Archie talking about some beautiful girl and hope he’s talking about one of them, but their jealousy becomes too much and they have to pop into Archie’s yard to see what’s happening. There he is waxing and polishing Betsy, his new car. Betsy is a very close word to Betty. Jughead gives the girls the bad news, Archie has a new love in life. Archie is so obsessed with the car both Betty and Veronica ask him out on dates and he accepts but it’s obvious he doesn’t actually hear them and this might cause trouble later in the episode. (It does.)

Archie drives around in Betsy and expresses his frustration that no one else finds her as lovely as he does. While driving through town he sees a new store, and there are fuzzy dice in the window! Just the kind he’s been looking for. Archie stops into Dr. Beaumont’s Emporium of Curios, Novelties, Antiquities, and Hard Lessons (this name is the funniest part of the show so far) and this particular boutique appears to be part of the same franchise from Needful Things. All sorts of spooky and grotesque items lay inside but none more insidious than the fuzzy dice. Archie asks the shop proprietor Dr Horatio Beauregard Beaumont for a price on the dice and it is $21.43. A strange amount, but coincidentally exactly how much money Archie has in his pocket. Archie bounds out of the store with his treasure, despite the warnings from the shopkeeper. 

(Also, if you have subtitles on during this scene, the good Doctor is ordering “age removal cream” however the text says “AIDS removal cream” which is a huge mistake.)

The shopkeeper who, at least at this point in the series, has done nothing wrong. He sells weird stuff. It’s not his fault that patrons ignore his warnings. Fuzzy dice don’t kill people, people kill people. 

Archie returns home and is cleaning up Betsy once more when Jughead reminds him of his date. Of course Archie had forgotten and not only is he about to be late to pick up Veronica but he also has no money – because he spent it all on the dice. Archie hits up Jughead for a loan and Jugs is scared that this will entirely throw off their dynamic. He’s supposed to be the constantly broke and irresponsible one. Same Jughead, same. Somehow twenty bucks is enough to get food at Pop’s and go to a movie. Riverdale is inflation proof. 

While driving to Pop’s, Veronica makes the mistake of insulting Betsy. Betsy who is now alive thanks to the magic dice. You can tell Betsy is alive because her headlights have turned green and now react and blink. Much like the eyes in Spider-Man’s mask. Betsy throws Veronica around the vehicle while Archie is driving. Which wouldn’t be a bad assist if one was planning on hooking up with someone in the car. Betsy can lay down the seat, bounce the passenger to the back, heat the seats, maybe even clean up at the end. There are advantages to an evil demonic car that would do anything for you. Also, I’m working on a theory about Betty and Veronica but I feel that I need to watch more episodes first. 

Archie and Veronica are enjoying some ice cream inside Pop’s. Meanwhile, Reggie walks by Betsy and has some unkind words for her. Betsy gets angry and chases Reggie around the parking lot, even causing him to run up a light pole to get away. Veronica sees all of this from inside and tells Archie his car is evil. By the time Archie turns his head to look, Betsy is back in her parking spot and Archie thinks Veronica is being mean to his car for no reason and leaves. 

Archie drives Betsy and she reveals herself to him. The two of them drive all night and it’s unclear if Archie can’t leave, or if he’s been assaulted by Betsy maybe. Something happened during the night though. Archie takes Betsy back home and tells her he’s going to park her in the garage because it will rain and he wants his girl to be safe. Betsy loves all of this attention and only realizes something is amiss when Archie locks her inside the garage. Archie says he’s going to the dance to meet Betty. This is too much for Betsy and she bursts out of the garage. 

Meanwhile at the dance, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Jughead all wonder what happened to Archie. Betsy crashes through the wall, trying to kill Archie’s friends. They take off running. Archie catches up and finds Chuck and Nancy hiding in a closet. Chuck and Nancy appeared last episode in a non speaking role. This time they get to say that the car is crazy and it’s trying to kill everyone. And that has been your non-popular white kid segment of the show. 

Archie sees Betsy has his friends cornered. They climbed a statue for safety but it can’t hold all four of them for long. Archie has a revelation that the fuzzy dice have caused all of this chaos. He dives into Betsy, and finally wrestles the dice away as Betsy crashes into the statue. 

Everyone is now safe and Jughead says Archie has a lot of time at home ahead of him as he fixes up the car. Archie says he’ll pay someone to do it so he can hang out with his friends, because that is what’s most important. 

I’m guessing that’s the educational/informative lesson of the episode: spend time with people not things. Which could also be interpreted as try to have sex with the hot blonde or hot brunette that are all over you instead of the car.

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