This episode was written by Brian Swenlin.
In today’s episode, Archie turns invisible! I mean, that’s probably obvious from the title. But how do we get to this chain of events? Let’s start the show.
I haven’t said it yet but this theme song gets stuck in my head. Especially the part when they run down the cast: “Archie and Reggie/Veronica Betty/Jughead too!” Poor Jughead. Just one step above Gilligan’s Island “and the rest” version of their theme song. Also, I find myself making up my own lyrics for this far too often. Usually something along the lines of “Archie and Reggie/Veronica’s sweaty/Jughead too!” Yes, I also think I missed my calling to be a songwriter.
Archie and Reggie are running on the track for what I assume is gym class. All of this takes place within the school day so maybe these poor kids have gym first period. The best was having it last. I went to a Catholic school (which I have been told, explains a lot about me) so we had to wear uniforms during the school day. Yet somehow when I attended there was no uniform for gym. Someone dropped the ball. Those rare times when gym was my last class of the day I would remain in my t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers and head for the bus. Back to Riverdale though.
Archie and Reggie see Betty and Veronica outside on the field. They both want to impress the ladies but their attention is taken by Riverdale’s new star athlete – Robbie Dobkins. Now, Robbie is interesting. Some say it’s Chuck Clayton, which it isn’t. Chuck has already appeared on the show. However there are so few Black characters in Riverdale that I can understand viewers assuming it’s Chuck. If they even know Chuck’s name. Anyways, Betty and Veronica are obsessed with Robbie’s size. He has the biggest muscles and is the new star of Riverdale athletics. Archie and Reggie try to show off their own skills but it’s no match for Reggie lifting both girls and a bench at the same time.
Honestly, this shows how far we’ve come. I can’t think of a single cartoon from my childhood that would show one let alone two white girls fawning all over the jacked black guy. I mean it would be good if there was more than one, a bit more diversity, some gay representation. But this episode can’t even find a minute to include Jughead, so there are some limitations.
Later, maybe the next class period, Archie and Reggie assume the girls will be their lab partners but they’re still all over Robbie. Archie and Reggie head over to – who else – Dilton. Turns out Dilton is ahead on schoolwork and can’t be a lab partner because he’s already done the assignment. Dilton is now granted free use of lab equipment for his own experiments. Dilton shows off a new formula which makes a lizard into a muscle bound giant. Archie and Reggie want to know if this will work on humans, seeing an opportunity to compete with Robbie. Dilton, ever the man of science, tells them that it is dangerous to try such untested formulas. Archie agrees for real, and Reggie pretends to agree.
Everyone heads to their next class, but Reggie sneaks back into the lab to get the formula. Archie comes back too. Did he forget something? Was he stealing the formula for himself? Was he trying to catch Reggie? I just don’t completely trust Archie here either. Maybe it’s in the line reading. Archie and Reggie argue over the formula – Archie wants to put it away and Reggie wants to use it – but in the struggle the formula splashes all over both of them. They don’t get bigger instantly and both assume the experiment is a failure on humans.
Archie starts to feel a bit sick and heads into the bathroom to freshen up. To his shock he witnesses himself turning invisible in the mirror. The formula splashed all over his clothes and skin, allowing both to turn invisible. Archie freaks out and heads back to the lab to find Dilton. Meanwhile, Reggie is in class and doesn’t understand why everyone is ignoring him. Ms Grundy marks him absent (her first appearance in the series) and it is at this moment that Reggie realizes he is invisible and wants to have some fun with this. Reggie messes with Ms Grundy’s map, disrupting the class. He feels emboldened and is about to get worse. Archie has found Dilton and told him what’s happening. Dilton begins to come up with an antidote and both realize they need to find Reggie before anything bad happens. Something bad like they might become so invisible they fade out of existence.
Archie puts on some lab coats to walk around and find Reggie. He should have just stayed invisible. Instead, he’s caught by Mr Weatherbee (also his first appearance on the show) and the Bee drags Archie into detention. Mr Weatherbee is teaching Archie a lesson but Archie knows he has to get out of there to find Reggie. Archie strips out of his ridiculous outfit and sneaks his invisible self out of the room.
Elsewhere, Reggie is messing with Robbie. Reggie alters the flow of the water fountain to soak Robbie. He also ties Robbie’s shoelaces together but Robbie is so strong he snaps free of that prank attempt.
Back to Archie and Dilton has come up with an antidote which instantly makes Archie visible again. They search for Reggie and figure he’s on the field up to no good. How does one find an invisible man? Archie and Dilton hook the antidote up to the sprinkler system and turn on the water for the field (I don’t think that’s how these plumbing systems actually work). Everyone is soaked and upset about that but Reggie also becomes visible and has no idea that he can now be seen. Reggie is a bit slow on things throughout the episode. Reggie sneaks up behind Robbie to pull down his shorts but gets caught, because he’s not invisible. Off camera it sounds like Robbie is punching Reggie for his prank and the rest of the gang is back to normal.
It’s been awhile so let’s remember that this show was marketed as educational/instructional. What is the lesson from this episode? Don’t drink or put strange experimental liquids on yourself is a good one, but I don’t think that’s the main point of the show. This is a kids show and thus Reggie doesn’t go in the invisible directions that he would no doubt do on a more mature show. I think the moral is supposed to be, always act like someone is watching. Maybe that someone could be teachers, parents, or even God. True character can be revealed by what a person does when they think no one is watching. Archie went to find Dilton and then help Reggie. Reggie sought out revenge. It’s too bad that the song can’t rhyme the same with Jughead mentioned second and then a “Reggie too” at the end. Reggie is an interesting character in the Archie universe because he’s treated like one of the gang but is also the biggest villain.