“Gloria” is Glorious as Katy Keene Gets her Mojo Back

Kevin Keller - a white man, Pepper - an Asian woman wearing a glittery silver dress and glasses, her blond hair combed back, Jorge - a Latinx man with short, curly dark hair wearing a glittery top with geometric patterns, and Katy Keene - a brunette woman with red lips and dark hair and fair skin - all cluster around a laptop, staring at it with chagrin to interest to mild bemusement

In Katy Keene chapter tenGloria’s accused of something ugly, setting Katy on the investigative warpath to clear her mentor’s name only to get looped back into her Mom Mystery. Elsewhere: Jorge’s Hail Mary throw to keep Bernardo in his life goes haywire; Pepper’s past finally threatens to go Vesuvius on her; and Kevin Keller pops in to support Josie when Xandra decides to cut ties with her father by joining the Pussycats.

Katy Keene
“Chapter Ten: Gloria'”

Michael Grassi and Neil McNeil (writers), Alex Pillai (director)
Lucy Hale, Ashleigh Murray, Camille Hyde, Jonny Beauchamp, Julia Chan, Lucien Laviscount, Zane Holtz, Katherine LaNasa, Nathan Lee Graham (cast); Ryan Faucett (guest star)
Based on Archie Comics
April 23rd, 2020

Gossip is always a central feature in Katy Keene’s universe, but in “Gloria” it comes back to bite everyone  in the butt — causing Gloria to show a vulnerable side, Josie a fierce side, and Pepper a loyal one.

With her aborted flirtation with her not-so Prince Charming in her rear-view mirror, Katy’s barely-suppressed attraction to Guy LaMontagne has begun to rise to the surface. But since he’s her mentor and she his muse, this complicates her professional relationship with him, especially when he gifts her with a dress.

The launch party for Gloria’s new book results in a different disembarkation: Gloria is accused of using her girls to procure sex for top flight clients to secure major deals. This, naturally, is a misconstruction of the very, very real affair between Katy and the prince. To save Gloria’s reputation and her job with Mrs. Lacy, Katy offers to investigate the source of the rumor. She zeroes in on Amanda, an ambitious Guy, and even Mrs. Lacy herself, but the investigation only unearths a personal revelation about both Gloria’s past and Katy’s mother — with both tied into the fate of the heir of Lacy’s, Leo.

An elegant woman with grey hair stands before a podium - Gloria Grandbilt. She wears a grey dress with lace sleeves. To her right is Katy Keene, a brunette woman wearing a red top and thigh-high skirt, and beside her is a blonde woman in a blue print skirt and white shirt - Amanda. To gloria's right stands Mrs. Lacy, a grey-haired woman in a fairisle sweater with black pants. They stand in the lobby of Lacy's, a grand department store with art decco features and a red carpet, sunlight gently streaming down on them all.

Also in New York, Jorge is less-than-basking in the glow of his threesome, feeling a lack of confidence in its wake. He approaches Bernardo with the notion of becoming a throuple with Buzz, and while Bernardo’s all for the idea, a gun-shy and freshly de-closeted Buzz turns them down. But the after-effect it has on Jorge and Bernardo’s relationship results in a shockwave that threatens to separate them for good.

Elsewhere, as the new Pussycats rehearse for their first gig at — naturally — Molly’s Crisis, Xandra appears and says she wants to join the band. Xandra says she wants to break free from her stepfather’s influence, replicating Alex’s success in doing the same. Josie rejects her, but the new Pussycats start to fall apart when a visiting Kevin Keller spills to the two of them about the history of the Pussycats and her previous Riverdale drama. During the fallout, Kevin swoops in to remind Josie that she’s never been happier, and that she should be moving forward in time with her career, instead of backwards. But Josie manages to talk her Pussycats back into the fold —  only to see that Xandra has once again gone into business for herself.

Kevin  — in town to visit his stepsister  — also becomes fast friends with Pepper. Later, a serious talk between them at Pops results in Pepper offering to help Kevin claim revenge on a predatory producer.  This results in a staged reading of Kevin’s play, which, entitled “Creekdale,” is naturally a heightened version of Riverdale‘s dramatic universe.

But Pepper’s own pot is on the boil as her ex continues to make her life difficult, demanding money and then telling her new protégé about the pitfalls of life in the con game to dissuade her from joining up with Pepper. It seems as if the walls are at long last closing in on her.

There are two major highlights “Gloria” showcases that lifts the show above its recent and more mediocre fumblings: the stellar performance of Katherine LaNasa as a wounded but unbroken Gloria Grandbilt, and the best use of a Riverdale guest star yet in Ryan Faucett’s Kevin Keller.

Kevin is a really interesting figure, especially within the body of the Katy-verse. As a grown-up, he teaches drama at Riverdale High while writing novels and plays about…well, the Archieverse, but in a veiled way.  He is a churning urn of frustrated ambition and joylessness while also being fiercely loving toward Josie and having a sense of humor. Faucett essays all of this well, though sometimes it feels like his character was dragged away from his suburban hell just so Josie might feel a bit better about her lot in life.  Yet he — and all of the “Creekdale” stuff — is also pitch-perfect.

Kevin Keller - a white man with short hair wearing a dark blue shirt and jeans - sits on a side table beside Josie McCoy - an african american woman with red dreds wiearing a baby blue shirt and darker jeans. Beside Josie sits Jorge, a latinx man wearing a red and white striped shirt. They're all reacting with amusement to someone off-camera, sitting in a green-painted living room

Speaking of Josie, it’s nice to see her run into a different sort of brick wall in this episode, with minimal interference from Alex. This plot line will end in one of two ways, and I’m honestly pulling for her to emerge as a different sort of artist, away from the Pussycat mythos.

Katy’s mom plot, to my relief, has begun to kick into high gear again. The Amanda/Katy rivalry has also returned to the roost and, while Amanda’s “Angela Lamesbury” joke does not land as strongly as it might have, it’s fun to see them in conflict again. But even as our titular heroine struggles with boss lust and mommy issues, it’s LaNasa who walks away with today’s episode. Restrained, filled with pain, and eloquent, she centers her scenes in a kind of lovely, calm grace that makes the soft, rarely shown part of Gloria’s character shine through. It’s a side of her we’ve never seen before, and one that makes us understand just why Gloria’s the way she is.

Pepper’s finally starting to get her comeuppance, and for the first time in months I rooted for her to help Kevin bring in the man who had harassed him. If the show can somehow connect this all back into her father, her porn producer fling and Miss Freesia alike, it will earn my respect.

And then there’s Jorge, who’s plot has made him somewhat unlikable and very hard to root for. There’s having your cake and eating it, and then there’s licking the cake so no one else can have it. The threesome was his idea, and with it blowing back in his face, it’s his bed to lie in.

But this is LaNasa’s show, and one Gloria deserves to run away with. If she ends up becoming Katy’s aunt — or, perhaps, even her biological mom — then it might just be the best thing to ever happen to this show as it fires on all cylinders heading into its season finale.