This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 3 Episode 13
“Josie, I’m an ex-con who walked out of the SATs, remember?”
So speaks Archie Andrews, a lovable doofus who never met a bad idea he couldn’t saunter shirtless into the maelstrom of. His latest terrible decision? Accepting money from Elio (Julian Haig) to throw a fight with a bruiser reigning champ. You see, boxing helps Archie focus…even though when we saw him before the series’ brief hiatus a few weeks back he was super into music again, but whatever. (Cue Veronica’s now immortal “Forget it Jug, it’s Riverdale,” a quote I will probably be referencing for the remainder of the season as storylines on this show probably won’t get any more coherent in the immediate future). The point is, the heart wants what the heart wants, and Archie’s latest passion is to prove his worth by beating the crap out of anyone in his way. At least this time he is doing so in a theoretically more legit way as opposed to his prior Red Circle antics, so progress?
Wrongly comparing getting paid to take a dive to a band getting booked as an opening act, he shares his thoughts with current paramour/voice of reason Josie who tells him it’s a terrible idea and he is worth more than the $5,000 he would get. Tom Keller, apparent boxing coach extraordinaire concurs, and won’t continue Archie’s training if he continues down this dark path. To his credit, Archie does realize that throwing the bout is an awful idea, and tries to back out and is quickly told that if he doesn’t fight it will have serious repercussions. His back against the wall, he explains the situation to Keller, who agrees to play Mickey to Archie’s Rocky.
On fight night, Arch shows that his time in juvie’s Fight Club has paid off. He outfights his fearsome opponent but loses the match anyway, most likely because Elio likely paid a judge off to cover his own bets. Although a loser, Archie fought on his own terms, and he celebrates by spending the night with Josie. Future episodes will see if this tedious subplot continues — to the writers, I implore you, please figure out a way to incoporate Archie into the interesting aspects of the show instead of sidelining him — or if he now has gotten what he needed out of his search for inner peace via boxing.
Elsewhere, Veronica continues to deal with the fallout of destroying her father’s Fizzle Rocks operation. She decides that the best way to protect her mother and, to a lesser degree, herself, is to help Gladys Jones (portrayed with scenery chewing menace by Gina Gershon) take over Riverdale’s drug trade. It’s actually not a terrible plan. Having Gladys in charge of the Fizzle Rocks empire is step towards Veronica achieving her totally naive dream of having her dad’s business dealings be on the up and up. Of course, this completely ignores everything we and Veronica know about Hiram, but what would the Lodge family be without some serious denial?
Still recovering from his (Hermione-ordered) shooting, Hiram is walking a tightrope between being mellow and madness. The imminent threat of violence against Hermione is extremely disturbing, and Veronica is doing the best to make sure that her mother doesn’t become collateral damage for the drug bonfire she and Reggie held.
For her part, Gladys seems to be not an opportunist like Veronica thinks but a very calculated criminal looking to play the long game. The only other person who realizes this right now is Jellybean, and she’s too busy getting a coffee fix to bother with anything else. Immediately aware of the fact that Jughead is a terrible Serpent King, Gladys undermines her own son by incorporating the zonked out G&G addicts into his gang. (For what its worth, I am more than ready for the Serpents to go under as the Teenage Gang Debs aesthetic of the Pretty Poisons are infinitely more interesting).
With all this going on, poor Betty is trying to save her mom from drowning via The Farm, a cult who we are finally starting to delve into the actions of. She succeeds in resuscitating Alice but really, her mother is gone. A casualty to a group whose sinster nature will likely weave together all of Riverdale’s dangling threads throughout the remainder of the season.
– Archie’s opponent in the ring is Randy Ronson (Darcy Hinds). Ronson is a supporting character and love interest in the Katy Keene comics. (Who herself is getting a Riverdale spin-off to also feature the Josie McCoy character). It’s worth noting that Katy’s boyfriend K.O. Kelly will be a part of the series, and he is a boxer…so we will likely see Randy again in the future.
– Where’s Fred? Isn’t his whole raison d’être to attempt to talk Archie out of doing dumb shit like he does tonight?
– Trouble in Choniville. Jughead absolutely hit the nail on the head when he referred to the Pretty Poisons as Cheryl’s vanity project, and this point clearly had an impact on Toni. With the show’s number of gangs always on the verge of enterting The Warriors territory, it will be interesting if Toni is able to realize her vision for the Poisons as a place of community and protection.
– A lot of things on this show you just have to go with. So why am I stuck on the fact that there’s no reality where corpse-mover F.P. Jones would still be sheriff?
– Kevin’s streak of bad luck continues, with him being slowly indoctrinated into The Farm following his break-up with Moose.
– Despite my nitpicks with this episode, I have to say that Josie’s cover of Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero” here was inspired.
– Chekov’s archery training says we are going to see the Pretty Poisons kicking major ass soon.
– The Gargoyle Gang’s hideout, complete with masked-inhabitants having Fizzle Rock-induced fits, is the most inadvertently hilarious moment of the show this season.
– With Betty now in full Leah Remini mode, I wonder how real-life Scientologist Marisol Nichols feels about The Farm subplot on the series.
– 23 Hour Fitness is a business in town. This just adds fuel to the fire of the fan theory that states time moves differently on Riverdale. (See also, the Five Seasons hotel, the show’s endless anachronisms, and so on).
– So we get our first hint that The Farm and Gryphons & Gargoyles are connected when Betty learns that ascending to the next level is key to both. This furthers the likelihood that the yet unseen Edgar Evernever (who should be showing up any minute now) is the puppetmaster behind the cult and the murderous RPG. Stay tuned.