This review contains spoilers.
3.14 Fire Walk With Me
“I don’t know what to do Jug, I remain marked for death”
As the second half of this season of Riverdale moves forward, most of our characters are now in flux, narratively being pushed ahead into the storylines that will dominate upcoming episodes. Thus we have Betty doing her best Firestarter homage, Veronica scrambling to regain control of her fledgling business, Jughead figuring out the Serpents’ future, and Kevin getting in deep with The Farm. It’s a handful.
Annnnnnd then there’s Archie. Who gets played (and then stabbed) by a child in this episode. Sigh. Riverdale’s Archie problem shows no sign of going away anytime soon, but hopefully, his decision to play the Gryphons and Gargoyles game he is unwittingly involved in to its bitter end will give some more narrative meat to chew on.
The upside? At least his stupidity here is understandable. Archie feels grateful to have loved ones who helped him through his recent trials, and he wants to pay such kindness forward to Ricky. The argument can be made that the very fact he lives in Riverdale should have been reason enough for him to be apprehensive around the little moppet, but, you know…
So rogue Gargoyles are still out for Archie’s blood. There’s no real explanation as to why this is, but as with all things Riverdale it is always best to just go with it. My gut instinct still says that this eternal game of G&G will connect directly with The Farm, which brings us to Betty.
The shadowy Farm cult, complete with Scientology-esque lingo like “detractor,” has Betty surrounded by all sides. Her mother is selling their house in order to live with the group 24/7, which will not only make her homeless but, er, further fuel her fire of hatred for the hilariously named Farmies. Worse still, Kevin is now totally brainwashed, barking at Betty and generally loving whatever kind of freaky hootenanny thing The Farm has going on.
Betty can’t even write an expose to trash The Farm, because, thanks to Alice, the group knows about the Shady Man cover up. Conveniently forgetting that her boyfriend’s super-corrupt dad is the only source of law enforcement in her garbage town, she slams her laptop closed in frustration. Then, after briefly toying with the idea of doing her own trial by fire to see if the Farm is into something, she decides to say screw it, and turn the tables by igniting the house and her memories. Cue “Burning Down the House.” (Which had to be an alternate title for this episode, right?) Dark Betty is back, and oh how I have missed her.
Jughead’s streak of being the single worst gang leader in pop culture history continues undeterred, with his big plan to save the Serpents involving joining up with the Riverdale police department? Huh? Now granted we know that the little hamlet is so utterly lawless that its current mayor is a former crook with a penchant for corpse abuse, so it’s not like Jug is getting his pals associated with the Boy Scouts. Yet the optics on this look really bad. How can any gang earn respect among their peers and be taken seriously if they are informing for the cops. This is some Archie-level inanity here folks. Is anyone else getting the suspicion that all of the gangs on this show are not long for this world? (Except maybe for the Pretty Poisons, who are clearly fantastic and deserve to be last gang standing whenever the show goes full The Warriors).
At La Bonne Nuit, Veronica is still dealing with the consequences of destroying the Lodge family drug operation. She not only is losing money constantly by having to pay off her debts to Hiram and Gladys, but now she has the pair (who so deserve each other, I ship it!) causing problems at her business. Her solution is to stop these low-rent gangsters, one of whom constantly has a knife at the ready, by hiring a gang of high schoolers as security. This all makes a great deal of sense, right?
While largely a placeholder episode, “Fire Walk With Me” does a solid job of setting up future plot points and conflicts aplenty. We already see trouble on the horizon for Choni, but there’s also G&G madness to come, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of The Farm yet. All this and an upcoming production of Heathers: The Musical too. Riverdale, you truly can do it all. Not wonderfully all the time, but how I appreciate the effort!