This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 3 Episode 21
“I’m going to have to dig up Jason’s body, aren’t I?”
Yes Jughead, you are. And the coffin of Jason Blossom — whose murder (or was it?) kicked off Riverdale in the first place — was indeed empty. This is arguably the biggest reveal in the game-changing penultimate episode of this season, one crammed with deliciously ridiculous twists that lead viewers to believe that anything could happen in next week’s finale.
So just what in the hell does this development mean? Well, let’s suppose that this is true. Ethel has no reason to lie to Jughead about this. Besides, for weeks Cheryl has been claiming to be chatting with her dearly departed brother. So let’s break down the possibilities here. First off, this is in fact Jason Blossom, he faked his own death to help bring The Farm to prominence in Riverdale for reasons that have yet to be made clear. (The best bet being that the cult’s organ harvesting program is probably way more financially lucrative that the Blossom family’s maple syrup business).
In the past, the series has shown that twins run in the Blossom/Cooper lineage. But what about triplets? Could it be possible that there was another baby born with Cheryl and Jason? And this mystery triplet could have died instead of Jason? Again, this is if a Jason actually died at all.
Lastly, maybe Ethel only thinks that Jason is the Gargoyle King because she has been hypnotized by Edgar into believing this as part of his scheming. Since the Gargoyle King and the Black Hood are seemingly in league with each other, it makes a degree of sense that they would be in cahoots with Edgar as well…and Hiram for that matter. Is the ground being paved for a true Riverdale legion of villainy?
Yeah, my head hurts from all of this too. But we’re not even scratching the surface yet as there’s also Betty’s discovery that The Farm is swiping the organs of its followers for sale on the black market. And, in the case of Kevin’s kidney, being used to keep Evelyn alive. It’s a soap operatic development worthy of General Hospital‘s Luke and Laura salad days, and one that gives The Farm not only a purpose for invading a lawless, troubled town like Riverdale, but some much-needed malice as well.
The past couple of episodes have shown us that a darkness lies beneath The Farm’s EST trappings, one that is driven by a twisted purpose. Yet I still want more. As crazy as this organ harvesting stuff is — and make no mistake, it’s full on INSANE — I want more revelations about this cult because they’ve been narratively built up for so long. Granted, this episode is a huge payoff, but more please, because as I’ve said since this show started, the more it leans into its absurdity the better it is.
The show’s writers love torturing Betty, and Lili Reinhart always rises to the occasion. Here we learn that she possesses genes that give her a predisposition to violence that serial killers often have. More than that though, Betty killed her childhood cat and once pushed Polly down the steps. Yeesh. Dark Betty, slow your roll. All of this was revealed before the credits rolled, but Betty barely had time to process all of this before stumbling upon The Farm’s organ-selling side hustle. (What, no Uber in Riverdale?). Chekov’s shocking genetic revelation says that this information is going to pay off big time, and I’d be willing to bet that Betty’s bad side will kick in Dark Phoenix-style to help her escape from Edgar next week.
The Varchie takedown of Hiram seemed to go a bit too easily, fantastic, on-brand performance of Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” aside. Hiram is the most problematic character on the series, and while it would nice to think that he’ll be shipped off to a federal prison (and off the show), it’s far more likely that he’ll be released on a technicality. The Archie vs. Hiram stuff has more than wore out its welcome at this point and the character can use a rest for awhile at the very least — a la how the Black Hood was handled for most of this season. It was handled great here, but as usual, Archie’s plotlines are the least interesting aspect of the show.
With even Mary sounding tragically uncool by declaring Veronica and Archie as “endgame,” there’s little doubt that the couple will reunite. Apologies to all the Veggie shippers out there. Man, 2019 is a rough time for anyone who isn’t into TV-based pormanteaus.
Next week we should see how The Farm and the Gargoyle King plots tie together, and honestly, it’s anyone’s call. As a viewer and a critic, not knowing where all this is heading is intoxicating. It’s been an uneven season, but one that, if next week keeps up the pace, will finish up incredibly strong.
– Archie telling Veronica that her father sucks is the single greatest thing he has done on the series to date.
– Tonight’s episode paraphrases its name from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, a somewhat obscure (despite starring Bette Davis) 1978 miniseries based on the novel Harvest Home by Tom Tyron in which a small community is obsessed with an agricultural festival that results in bloodshed. Is The Farm inspired by this book and film? More likely than not, and is another harbinger that some serious shit is going to go down in next week’s season finale.
– There’s actual science behind the serial killer gene aspects to tonight’s episode, although nothing is definitive. There’s still hope Betty!
– Kevin calls Betty a “detractor” to the teachings of The Farm, echoing Scientology’s alleged labelling of anyone who speaks out against the religion as “suppressive.”
– While the resolution of the Archie/Veronica/Reggie romance is an obvious one, it’s a really interesting twist on the love triangle that is the essence of the Archie comics.
– It’s an annoying contrivance that last week Cheryl was having her doubts about The Farm and this episode has her back in the fold 100%. Additionally, her sacrifice doesn’t make any sense as there’s no reason that she and Toni couldn’t have escaped together.
– Tom Keller was nowhere to be seen in Archie’s corner during his fight against Mr. Lodge. This is a subtle nod to how Keller only wanted to help Archie in legit fights, but given the ultimate goal here of setting Hiram up, it seems odd that he wasn’t present.
– Mary Andrews has some serious contacts thanks to her days at Sarah Florence.
– What’s up with Polly posing as Betty and encouraging her to give in to her dark instincts? Is she aware that Jason is apparently still alive? I’d be willing to hazard a guess that she is, and maybe that Jason is higher up in The Farm than even Edgar is.
– Jughead stealing Louie’s apple is a fantastic bit of character work.
– The Archie/Hiram fight takes place on Friday, April 20th, which means the series is set in 2018? Given its anachronistic nature, even this is up for debate.
– Evelyn is reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Gray himself is a character in Riverdale‘s companion series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and little nods like this one make me wish they’d just do a full-blown crossover already.
– Calling the Riverdale scouts ‘the Lost Boys’ is less a shout out to J.M. Barrie and more proof that the town has the worst absentee parents in America.
– Hiram, a criminal and drug kingpin, wants to buy the town and privatize it because there’s too much drugs and crime. Okay then.
– The Jones household buys Icky Wicky brand ice cream. The way the camera lingers on the desert treat leads me to believe this is a reference to something, but what? Your theories are welcomed in the comments.
– “Help me Jughead Jones, you’re my only hope.” And with that, Ethel wins the award for most head-scratching out-of-context Star Wars reference for the week!
– Betty’s cat Caramel dates back to the 1950s, when she first appeared in the pages of Bob Bolling’s masterful Little Archie comic. Since the stories featured in that publication were filled with a shocking amount of trauma, Caramel was often getting lost and/or filling Betty with existential dread. The cat still pops up from time to time in modern Archie stories, but given Caramel’s upsetting fate here, don’t expect to see her in the Riverdale tie-in comic.