This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 3 Episode 6
“Leaving is my best option, it’s my only option”
In the press lead up to this season, it was let slip in cast interviews that Archie wouldn’t stay in prison too long. That’s no surprise given how much more interesting the Gryphons & Gargoyles storyline and the promise of Farm mayhem to come are. What is something of a headscratcher however is the rapid nature of how swiftly Archie was exonerated for his crimes and Sheriff Minetta was put away (off screen, natch) for his general pain in the assery/witness coercion. For a town whose hospital has old-timey ambulances and anachronistic hangouts, justice sure moves quickly in Riverdale. The dubious nature of how Archie’s get out of jail free card was dealt — and that’s not even getting into how quickly Minetta would turn on Lodge to shorten his sentence, I’ve seen a lot of Law & Order, so I know — taints an otherwise gripping episode of Riverdale.
So the question to be asked here is am I willing to overlook the legal and storytelling contrivances on display to have Archie’s murder rap put behind him once and for all?
Yes, yes, a million times yes.
It was my initial fear that having Archie imprisoned would swing back around to the Season 1 problem of having the character the entire show is supposed to revolve around separated from the main storylines. But in its third year, Riverdale has largely learned from its past mistakes, with Archie’s brief lock-up largely serving to illustrate how deep G&G has infilitrated the town and the minds of its residents.
Now that Archie is free and he and Jughead are riding the rails (until they inevitably return home, most likely in an episode or two), they are free to have a rare solo adventure together, which is something the show has yet to really do. In the comics, the pair are inseperable, but their relationship is much more complicated on screen. Jughead’s inability to cast aside his role-playing last week to help his friend was the only annoying aspect of an otherwise perfect episode. Here though he sees dead Joaquin, sacrificed to the Gargoyle King to send a message and he finally gets it: Archie isn’t safe in Riverdale. And Jughead realizes that nothing, not the Serpents, not the game, not even Betty (weirdly), are more important than helping his best friend. It’s a great character moment that shows some real growth for the impulsive ride-or-die Jughead that we’ve seen so far this season.
But with Archie gaining his freedom Betty loses hers, sent by Alice to live with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy for her own protection from the Gargoyle King. Too bad this plan was a huge failure, as all of Betty’s cohorts at the diabolical nunnery seem obsessed with the big GK. Or is Betty just hallucinating this because of the drugs the Sisters doubtlessly have her hopped up on? Either way, I really wish Riverdale would stop with the plotlines in which one of its characters has to be busted out of somewhere, because oh man is it tired at this point.
Earlier in the episode, we see Riverdale’s resident Miss Marple interrogating the members of the Midnight Club to try to figure out just what in the hell is going on. While it’s plausible that Daryl Doiley did poison the chalices so that he could ascend with Penelope Blossom, she is hardly a reliable narrator here. More believable are the cover-ups carried out by Tom Keller and Alice Cooper to protect the other members of the group. That said, I do totally believe Penelope when she mentions if she wanted to poison Daryl, she would have used a method that doesn’t leave a trace. The Blossoms have a lot of problems, but thoroughness is not one of them.
This confrontation-heavy episode also saw Jughead playing voice of the audience and saying the obvious by accusing Hiram of being the Gargoyle King. Because Riverdale loves its bait and switches and red herrings, I think this scene is definitive proof that Hiram isn’t actually the Gargoyle King after all. So who is? My money is on either the yet-unseen leader of The Farm, Edgar Evernever, Hermione Lodge, or Fred Andrews. (With the latter being in the running just because this is not a show where characters get to remain pure and upstanding for very long).
Finally, while yes, it is sad that Veronica’s party was a bust and all those macaroons will go uneaten, we know that she and Archie and “endgame,” and he’ll be back before too long. Until then, maybe she can work on bringing herself up to date on the other shit going down in town, because she needs to get up to speed.
– Apparently, the Gargoyle King is a big movie buff, as evidenced by this terrific Halloween homage.
– One thing that this episode had hardly any of is Cheryl, who only got one line. Note to writers: NEVER DO THIS AGAIN.
– We’re all in agreement that Evelyn Evernever is using crazy Farmie magic to cause seizures in people, right?
– Veronica telling Archie that there are “wanted posters with your strong jawline all over town” might be the most hilarious line of this rather intense episode.
– Speaking of Veronica, I am so in love with the fact that she has embraced her Monica Posh alter ego to the point that it is now her e-mail address. It’s these non-sensical throwaway moments that make me love Riverdale even more than I already do.
– Jughead being surrounded by food wrappers after getting chained to the fridge is a nice touch.
– In a welcome bit of character-consistent narcissism, Hiram now has a portrait of himself hanging in his office where Veronica’s used to be.
– Just for the record, legal professionals Sierra McCoy and Mary Andrews missed the super obvious time jump in prison survelliance footage while Veronica noticed immediately. Draw your own conclusions about their vocational choices.
– So who are the members of the Gargoyle Gang? The tropes of narrative television being what they are, my hunch is either they are members of The Farm or, TWIST, the Midnight Club and some Serpents?
– Could Dr. Curdle Jr. (whose mysterious “dead” dad could be the Gargoyle King for all I know) get his own spin-off please. What is he doing with those small bills anyway?
– Is Hot Dog okay? I really need to know that Hot Dog is okay.
– It’s glossed over pretty quickly, but F.P. saw the Gargoyle King in his youth as well. How many other members of The Midnight Club did, and what does that mean?
– This could just be a clue or just an in-joke by the series’ graphic department, but two of the files in the G&G symbol-bearing folder that Veronica opens up (but is completely unaware of, because Archie) contain the name Donny. Am I overlooking someone, or has there been no Donny character mentioned on the show as of yet?
– Archie, the subject of a townwide manhunt, wanders around in public thinking that a hoodie and a generic baseball cap is an adequate disguise. Smart kid, eh?
– The song that plays during Archie and Jughead’s departure from Riverdale is Johnny Western’s “Ballad of Paladin,” otherwise known as the theme song from Have Gun, Will Travel. The tune’s appearance not only fits the storyline beautifully, but also is evocative of Stand By Me, a film which features its young protagonists singing it. (And train tracks play a prominent role in that flick as well).
– What exactly did Hiram mean when he told Veronica “your mother doesn’t even have a computer anymore?” Did he mean he stole the one with incriminating evidence from her office, or is she just having her underlings do all the mayoral work? Riverdale: Town in Chaos!
– Did this episode make anyone else really want some Jiffy Pop?