Welcome back all you Riverdale fans! Once again, we return. To the places where it all began. To the people that haunt us when we close our eyes and when we awaken. To the hallowed halls of Riverdale high, where the world outside holds no purchase, or, at least we hope it doesn’t.
And as always, spoilers ahead.
1. Man Hook Bus Hand Locker
I cannot fucking believe this is the direction they decided to go with Hal. I mean, of course he didn’t die in that crash, when has a cliffhanger in this show ever proven true? If you had asked me if the Black Hood would return, with a fucking hook hand, terrorizing Betty and working with the Gargoyle King, I would have told you there’s no way they’d do something that silly. But here we are. I’m not totally convinced Hal is actually out there/that it’s Hal under the mask but I’m inclined to believe it, mostly because of the hook. God, that hook. What gets me most about this too has to be the focus on the hook in the Suspira inspired sequences. It’s just too funny that any terror I might have had went straight out the window.
And I loved every second of it.
This is the kind of tone I wish Riverdale would lean harder into. It’s just the right amount of ridiculous while still retaining the trappings of the genre, executed in a way that is genuinely tense and effective. It’s eerie and Betty’s fear was deeply palpable; honestly, her acting was the highlight of that sequence and sold the whole thing. But, getting back to Hal and his stupid hook hand, I don’t know why this wasn’t done earlier.
Like, sure Hal the Pal was fun and all but all he did was mug for the camera the whole time behind bars and it would have been so much more effective to have him be on the loose, Betty continuing to jump at shadows that now have a much more defined fear behind them. That said, it would have changed the dynamic of the season and certainly’ve made Edgar’s plot to drive Betty to The Farm not have worked as effectively, narratively speaking. That works best with the final two episodes. Speaking of The Farm. . .
2. The King & the Red Paladin
I called it! Right from the get go! While there hasn’t been total confirmation yet, and a few misdirections, I am certain that, unless they pull something real weird, The Farm is the one behind G&G and all the murders. Although as I said last week, I’m not certain that Edgar is the Gargoyle King, that feels like a step too far and, considering how careful this schmuck has been, it’s most likely a patsy or someone who’s in cahoots with him under the mask. I could be wrong there but I think it’s unlikely.
Still, I’m glad that SOMEONE in the show has made this connection. Finally! Jeez. It only took them, what, a whole calendar year? This season takes place over the course of a year, right? Labor Day started it with Archie’s trial and now we’re at “Prom,” which is usually mid-May. Cool, cool.
What this means for the final two episodes, I dunno. The Farm’s really come into focus these last few episodes and what we’ve learned is unsettling but standard cult stuff. Until we get that firm link, and get some big reveals, The Farm is still gonna feel like this distant setting that has infected the town rather than an actual place.
Oh, and what the hell is up with Betty and her incessant need to burst into rooms, accuse someone, and then have to eat her words? This happens nearly every fucking episode and it is driving me bonkers. Betty’s not that stupid and impulsive? Are the writers trying to hint at something through this or show that her impatience is getting the best of her, actively hurting her investigations? No, I think it’s lazy writing to set up plot points and misdirections, like the tattoo thing, which, either Hal had the tattoos or Edgar does and he’s hiding it somehow.Continued below
3. Punch Drunk Love
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people like Archie and Veronica together. It’s a classic pairing. I’ve always been a Betty & Arch person myself BUT for the Riverdale universe, V & Arch really don’t make a great pair. They’re wonderful together but not together, if you get me. I want to see a strong friendship dammit! Let them remain exs. I also really like Veronica & Reggie, they have great chemistry and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the only reason it ended the way it did was because Charlie Melton had to film for The Sun is Also a Star.
ANYWAY! Enough about the steamy romances, what I really wanted to talk about was Archie’s stupid, stupid boxing plot this week. It wasn’t that the idea is stupid nor that the end result was, in fact, I think this was a perfect way to fold in Molly Ringwald’s Mary Andrews. No, it was just an uncomfortable story that felt, I dunno, shoehorned in.
Archie going behind his mom’s back felt kind of out of character and Veronica’s constant pushing of Archie to go back in the ring somehow feels like she’s manipulating him on behalf of her father for. . .reasons?
It felt off and the constant lying was just so old hat that I was waiting for it to come crumbling down around him. Thankfully, it was resolved in the best of ways and opened up the question I’ve been meaning to ask for a while: why did music stop for Archie? What about it “didn’t work?” Like, really. There was no reason for it to stop. I don’t get it. I think they just wanted Boxer Archie, other Archie’s be damned.
4. Take a Ride on the Horror School Bus
Before I get to the actual thought, I want to plug my favorite minor cast member: the coroner. There’s something about creepy coroners that make me laugh. Maybe it’s because they’re really hamming it up while everyone else takes the scenes so seriously. Each time they have to involve him in the plot, it brightens my day so I’m very glad he was here again.
OK, back to our regularly scheduled thought.
I think the highlight of the G&G storyline this week was the little bus of horrors. It was just so…weird. Like, I don’t know what I expected when they talked about finding Kurtz’s new lair after the death shed and hotel of terror but it was not this. What was with all those dolls? What is it about this game that got all these people to be so fanatical? Is it drugs? It’s almost certainly Jingle Jangle/Fizzle Rocks/G/whatever the hell The Farm is using. I have a theory, that probably isn’t true, that the punch or something was spiked at the Prom because there were at least three bodies that Betty saw and literally no one else commented on them, nor did she bring them up.
That’s a pretty conspicuous thing to leave out. Now, it’s possible the next episode will corroborate that what Betty saw was real but right now, I’m operating under the assumption that I can’t trust much of what she saw just yet. We’ve seen floating babies before! Nothing is impossible for Riverdale. I was yelling at the TV for Betty to say something about the BODIES but I guess the trauma of seeing her serial killer father again kind of took precedence.
5. Multi-Plot Drifting
We’re about to enter the final two episodes, which has me wondering, what the hell is going to happen?! Seriously, there are so many storylines and plots that have been introduced and advanced this season that there’s no way most of them are getting resolved in any meaningful way in these next two episodes. Hiram and Veronica’s power struggle, Archie’s boxing stuff, whatever Veronica wants with Archie’s gym, Nu Gargoyle King, Ur Gargoyle King, whatever the Midnight Club isn’t telling Betty, Hal & his hook hand, The Farm and literally everything with them, Jelly Bean & her maybe place in Gladys’ plans, Gladys’ plans and the most important one of all, Luke Perry’s passing.
Yes, while I did not talk on it last week, during his final performance for the show, this is the first episode that had to be filmed after Luke Perry’s death. It is a bittersweet moment, knowing that this is the reason Molly Ringwald was there and is sticking around. On the one hand, we get to have more of Mary Andrews in the show but on the other, it will be conspicuous everytime they have to give an excuse for Fred to no longer be around.Continued below
Luke Perry was, perhaps, the best actor on the show. Not to knock everyone else but his performances were always genuine and warm. His brought a life and sincerity to the character that was missing elsewhere. Each time Fred Andrews was involved in a story, it was better, all thanks to Luke Perry’s acting and presence. Thank you for all you did and for the good times you provided in this strange, strange show. We will miss you.
Next week, the penultimate episode of season three where we will, perhaps, learn the true identity of the Gargoyle King. If it’s somehow FP, I will flip. Let me know what you all think in the comments and I’ll see you again in seven. Until then, stay strange y’all.
Best Line of the Night:
Veronica: “Prom is this weekend? We still do things like that?”