Riverdale Season 3 Episode 2 – TV Review
Riverdale may have dropped the ball when it came to absurd, over the top mafia drama last season.
But how do you feel about absurd, over the top prison drama, eh?
TL;DR Archie’s juvie stay turns into some bizarre, totalitarian hellscape; Veronica works diligently on finding a way to get him out; Betty and Jughead investigate the Gargoyle King mystery; which also involves a dark secret from all the parents’ past; Moose cools things off with Kevin because of his (homophobic?) dad.
Really, Riverdale? You had Kevin and Moose going to a lake to fuck in the pilot, but now at Season 3 you’re going to pull the tortured, chaste gay love card?
So Archie is still in position as the lead of the show this episode, as we get a lot of time dedicated to his juvenile detention stay. But this juvenile detention is serious business, with rival gangs, shivvings, guards turning a blind eye to beatings, and apparently a paedophilic warden. Archie first tries to get in good with the Serpents, including Joaquin, but when he refuses to shiv a Ghoulie, they cast him aside. The Ghoulies then beat up Archie for his shoes, so Archie decides (against the advice of his hulking roommate who is under the thumb of the warden or something) to unite everyone with a game of football. Meanwhile, Veronica starts to see Archie cracking under the pressure, and after a minor tiff with Cheryl over who should be student body president in Archie’s absence, takes Cheryl’s advice to hit up The Innocence Project to get him out. She also has the Vixens come to perform for the big game, but then Hiram shows up and signals the warden to proclaim the inmates are rioting and they are all savagely beaten. And also Buff Roommate is now mysteriously dead and Archie will be the warden’s new pet. Wait, what? Meanwhile, the Scoutmaster is confirmed dead, and Betty and Jughead are on the Gargoyle King case. Skeet and Alice try to discourage it due to Betty’s seizure last episode (which she had also been hiding from Jughead), but they discover Ethel was also a member of the game the Scoutmaster and Ben were playing. Ethel has a seizure, too, and gives our duo clues to find a secret bunker. Within, they find paraphernalia relating to a Dungeons and Dragons knock-off game that features the Gargoyle King. And a missing boy scout, but who cares. To round out this subplot, the parents of Riverdale (Hermione, Hiram, Penelope, Fred, Alice, Skeet, Sheriff Keller, and Mayor McCoy) meet to cryptically talk about a dark secret they are all hiding that could be brought to light. Oh, and Moose throws some cold water on his relationship with Kevin because Moose’s father will now be at the school for some RROTC thing. But Kevin really wants to seal this sex-by-Halloween deal, so enlists in the RROTC so Moose can’t get away from him.
I don’t know, Kev. This seems like a lot of work when we saw just last season that there’s perfectly good dick-a-trawlin’ in that nearby forest path.
At this point, my prayers that Riverdale would rein things in for this third season seem to have been dashed. Although I’m glad the Lodge mafia garbage is yet to return, and Hiram’s Legion of Doom is taking a breather, I question whether possible supernatural Dungeons and Dragons murder conspiracies are an improvement.
And what the fuck is going on at juvie?
Why I hate this episode:
I know Riverdale exists in an intentionally heightened reality, but this gritty prison drama is way too much. Riverdale sometimes excels when its being too fucking much, but this is just laughable. I should have known from the very beginning when Archie got stripped and hosed (and floured?), but I was too distracted by the side-pec.
The fact that Archie tries to bring everyone together with a game of good ol’ American football, and that this almost succeeds, is just the cherry on top of the WTFery.
The real head-scratcher of the whole thing, though, is when Hiram arbitrarily shows up during the game and signals for the warden to attack the inmates as if they were rioting. Umm, Hiram, honey? You’ve got your daughter and a whole squad of teenage girls there as witnesses to go straight to the police and tell them what happened.
And of course, the girls don’t. Because what is reality?
I expect we will learn more about Buff Roommate soon, but the implication that he was the warden’s sex toy is just yucky. And then he’s arbitrarily murdered, and now Archie will replace him? Ew.
The Ghoulies that attack Archie claim they were arrested when Archie set them up at the drag race. Didn’t the adult Ghoulies already get released for that same offence last season? Are juvenile offenders sentenced to harsher penalties than adults?
The Betty/Jughead Gargoyle King investigation is less infuriating, but I’m starting to doubt if Riverdale learned anything from the failure of the Black Hood story from last season. Constantly putting everyone in a “who’s next” state of mortal peril is not why we loved Season 1.
The Hot Dad Squad seem to be sitting on their hands. They mention that they want to go rough up some cronies of Hiram’s who are lying to say they witnessed Cassidy’s murder, but then they don’t actually do it.
Oh, and Kevin and Moose just need to fuck, already. You’re two seasons too late to be shovelling in some gayngst, show.
But it’s not all bad:
They do kiss once this episode, though. And Kevin’s tenacity may be a little overboard, but I admire his commitment to Moose. Like I said, they were together all the way back in the pilot. This is their chance to solidify their OTP.
You know, for all his subplots’ flaws, this episode really does belong to Archie. Everything around him may be trash, but Archie still turns things out with the necessary warmth, optimism, and shirtlessness to bring his role to life. I can believe that good boy Archie Andrews could believe that a game of football would solve problems. It’s nice. And Riverdale needs all the nice it can get.
Veronica’s dedication to Archie is also worth praising. She is certainly standing by her man, and although her mission to free him kind of conflicts with Archie’s own desire to do penance, I won’t fault her for it.
She finds an unlikely (and undeserved) ally in Cheryl. Veronica spends quite a bit of time shitting on Cheryl for trying to usurp student body president (Cheryl does make a good point that Jackie O didn’t stand in for JFK after he was taken out), and then tries to ban her from the diner as revenge. In response, Cheryl offers information on The Innocence Project, and then later agrees to Veronica’s suggestion for the Vixens to cheer at the football game. And she helps Veronica get a fake ID to keep visiting Archie after Hiram gets her banned. We don’t deserve you, Cheryl. And Veronica certainly doesn’t. But I’m happy we have you.
The cheer is a musical number of Jailhouse Rock, but it’s snappy enough to not outstay its welcome. Josie, Veronica, and Cheryl all get lead vocals. It was decent.
Betty and Jughead are, as always, a compelling dual detective team. The added element of Betty trying to conceal her seizure from him, and Jughead’s genuinely concerned reaction when he finds out, helps ground things. Even when they’re running away from what appears to be an actual Gargoyle King monster in the woods.
And later, Ethel has her own seizure that resembles someone possessing and controlling her body. It works for the creepy factor.
During this, a new girl at school who is from The Farm watches on. I knew the two cults were actually the same cult!
Ben, the boy who survived the Kool-Aid, ends the episode by jumping out of his hospital room window to his death in front of Betty and Jughead while rambling about ascension. Their horrified reaction sells what could have been too goofy.
The scene of all the parents ominously discussing the Gargoyle King is super juicy.
When Mad Dog makes a speech in the prison yard, there’s a very tiny moment where Joaquin surreptitiously checks him out. It’s good attention to detail. I am little bit curious about how an openly gay biker gang member would fare in this extreme prison environment, though.
Oh, and Halloween is next week, Kevin and Moose. You better make good on your promise.