Riverdale Season 3 Episode 3 – TV Review
And amidst all the crazy cult theatrics and juvenile detention-based fight clubs in this episode, the thing I had the most difficulty believing was that Veronica’s speakeasy doesn’t serve alcohol.
So let me get this straight: it’s a bar, but it doesn’t serve alcohol, its staff and clientele are children, and by all observations it doesn’t have any alternate exits?
Veronica’s lucky she didn’t need to have any investors, because that would have been one gnarly pitch meeting.
TL;DR Archie gets dragged into some eye roll-worthy prison fight club thing; Betty and Jughead continue to investigate the Gargoyle King deaths, but accidentally make things worse; The Farm appears to be separate from it, by the way (or is it!?); Veronica deals with Hiram harassment when opening up her speakeasy.
You’d think he’d just get her written up for having no fire escape. Wouldn’t that be easier?
Let’s start with Archie again this week, whose subplot is nice and self-contained. It turns out Mad Dog wasn’t banging the Warden (thank God), but was instead his prized fighter in an illegal juvie inmate boxing league that the Warden profits from. Archie agrees to replace him to spare the outmatched Joaquin, but it isn’t long before he finds a hidden rock hammer in Mad Dog’s things, and he conspires with his fellow fighters to Shawshank Redemption this joint. Meanwhile, Betty and Jughead keep on the case of the Gargoyle King, and decide they really need to find out more about the Griffins & Gargoyles game rules. Jughead is forced to play the game for Ethel to agree to hand over the rulebook, and he lucks out by choosing the cup of Kool-Aid that isn’t poisoned. Sadly, Skeet and Alice later find the book before Jughead and Betty can go over it and the parents burn it (it’s the only copy). But psych, Ethel is secretly praying to dark lord Gargoyle King and on his orders makes lots of copies of the rulebook and blankets the school with them. Meanwhile, Betty tries to determine if The Farm has any connection to Griffins & Gargoyles by pretending to be on board with their teachings. She schmoozes Farm Girl to get access to her father, the King of the Farm, but then at a meeting Alice reveals she’s told The Farm way too much secret stuff (she told them about that guy whose murder they covered up! Not cool, mum), and Betty almost has another seizure in furious shock. They also discuss how Alice is the one who told them about Griffins & Gargoyles, so it appears The Farm may not have anything to do with it. Meanwhile, Veronica prepares to open her still weird and arbitrary speakeasy, but Penny and the sheriff put the screws on her. Veronica assumes this is Hiram’s doing, so with Cheryl and Toni’s help she obtains blackmail material about the Ghoulies’ Jingle Jangle operation to blackmail Hiram into fucking off. Which, to his credit, he does do for the moment. Oh, and Josie and Kevin appear in meaningless nothing roles as the lounge singer and MC of the speakeasy, respectively. Fucking Reggie gets more play as her bartender/bouncer/door bitch.
Again, an alcohol-free bar run by children, for children? Why?
The whole idea of the speakeasy feels very TV Show Running Longer Than Probably Initially Intended Season 3 to me, especially if it metastasizes into a new recurring filming location. It’s just an excuse to have a new set.
But what was wrong with the diner, though? Why come in with such a sledgehammer to the willing suspension of disbelief like this?
There is nothing impressive about the speakeasy. Please, let it die quickly.
Why I hate this episode:
The fact that everyone treats it like such a fabulous accomplishment is just insulting. So Veronica renovated the basement of a diner for a doomed business venture with daddy’s money? Who cares? She should have built that casino she talked about last season. At least that would have had booze.
But at least the speakeasy subplot has the goofy factor on point. Archie’s fight club subplot is not so lucky. I refuse to believe, even in the wacky world of Riverdale, that a juvenile detention facility could exist with such little oversight. There is no way this boxing league could go on without anybody finding out. I’m one hundred percent over it, already. For God’s sake, Archie, please start digging.
The Warden still gives me sex criminal vibes, so it wouldn’t shock me if that did end up being true. Yuck.
Alice’s character is not benefiting from this obsession with The Farm. We see this episode that she’s still grounded enough to carry on her relationship with Skeet, and to make rational decisions about their choice to keep Betty and Jughead safe from Griffins & Gargoyles. But then nek minnit we’re finding out she’s been happily dishing the deets of her body-hiding crimes with her Farm cronies, which would also endanger Betty and Jughead (and Skeet. And herself). Which is it, Alice? I miss the old Type A, bitchy, would-ask-to-speak-to-a-manager Alice. Hell, Riverdale never delivered on Serpent Queen Alice. Give us more of that. This Scientology-meets-hippie stuff doesn’t fit.
Why did Jughead have to drink the Kool-Aid on his first game session? Ben and the Scoutmaster were apparently playing all summer long before they got to that stage.
Oh, and although the creepiness works (and makes a well-timed parallel to Sabrina), the ending of the episode with Ethel praying to the Gargoyle King is a bit much. Calm the fuck down, okay? I miss when Riverdale was a teen drama that had actual teen drama. Not this life and death bullshit.
But it’s not all bad:
Jughead’s narration denotes that with the Griffins & Gargoyles rulebook going public, almost the whole school starts playing. So good on those kids for getting back into old fashioned role playing games. It’s nice to see the genre isn’t dead.
Betty and Jughead keep the major mystery arc moving this episode, and I’m glad they can be relied upon to do so. Betty in particular has the observant notion that if G&G and The Farm both involve crazy cults, then maybe they could be related. And Jughead comes to the important realisation that the rulebook could answer a lot of questions. Their subplots evolve satisfyingly from these points, so thank you, Betty and Jughead. You’ve got brains up in there.
Betty gets the juicier of the two tales, as she goes semi-undercover to infiltrate The Farm. Ethel is apparently a big new fan of Farm Girl and her Riverdale High chapter of The Farm (interestingly approved by the Principal), which gives Betty cause to think that it could be related to G&G. But this theory comes to its culmination at the meeting, where Farm Girl claims Alice is the one who told them about G&G, and not the other way around.
And it’s believable. Alice swore she wouldn’t go blabbing about that body they covered up last season, and she did that. So I can see her similarly betraying all her friends’ trust and dishing about G&G. But I wouldn’t rule out The Farm’s involvement in G&G just yet. Maybe Alice gave them the tools they needed to use G&G for their nefarious purposes?
The whole “testimony” thing with The Farm has that icky Scientology flavour to it. So kudos to Riverdale for making my skin crawl.
Betty’s explosive reaction to the meeting was wholly justified, and it was nice to see her being so openly hostile to these fuckwads.
Jughead’s pursuit of knowledge is a bit less heroic, as he stupidly agrees to play G&G with Ethel, complete with literally poisoned Kool-Aid. Ethel swigs down the spiked one after Jughead lucks out, so he has to rush her to hospital. These kids take their tabletop RPGs real seriously.
Archie’s boxing league bullshit is irredeemable, but it is keeping him and his fellow muscled inmates shirtless. So I guess I’ll allow it for now.
Veronica’s business acumen is questionable, but I did enjoy her teaming up with Cheryl and Toni to get what they needed to blackmail Hiram. Veronica even brought out her spelunking outfit with the tit window. Sadly, no cape.
Josie sings a sultry, jazz version of Anything Goes for the speakeasy opening. It was nice. Kevin also quickly mentions that he is only agreeing to be the MC if it means he gets to occasionally sing, too. Here’s looking forward to it.
Skeet and Alice in bed together gave me life.
It’s nice to have Joaquin still around. Maybe if Archie does manage to get them out of prison, he can be competition to kick Moose’s arse into gear around Kevin.
Oh, and I’d just like to thank The CW for its recent run of successful bisexual/lesbian female characters. We’ve got Mel on Charmed, Josie and Penelope on Legacies, and the best dressed example of Cheryl and Toni here on Riverdale. Kevin really needs to step his pussy up.