Riverdale Season 3 Episode 6 – TV Review
I mean, Riverdale is a pretty fucking weird show.
But even by Riverdale standards, this episode is fucking weird.
And I’m not sure if it’s even in a good, Riverdale way.
TL;DR Betty hunts for the truth about the Ascension Party, but gets institutionalised by Alice for her troubles; Archie unsuccessfully seeks out the lying witnesses to his bogus murder charge; Veronica finds proof enough of their coercion to free Archie, but he doesn’t want to come home; Jughead captures Joaquin in a fruitless effort to root out the Gargoyle King.
But Joaquin does die anticlimactically, so woo, drama?
Let’s start with Betty, because she is the least absurd thing about the episode. She gathers the Riverdale parents (aka The Midnight Club) to get the finger pointing started about who poisoned the chalice at the Ascension Party. Penelope reveals that the Scoutmaster’s dad did it, but he committed suicide a while ago, and that’s the end of that chapter. Betty then finds out he was in fact murdered, likely by adult Penelope, but all of The Midnight Club are covering it up. And then Alice has Betty involuntarily committed to The Sisters of Quiet Mercy for her own protection. Oof. Meanwhile, Archie doesn’t sit still very long in his bunker, and convinces a babysitting Kevin to help him track down the witnesses who lied about Cassidy’s murder. Hiram also sics the new Sheriff on the case, and it’s a race to their hideout. Sadly, Archie and Kevin are too late, and the witnesses are all murdered. Meanwhile, Veronica reviews Archie’s case files and notices that some of the witnesses’ interrogation footage has been doctored. She discovers the real footage on Hermione’s mayoral office computer (hidden there without Hermione’s knowledge by Hiram), and sends it to the judge. This is enough to get Archie exonerated, but in an unnecessary twist, Archie decides that too much death and destruction seems to cling to him, and he leaves town. And, I presume, Veronica. At least by how much they were crying on that phone call. Meanwhile, Jughead, having encountered the Gargoyle King and a bunch of his masked followers last episode, rounds up the teen Serpents to find and capture Joaquin. His assumption that Joaquin is one of the masked followers (this is his new “gang”) turns out to be correct, and Joaquin ominously warns that the brand Warden put on Archie means “sacrifice.” So later on, with Archie still in the wind, Jughead finds Joaquin’s dead body with blue lips and the same brand. Oh, and Josie has an arbitrary seizure. And Cheryl isn’t in this episode.
First of all, fuck you.
So yeah, very strange episode of Riverdale. I suppose as the Gryphons & Gargoyles cult mystery ramps up, things are only going to get more bizarre and more dangerous, so I can’t really complain that I’m surprised.
But after having rewatched Season 2 recently and reminding myself of how disappointing it was when things got way too out of control for our fair Riverdale, these newest, even less believable events really do make me wistful for the relative groundedness of Season 1.
I know it’s a weak whinge to be all “they changed it, now it sucks.” But they did change Riverdale. And now it does suck.
There’s just too much fucking murder.
Why I hate this episode:
Season 1 had the murder of Jason Blossom. That was pretty much it. This episode alone has the Sheriff murdering the three witnesses, Joaquin getting murdered by an overactive Dungeons & Dragons fan offscreen, and Penelope and the Riverdale parents admitting to murdering Papa Scoutmaster and covering it up. It’s just grim, girl. And I’m not here for it.
Even Betty, ever struggling to be the one beacon of light amid the Riverdale darkness, ends her episode by not only being locked up at The Sisters of Quiet Mercy (on what diagnosis, mind you?), but then also discovering the patients/inmates are all also obsessed with the Gargoyle King. You know what, Betty? This is what you get for not shutting down that hell hole when you had ample opportunity. This is your fault.
Archie’s character has slipped so far into grimdark territory that I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to recover. And his “noble” sacrifice to leave town has all its potential impact taken away when he pushes ahead with it, despite the fact that Veronica has just told him he’s no longer a fugitive. There’s no need to run, dude. Stop running.
And fuck you for dragging Jughead along with you.
Christ, I can’t believe I’m saying it, but whatever happened to Hiram’s Legion of Doom? I’d take that over this overwrought murder cult stuff at this point. G&G was cute at first, but I’ve had enough. I pray that it’s just a mini arc and it’s almost done. It has to be.
Joaquin dies before getting to have any more scenes with Kevin. What the actual fuck, show?
Oh, and Fred and Sheriff Keller go out after Archie and Kevin when Veronica tips them off that they could be running into the new Sheriff. But Skeet doesn’t join them. I feel like that tease of the Hot Dad Squad getting back together will never come true.
But it’s not all bad:
At least Kevin got some screentime for once. Sure, he doesn’t add anything to Archie’s subplot and his spot could have been filled by anyone. But I’ll take any opportunity to gaze upon that beef that I can.
What I’m most thankful for is the conclusion of Archie’s murder charges. I’m not thankful that Archie is going to live out his Stand By Me fantasy with Jughead, but at least when he comes back, we won’t have to deal with that fugitive shit anymore.
Props to Veronica for getting to the bottom of things. Her doggedness at hunting down the truth is almost Betty-level. And top marks for emailing the video to the judge immediately upon finding it.
When she drops the bomb on her parents, she makes sure to let Hermione know that Hiram was storing super illegal stuff on her computer without her knowledge. One of my wishes for Season 3 was for Hermione to renounce Hiram. The G&G stuff has largely gotten in the way of that, but this seems to be a step in that direction.
Betty is the true star of the episode, though. Riverdale is dark and full of terrors, but Betty is still maintaining her position as the shining light within it. Her investigation into The Midnight Club doesn’t yield a full confirmation of what happened, but she uncovered enough for Alice to commit her to an asylum. So to me, that feels like she’s onto something, right?
Betty and Alice also get the best sequence of the episode when the Gargoyle King and his followers terrorise them in their home. When the Gargoyle King emerged in their living room I legitimately jumped. It was fucking creepy, man.
This sequence also includes a subtle enough Scream allusion. Alice starts making stovetop popcorn. And in a complete “yass” moment, after Alice and Betty run upstairs to a bedroom, Skeet comes in through the window. Scream is my favourite movie, after all.
The Papa Scoutmaster tombstone being on the bed also strikes me as a Halloween reference. I like.
Jughead’s subplot is mainly a wank and an excuse to kill off Joaquin (but why tho), but I liked how he straight-up accused Hiram, to his face, of being the Gargoyle King. Hiram denies it, of course. And given how otherwise open Hiram is with his villainy, I’m inclined to believe him.
Josie has a seizure in class when the new Sheriff tries to shake down the kids over Archie’s jailbreak, and it seems to intrigue Farm Girl. With Alice heading off to the Farm, I hope we get to know more about all that.
The mine shaft where the lying witnesses were hiding was covered in Gryphons & Gargoyles runic symbols. Spooky.
Oh, and Veronica wears her spelunking cape when she sneaks into Hermione’s office. Not all heroes wear capes, but I’m glad Riverdale is willing to be brave.