Riverdale Season 3 Episode 7 – TV Review
I’m kinda getting a little tired of Riverdale being shithouse, you know?
Enough with the darkness and everything being so complicated.
Could we please get back to the teen soap operatics in this teen soap opera?
TL;DR It’s another tri-splintered story episode; Archie and Jughead run afoul of a town Hiram has previously devastated; Veronica holds some dumbass casino night at her dumbass speakeasy; Betty’s plans to investigate the Sisters of Quiet Mercy go dangerously awry; Cheryl, Kevin, and Josie do not appear.
I can easily live without Josie and Kevin (the beef is good, though). But no Cheryl? For the second episode in a row? Could you fucking not, Riverdale?
So the plot is a rehash of Season 2 Episode 7‘s formula of three separate stories, but without the “the town has to prove it’s not sinful” Black Hood framing device, and without any interconnectivity. Which is usually kind of the point of these kinds of stories, no?
Archie and Jughead are first, as their journey along the rails comes to a quick end and they settle in at some random farm. Archie gets flirty with the hot young woman who seems to be in charge, while Jughead explores the town. He finds it near-deserted and marked ominously with G&G runic symbols, later learning that the town was overrun by Fizzle Rocks, the drug that Hiram introduced to the The Midnight Club, and which he is now apparently hustling these days. And the men of the town have all become indebted to Hiram (I assume due to use of said drug) and have left to work off that debt at Hiram’s prison. Miss Hot Farm Woman betrays Archie and calls Hiram, but Jughead comes back in time to save him and they flee.
And if you thought that was bad, just wait until this truly embarrassing middle chapter with Veronica as the lead. She’s now realised her bar that doesn’t serve alcohol because its clientele are children isn’t making any money, so she teams up with Elio to host a casino night. Ignoring the fact that children can’t gamble, either. But hey. What’s logic to Veronica “again, I run a bar that doesn’t serve alcohol” Lodge? Amidst this she moves out of her home due to Hiram’s vendetta against Archie, and she rebuffs a warning from Hiram that Elio is a mobster and can’t be trusted. Elio then predictably tries to swindle Veronica out of her earnings, but a big twist reveals that Veronica actually listened to Hiram and swindles Elio back. But then news breaks that Hiram has likely murdered and dismembered the new Sheriff, and Veronica remembers that her dad is a bad guy. She forgets so easily.
Bringing up the rear with as much earnest effort as she can muster is Betty, who turns her incarceration at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy into an opportunity to learn about the Gargoyle King’s hold over the facility. Because hey, she can just escape out that secret tunnel, right? She tussles with Ethel, who is the asylum’s queen bee, and learns that Fizzle Rocks are being used to make the patients pliant and susceptible to Gargoyle King stuff. And Hiram is likely in control of it as some kind of testing ground for the drug. Things take a turn for the fucked up when Betty’s secret tunnel escape route is now bricked over, and Ethel dobs her in. She is force fed Fizzle Rocks, and the episode ends as she now hallucinates the Gargoyle King.
So it was drugs all along. Hmm.
I mean, I’m not mad that the answer to all this Gryphons & Gargoyles evil board game stuff is something grounded like drugs. Because as enjoyable as Sabrina was, do you really want Riverdale to become actually supernatural?
But on the other hand, what the actual fuck, show? How did you decide to make your story about how a mobster’s plans to run drugs also involves an evil board game/tabletop RPG? At what point during your fifth rewatch of Breaking Bad did you think “this needs more Dungeons & Dragons?”
It’s fucking stupid. And I’m over it.
Why I hate this episode:
It better be fucking gone after the mid-season finale (and not to pop back up like the Black Hood did). I’ve been disappointed in Riverdale and unimpressed with Riverdale over the past season and a half. But I don’t think I’ve ever been as mad at Riverdale as I am now.
But let’s not gloss over how disappointing and unimpressive this particular episode is. The first two mini stories are truly pathetic. Veronica does take the cake with her utterly nonsensical speakeasy garbage. But let’s give special props to Archie and Jughead, who discover a town that has been singlehandedly ruined by Hiram lodge’s candy-themed drugs and evil board game. What the fuck, show?
When did Hiram find the time to do this? He’s only been out of prison for, what, a year? And we saw all through Season 2 that he was constantly struggling to have any power or resources. So did he destroy the town of Athens over the break between seasons? Riverdale has never been one to really be afraid of the suspension of disbelief. But this is too far.
I had whinged last episode that, given the bizarre bullshit of this season so far, I would be happy to see the return of the Legion of Doom. But boy, should I have been careful what I wished for. Because although only one member shows up this episode, it’s Claudius. And his role is to deliver the Fizzle Rocks to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy apparently as some kind of scheme to use the patients as lab rats for the effects of the drug. The stupidity factor of this subplot, and the continued, oppressive darkness of this show is maddening. I’ve fuckin’ had it, man.
There is not a single redeeming quality in Veronica’s segment. If I listed everything wrong with it, this review would be twice as long. It’s just shit. They even managed to ruin Elio, and he’s only been here for like two seconds.
Archie, having been defeated by a waif with a frying pan only a couple scenes earlier, insists that he wants to try to kill Hiram in a pitch fork bum rush in the barn. Archie needs to fix his hair and stop being such a dickhead. God.
No Cheryl? No, thank you.
Pretty disappointed that the farm Archie and Jughead stumbled upon was not The Farm.
Oh, and I know Betty hadn’t planned to be locked up at the Sisters, but her assumption that the secret tunnel would still be accessible was surprisingly shortsighted for her.
But it’s not all bad:
Betty is too good for this sinful show. She almost makes a subplot about an illegal mental hospital using drug lollies to make teens hallucinate a board game monster believable.
Narration from a character is usually a lazy excuse for the show to tell you what’s happening, rather than put in the work to show it. But Betty’s narration compliments her actions and shows a refreshing frankness to her attitude to the situation she’s been put in. Rather than crumple and cower, or even seethe in rage, she instead uses her predicament as an opportunity to get investigating. More Betty always, please.
Ethel as a villain is also delicious. Sierra Burgess and her sexual assaulting ways was merely a glimpse of how ruthless and amoral she could be.
Archie isn’t very bright, but he is very shirtless. So consider me mildly distracted.
I’m hoping the big focus on Hiram being ever more villainous could be building to his death. This show has been much worse off for him being here, so let’s get him out.
Pop gives Veronica shit for bringing crime into his diner. Agreed.
Oh, and despite her intermittent amnesia, maybe news that her father literally mutilated the body of a former associate might finally open her eyes?