Riverdale Season 3 Episode 8 – TV Review
It’s pretty bad that realising Dynasty’s mid-season finale won’t be until next week was actually the second worst realisation I had this week.
The worst was that I finally realised what present day Riverdale has been reminding me of:
Revenge Season 2.
Jesus Christ, CW. Reel it in. If Revenge can come back from international terrorist syndicates and goofy hackers, then I have faith you can survive this endless, evil board game.
TL;DR Hiram’s big plan turns out to be to quarantine Riverdale to run a criminal utopia or something; and he’s also under the thumb of the Gargoyle King; Archie and Jughead hang out with Jughead’s mum, but Archie then leaves for Mexico; Veronica and Cheryl work thanklessly to unravel the elder Lodges’ machinations; Betty escapes from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.
The Gryphon Queen rises. If only we could say the same for Riverdale.
So we’ll start with Betty, who is still our only true shining light. Her fall to Fizzle Rocks last episode was either faked or merely shortlived, as she’s already going for the bulimic solution on her “medicine” and is ready to break out of the asylum. She detoxes Ethel and gets her on board, along the way getting the head nun to admit G&G originated at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, and also that Hiram is indeed paying them to test the drugs on the patients. Betty dons the garb of the Gryphon Queen to convince the remaining patients to escape. Meanwhile, Jughead and Archie’s destination turns out to be Jughead’s mum’s place, and she is played by the evergreen bitch extraordinaire, Gina Gershon. His sister is there, too. Penny the Snake Charmer turns up to attempt to bring Archie back for Hiram’s bounty, but she is captured and Gina tortures her for information. It turns out the bounty also applies to anyone aiding Archie, so Archie makes the noble sacrifice to leave for Mexico, while Jughead, disillusioned by learning his mother is still a criminal, decides to return to Riverdale to oppose Hiram. Meanwhile, Veronica and most of the cheerleaders all have a sudden group seizure (Cheryl is excluded), which prompts Hiram and Hermione to demand Riverdale High be shut down as it’s a chemical hazard or something. Veronica and Cheryl team up to fight it, but Penelope tows the Lodge line and has a fake seizure of her own. Veronica gets fed up with all this obfuscation, so she and Cheryl torture Penelope into revealing the truth: Hiram plans to have Riverdale quarantined, with Mayor Hermione’s order, and run some kind of magic criminal kingdom within its sealed walls. And this does come to pass, as the episode closes out with Jughead and Skeet unable to re-enter the town due to a road block. And Hiram’s insane behaviour possibly having an answer (at long last), as he toasts to his own vision of the Gargoyle King, who he is apparently doing this all for.
If Hiram’s been chomping sugary sweet Fizzle Rocks all this time, then how do you explain his buffness under those comically tight business shirts, huh?
I’m fucking over it, Riverdale. “What could be more ridiculous than last episode’s reveal of a town utterly devastated by drug lollies, perpetrated by one man?”
Quarantining a whole town without government oversight (a hand wave phone call to the governor doesn’t count). Thanks, Riverdale. Thanks for answering your question with an answer nobody wanted.
Learn from Revenge. Learn from Pretty Little Liars. Yes, a salacious murder/conspiracy mystery is nice to have simmering in the background. But you need to have soap operatics in your goddamn soap opera.
Did anyone who fell in love with Season 1 think to themselves “You know what’d be super cool? If this quaint little town with sexy teens turned into a quarantined, lolly drug hellscape because of an evil board game.”
Why I hate this episode:
I’m done with the Gargoyle King. I’m done with G&G. I’m done with Fizzle Rocks. I’m done with biker gang nonsense and mafia bullshit. I’m this close to giving up on Riverdale. As much as I love the characters, despite the profoundly garbage things the plot makes them do, it just pains me too much to watch what was once the best teen soap opera suffer this undignified fate. Even Sabrina, with actual magic and rampant Satanism, still fits in the teen soap opera dramz. What’s your fucking excuse, Riverdale?
Veronica’s character is probably the only exception I’d make to the above, as the show clearly has no idea what to do with her. She’s gone from her borderline retardation from last episode, to this episode being the crusader of justice, out to seek the truth. Does she have a brain up there or not, show? You need to decide.
Alice’s character also seems to be stuck in the same position. She’s gone from telling her cult about her extremely serious, life-ending-if-it-got-out crimes, to then sticking her daughter in an abusive mental institution, to then coming to Betty’s aid at the end of the episode like nothing happened. Hippie Alice doesn’t make sense. Bring back Type A Bitch Alice, please.
Hermione needs to grow a fucking spine and stand up to Hiram. We were making progress at the end of last season, but it’s just not happening.
Reggie confirms that Hiram is distributing Fizzle Rocks via his new gang allies, the Gargoyles. What the fuck was the point of getting the Ghoulies into the Legion of Doom, then?
This better not be all the Gina Gershon we get.
Archie dyes his hair brown. Good God, no.
Cheryl asks Toni to move in with her. You guys are in high school, right?
Oh, and Kevin and Moose have a quick snog at the start of the episode just to remind us they exist. But despite then being featured later in the episode when Cheryl and Veronica commandeer the RROTC boys for assistance, they get no further development. I don’t want to accuse Riverdale of queerbaiting (queerteasing, I guess?). But, it’s not not doing it.
But it’s not all bad:
In one of the better small moments of the episode, when Jughead and Archie first meet up with Gina, in a supporting way, assumes that they are boyfriends. It’s wholesome.
And as completely bizarre as it is that Veronica and Cheryl would try to depose Hermione in a doup d’etat using, like, boy scouts, I was living for the camp of that scene. It was a welcome counterpoint to the oppressive doom and gloom of everything else.
In fact, Veronica and Cheryl as a scheme team feels right. Sure, Cheryl and Betty have the cousin factor and overall higher competence, but Veronica and Cheryl make a better fit on the sometimes-evil front. I’d like to see more.
They also helpfully point out that the government has not been involved in Hiram’s supposed testing of the high school. Hiram brushes it off, but I’m glad someone said it.
Betty is our one constant source of goodness, and she doesn’t disappoint. She’s puking up that Fizzle Rock bullshit as soon as the episode begins, and her plan to liberate Ethel and the other patients goes off without a hitch. The reveal that the asylum’s Gargoyle King is literally just a statue in the basement was a welcome dose of reality.
And if anyone is going to oppose the true Gargoyle King, I can think of nobody better than Betty to don the Gryphon Queen garb. She will win.
Although I’m so over everything to do with the ol’ GK, my OMG meter did flutter a little bit at the reveal of Hiram also being under their spell. We know it isn’t Skeet, Fred, or Alice because they’re all accounted for. Penelope seems like too easy of a choice, and I don’t think there’s any way the show could get us to swallow that it’s Sheriff Keller. So that leaves Reggie’s dad, Hermione, and Mayor McCoy from The Midnight Club as suspects. Maybe Hermione will be it, and all her submission was just an act?
While we’re talking about Penelope, it was almost too perfect that Cheryl and Veronica waterboard her with maple syrup as their method of torture. I’m here for it.
Gina Gershon doesn’t get to do a whole lot, but she does get to apparently do some serious damage to Penny offscreen. Cool.
Jughead’s little sister, Jelly Bean, gets the best line of the episode when Skeet shows up later to pick up Jughead:
Skeet: “Can I get a hug?”
Jelly Bean: “Can I get a dad?”
Gina’s refusal of Jughead’s call for help from Season 1 is brought up, and I’m glad.
Oh, and if we do get Type A Bitch Alice back, and Gina sticks around, can you imagine the showdown between them over Skeet?