Riverdale Season 3 Episode 12 – TV Review
For an episode without a Betty subplot, things aren’t actually too bad.
It almost makes me forget that Riverdale is introducing yet more gangland bullshit.
TL;DR Gina Gershon is the Fizzle Rocks buyer, and she’s come to town to stay; Veronica is now indebted to her; Cheryl has some pointless drama with Penelope trying to block her from college or something; Archie and Josie grow closer; the Midnight Club get tricked in a ruse; by a homophobic Papa Moose, who uses the Gargoyle King moniker in an attempt to scare his son straight.
He doesn’t get scared straight, but he does get written out of the show. So Riverdale doesn’t bury its gays. It just doesn’t use them for three seasons, and then puts them on a bus.
So we’ll start with Kevin this week, who gets some long-overdue focus time. With his dad’s upcoming wedding to McCoy, Kevin decides to finally lay down the “come out or dump me” ultimatum with Moose, who’s still scared of what his dad will think. Cheryl doesn’t help things by casually trying to out Moose herself when she hears Kevin’s plight, but thankfully Moose does come out to his dad, and it goes great. Until his dad impersonates the Gargoyle King, lures the Midnight Club all out to the school in a ruse to leave the kids unprotected so he can abduct a post-coital Kevin and Moose and try to scare them straight via an evil board game. Oh, Riverdale. Cheryl redeems herself by leading the charge to save the boys, and Papa Moose reveals he was gay for Keller back in the day, but a trip to the sisters repressed all that. And he’s not the real Gargoyle King, who remains at large. Meanwhile, Toni is aghast at Cheryl’s blitheness to her attempted outing of Moose, and bemoans how she feels family-less without the Serpents. This coincides with Penelope trying to stop Cheryl from getting into college because she’s homophobic (Penelope holds sway at the college). So Cheryl and Toni blackmail Penelope into backing off, and Cheryl swoops in for a double redemption by ceding her interview time to give Toni a chance to get into the college, too. Aww. Meanwhile, Josie invites Sweet Pea as her date to her mum’s wedding, but he refuses because she doesn’t want to be official with him. Archie offers her a burly shoulder to lean on, but things aren’t looking up when she also fails to impress a Juilliard scout. But then she and Archie kiss, so that’s nice. Meanwhile, the Midnight Club’s gathering ends up being pointless, but it’s fun to see all the adults together. Meanwhile, Moose decides to leave town now that he can’t live with his dad. And over in Who Cares plot land, Hermione lumps Veronica and Reggie with finding a way to pay back the Fizzle Rocks buyer, now that they’ve destroyed the goods. Reggie gets the bright idea to rob his father’s car dealership, but a dye pack in the loot bag ruins that. They meet the buyer empty-handed, and discover it’s Jughead’s mum, Gina Gershon, who is magnanimous enough to offer them a payment plan. Because bitch is going to stay in town to build her criminal empire.
With the help of her teenage daughter, too, of course. This is Riverdale, after all.
This episode is certainly putting in a lot of effort. Especially for an episode that doesn’t have Jughead or Betty doing much of anything.
And I applaud that it’s willing to take the gay subplots head on, which is surprisingly rare for Riverdale, despite the fanbase.
If only there wasn’t all this bi erasure, tho.
Why I hate this episode:
Cheryl and Moose have both previously shown what Riverdale presented as genuine romantic interest in characters of the opposite sex. But now they’re both exclusively gay? I’m all for more gay content in my sexy teen high school soap operas. But do we have to retcon out what could be instead some refreshing bisexuality? The CW is even doing this quite nicely over on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, so we know they’re capable. It’s a shame.
The real shame of the episode, though, is Veronica’s subplot. At this point, anything she does that doesn’t also involve, like, Betty? I’m tuning it out.
I’m happy that Gina Gershon is back. But I’m not happy that we’ve got some more crime lord gangland mafia bullshit on our doorstep. How is Riverdale a big enough town to support all these gangs? The Serpents; the Ghoulies; the Gargoyles; multiple mafia families; and now Gina? Enough, already.
My fear that we’d get some renewed focus on the Gargoyle King now that the decks have been cleared is proven true this episode. The fake out with Papa Moose’s impersonation was fine, but there’s the reminder that the real deal is still out there. Let’s get to the bottom of that quickly, please.
I can’t believe Riverdale is doing an Archie/Josie pairing before we ever got a proper go at Archie/Betty.
Not having Betty be important to your episode is a huge mistake. Don’t make that one again, Riverdale.
Why get Kevin and Moose together, only to ship Moose out nek minnit?
Oh, and early in the episode, Cheryl consoles Kevin about his Moose woes. My heart fluttered at the thought that this could be the Kevin and Cheryl bottle episode, or at least subplot, of my dreams. But then she abruptly tries to out Moose, and that’s about it. Lame.
But it’s not all bad:
Yes, it was wrong. But you can’t fault that Cheryl went for the most direct approach: a public outing. She gets shit done.
Speaking of that, I let out an IRL “Yass” when Cheryl shot the Gargoyle King with an arrow before he could make Moose and Kevin drink the Kool-Aid. I know we gays and lesbians are often at odds. But we homos gotta stick together, you know?
And gay this episode certainly is. Moose and Kevin finally get some real romantic action after all this time, and I was so proud to see it. It’s a shame Moose got put on a bus immediately afterwards. Although, a bus can come back. At least he didn’t die at the hands of the Gargoyle King.
Sure, it was a fake Gargoyle King. But it brought the Midnight Club together, and amid the hurricane of garbage that has been Gryphons & Gargoyles, the fun factor of the Midnight Club has been a consistent highlight. Riverdale needs to take a cue from Glee and realise that Flanderising and sidelining your previously dynamic parent characters is not the way you wanna go.
On the subject of when Riverdale was good, the simplicity of Josie and Archie’s subplot reminded me of Season 1 in a good way. It doesn’t have to be literally life and death to be meaningful, show. Remember this.
Gina has Jelly Bean manipulating Skeet so she can get the town sheriff in her pocket. Smart. And she swears Veronica and Reggie to secrecy about her identity as the Fizzle Rocks buyer. I know it’ll probably end up being real stupid, but part of me does want to know what Gina’s up to, baby. Can you imagine if they got Elizabeth Berkley to play a rival gangster?
Oh, and I’d be almost here for this budding Archie and Josie ship. If it wasn’t for one little thing, you know?