Riverdale Season 3 Episode 18 – TV Review
My thoughts before going into this episode were “this episode titled after one of my favourite three movies of all time better not be bad.”
Ah, to be that young and optimistic. How foolish I was. Because this Jawbreaker is, like all of Riverdale Season 3, just fucking broken.
TL;DR Archie has some wildly uninteresting boxing match subplot that also wastes Veronica’s time; Jughead and Skeet are on the hunt for the real Gargoyle King or something, amid a bad batch of Fizzle Rocks going around town; Betty tries and fails to convince Alice that The Farm is all bullshit, eventually capitulating; Toni goes undercover (because that worked out great last time); the final Gryphons & Gargoyles quest begins.
But. Who. Cares.
So for fuck’s sake, Archie, let’s get this boxing shit out of the way first. Mad Dog informs him of some upcoming tournament Elio is throwing, and Archie wants in so he can promote his stupid gym. Veronica harangues Elio into agreeing, and Archie ends up eking out a win against his opponent, who was dosed up with some new psycho version of Fizzle Rocks called “G.” Speaking of, Jughead and Skeet are occupied all episode by trying to follow the clues of that juvie kid who got arbitrarily offed last episode. This leads to encounters with G-afflicted citizens, and they surmise that the real Gargoyle King (you mean it wasn’t a hastily-trotted out Tall Boy? No wai, you guise!) is out and about and looking to start shit. This is confirmed when Kurtz reveals at the end of the episode that the final quest is in play, and it involves Joaquin’s shithead little brother kidnapping Jelly Bean as a hostage or something. But, like, who cares? And thank God again for Betty, who actually brings the emotion in her subplot of trying to get Alice out from under The Farm’s thumb. Her conversation with Chad Michael Murray evidently wasn’t very revelatory about this whole “they see dead people” thing, so Betty just fakes a gravesite for Charles to snap Alice out of it. It fails, so then she chloroforms and abducts her, leading to some genuine conflict. Alice is resolute in living out her not-dead son fantasy, though, and Betty accepts (after hearing her interview tapes and realising she’s scared of the darkness within Betty) Alice is better off at The Farm. But not before Toni tries the same thing with Cheryl (she shows her the footage of Jason’s murder, but Cheryl calls it fake news), so then Toni joins up with The Farm to be Betty’s newest undercover agent.
Let’s hope she doesn’t also have a dead twin for Chad to leverage against her.
I’d be tempted to call this episode of Riverdale a minor success, largely because of a thankful focus on Betty. But fucking hell, those other subplots are so aggressively garbage, that I don’t know if I can.
Let’s just say praise be to Betty, and fire and brimstone be to everything else.
Could we just kill Veronica off at this point? Would anyone miss her?
Why I hate this episode:
I’d be tempted to say the same for Archie. But Mr Thing makes sure to get his shirt off just enough to keep my ire at bay. Veronica hasn’t got that trump card.
Veronica’s involvement with Archie this episode is hinting at a rekindling of their love. Come on, show. We’re almost at the end of Season 3 and you still haven’t given a Betty/Archie pairing a proper go. Is this any way to treat one of the most iconic love triangles in history? For shame.
On the subject of disrespect, yes I am furious that the episode was titled Jawbreaker and ended up being such a fucking dud. They even had the gall to do two separate slo-mo power walks to Yoo Hoo, and both of them were pathetically underwhelming. Fuck you, show.
Cheryl in particular had a very unflattering stride on her in the second go-around. They really couldn’t let Madelaine Petsch do another take? Rude.
Although Betty is mostly a force of good, she does start the episode with her interrogation of Chad, but this evidently doesn’t go anywhere because she makes no hint in the remainder of the episode that she learned anything new from their discussion.
Do we care that Jelly Bean is in danger? Wasn’t she basically just Gina’s henchman, anyway? I say bye, bitch.
Oh, and what happened to Archie’s bear attack scars?
But it’s not all bad:
Shirtless Archie is still a winner, even if he is gradually losing his impact.
I will take a rare moment to praise some non-Betty characters, as Betty does tell the Core Four about her Farm misgivings, and Jughead, Veronica, and Archie all seem to agree those bitches be crazy. So I don’t think we need to worry about any of them falling for it.
But onto Betty, and goddamn, Riverdale is nothing without her at this point. She’s the only character getting shit done, and doing it with sincere emotional weight. Her acceptance that Alice is better off (for now, at least) with The Farm is motivated by her learning that Alice fears her. Coupled with Alice’s own emotional admission that learning the truth about Hal being the Black Hood was super fucked up, and this is where her desperation stems from, I commend Betty for giving up on her Alice deprogramming.
But again, I have to stress that “at least, for now” part. Because bitch isn’t done, yet. She’s got Toni as her woman on the inside, and I’d like to believe that Toni won’t be as easily manipulated as Cheryl or Kevin. She’s got that South Side cynicism.
Betty also has other irons in the fire, as she meets up with Hal this episode and urges him to sign the divorce papers Alice has sent him to help her mum heal. Hal isn’t doing it without getting something in return, though. I can’t imagine Betty would have any ability to get him released from prison, so I wonder what he actually does want?
Skeet and Jughead mostly just follow clues from place to place this episode, but I guess the sooner we reveal the true Gargoyle King, the sooner we can get rid of him. And maybe Jelly Bean’s predicament will force Jughead and Gina into an uneasy alliance. That might be cool.
Oh, and Betty does what I think is an homage to the iconic “I am petrified” scene from Jawbreaker when she shoves Farm Girl up against a locker and threatens to murder her. Yeah, I wouldn’t test Betty on that.