Riverdale Season 3 Episode 19 – TV Review
This episode reminded me a lot of Episode 21 from last season, aka Riverdale: Infinity War.
And what timing, too, as Endgame just came out.
I haven’t seen it, yet, but I sure hope Endgame has more to offer than Riverdale.
TL;DR A lot happens this episode, but most of it involves Betty running up against more Farm obstacles, and the Jones family playing an eventually pretty tepid final game of G&G; Jelly Bean’s fine, by the way; Archie deals with the death of his boxing opponent from last episode; Hiram gets back on the “let’s destroy Archie” train; Veronica continues to have no subplot of her own.
But like I always say, if it keeps her from doing more speakeasy gangsta wannabe bullshit, I’ll take it.
So let’s start with Jughead this time, as he, Skeet, and Gina sit down with Kurtz to play the final game of Gryphons & Gargoyles to rescue Jelly Bean. They endure an escalating procession of quests, which involve Gina coming clean to Skeet about her drug operation; Skeet getting minorly injured when they hold up the diner under duress; Gina having to duel a returning Penny the Snake Charmer (with sais. Very Mummy Returns); and Jughead getting betrayed by Kurtz, who tries to kill him. But psych, the Gargoyle King shows up and kills Kurtz, and Jelly Bean returns home without fanfare. Skeet ends up fine, and Gina chooses to leave town now that her secret’s out. Meanwhile, Betty’s favour to Hal is to arrange his transfer to a cushy wing of Hiram’s new prison. Which she does easily with Veronica’s help. She also kicks up her investigation of The Farm a notch by looking into Farm Girl’s school records, discovering that she is actually twenty-six years old, and is actually Chad Michael Murray’s wife, not his daughter (she poses as a teen to recruit her fellow kids). She also discovers that Chad plans to polygamously marry Alice, and adopt Polly’s twins. At Hal’s suggestion, she sics Grandma Penelope Blossom on The Farm, but she is only able to broker the release of the boy twin. Not satisfied with this, Betty has her inside man Toni let her in to abduct the other twin, but fucking eye roll of a twist: Toni’s been turned, too, and the whole Farm gang tries to physically grab and turn Betty to their side. She gets away, but her victory is shortlived when Veronica outta nowhere announces Hal has died in a car crash while being transferred to his new prison. Oh, damn? Meanwhile in utter swamp trash subplot territory remains Archie, whose boxing victory last episode comes crashing down when his G-swilling opponent dies from the knockout. Elio manages to make it look like Archie and Mad Dog supplied the boxer with the G, and the family of the dude make Archie feel bad. Elio then tries to sweet talk Archie into fighting for him as the newly minted Riverdale Reaper, but Archie instead procures the $50,000 prize money and hands it over to the grieving family, while threatening Elio all the while. So Elio goes to Hiram in a sexy, gratuitous sauna scene to arrange to put out a hit on Archie or whatever. Oh, and Josie impresses her dad with a performance and leaves Riverdale to go on the road with him.
Blah blah only writing her out for that spin-off or whatever who cares blah.
So yeah, this week’s Riverdale races along at breakneck speed, and as a result manages mainly to gloss over everything that’s wrong with it.
But no matter how many weird evil board game quests or cult double agent switches you throw at me, Riverdale, you can’t quiet the Who Cares screaming into my ear at every turn.
Who. The fuck. Cares.
Why I hate this episode:
Could Riverdale just pull an “it was all a dream” for this season, please? Just make it go away.
I think the most disappointing element of all the Riverdale craziness this episode is just how dull the Jones family affair was. A family in peril, going through life-threatening choices to save their baby girl via evil board game should be way more fun than this. But even Penny’s one-eyed villainous return was mostly just a meh, as Gina bested her in their sai fight, and that was that. It wasn’t even lit well (probably to hide the stunt doubles).
The major failure came at the end, though, as Kurtz is killed offscreen by the Gargoyle King, and then Jughead just runs away and finds Jelly Bean completely fine at home, apparently never having been aware she was supposed to have been in danger. So it was all for nothing, then, show? Got it.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Skeet did find out about Gina and now she has to leave. But I didn’t want less Gina Gershon. I wanted less Gina Gershon doing stupid, arbitrary shit.
This is also Fred’s last episode, and although there would have been no way to prepare for this, it’s a shame that he had nothing to do.
Ditto Hal, but given his status as masked slasher villain, I wouldn’t take his death as gospel just yet. But, like, would we even want him back?
I was furious when Toni was revealed to have fallen for The Farm. Cheryl and Alice I could understand. And we never really knew Polly, so sure. But Kevin and Toni? Toni has been one of the most cynical characters on the show, and both she and Kevin are gay kids in high school. From personal experience, ain’t nobody more cynical than a gay kid in high school. There is no way they should have fallen for this shit. I’m fucking over it.
Oh, and I won’t even dignify Arhchie’s ongoing boxing drama subplot with a full whinge. I don’t care about it. And I thought we’d gotten enough of it back when he was in juvie, but here it still is to haunt us. Go. Please.
But it’s not all bad:
Despite Veronica’s encouragement near the end of the episode, Archie does moan about how he’s done with boxing. I want to believe.
The Jones family G&G game may have been missing the excitement factor, but I will praise just how bombastic it was. Gina having to reveal her druglord crimes to Skeet is the first thing out of the gate. Damn, show. You efficient. The hold up of Pop’s was kind whatever, but the sai fight with Penny was super fun. I couldn’t see much of it due to the lighting, but I’ll take a Mummy Returns reference any day, baby.
The episode does a decent job of clearing out some characters to make room ahead of the final run. Josie’s gone to spin-off land; Hal is dead (maybe?); Kurtz is dead; and Gina is back on the road. Now let’s break up that cult, hmm?
Betty continues to bring the intensity and emotional investment I need to care about her subplot. I admire her taking action to try to rescue the twins, and bitch gets shit done by going to her serial killer father for advice, who then points her in the direction of her insane, brothel-owning aunt. Betty uses the tools at her disposal.
And my heart dropped along with hers when Toni made her devastating reveal, leaving Betty with no allies, while also trapped in a room with all her Farm enemies. The “join us” chant and subsequent foot chase were a bit melodramatic, but Betty sold it with some solid reaction shots. I truly hope she manages to stamp The Farm out.
She makes some headway in that direction this episode when she decides to investigate Farm Girl’s school file (precipitated by a cute and appropriate overheard conversation about how the The Farm is antivaxx. Because of course those losers are). The discovery that she’s Chad’s twenty-six year old wife is more gross than it is explosive, but I didn’t see it coming, so well done, show. Still not the biggest fan of yet more incest themes in CW shows (looking at you, Dynasty), but The Farm is supposed to be a wacked out, fucked up place, so it fits.
Josie’s rendition of Back to Black is fine, and is nicely intercut with Gina and Penny’s fight scene. Though, I am worried that the only competent Riverdale singer is leaving.
Pop has learned from his Black Hood days and immediately pulls out a gun to shoot at Skeet when he comes in to hold up the place.
Oh, and the sauna scene between Elio and Hiram is wonderfully unnecessary. Thank you for the man meat, Riverdale.