Riverdale Season 3 Episode 21 – TV Review
At least tell me there’s still a compelling Betty storyline?
TL;DR There is not, as Betty stumbles upon an eleventh hour reveal that The Farm is an organ harvesting operation; the Gargoyle King is revealed to be Jason Blossom (according to Ethel); Veronica and Archie pull off a scheme to get Hiram arrested; Reggie and Veronica get back together (but who cares?).
But. Who. Cares.
So let’s be daring and put Jughead first, as he is determined to find out the Gargoyle King’s identity. He gets a lead to go through Joaquin’s asshole little brother (he’s still here?), and ends up with a brainwashed boy scout troop nipping at his heels, and finds Ethel in hiding. She’s back to playing the ol’ G&G, but is scared of the Gargoyle King’s wrath. Jughead saves her and the kids or whatever (who cares?), and Ethel rewards him with the bombshell that Jason Blossom is the Gargoyle King. Jughead smartly goes to dig up his grave to prove it’s untrue, but the coffin is, gasp, empty. Cool, I guess? I wasn’t expecting that, at least. But I’m also not expecting it to stick. Meanwhile, Veronica decides she’s going to go nuclear on Hiram by helping the FBI bust the speakeasy in the midst of their illegal wheelings and dealings, for which Hiram as owner will be held liable. Archie gets in on the action to jizz out some more macho bullshit by challenging Hiram to an illegal underground boxing match, which will coincide with the FBI raid. Everything goes smoothly (except Hiram almost kills Archie in the ring), and Hiram ends up seething, sweaty and shirtless, behind bars. But, again, I’m not expecting it to stick. And Veronica brings in Reggie to help with the schemes, and they get back together moments before Archie is able to profess his returned feelings for her. But who cares? Meanwhile, Betty finally finds out what The Farm is all about, and surprise, it’s organ harvesting. Aren’t you glad Riverdale spent all that time foreshadowing and building that up? What, they didn’t? I’m shocked. She alerts Cheryl and Toni, and Toni manages to escape Farm HQ thanks to Cheryl sacrificing herself to fend off the guards. But when Betty tries to do the same for Kevin and Fangs, they instead capture her, and Chad readies her for surgery. Oh, and in another ass-pull reveal, the whole “you see dead relatives/dark versions of yourself” thing at The Farm is just Chad using hypnosis.
Wow. Much satisfy.
So yeah. Wow. I’m infinitely ready for this trashbag of a season to just be fucking done.
If I could sing one song of praise for the episode, it’s that Riverdale seems to be putting the right foot forward to get all the worst plot stuff out of the way in preparation for, I hope, a proper return to form next season.
I mean, could you imagine if The Farm was still around next season? Gross.
Why I hate this episode:
The two big reveals at The Farm are so offensively arbitrary that I would like to believe Riverdale really has become aware of what a big wank it all was, and is just trying to sweep it out that door as quickly as possible. “Umm, ahh, it was hypnosis and organ harvesting. Don’t think about it too hard.” I won’t.
This episode continues to absolutely take a dump all over the formerly intelligent and compassionate teen characters by having Cheryl and Kevin (and Toni, I guess. Fangs isn’t really a character, so we won’t count him) be happily oblivious to the obvious horror of Chad’s “treatments” involving surgery to cut out the badness within. The show has made a point of showing them as otherwise keeping their old personalities at The Farm, so it’s pathetic that they wouldn’t be questioning this kind of thing. If the show had instead gone down the Stepford Smiler route with them (which Alice and Polly kind of did), it would have been much more palatable.
I refuse to believe the Jason Blossom as Gargoyle King reveal until we get on-screen proof. But this is just another example of Riverdale shitting on Season 1 by trying to tell us that Jason Blossom’s murder never really happened. Whether it turns out to be true or not, I’m not impressed.
But I will be even madder if it turns out to be true. Just for the record.
Who gives an actual shit about anything Veronica and Archie do this episode? And do you expect the charges against Hiram to stick. Fucking next.
I am one hundred percent tuned out of the Veronica/Archie/Reggie love triangle.
Hermione gets a tiny little look-in this episode when she argues with Hiram about his latest supervillainous plan, which is to buy Riverdale. You had your chance for Evil King Hiram with the quarantine, show, and then you dumped that offscreen. Move the fuck on.
Ethel returns simply to undo any progress she made the last time we saw her. Who cares?
Oh, and the Black Hood shows up for a nothing scene where he temporarily menaces Jughead and Ethel. Given how little focus he’s gotten, I am bracing myself for him to continue on into the next season. Yuck.
But it’s not all bad:
I’m holding out a tiny shred of hope that the Black Hood will murder the Gargoyle King in the season finale, and then get gunned down by Skeet or something. Let’s clear the decks, people.
That’s really the most uplifting thing about this episode. With the conga line of reveals, it genuinely feels like Riverdale is getting ready to resolve all the stupid shit that they’ve introduced. The Farm has lost its mystery, the Gargoyle King is on a ticking clock to get properly unmasked, Gryphons & Gargoyles (and Fizzle Rocks, I guess?) has largely been abolished, the speakeasy has been canned, and Hiram is behind bars. Of all those, I’d say Hiram’s incarceration is the least likely to stick. But for someone who is usually unflappable, he did seem pretty pissed off like he’s taking it seriously. Could it finally be over? God, let’s hope.
Betty may be stuck trudging through the stupid Farm reveals, but she’s still our intrepid, committed Betty. I appreciated that she acknowledged the darkness inside her (tough I’m not sure if I buy Alice’s reveal that Betty got tested as a child for the serial killer gene and it came back positive), which led to a campy little scene of her and Dark Betty interacting. This is promptly undone when Betty realises Chad is just hypnotising her, and with a little candle wax in her ears, she proves in the next session that her vision of Dark Betty was just Polly in disguise. I assume this is the case for “Charles” and “Jason,” too.
Although, Jason might be taking time out of his busy Gargoyle King schedule to make guest appearances for Cheryl at The Farm, as his coffin is mighty empty. For Riverdale to actually retcon Jason’s death and then reveal him as the serial killing king of an evil board game would be hugely insulting, but I am inclined to admire the audacity.
Archie and Hiram’s boxing match is appropriately gritty.
Oh, and Shirtless Hiram happily outshines the weak showing of Shirtless Archie. He’s so juicy.