Riverdale Season 3 Episode 22 – TV Review
At multiple points while watching this episode I had to pause to genuinely shout at how stupid and bad this show has become.
And while I would usually be the kind of person to play that old standard of “I’d rather be mad at something than apathetic at something” when it comes to bad entertainment, I don’t believe I’d use that on Riverdale.
At this point, I’ll take unambitious, tepid Riverdale over this overblown garbage if it means no more evil board games, mafiosos, gangs, cults, or hallucinatory candy drug scourges.
I’ve had enough, man.
TL;DR Penelope turns out to be responsible for all this Gryphons & Gargoyles shit (but who cares?); she makes the Core Four do some arbitrary challenges that don’t prove anything; Chic is the Gargoyle King, btw (but who cares?); Cheryl musters everyone to save The Farm from Chad, but they get there too late (but who cares?) and only Kevin is left; it turns out Alice was only in The Farm to be an FBI informant, and the FBI agent working with her is her actual-and-not-dead son, Charles (but who cares?).
Oh, and Hiram is still in jail. So that’s nice. I do kind of care about that.
So let’s begin with the Core Four. Jughead, Archie, and Veronica get mysterious invitations, while Betty’s surgery gets interrupted by Penelope (whom Toni manages to run to, and then get drugged by) visiting The Farm. Betty awakens inside a Blossom family hunting lodge, and sits down to dinner alongside her friends. Penelope, their hostess, reveals she is behind everything Gryphons & Gargoyles, and also for stoking Hal’s Black Hood tendencies. It was all some nebulous, totally not ass-pulled by the writers scheme to get back at Riverdale for the hardships she’s endured. Oh, and Chic is the Gargoyle King because Hal actually didn’t kill him last season. Penelope then sets our heroes on a final gauntlet through the woods to survive the night (title drop), and earn their freedom. Archie’s quest is to fight and defeat a guy dressed like a bear (but who cares?). Veronica then has to play Russian Roulette with some poisoned chalices with Betty as her partner, and proves herself worthy by attempting to save Betty from the poison (it turns out all the chalices were poisoned, but it doesn’t end up mattering, so who cares?). Jughead’s quest is to fight Chic (but, like, why?). And Betty brings us home, as her quest demands she kill her father. She refuses, stating she’s better than him, but despite passing all the tests, Penelope just shows up and executes Hal, and commands her Gargoyle army to kill the kids, anyway. Meanwhile, Cheryl tries to get Kevin and Fangs on side at The Farm by showing them the organ room, but it’s been cleaned out. She stomps around in frustration, and eventually happens upon Jason’s exhumed corpse hanging out in one of the hypnosis rooms. Alice is finally spurred into action by all the hubbub over Chad’s decision to move up the Ascension ritual, and she leads Cheryl and her remaining grandchild out of The Farm, while going back to save Polly and the others herself. Cheryl meets up with Toni, who has been mustering the Pretty Poisons and the Serpents in the meantime, and thanks to Nanna Rose, they know where to find the Core Four. Just as the Gargoyles catch up, Cheryl shows up with the cavalry and everyone is saved. Except the Farmies, however, as only Kevin is left behind following the Ascension, having been chosen (against his dumbass will, I might add) as the one to tell the others that the rest are “gone.” The final reel of the episode is mostly epiloguing, as we find out Penelope ended up getting away; Chic got arrested; Cheryl has taken to visiting her brother’s corpse; Hermione is arrested by the FBI for plotting Hiram’s murder (which she totally did); Hiram schemes from within his own prison to take down Veronica or something; Archie (having been given ownership of his gym after Veronica and Hermione took possession of all of Hiram’s assets) wants to turn his gym into a community centre; and then the real stinker of Betty and Jughead being visited by an FBI agent, who turns out to be Charles, and who says Alice was an FBI mole inside The Farm all along, and they’re going to keep searching for her. Oh, and then the episode almost saves the entire season with a scene of the Core Four declaring, over milkshakes, that they’re going to get back to normal next year. My heart momentarily leapt, but then Riverdale couldn’t fucking help itself, and we get some shitty flash forward to a bloodied Archie, Betty, and Veronica swearing themselves to a pact of secrecy, and burning Jughead’s clothes.
You were so close, show. You almost had it.
So yeah, that’s it for Riverdale Season 3. They really did save the shittiest shit for last. Kudos.
At this point, I’m giving Season 4 a maximum of three episodes to pull itself together. If not, I’m fucking done. I’ve spent enough time trying to forgive Riverdale in deference to how good the first season was. But I won’t be led into another Glee-sized pit again.
Why I hate this episode:
Everything to do with the Core Four’s “survive the night” challenge was garbage. Apart from Betty’s, the individual quests were meaningless. “Ooh, Archie has to punch something.” Apart from his loss to Hiram, is there any question that Archie is good at punching things? And what does demonstrating that he’s good at punching things reveal about his character?
Jughead’s is even worse. I guess they just needed to chuck Chic in there for something, huh?
I appreciated the thematic relevance of Veronica’s, but this is Season 3, not Season 2. Veronica has been pretty good to her friends for a while now. Is it really much of a shock that she would be nice to Betty?
The first moment in the episode that I had to scream in anguish over how bad things are was when Chic was revealed as the Gargoyle King. Who the fuck fucking cares? Really? Chic? Fuck you, show. We haven’t seen or heard about this dickhead for over a full season, and we’re supposed to be blown away that he was the Gargoyle King all along? Is this a fucking Saw sequel? Yikes.
I also saved a big “fuck you, show” for Charles’ reveal at the end. What a clunker. Just like Chic, you’re a season too late, buddy. Both of these reveals really go to show how much more competent Dynasty is. When they played their “long lost, thought-dead brother” card, it was the motherfucking gag of the season.
To add insult to injury, Charles claims that Alice was an FBI mole inside The Farm all along. Cunt, that does not explain any of her actions. Fuck you, show.
During their trudge through the woods, Jughead proposes a theory that in a roundabout way, Penelope is responsible for all the terrible things that have happened, including Season 1. Ah, I think the fuck not, you trick ass bitch. Don’t go dragging Season 1 into this.
Chic dyed his hair red so he could pretend to be Jason or something when he visited Penelope at the brothel. But then the reveal of actual Jason’s corpse in The Farm implies that the “Jason” Cheryl was seeing was just a hypnotic hallucination of the actual Jason. So why bother have Chic parading around as Jason if not to use him for Cheryl’s Farm visions? Huh?
Penelope also seems to be ignorant of The Farm’s true nature until Toni informs her. For a seasons-spanning Big Bad, she’s not really on the ball, is she?
Within the same day (I think?) of Hiram getting arrested, Hermione and Veronica are handed over ownership of all his assets. I don’t think that’s how that works.
Before Hermione gets arrested, she is about to tell Veronica of some secret of Hiram’s she just discovered, but then doesn’t bother once the arrest happens. Yet another example of Riverdale shitting on its Season 1 legacy of characters actually talking to each other.
I am not here for Cheryl doting on Jason’s corpse. Does Cheryl have a brain in her head or not, show? Make a decision!
Same goes for Kevin. He gets left behind to tell the Ascension tale. But all he says is an ambiguous “they’re gone.” My, what a storyteller he is.
Oh, and beyond the frothing rage I have over many things this episode, I just want to say that I am truly sad that Riverdale did such a good job of having everything culminate in ways that could have satisfyingly jettisoned all the bad crap of the past two seasons. But then they went and spoiled it all by epiloguing. Just give us back our teen soap opera, CW. Please.
But it’s not all bad:
I refuse to believe that the CW is ignorant to the hate-watch fandom this show has developed. I really, really, really want to hope they can bring Riverdale back down to earth next season. There’s time. You can be better.
But don’t fire Betty’s costume designer. That pink dress is gorgeous.
The one big win of the episode is that not only is Hiram still in jail, he’s apparently been convicted, because he’s settling in for a long stay in prison. Maybe don’t come back?
I don’t believe at all that Alice was anything other than a mindless Farmie follower, but I appreciate that she finally opens her eyes and helps Cheryl escape.
Hal’s dead. So Riverdale won’t be able to bring back any more Black Hood shit.
Oh, and if you were to edit out the “we murdered Jughead and are doing an I Know What You Did Last Summer pact” flash forward, the ending scene in the diner is exactly what I was asking for.