So, we should start by sending out positive vibes to one of the best HPoR - Luke Perry.
Hoping for a swift and full recovery so you’re back to the bananas world of Riverdale soon.
Okay, let’s dive into the ring, shall we? We feel a bit like Archie’s face looked by the end of this episode...
Gabriella: Since the several plot lines going on have almost zero interaction with each other, I’m going to run through each of them from start to finish. Starting with Archie - I don’t know how many times in my notes I wrote ‘because you’re an idiot, Archie.’
Where to begin? From not taking the advice of his boxing coach Tom Keller (who is my favorite adult, now) to presuming that because he won some prison brawl he’s actually a technically trained boxer with any expertise? I also have a huge problem with any time someone says ‘with all due respect’ - it’s like saying ‘no offense’. It’s just a precursor to ‘what I’m about to say will offend you/is disrespectful’. Anyway, Archie decides to get in the ring with, of all people, ELIO’S FIGHTER. As soon as he did that I knew what was coming - did you all see it coming, too?
Mary: I don’t understand this boxing plot AT ALL. Since when does Archie want to be a boxer? Since he was forced into it in P R I S O N? And yeah, Elio is of course up to some shady stuff. That was no surprise at all.
Kelli: It’s weird to me how separate all of the main character plots are at this point — the only two people who are still vaguely part of the same storyline are Jughead and Betty. Like, do none of Archie’s friends — or his ex-girlfriend — have any reaction at all to the fact that he and Josie are dating now? Do they even know he’s decided to pursue boxing full-time?
Anyway, yes, I definitely saw it coming from a plot perspective, because Archie plots tend to involve him making a stupid decision and then having to undo that decision by the end of the episode. It’s the Cycle of Archie.
Gabriella: Unsurprisingly, Archie has second thoughts almost immediately but because he’s a teen with poor impulse control, it’s too late to back out now. And I have to admit I was kind of pleased because I really like watching Archie suffer. Wow, that was morbid.
Mary: I knew he’d be too noble to go through with throwing the match, but I wonder what he thought would happen once he refused. Elio is clearly in the mob, and the mob probably has no qualms about killing a high school boy who refused to go along with a plan. I agree it’s fun to see Archie suffer a little. He’s just so unflinchingly good in a show with lots of moral gray.
Kelli: Yeah, I think what I found the most frustrating was that the only reason Archie decided to back down from his decision was because it was “wrong” to take money from a gangster... But once you’re in that deep, doesn’t it make way more sense to just go through with the thing and then, I don’t know, give the money to a charity or something? I doubt Elio’s fighter actually would have tried to murder Archie if Archie had just made good on his promise. It’s really not that big of a deal to fake-lose a boxing match against a champion. Idiot.
Gabriella: When Archie and Josie are sitting in the diner and Archie uses the the analogy of playing opening gigs before you headline, I legitimately wrote: “yeah, but you have to learn to play your instrument first.“ How does Josie stand him? She is the only teen who has her head screwed on straight, has some dreams and a plan (evidenced by the Riverdale spin-off Ashleigh Murray is set to star in).
Mary: I don’t understand how Archie and Josie work together, or what drew them together. I enjoyed Josie’s little side plot where she was with a Serpent, because that showed some contrast: she’s a good girl trying out bad boys. But with Archie, they’re both just too good, too straight laced, too EVERYTHING. I don’t know where their plot is going, and honestly I can’t make myself care that much.
Kelli: This episode had a lot of classic lines of dialogue that sum up just how absurd this show is, and one of them was during this scene. Josie talks to Archie about his potentially going to college on a scholarship, and in response, he says: “I’m an ex-con who walked out of the SATs.”
Gabriella: I was kind of annoyed with how they ended the boxing fight - not to mention it set to the backdrop of Josie singing (she deserves the spotlight, in my opinion). Yes, Tom Keller had a point - Elio’s fighter is used to winning based on the other guy throwing the match, but all this fight did was prove both of them are idiots. And in the end, it all worked out fine - Archie lost, the gangsters will get their money so Elio won’t send them after Archie to break his kneecaps. All in a day’s work in Riverdale.
Mary: It’s become apparent that every episode has to jam in a musical number, and while I totally agree that Josie deserves some spotlight, I wish they’d do it through plot, and not through rando musical numbers.
I’m not sure what they wanted to prove with this fight either, and I couldn’t make myself think about it too hard or the whole thing would fall apart. I definitely think that this isn’t the end of Elio seeking out Archie and causing trouble. This just continues the trend of me not caring much about Archie or his plots, though. I really do wonder if he’s as much the heart of the show as the show thinks he is.
Kelli: Yeah, on the whole I was very bored by this plot, which says a lot since I usually love plots involving Archie and gangsters and boxing! Jk, those are three things I don’t give a single fuck about.
Also, can I just say that the song Josie was singing was corny as hell? I’m so tired of these montages lining up with actual musical performances — what are the chances that Josie is going to be performing a song about the ‘Thunderdome’ while Archie is fighting in a literal boxing match?
Gabriella: MEANWHILE… Toni and Cheryl have some overlap with Jughead as he attempts to bring them back into the serpent fold because the serpents are a bit thin on the ground. There was a lot of talk in this plotline about the concepts of the gangs as family and community. I was sort of buying that, except that fundamentally they’re all run by psychopaths - Cheryl included. I thought Jughead was a bit silly not to just let Toni be queen serpent because literally what is Betty doing with the Serpents? Nothing.
Mary: YES. This is the plot I’m here for. I don’t understand what the Serpent Queen position means, exactly. Is it just whoever is dating the King? Was there a Queen when FP was King? I need a detailed account of Serpent hierarchy. I’m also not sure what Betty is doing at all, to be honest. It seems like she and Jughead haven’t been interacting much for the past few episodes, and I wonder if the show is gearing us up for a breakup.
Kelli: I don’t think the show is gearing us up for a breakup, because if they were I think they’d be showing the two of them having “problems.” I think they feel like the relationship between Betty and Jughead is solid enough that we don’t have to watch them together — which is unfortunate, because they are really good together on screen.
Anyway, I feel like Betty wouldn’t even be upset if Jughead made Toni “queen” of the Serpents — or maybe they could stop using antiquated patriarchal terms and instead call themselves ‘co-leaders’? Either way, Betty doesn’t care about leading the Serpents, and it’s pretty clear that Toni is in a serious relationship with Cheryl, so it’s not like Betty would be jealous. I really don’t get it.
Gabriella: Toni’s big speech when she finds out Cheryl used the serpents to lash out at Sweat Pea and Fangs had me cheering. This was the kind of dialogue I had loved in the beginning of the show, instead of the hamfisted, shoehorned virtue signalling we’re getting now. I think Cheryl’s cracks are starting to show and I hope we get a bit more of a three-dimensional character/relationship going forward now (but I’m not holding my breath).
Mary: YES! Cheryl and Toni work well together because Toni isn’t afraid to take Cheryl down a peg and Cheryl loves Toni and wants to make her happy. It’s really great to see a queer relationship given this sort of attention and depth, and I agree that I hope we get to see more of this in the future.
Kelli: Yeah, I think that when Cheryl and Toni first got together, we saw a basically ideal relationship playing out between them, and as cute as I thought they were, it was getting a little boring. So, I’m really glad that we’re getting to see the actual arguments they have, because the show is starting to treat them like real people in a real relationship who are very, very different from one another. I really liked watching them this episode, and seeing more of the Pretty Poisons — and I’ll add that I was VERY disappointed that we didn’t get to see them beating the shit out of Sweetpea and Fangs.
Gabriella: MEANWHILE… Jughead gives up on Toni pretty quickly and moves on to being manipulated by his mom - who seems to pretty much be as clearly evil as one can be. I don’t quite know how no one has seen through her - she and Hiram may as well have giant neon signs flashing ‘bad guy’ over their heads. The inclusion of Gladys feels like an attempt to keep Hiram relevant as he struggles to ‘rebuild his empire’ of CANDY. I just, we know it’s drugs. Just say drugs.
Mary: I KNOW. Why are we insisting on calling it candy? It’s drugs, folks. What even is going on with Gladys and Hiram?? I’m tired of the drugs.
Kelli: I love the dramatic pause before and after anyone says the word “candy.” Just in case it wasn’t clear.
Gabriella: That we were brought back into the G&G plotline made me roll my eyes only because it feels tired, now. For every step forward in a plot, we seem to be going backwards by two - the only characters evolving (for better or worse) are Josie and Alice. The plot between Hiram and Gladys could be an interesting evolution, and I kept drawing a parallel between Hiram and Macbeth but the show is caught up in its aesthetic that there’s no room for the actors to make their struggles seem nuanced (which they did in season one).
Mary: I found myself wondering where the G&G plot even went, or if we ever really determined who the Gargoyle King is. I think the thing that Riverdale gets caught up in is having a lot of things going on at one time—partially because there have to be so many episodes per season. If you have a lot of plots going on at any one given time, there are options for what to cover. But options aren’t always good.
Kelli: Too many options!
I’m interested to see how things play out between Veronica and Jughead once he finds out about his mom — and finds out that Veronica has been more-or-less in cahoots with her. Jughead is probably going to have an identity crisis when all of this comes to a head.
That being said, this plot does feel really tired, mostly because we’ve had so many false starts about who the Gargoyle King may or may not be. Maybe it’s been Gladys all along! Who fucking knows! All I can say is that it gave me a good laugh when Jughead walked into what was essentially a G&G crack den. To think that a bunch of drug addicts would be quivering on the floor of a darkened shed playing a tabletop RPG…
Gabriella: MEANWHILE… Alice is going full-on cult crazy, which I am so here for. The aesthetics were a bit too virgin suicides rip off, but I’m here for cults and I liked investigative-journalist Betty back on it. I feel so badly for Alice. Her life has been entirely up-ended and the one thing she thinks is going to help her is some weird murder cult. I wish I’d seen more of Betty in this episode because I think Lili Reinhart is being wasted.
Mary: I loooove this cult plot line. I’m wondering. Why Betty is doing this all on her own with no help from Jughead. I also feel bad for Alice. She’s been through a lot and deserves better. I always think it’s weird when cults have weird marriage ceremonies, and the old wedding dress fit that aesthetic.
Kelli: First of all, that wedding dress was HIDEOUS. It looked a little better once she cut the bizarre ruffled neckline off, but still. My god.
I agree about feeling bad for Alice. I also am continually confused by Polly, who seems to be a character similar to Ethel in that the writers basically use her as a vehicle to move the plot around without giving her any kind of solid personality. It’s frustrating, especially having come from season one when she and Betty were so close. Like, that bitch tried to DROWN. HER. OWN. MOTHER. I simply cannot relate.
Gabriella: I genuinely thought when Alice said “I have to get rid of the last thing holding me back” that she was going to turn to Betty and say ‘you’ so when she said ‘sell the house’ it was kind of a let down, but also kind of reassuring — this show hasn’t gone THAT insane yet…
Mary: Me too! I whispered it under my breath when she said it.
Kelli: I was really glad that she didn’t say that, because it would have been going against one of the core principles of Alice’s character, which is that she really love her children. I appreciate that they’re treating her with sympathy instead of making her into a villain, and I really felt for Betty in the moment when she realizes just how far-gone Alice is. I predict that by the end of the season Alice will come to her senses.
Gabriella: Did you notice I didn’t even mention Veronica? Because I just did. Oops.
Mary: Hahahaha! I guess the only thing to mention with her is that her dad now knows she burned his drugs and wants her to pay him back. So now she owes a ton of money to two people, right? Gladys and Hiram?
Kelli: Yeah, there was a lot of Veronica standing in the corner of the room while adults had conversations with each other. She’s trying to play everyone and failing at every turn, which is what’s already been happening with her for at least the last three episodes. However, I would be remiss not to mention one of the OTHER incredible lines of the episode: when Veronica admits she burned the drugs, Hiram just looks at her and says matter-of-factly, “Well, you owe me seventy-five thousand dollars, Veronica.”
Gabriella: By the end of this episode I really felt overwhelmed. There are so many storylines, and the episode cuts between them so many times it’s impossible to get any sense of time -- when are they? How many days go by? Do these kids EVER GO TO SCHOOL? The further away from reality, this show gets the more infuriating it becomes. WIthout any reality to tether to, the whole thing just floats in the strange amorphous goo that is Riverdale.
Mary: I agree—there’s just way too much going on right now. I’m interested in some things, like Toni and Cheryl or the cult plot, but there’s too much! I think that the show has started doing these kinds of transitional episodes. This episode is reminding us the GK is still a thing, so I’m thinking we’ll get more of that in the next episode.
Kelli: Also, the fact that “ascension” is mentioned re: the cult baptism is basically confirmation that The Farm and G&G are related. It’s going to be a pretty obvious and boring conclusion to the season if Edgar Evernever ends up being the REAL GK, but they’re putting off introducing us to him for a reason.
I agree that there’s too much going on, but I’ll also admit that I enjoyed this episode more than the last couple. I think it helped that there were quite a few scenes at Riverdale High — even if they weren’t in class, at least we could see that all of our characters are still on campus during the day, using their lockers and the weird little rec room. It felt a little more like the way this show used to be, which is a welcome change since so much of this season has taken place elsewhere (like in jail, or ‘on the open road,’ or at Gladys’ steampunk fortress, or at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, etc).
At this point, they really need to stop adding new threads to this plot and start wrapping shit up… but you never know with Riverdale.