(You might notice we’re trying out a new recap format this season — and that we’ve also got a new team member, BSG contributor Gabriella. Thank you, Gabriella. We’re so sorry.)
Mary: We start the episode with Archie on trial, apparently several months after the finale of season 2. The trial is, in typical Riverdale fashion, full blown drama, with folks fanning themselves in the old wooden pews of the circa 1950 courthouse. We can’t talk about this episode without talking about the trial, which bookends the plot of “Labor Day.” The trial is suspended for the labor day holiday, with the jury sequestered, so they can continue to deliberate over the weekend, and we conclude with the trial resuming and it’s ~shocking conclusion.~
One thing that really struck me about the trial (aside from the complete absurdity of how that courtroom was set up) was how easily the judge decided to sequester the entire jury for a whole weekend. That WOULD NOT happen. It costs serious money to sequester a jury, to put them up in a hotel and feed them, and the court avoids that cost if at all possible. I guess Riverdale is rolling in that sweet sweet court money?
Gabriella: Seriously though—maybe instead of sequestering the jury they could spend that money on installing air conditioning?
The trial was weird to me because the whole thing seemed really blasé. It felt like they hadn’t really thought through how a trial in this kind of case would go, so to get around that they just skipped the whole thing and jumped into the closing arguments. Not to mention if he was being tried for first-degree murder, I’m pretty sure that comes with mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts).
Kelli: Okay, is the town of Riverdale experiencing a particularly severe case of climate change? Because I can’t remember seeing anyone look as sweaty in the history of this show as every single person did for the entirety of this episode.
I agree about the lack of realism in the courtroom scenes. The only thing I have to add is that my favorite line of this episode came from the prosecuting attorney: “Archie Andrews may be a varsity athlete, and he may be a sensitive musician. But.”
Mary: Another big plot this episode is Betty and her struggle with Alice, who is apparently now in a cult with Polly. Why is Polly back?
The cult was a big, weird plot point for me. Apparently, Alice and Polly are now following a guru who advocates for healthy eating (via oolong milk, or something similarly trendy), and throwing your babies in the air over a fire and seeing if they levitate. While I’m not completely shocked Alice, in her post my-husband-is-a-serial-killer depression, decided to join up with a culty-group, this whole scenario still haunts me. Do we think Riverdale is jealous of the upcoming Sabrina series?
Gabriella: I think it’s opening itself up to crossover territory which - I’d watch that. I have to admit though the weird guru made Alice say some things that were actually pretty accurate - not the whole levitating babies or burning diaries, but about confronting pain and admitting you’re sick - I thought that was a good plot point especially for Betty who is constantly talking about masks and hiding and the dARKNESS.
Also, shout out to Betty for mentioning Heaven’s Gate - everyone should listen to Glynn Washington’s podcast about it because it’s great.
Kelli: I’ve gotta say, I’m extremely onboard for this plot. I love cult-related things, and I have always thought the farm seemed extremely culty, so I appreciate the fact that the show seems to be expanding on a plot that already sort of existed to begin with. Also, we have always talked about how we sort of hoped Alice would become a witch, and things seem to be going in that direction. I mean, the woman was wearing crystals around her neck. Shit’s about to get witchy.
To Gabriella’s point, it’s true that half of what Alice said actually made sense, and I like that it did — because if some of the things this cult teaches are actually legitimate coping mechanisms, we can have a better understanding of why it would be able to draw people in at all.
And man, when those babies floated… I was into it.
Mary: More generally, the whole season seems to be setting up for a spooky time. Dilton tells Jughead about someone—or something—called the Gargoyle King. Cut to later in the episode, where Jug finds Dilton and another boy (who is he? Do we know him?) are strung up with weird marks carved in their backs. They look like sacrifices of some kind, and there’s a weird bone and tree animal in front of them. It is SPOOKY.
Gabriella: Ben! Jughead calls him Ben.
It felt a bit like a True Detective/Stranger Things hybrid rip off honestly, but I’m here for it. (I love true crime/crime dramas, have I said that already?)
Kelli: Gabriella, I IMMEDIATELY thought of True Detective as well. I like the idea of this sort of crime happening in Riverdale, like some devil-worshipping shit, because it’s similar in some ways to what we went through last season with Hal and his obsession with sinners. Also, the ritual sacrifice could easily relate back to the spooky witchy stuff with the farm cult, and I’d be pleased if the threads of this season could come together a little more cleanly than they did in season 2.
Mary: I also want us to appreciate that Betty is full on Serpent Queen now. She tells Jughead, “The Serpent Queen is a warrior queen.” I was really into that. Betty steals the spotlight a lot this episode. She gots on a raid to get Hot Dog back alongside Jughead (and Cheryl, who brings her badass archery skills), and she also confronts Alice several times. Even amongst all this confrontation and bravery, Betty seems to have been (based on Polly’s accusations) forging her Adderall prescription and faking going to therapy. Where are they going with this and how do we feel about it?
Gabriella: It reminded me a bit of Liv Tyler’s character in Empire Records. Basically, this episode felt to me a lot like they were ripping off bits of other stories (more so than the previous seasons) but that also could be because I’m paying closer attention now that I’m writing about it with you all.
I hope they go more into the medication of Betty - she gets one throwaway line where she accuses her mom of having pushed the prescription down her throat previously. Alice does seem to latch onto stuff in an attempt to figure out her own feelings (Chic! How quickly he became ‘that Chic person’) so I'm not surprised she’s gone full tilt into the cult and is eschewing medication now.
The whole rescuing of Hot Dog felt really shoehorned in for me. All it did was open up the conflict between the ghoulies and serpents again, which I’m sure they could have figured out another way to do that. Cheryl with her bow and arrow was pretty bad-ass, though.
I think I’m most invested in Betty as a character and I’m really excited to see how they develop her throughout the season.
Kelli: I’m actually pretty glad to see the Adderall prescription make a comeback. I don’t know if you guys remember this, but in season one - it might’ve even been during the pilot episode - we see Alice giving Betty Adderall and being like, ‘don’t forget to take this!’ It was only mentioned the one time, and I’ve always wondered what ever happened to that plot, so I think it’s good that they’re going to actually do something about it now. What I can’t tell is whether or not Betty is taking the medication the way she’s supposed to (despite the forgery), or if she’s abusing it — and if it’s the latter, it’s going to be really hard for this show to convince us that Betty’s been an addict this entire time without any of us realizing it.
I agree with both of you about Betty. She’s always been the best character, and I think that’s in part because Lili Reinhart is the most talented member of this cast. I want to know what was going on with Betty’s seizure at the end of the episode — was that just an extreme reaction to the shock of seeing levitating fire babies? Or is there more?
I also thought it was pretty funny when Jughead was like, “Cheryl doesn’t miss.” Part of me was hoping she’d shoot that arrow and split Penny’s head down the center, because — really and truly — I’m so fucking sick of her.
Mary: At the end of the episode, the jury is STILL undecided on Archie’s case and the judge declares a mistrial. BUT Archie then confesses that he’s guilty and takes a deal to spend his sentence in a juvenile detention center. WHY DOES HE CONFESS? The entire episode, Archie has been struggling with wondering if he did the crime or not--but we know he didn’t, and everyone else knows he didn’t, and HE KNOWS HE DID NOT. AND YET. Archie says he doesn’t want to put his parents through the trial again, but the trial only took up one episode, soooo...Why.
Gabriella: If Archie were really clever he’d file an appeal based on an inadequate defense council because that was a shit show.
Also, judges have the ability to give the jury an “Allen Charge”, more commonly called a dynamite charge, which essentially is the judge saying ‘nope, you have to come up with something.’ The judge usually then advises the jury to reconsider the evidence and ask new questions to PREVENT A MISTRIAL. Certainly, the judge would’ve done that.
And for the prosecutor to go from murder to manslaughter is such a leap - surely they would have included a charge for second degree in there or assault or false imprisonment etc etc etc. Even with manslaughter he would definitely go to real adult prison.
But I digress.
How did they just blow past Veronica nearly tampering with a jury? That would have so seriously damaged Archie’s case MY GOD.
Sorry. Basically, you shouldn’t let anyone who is as into true crime as I am watch this episode.
Kelli: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Archie is a fucking idiot. His supposed reason for taking the deal is because he doesn’t want to “put everyone through this again,” but does he really think that it’s going to be easier for his family and friends knowing he’s in PRISON (or Juvie, whatever)? They’re still going to be spending all of their free time trying to get him out of there or going to visit him.
So, to answer your question, Mary: it’s because Archie is a fucking idiot.
Gabriella: This episode left me with so many questions. What happened to the multiple black hood plot? Are we just abandoning that in favour of the gargoyle king now? Is Hermione a goodie or a baddie? Does Archie know how to properly care for that tattoo? Why would you pick Magnolia cupcakes over THE BANANA PUDDING? The banana pudding is far superior. And would travel better.
Kelli: I think that just Hal was the real BH, and Tall Boy was the other BH who Hiram hired to shoot up the town hall. I’m pretty sure BH is done. I pray that it is. I don’t have any desire to return to any of season 2’s plotlines like… basically ever again.
On that note, if the show wants to go in a more sPo0py direction, I’m totally into it. There was maybe one scene in one of season 2’s episodes where Archie hits a deer with his car and it comes back to life, and I remember being so thrilled by that little moment and the possibilities it presented for where this show could go. I am so much more interested in devil worship, cults, and ritual sacrifice than I am in mobsters and serial killer dads.
Finally: I 10,000% agree about the banana pudding.
We want to hear your theories! Let us know wtf is going on in the comments, and thanks for joining us for another thrilling edition of the BSG Riverdale Recap.