Riverdale review: And then there were two … serial killers


Riverdale leans in to sweeps week by introducing two serial killers. The Black Hood returns to team up with the Gargoyle King in a mostly well-done episode.

Here we are, Riverheads. Two episodes from the season 3 finale and we’re left with not one, but two serial killers. The Gargoyle King has (allegedly) been murdering second-tier characters for months now, and last night’s “Chapter Fifty-Five: Prom night” offers us the unholy union we didn’t know we needed.

In fact, it seems the theme of the whole episode was world’s colliding. With so much murder and mayhem, it’s hard to remember that this show is about high schoolers, but there’s nothing like a Prom to bring it right back around. Even Veronica couldn’t help but note the incongruity when she says, “Prom is this weekend? We still do things like that here?” I love it the most when Riverdale gets meta.

I also love it when Riverdale just leans right on in to it’s dual citizenship as both pulp and soap, so I’ve run down my favorite crossover moments of the night.

Cheryl can’t be prom queen

Leave it to Cheryl to be awoken from her brainwashing by the threat of not being prom queen. It’s not the ritualistic ceremonies, or “seeing” her long dead brother, or even the incest-y thing with Evelyn that scares her away. Nope. It’s Edgar’s emotional manipulation that dissuades her from getting the high school recognition she wants (and totally deserves). You have to love the symmetry here, people.

Unfortunately, both Cheryl and Toni have been sucked into The Farm’s weird cult, and we haven’t really seen much of them in recent episodes. However, we saw a glimpse of the old Cheryl last night when she cuts Evelyn down with, “aren’t you like 30?”

Hopefully this turn will be enough to unite Choni against The Farm (and possibly the Gargoyle King) which feels a lot more reassuring than any of the rest of them. Aside from Betty, Cheryl and Toni, everyone else is really quite useless.

The Farm are cannibals

In a throw away line that you might have missed, Edgar actually says something to Alice about eating bodies to gain their wisdom. It was right before Betty burst in, aggressively demanding that he take his shirt off. And once he did disrobe you probably forgot all about eating humans because … damn. Edgar Evernever is jacked! But yep. They are cannibals.

This is Riverdale at it’s very finest. It’s plenty soapy to offer a hunky cult guru to lure all the pretty ladies in town to sell their belongings and enter a polygamous situation. But it’s dark — super, super dark — to make them actually eat human flesh. God bless you, Riverdale.

Mary Andrews’ conveniently turns up

It’s apparent that the Riverdale writers don’t know what to do about Luke Perry’s sad and untimely death. “Prom Night” was the first installment filmed after Perry’s passing, and their solution involved an inexplicably impromptu trip to an undisclosed place for an undisclosed amount of time. To distract us, presumably, they bring back teen queen heavy-hitter Molly Ringwald.

While my nostalgia makes me happy to see her, her presence feels completely redundant. She offers a week explanation for her visit, saying “I don’t want you to be alone” while implying “after three people were slaughtered at your prom.” A long lost parent is par for the soapy course, but having her stay in town to help sort out not one, but two crazed killers … good, clean, pulpy fun.

Veronica is not a grown up

That pesky Hiram just won’t go away. We now understand that he duped V with a fake deed and has, in fact, owned Pop’s and the Bonne Nuit all along. While I find the feud between daughter and father, intriguing in it’s own, night-time soap kind of way, what I find most compelling is Riverdale’s insistence that we forget Veronica is a child.

In this week’s installment of “please forget that this character is only 16”, Veronica tries to take a loan out to help Archie and we see her escorting a loan officer around Pop’s diner. This is the same character who we will see in the very next scene, dancing at her junior prom. This is how we understand Hiram’s trickery, and how much money, time, and effort Veronica has lost. Now, maybe she’ll go back to cheerleading and play practice like a normal 16 year old who is definitely not a lawyer, a publicist, or sports agent.

Betty gets double-crossed

Even though most of us saw this coming a mile away, Betty’s dad Hal pulled a fast one on her. All that Clarice/Hannibal Lecter nonsense softened Betty up, and got her to pull some strings with (non-lawyer) Veronica. It was all a ruse, because Hal/Black Hood faked his own death, cut off his own hand, and is down in league with the Gargoyle King, who may or may not be Edgar Evernever.

It’s just all so juicy and complicated, and I love every second of it. I love the clashing of this super grisly murder-spree during prom, the visual of Betty running, screaming, in her Renaissance dress, trying to evade this Gothic monster, while her dad/Black Hood stalks her down the halls, Freddy Krueger style. Riverdale is giving me what I love.

Finally, some stray thoughts:

The way in which Cheryl turned on Edgar has me hoping and praying for Cheryl vs. The Farm showdown in our final moments. Everyone knows that Cheryl has what it takes when our core four don’t.

I have to give a shout out to “Prom Night'” music. We got everything from a montage set to “Eye of the Tiger” to Tears for Fears to Depeche Mode. The total and utter absurdity of this show’s anachronism and real and fake brand dropping continues to baffle me. When Mary mentions both Uber and “Sarah Florence” in the same conversation, I started a slow clap in my living room.

Judging by Mary’s complete indecision and flip-flopping over Archie’s “career” as a boxer, I’m skeptical about her legal skills and her competency as a Riverdale parent. It’s not for sissies.

It’s feeling more and more like we are about to face a trifecta of Big Bads. With the Black Hood joining forces with the Gargoyle King, and Hiram Lodge’s reach still unknown, it feels likely that we’ll have to fight three bosses at the end of the season.

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We’re officially in countdown mode, with only two remaining episodes left to air. Riverdale has taken an enormous mouthful in the last couple of weeks, and now it just remains to see if they can chew and swallow what they’ve bitten off.

Leave your reactions in the comments below, and let me know where you think our beloved Riverdale is headed.