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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 3)

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'As Above, So Below' is perhaps the most uneven episode of Riverdale thus far, with too many storylines competing for attention and not enough power moving the narrative forward.

However, there are still gems to be found, and it certainly seems as if answers lie ahead for who or what is behind the strange Griffins and Gargoyles game, even if we don't get them just yet.

Image courtesy of IMDb

 Another week, another strange mess of storylines for Riverdale season 3. It's not that the stories this year aren't interesting, but the show can't seem to fully find its direction this year. Between the farm, Griffins and Gargoyles, Archie being in jail and now Veronica opening a speakeasy, there's just too much going on and the storylines don't seem to be coming together in any cohesive way, making everything feel a little disjointed.

Things do seem to show a hint of coming together with the Farm and the Griffins and Gargoyles game, though at least not in any meaningful way this week.

Still, our number one detective team, Betty and Jughead, finally make a breakthrough, with Jughead realising that any game has to have a rulebook (seriously, it took you guys this long?).

Anyway, this revelation leads them to Ethel Muggs and Evelyn Evernever as the two seem to have become weirdly close after Ethel's seizure. This particular duo is making me very nervous and I'm pretty sure that nothing good can come of the two of them hanging out together.

Jug and Betty take a divide and conquer strategy, which leads to Jug playing G&G with Ethel and Betty hanging out with Evelyn and the Farm. It's safe to say that Jug's outing is slightly more productive than Betty's as he does retrieve the rulebook from Ethel.

But I have to say that their game in the bunker is one of the creepiest things I've ever seen on this show and that is saying something!

Jug has to kiss Ethel in order to get the rulebook and I don't think that's going to go down well with Betty, as well as being an image that I will have to work very hard to forget.

Not as much as the shot of FP and Alice post coital, however juxtaposed with Jughead and Betty in a very similar position at the start of the episode. Whoever thought of that, just wow. Wow.

Betty's interrogation of the Farm crashes and burns pretty fast. Evelyn Evernever (who looks weirdly similar to Ethel Muggs, they could quite easily be related) isn't willing to give anything up and Betty gets so infuriated about her mother giving up all the Cooper family secrets to the Farm that she storms out.

She nearly has another seizure in the process, (although somehow she stops it, I'm not really sure that Riverdale knows how seizures work) before getting anything good.

Evelyn insists that no one at The Farm knew about G&G before coming to Riverdale, but if the G&G storyline & The Farm really have nothing to do with each other, then what's the point? I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but there's definitely more than Evelyn is admitting to.

Alice later confronts Betty about her outburst, and rather cruelly tells her that she trusts her Farm buddies more than her own daughter. It's clear there is a lot more to the story than Alice is willing to admit, as shown by her and FP's confrontation of their kids later in the episode, but Riverdale isn't willing to give up that secret just yet. 

Meanwhile, Veronica, with some encouragement from Betty opens her speakeasy (yes it's as annoying as it sounds to hear them referring to what is essentially a non-alcoholic club as a speakeasy) with the most obnoxious and Veronica-like name ever, La Bonne Nuit.

Whilst the speakeasy storyline does make for some brilliant outfits and a chance for Josie to show off her vocal chops with a sultry rendition of Anything Goes, it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the episode.

Despite that, it was actually weirdly the most enjoyable part of the episode for me! Veronica seems to win this week's round of Veronica vs Hiram (with the help of Cheryl and Toni) but there is definitely something up with that painting he gave her. I bet it's a camera. Time will tell whether I'm right or not. 

Archie's storyline is once again the weakest of the bunch, and much like Veronica's, it doesn't really fit with the rest of the episode. Archie is recruited to join the Riverdale juvie's version of Fight Club, in the warden's attempt to make him the new Mad Dog, which let's face it, was yet another excuse for Riverdale to show off Archie shirtless (not that anyone is complaining).

It seems as if the writers have run out of ideas of what to do with Archie, as his turn as Rocky this week is a fun placeholder, but doesn't add much to the overall narrative. Honestly, I couldn't care less about his planned jailbreak, there are much more exciting things going on in Riverdale than Archie Andrews at the moment.

The third episode of this season of Riverdale was probably the most uneven so far, with all the disparate storylines not really coming together in one cohesive narrative.

Still, the cliffhanger that the episode is left on may be the best one yet, with Ethel Muggs praying to the Gargoyle King and copies of the G&G rulebook being left in everyone at Riverdale High's locker. With the much touted Breakfast Club episode of Riverdale coming up in two weeks' time, it seems like the only way is up for Riverdale!

Riverdale Season 3 is streaming on Netflix on Thursdays, with the next new episode on November 8th.

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