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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 6)

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With two weeks between the last episode and this one, the pressure was on for "Manhunter" to be yet another great episode. However, sadly, the episode didn't quite rise to the occasion, with an episode that somehow manages to be both crammed and lacklustre at the same time. 

Image credit: Netflix 

We pick up roughly where we left off in the last episode, with the town finding out about the Warden's suicide and Archie hidden in the bunker after his escape. I have to admit, that after such an action-packed episode, it was a little bit disappointing to come back to just business like usual.

This episode is very much a set-up episode, leading into the last few episodes before the mid-season break. A large portion of the episode follows Betty's investigations into the Gargoyle King and to be honest, it got kind of frustrating, because it felt like we were going around in circles. I get that this was kind of the point, because Betty was equally frustrated by the evasiveness of the Parents of Riverdale, but it wasn't the most enjoyable thing to watch from a viewer's perspective. The biggest revelation we get from Betty's investigations is that Dilton Doily's father (remember the kid who died like five episodes back? No me either.) whose death was originally considered a suicide was actually murder via Oleander poisoning. The prime suspect is, of course, Penelope Blossom - but naturally she denies having anything to do with it. 

Meanwhile, Veronica spends the episode trying to clear Archie's name. Somehow in one episode, she manages to find evidence that Archie's mother and Mayor McCoy totally miss, working out that the taped confessions which incriminated Archie were missing footage and on discovery of this footage, that those confessions were coerced. It kind of seems like a rookie mistake that two lawyers would miss something like that and a 17-year-old could spot it in ten minutes, but you know, Riverdale logic. She ends up briefly in jail for her efforts - but who cares, Archie is exonerated.

Of course, to pay her back for her efforts, Archie breaks up with her. Seriously, Veronica deserves so much better than Archie. Now, granted, he actually does it for a logical reason - Hiram won't stop hunting him if he's still with Veronica - but still, it does feel like kind of a slap in the face after everything she has done for him in the last few weeks. It is a surpisingly moving scene, and Camila Mendes does a great job with it.

Once again, Archie was back to seriously irritating me this week. Not content to lay low in the bunker like any sensible fugitive, he naturally has to go out and do his own digging, thinking that a baseball cap is a sensible disguise. He makes stupid decision after stupid decision, attempting to hunt down the kids who confessed against him to the police, only to find them dead, probably killed on Hiram Lodge's orders. Ever the martyr, of course Archie blames himself, leaving town without saying goodbye to anyone, even his own father. I know Archie thinks he's doing what's best, but I can't help but think that his leaving is just going to blow up in his face. 

Jughead is naturally also invovled in Betty's investigations into the Gargoyle King, but whilst she tackles the parents, he follows Joaquin to try and find out more about the gang of Gargoyles who were under Warden Norton. His interrogation of Joaquin reveals that Archie was intended to be some sort of sacrifice and that Norton was taking orders from a man in a black suit, whom Jughead assumes to be Hiram Lodge. 

Hiram is naturally incredibly evasive when Jughead questions him, and points to the other men of Riverdale who were in the Midnight Club as possible subjects. I have to admit that, after this week, I'm pretty convinced that Hiram has something to do with the Gargoyle King - if he's not him, then he definitely knows who is and could potentially be controlling that person. The fact that Joaquin is found dead with the sacrifice tattoo on his head just after Jughead confronts Hiram cannot be sheer coincidence. I'm hoping that the next few episodes will shed more light on this.

Betty's investigations hit a bit of a roadblock when in the most exciting part of the episode, she confronts her ever evasive mother about her discoveries and the two are attacked by the Gargoyle King. They escape to Betty's room, only to find the bones of Daryl Doiley and a headstone with his name crossed out and Betty and Alice's name on it. It was the first time this season that I actually found the Gargoyle King scary, so props to the writers for that.

The conclusion to the episode finds Betty being taken to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy as her mother comes to the long-obvious conclusion that the Cooper house is no longer safe. I mean, I would have thought she'd work that out after the Black Hood turned out to be Betty's father, but you know, better late than never. Committing your daughter to an asylum is incredibly cold, but it's not as if this is the first time Alice Cooper has done this. It turns out that the asylum is also involved in G&G, however, and with Jughead leaving town with Archie, it doesn't look like there is anyone to protect Betty this time. 

With only two episodes left to go till the mid-season break, Riverdale certainly seems to be amping up the drama, but hopefully the next two episodes will be less messy than this one. 

Riverdale Season 3 is streaming on Netflix with new episodes available on Thursdays.

 

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