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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 8)

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Riverdale's mid-season finale, "Outbreak" clearly aimed to be exciting - and in parts it was, but it was also ultimately incredibly confusing and offered more questions than it did answers.

Image credit: Katie Yu // © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. 

 

The episode dives straight into the action, with the Vixens strutting down the hallway at Riverdale High, only to be struck down with seizures, with the exception of Cheryl. It had seemed previously as if Evelyn Evernever might have been behind the seizures, but there has never been this many at once, so I have to admit I'm kind of stumped as to how this could be happening.

Following the seizures, Cheryl takes Toni back to the Blossom mansion to recover and in a very sweet, if kind of cheesy scene, invites her beau to move in with her. I hope that we get to see more sweet moments between the pair in the latter half of the season, because it is nice to have a little normality in Riverdale sometimes.

Meanwhile, in the Lodge house, Hermione and Hiram are plotting to get Veronica out of town after her seizure. Veronica naturally refuses, and whilst I understand she wants to uncover what her parents are up to, I think if I had the chance to escape all the creepy things going on in Riverdale, I would do it. 

Reggie, Veronica and Cheryl team up to try and uncover what is going on with Hiram's Fizzle Rocks business, and watching Cheryl and Veronica work together was probably my favourite part of the episode, especially their maple syrup interrogation of Penelope. I hope the writing team gives Veronica and Cheryl more scenes together in the back half of the season, because Camila and Madeleine bounce really well off each other. 

The PTA gather to discuss the future of Riverdale High after the mass seizure, which Veronica and Cheryl crash to share their newfound information about Hiram's business ventures. Of course the parents brush them off but just as they are about to leave, Penelope has a seizure. This is the first time any of the adult characters has suffered from one, but there doesn't seem to be any obvious link between the seizures, so I'm baffled as to how Riverdale is going to explain them.

Meanwhile, back at the asylum, Betty is out from under the Gargoyle King's spell (aka the drugs have worn off) and back to plotting at her escape. I was glad to see Betty back on form this week, and thoroughly enjoyed watching her and Ethel work together to plan their escape and their plan to convince the other patients to escape was clever, if a little weird.

After filling Veronica in on her newfound knowledge about Hiram's business dealings and interrogating Sister Woodhouse for more information, Betty, Ethel and the other patients stroll out of the asylum... easy as that, or it would have been, until Betty's mother shows up to tell them about the quarantine. 

Away from Riverdale, Archie and Jughead arrive at Jughead's mother's garage. There is understandable tension between Jughead and his mother since she rejected his request to come and live with her, and I hope this is explored more in future episodes as Riverdale has yet to really go into what happened with Jughead's family. I particularly loved his little sister Jellybean (stupid name aside) - her feisty persona and tween crush on Archie were very endearing. 

Naturally, the happy reunion doesn't last long, as Penny Peabody tracks down Archie on orders from Hiram. Jellybean knocks her out with her slingshot (it's the Riverdale universe, kids use slingshots) and Penny interrogates her. There is a price on Archie's head and anyone who helps him, which forces Jughead and Archie to separate, Archie is taken to the Northern border by his Dad and Jughead and FP head back to Riverdale.

The goodbye scene between Archie and his dad was surprisingly touching and I have to admit that I nearly cried when he brought out the dog, Vegas, so that Archie wouldn't be on his own.

Back in Riverdale, following their interrogation of Penelope, Veronica and Cheryl storm Hermione's office in an attempt to stop Hermione from shutting down Riverdale High, but they are too late, she has already declared a state of emergency and quarantined the town. 

FP and Jughead return to Riverdale, only to find that they are not allowed in because of the quarantine. The episode ends with Hiram in his office, raising a glass to the Gargoyle King.

I'm unsure what to make of this episode. There were definitely parts I liked, but for a midseason finale, I was hoping for more answers rather than more questions. It's still unclear whether the Gargoyle King is real or a hallucination, I'm still not entirely sure what Hiram's endgame of causing all this trouble is, and I have no idea how Betty and her mother are meant to get all those girls to safety.

Still, it's certainly setting up for some exciting episodes for when the show returns in January and I'm intrigued to see what happens next.

Riverdale returns with new episodes streaming on Netflix on Thursday January 17th.

 

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