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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 1)


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Riverdale returned for it's third season premiere this week, with a rather more subdued premiere episode than fans are used to (given that the first and second season premieres revolved around a murder and a shooting respectively) and for the most part, like the characters, we are left to play the waiting game as Archie's trial for murder reaches its conclusion.

We pick up Season 3, three months after the end of the second season, as summer is drawing to a close and Archie's trial is reaching its conclusion. True to form, Riverdale isn't really into the whole legal technicalities thing, as Archie's mother also acts as his lawyer.

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

Now I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure that's a conflict of interest and would not be allowed in a real court. Still it means the welcome return of Molly Ringwald as Archie's mother Mary, and in terms of the unrealistic stuff that goes on in this episode, this is really just the tip of the iceberg, so I'll let it slide.

In terms of storylines, the season 3 premiere was incredibly disjointed. We have Archie and the court drama, then we have a whole Serpents subplot that seems kind of redundant other than to show Betty and Cheryl now being a part of the Serpents.

There's the introduction of a new mystery in the form of the Gargoyle King and then we have the whole Polly/Alice cult thing. I was hoping that season 3 might have been a return to season 1, with more simple and less outlandish storylines, but we're only one episode in and it certainly seems like that's not going to be the case!

There's a lot for shippers to be happy about this episode, with Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty going away for one last weekend of fun whilst awaiting the verdict of Archie's trial (because apparently in Riverdale, judges are A-OK with on trial murderers going off on a joyride with their friends for the weekend, but I digress) and both sharing romantic moments.

Whilst Veronica and Archie's heart to heart by the fire was nice, the scene with Betty and Jughead took the cake for me, with the gloriously sweet scene of Betty wearing Jughead's hat melting even my cynical heart.

The whole Serpent story, whilst ultimately redundant, did give us the joy of getting to see Cheryl the archer (who knew? Also Cheryl did not get anywhere near enough screentime this episode, her stunner of an entrance in that red Serpents jacket may have been my favourite part) and a super cute dog, in the form of Hot Dog (I'll be honest, I didn't even realise that the Serpents had a mascot).

But ultimately, the showdown between Jughead and Penny Peabody is rather cringey, as was Betty's "the Serpent Queen is also a Warrior Queen". It does set the stage for more conflict in the season, but I have to admit, the whole Ghoulies/Serpent fued is feeling a bit tired now.

In a turn of events that pretty much everyone could have predicted, Archie's martyr complex reaches its peak this episode as he immediately pleads guilty and gets sent to juvie after the jury's decision comes back hung (which how, the prosecution had barely any evidence? But there you go, more Riverdale logic).

I get that Archie made a lot of bad decisions last season, but this is not the way to atone for them. Still, Archie going to jail does open up the door for a lot of new storylines, so I am cautiously optimistic with how this storyline will proceed.

Everything takes a turn for the creepy by the end of the episode, as Betty collapses and has what looks to be a seizure after watching a weird ritual by her mum and sister that somehow involves floating babies (okay....).

There's a high chance that this is related to Betty's Adderall addiction, developed as a method to avoid dealing with the whole "my father is a murderer" thing, but this is Riverdale, so it could definitely be something more outlandish! 

The Gargoyle King part, I have to admit kind of confused me, it seems to be some kind of satanic, ritual, Dungeons and Dragons type game except in real life, but it has the potential to be a decent mystery and I look forward to seeing it expanded on in the rest of the season.

Overall, the opening episode showed that Riverdale Season 3 has potential, but it was somewhat bloated and slow for an opening episode, with all the exciting stuff really happening in the last ten minutes.

Still, it was an entertaining enough season premiere, with lots of potential for future greatness in the rest of the season and I, for one, can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store! 

Riverdale Season 3 is streaming on Netflix, with new episodes coming every Thursday.

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