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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 7)


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The latest offering from Riverdale's third season was its worst one yet.

It might've seemed as though, after the triumphs of "The Midnight Club" and "The Great Escape", Riverdale was on the way up - but after a less than stellar sixth episode, the seventh hit new lows with the most boring episode the show has turned in yet this season.

With the midseason finale coming up next week, I was expecting things to be building to an exciting climax and instead.... well, they fizzled out.

Image credit: Robert Falconer // © 2018 The CW Network, LLC.

This episode of Riverdale split the gang up into three mini stories, which seemed like a decent enough way to review the episode - as it did feel like we were watching three separate stories this week, with very little cohesiveness between them. 

The first story concerned Archie and Jughead. Newly on the run, Archie decides that of course, the creepy farmhouse they come across is the perfect place to lay low for a while. 'Cause there's nothing that can go wrong with staying at a creepy farm, right? The rest of their story mostly consists of Archie making normal Archie-level bad decisions, particularly pertaining to Laurie Lake, one of the girls living on the farm, whom Archie naturally hooks up with less than five minutes after arriving... and not long after breaking up with Veronica. 

Whilst a shirtless Archie is hauling haybales in order to impress Laurie, Jughead gets down to some serious detective work, and heads into the creepy town to find answers. He discovers a group of teens playing G&G and enjoying the recreational drug "Fizzle Rocks" (the names for drugs in Riverdale get progressively more ridiculous). He learns that all the men in town have been sent to build a prison/Fizzle Rocks lab for the mysterious "Man In Black". Wonder who that could be....

Yup, it doesn't take anyone, least of all Jughead, long to work out that the most likely suspect for the "Man In Black" is none other than Riverdale's creepiest resident, Hiram Lodge. Jughead spots Hiram on his return to the farm and quickly goes to find Archie... who is tied up in the barn. It turns out that you shouldn't trust the pretty stranger, because she'll hit you in the head with a frying pan and turn you over to your ex-girlfriend's father. 

Archie finds new ways to exasperate me each week, this week he's insisting he can kill Hiram - dude you can't even come up with a half decent disguise, there's no way that you're going to get away with murder. Luckily Jughead talks him out of it, and the two escape, heading to see Jughead's family in Toledo. I'm hoping that next week's instalment of the Archie/Jughead adventures is more exciting, because this week's was seriously dull. No one asked for or needed Archie and Jughead's little detour to the farm, and it really added nothing to the overall storyline, other than the reveal that Hiram is doing something shady - which you already know, duh.

Veronica's storyline this week saw her regressing in the wake of her breakup with Archie. She moves out of her fancy penthouse and into the speakeasy below Pops. Naturally Veronica's alcohol-free speakeasy is not doing so well, so she decides to set up a casino, with help from her shady friend Elio. Thus proceeds a night of gambling, which really added nothing to the episode other than I guess some glamorous outfits. V gambles with the mortgage to Pops when it looks as if her shady friend is going to stiff her, and it pays off - she wins big. It all turns out to be a ploy planned by Veronica and her father so that she would win and honestly, I'm not really sure what the point of this storyline was. It didn't further the Gargoyle King storyline, it didn't really have anything to do with Hiram's shady dealings, and aside from a potential new romance with Reggie, there wasn't much interest in at all. I do usually enjoy Veronica's storylines, but I have to say, I think this one was a bit of a misfire.

We finally get to the only part of the story I actually cared about this week: Betty. Following on from last week's cliffhanger, we find Betty in the Sisters of Quiet Mercy asylum. Betty's internal monologue as she plots her escape from the asylum was the most entertaining part of a rather pedestrian episode, though I had to admit, I was a little distracted as the asylum uniform reminded me very much of the outfits the midwives wear in Call The Midwife

Anyway, it seems as if the asylum is also tied into Hiram Lodge's Fizzle Rocks business, and ever the intrepid detective, Betty is determined to get to the bottom of it. We get frustratingly few answers on that front though, as Betty is constantly dogged by one of my least favourite Riverdale residents, Ethel Muggs. Even this part of the episode, the part I was actually looking forward to, was kind of a let down. Betty didn't really get any answers to the pressing questions of the season, and I was a little disappointed at how lame her escape attempt was. Someone as smart as Betty would definitely know that after Cheryl's escape, the nuns wouldn't let anyone do that again - and yet she seems surprised when she finds the exit boarded up and is caught by the nuns and Ethel.

The episode ends with Betty being drugged with Fizzle Rocks and dazed and catatonic, seeming to become a disciple of the Gargoyle King. Time will tell if this is an act or not. 

With the midseason finale coming up next week, I can only hope that Riverdale has something much better in store than what we were given this week.

Riverdale Season 3 is available for streaming on Netflix, with the midseason finale airing on Thursday. 

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