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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 21)


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The penultimate episode of Riverdale Season 3, "The Dark Secret of Harvest House" was dropping reveals all over the place, in a stuffed episode which was both exciting and showed how little groundwork the writers had laid for the finale, because it seems impossible that all the reveals introduced in this week's episode will be resolved by the end of next week's hour.

Riverdale 3x21

Image Credit: © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

We pick up where the episode left off last week, after the Prom Night from hell, or as Jughead describes it in another of his dry, self-referential monologues, "the deadliest Prom Night since Carrie". Jughead and FP meet with the coroner to confirm that Hal Cooper, aka Black Hood, is in fact alive and apparently cut off his own hand.

Betty meanwhile has now been roped into Farm life, and is barely given time to settle into her room before her mum and sister drop a bomb on her. Apparently Betty was born with the serial killer genes, MAOA & CDH13 which give you a predisposition to violent behaviour (look it up, it's a real thing, though the likelihood Betty would be affected by low functioning MAOA is low considering it is an X linked gene which makes it much harder for women to inherit as we have two X chromosomes compared to the one in men. Also, the link between MAOA and serial killers is very tenuous as it has been found in people who aren't serial killers as well). So the likelihood is, the Coopers and Edgar are lying to Betty in order to manipulate her.

Betty agrees to some creepy therapy from Edgar (never a good idea) which involves hypnosis with weird metal balls and she basically confronts her "darker self" in a basement. It's all very weird and creepy, but the hypnosis is one of the keys to helping Betty discover what the Farm is actually up to, so it does serve a purpose. 

At lunch with Cheryl, Toni, Fangs and Kevin, Betty learns that the Farm carries out "purging" using physical pain to combat psychological pain. Fangs is still recovering from a "procedure" and Kevin reveals a massive scar on his torso from his own. After confirming that Edgar's hypnosis is in fact just that, by blocking her ears during her next session and needing to find proof to convince her friends, Betty discovers that Evelyn, Edgar's wife/pseudo daughter is on immunosuppressants....from an organ transplant. 

Naturally, because we've all learned The Farm is terrible about hiding their shady activities (I mean how easy was it for Betty to get those files?), she discovers the contents of the Farm's "Harvest Program", in the infirmary.

She brings an iced heart to Cheryl, which is all she needs to be convinced to escape. The two set out to rescue Toni who is the next person set for a procedure, but the escape doesn't quite go to plan. Cheryl provides a distraction for Toni, which allows her to get out, but leaves Cheryl and Betty both stuck there. Betty ends the episode in the operating room, screaming as she is put under for a "procedure".

The Farm reveal is naturally the biggest draw of this episode, but we do get some movement on the Gargoyle King plot as well. Whilst his girlfriend is risking death, Jughead follows the trail left by the envelope Betty received at Prom, to find the Gargoyle King. This leads him to Ethel, who in exchange for helping her track down one of the "Lost Boys" (kids who play G&G), reveals the identity of the Gargoyle King: Jason Blossom! Who is, you know, dead. But apparently not as dead as we thought because when Jughead digs up his grave, he finds: an empty coffin. I don't know exactly where this will lead, because we all saw Jason die, but I'm excited about this new twist in the plot.

The rest of the episode is taken up by yes, you guessed it, yet more Archie boxing. However, at least they actually managed to find a legitimate purpose that tied in with the story this time (though it is still kind of out of place). Hiram is plotting to privatize the entire town of Riverdale, and in order to stop him, Veronica needs to get proof of all the illegal goings-on at the speakeasy (which her dad is liable for, since he owns the place). In order to do this, Archie challenges Hiram to a boxing match, which is really a cover that allows the FBI to raid the speakeasy & discover the illegal betting on the match going on. The feds show up to the match, arrest Hiram and in an incredibly satisfying scene at the Riverdale jail, Veronica finally gets her win. 

It seems like the scheme to take down Hiram, and a little chat with his mum gives Archie the push to get back together with Veronica, but he's a little late, she's already rekindling things with Reggie, who also helped pull of the Hiram scheme. Honestly, I am so done with Veronica's love life, compared to everything else happening in this episode, it was pretty small potatoes.

With only one episode left of the season, it's definitely going to be a race to the finish to get all the threads of this season wrapped up, and it does seem like the writers have left themselves too much to do. One thing's for sure though, it's going to be an exciting finale!

Riverdale Season 3 is available now on Netflix, with the season finale airing next Thursday. 

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