This review contains spoilers for seasons two and three of “Riverdale.”
Arguably one of the the most popular teenage shows to have come out in the last decade, “Riverdale” has had a very successful first two seasons, earning ratings that went beyond what was predicted. Now, it’s time to see what new direction the story of Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead decides to take with “Labor Day,” the premiere of the third season.
Season two of “Riverdale” ended with the shocking arrest of Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) for murder and the even more shocking revelation that Betty Cooper’s (Lili Reinhart) dad, Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro), was the serial killer known as the Black Hood. Season three picks up exactly right after the previous left off.
The episode starts out with Archies’ trial. His mother, who is also his lawyer, makes a demanding effort to make sure her son stays out of prison as an innocent man. However, the jury was deadlocked and the judge was about to issue a re-trial.
Archie eventually ends up pleading guilty for a lesser sentence — however, the whole trial just seems ridiculous. It’s strongly hinted that Veronica Lodge’s (Camila Mendes) father Hiram Lodge, who is now mortal enemies with Archie, was the one who had him arrested. However, Hiram has no influence over the mayor or the police force anymore, so the whole arrest seems incredibly inconsistent from the show. This is an issue “Riverdale” has always had a problem with.
The episode then moves on to Polly and Alice Cooper (Betty’s mom and sister) enjoying some peace and quiet after spending some time together at the farm where Polly ran away to. Alice seems very relaxed and serene in a very odd way, not seeming like her normal self. As the story progresses, it appears that Polly and Alice have not only joined a new community but also a dangerous cult which bears a strong resemblance to known real-life religious group called Heaven's Gate. It also appears they’ve been brainwashed by the cult leader, Edgar Evernever. At first this seemed a little too on the nose and a little too crazy to start mixing in a cult into the mythology of the Riverdale series. Surprisingly, it actually works. The show was already dark and gritty and this idea of a cult really elevates the whole tone.
Eventually the tone elevates to its peak once the new villain of this season is introduced. The new enemy the Archie gang has to face this time around is known as the Gargoyle King. He is a cloaked, horned demon with wings that are made of twisted tree branches who is inspired by a role-playing game Dilton Doiley (Major Curda) plays with his friend Ben (Moses Thiessen). They go nuts for it and they even show up at Jughead Jones’ (Cole Sprouse) trailer to rave about the new game. However, things take a sudden turn when they’re found in the woods stripped to their underwear with letters carved into their backs, with the Gargoyle King now being the prime suspect.
This new villain is a lot more theatrical compared to last season’s Black Hood. There’s a unique, hypnotic and horrifying aura the King gives off that will certainly be a contributing factor to keep fans watching. However, other than this, the season is off to a weak start.
The rest of the season premiere is old news. Veronica is feuding with her father, there is a war between the two local gangs known as the Serpents and the Ghoulies and a lot of the drama that was produced in season two still seems to be happening in this season. There really isn’t anything fresh or new being introduced this season and it’s very frustrating since “Riverdale” has been very ambitious in the past.
Maybe that will change further down the line. Maybe season three will be nothing what fans are expecting it to be. Maybe I’m just expecting too much so early in the season. It’s a new season and I expect an introduction to a different storyline, but “Riverdale” has just reused past scripts and scribbled out certain characters to make it seem like the writers actually know what they’re doing.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | firstname.lastname@example.org