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'Riverdale' Season 3 Review

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'Riverdale' promotional art.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

Production and Character Notes

Riverdale is a teen drama television series based on the characters of Archie Comics. The series was adapted for The CW by Archie Comics' chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and is produced by Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios, in association with Berlanti Productions and Archie Comics.

The series features an ensemble cast based on the characters of Archie Comics, with KJ Apa in the role of Archie Andrews; Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, the series' narrator, and Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom.

Season 3 of Riverdale consist of 22 episodes.

Disappointing Follow-Up

We've come a long way from Archie Andrews worrying about what song to sing, to him possibly being framed for murder. Man oh man, season 3 of Riverdale really struggled.

I thought the execution was poor. There are twists and turns, but so much of it doesn't work. I didn't think it was awful. I actually really enjoyed the first three or so episodes, but from there the series really goes downhill. It just drives right off a cliff and never fully recovers. Again, not awful, but at times it comes very close.

Some of the choices they make are real head-scratchers. There were so many face-palming moments. I'm positive if you were to watch the full season back to back you'd get a concussion by the mid-season finale.

It felt like every good idea was run into the ground. They even managed to destroy the half-decent ones. The Gargoyle King was cool and intriguing until he wasn't. G&G was cool until it became stupid, and Fizzle Rocks were cool until they too became stupid. Even Archie and his boxing "subplot" became stale. The "Farm" is also geeky victim to this. It was cool then it got ran into the ground and became annoying. They even mess up some of the old stuff. I personally really loved The Serpents from the first season. On the outside they were a gang of criminals, by on the inside they represented a family in a broken neighborhood. Now they're practically irrelevant. A lot of the original characters that I loved were also very irrelevant and just seem to be hanging around.

There was a ton of filler in this season. I found a lot of the episodes to be pretty pointless. The opening recap, Jughead's narration, and the last 2 minutes were the only real thing of value. It felt like they tried their hardest to make sure they had 22 episodes. Even if it meant filling the season with a ton of pointless junk. I'm positive it would have been ten times better if they would have cut it down to maybe 13 episodes.

The season also really struggled to gain and build up momentum. The first few episodes were good, but then it goes downhill. It picks back up for an episode or two, but only to go right back down. It does this throughout the entirety of the season. Consistency was hard to come by.

Fortunately, season 3 of Riverdale has its moments. Great moments in fact. Moments I loved, but they were so few and far and between. I thought it was just enough to make season 3 OK, but nothing more. In fact, it only barely manages to be that. It really struggles at times, but it's also great at times.

As a whole, this season comes off as a shadow of its former self, but still manages to be good enough, even if it's just OK.

Promotional art for 'Riverdale' Season 3.

Promotional art for 'Riverdale' Season 3.

Great Acting, Weak Character Development

I thought the acting was great. It seems to be one of the few things they actually carried over from the first season. The entire returning cast was great, and I also really enjoyed the new editions (acting). However, I did think a lot of the characters were wasted. With the exception of the main four, a lot of the characters get tossed aside.

Madeline Petsch and Mädchen Amick never really get to show off their great acting. Both are great actresses that I have loved throughout the series, but here, they're just left out to dry.

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There were also plenty of characters that just get left behind. Josie was relevant maybe twice. Kevin gets a subplot, but it doesn't go anywhere. Toni was just there. I'm pretty sure the writers forgot about Sweat Pea. Alice Cooper just kinda hangs around. F. P. Jones was important for a few episodes, then he too just hangs around. Luke Perry (unfortunately passed away) is just pushed to the sidelines as well.

It's not even to make room for new characters. Season 2 misused some of its characters, but it was to make room to introduce new ones. This season had 5 new characters of importance, but they never really explore them. One of them (Ethal) isn't even a mainstay.

I've never seen a cast this talented get wasted. Again great acting, but no one comes close to their potential.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

Poorly-Executed Plotlines

The plot was pretty simple. The Gargoyle King returns to Riverdale, and he reintroduces G&G and Fizzle Rocks. While this is happening Archie is possible going to jail for murder, and Hiram Lodge is still trying to take over Riverdale. Simple enough right?

Well, they twist and turn it so much that they get lost and it eventually collapses on itself. A lot of the season felt like a snake chasing its own tail. Then they clog it up with subplots, most of which don't really work or add anything significant to the story.

They had intriguing ideas and they had interesting stories, but the execution was poor. Everything gets dragged out and run into the ground.

The plot comes off as confused, and the ending comes off as lazy.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

Spoilers

Season 3 picks up right where season 2 left off. Archie is on trial for murder. I really liked these first few episodes. They introduced The Gargoyle King and they had kids dying. I thought it was interesting and I was excited about the season. The only low point for me is when Archie decides to plead guilty to a murder he didn't commit. It felt a little lazy to me, and I didn't think it make a whole lot of sense. The jury was split even so he had a pretty good chance at winning, but decided to plead guilty so his family wouldn't have to deal with the trial. I think it would have been a lot better if they would've just found him guilty. Neither one does anything for Archie's character, but at least the second would have given Hiram some momentum.

Archie then becomes a member of an underground prison fight club and escapes and goes on the run. I didn't mind it. All of it wasn't great, but not all of it was bad. The fight club was fine I guess. I loved the prison break, but I was partial to the fugitive on the run episodes. It's good at first, but like everything else on this show, it gets run into the ground. It was fun at first to see Archie and Jughead on the run together, but it becomes clear very early on that they have no real plans . The only good thing that came out of it was the introduction of Gladys Jones.

I thought from there on the season never quite reaches those heights.

There are some moments that I personally really loved:

  • I really enjoyed the 'Midnight Club' episode.
  • I know it was a little cheesy, but I found it enjoyable and refreshing.
  • I really liked the speech Jughead gave on F.P's birthday.
  • I loved the part where Jughead and Betty decide to burn down Gladys's fizzle rock lab right before going to do a musical.
  • I really liked the end of the episode where Hermione tried to have Hiram killed and she had to tie up loose ends.

Other than that I wouldn't say anything else was exceptionally great.

Betty spends a ton of the season trying to uncover what The Farm really is. I didn't mind that, but the story she had with her mother is one I had a problem with. There was a point in time where I was really annoyed by Betty, and her constantly trying to "rescue" her mother from The Farm.

I had a problem with Archie too. His character turned into something I didn't like, but I can't really explain it. He constantly did this thing where he thought everything was his fault, which annoyed me. He went through this dark faze, but they didn't explore it enough for me.

Veronica also annoyed me quite a bit. She kept going back and forth with Hiram over things I couldn't care less about. Then she defends him multiple times.

Jughead is the only one that didn't annoy me. There was a point where he came close early on when he was playing G&G, but that's it.

  • Cheryl and Toni get a romantic subplot that I really didn't like that much.
  • Kevin and Moose also get one that I actually liked, but then they wrote Moose's character off.
  • Penny Peabody annoyingly kept popping up.
  • Tall Boy makes a pointless return, and for some reason, the Black Hood is still relevant.
  • Oh yeah, there was also time for a Hiram and Hermione divorce subplot.

Wow, season 3 really did struggle, and the finale didn't make it any better. I actually thought it was the worst episode of the season if not the entire show. The only thing interesting about it was Betty's dress.

  • Chic returned and I hated it. I really liked Chic, but him being the Gargoyle King is ridiculous.
  • The Black Hood... Just why.
  • Penelope Blossom being the mastermind behind it all was just bad. It could have been good, but they didn't try to build it up what's so ever. It just comes across as lazy.
  • The Farm's big secret is that they collect organs. They steal kidneys and livers, and they tried to take Betty's brain.
  • This felt like such a missed opportunity. It was like a bad joke, but then it turns out Mr. Eager Evernever (love the name) was digging up bodies.

There are a lot of WTF moments, but they're not good ones. Also, Alice Cooper was actually working with the FBI, and her son's actually alive? Like I said before WTF.

P.S. if they kill off Jughead I'm going to be pissed.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

'Riverdale' promotional art.

Barely Watchable

Riverdale has really gone downhill, but season 3 still manages to be watchable. I mean just barely does it manage to be OK. It barely keeps its head above water. The series is really digging its own grave.

Riverdale season 3 as a whole was OK, and not any better.

Questions & Answers

Question: What episode does Archie return home from the border, and does jughead really die?

Answer: Archie returns home in episode 10 of season 3 (45 in the series). They teased Jughead's death in the season finale.

© 2019 Royce Proctor Jr

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