Title: Riverdale: “No Exit” Review
Air Date: January 16th, 2019
Network: The CW
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Riverdale is the best worst show on TV right now. It is a beautiful weekly car crash that you can’t turn away from. The show has collapsed under its own weight of storytelling so many times that it has practically created a black hole.
…and I can’t get enough.
Archie comics was built on Archie and co. being a tight-knit group of high schoolers with relatable high school problems. This series has strayed a bit from the formula.
The current state of affairs after 2.5 seasons of Riverdale:
- The town of Riverdale is under a government-sanctioned quarantine.
- Archie has escaped to a cabin in the woods to find himself and avoid Veronica’s dad.
- Betty became the Griffin Queen and freed a ton of kids from a home for troubled youth. The kids now reside in her living room.
- Jughead is the leader of the Southside Serpents.
- Veronica runs an underground speakeasy club (at 17!) who is constantly at odds with her kingpin dad, Hiram Lodge.
This review will stray a bit from the standard The Nerd Stash format. I want to showcase the absurdity of the Riverdale dialogue pulled from each scene because just telling you how crazy it is doesn’t do the script justice.
‘the cryptofascists you (A high school ROTC) are’
Cheryl and her girlfriend, Toni, are now very successful cat burglars. This storyline has never been established nor have that they shown they are good at breaking into places. I don’t know where this came from.
‘Hell, even your mocktails are selling out tonight’
Reggie and Veronica talk about the success of Riverdale’s hottest under-21 club while Josie sings in the background. If there is ever a clip to show the absurdity of the show, it’s this one.
‘Tyler, where did you get the fizzle rocks?’
Betty finds fizzle rocks, the choice drug of Riverdale, with the unwanted children she has taken in and confronts them. They admit they got the drugs from the Southside Serpents, but won’t give a name. Jughead and Betty try to make sense of Hiram Lodge and who might be selling the fizzle rocks from the Southside Serpents.
‘There are bear sightings, be vigilant’
Archie is going to fight a bear. I know it.
‘Once daddy reviews these well-cooked books…’
Reggie is jumped by the Gargoyle Gang and reports back to Veronica at the speakeasy. Veronica lets Reggie know she has a plan to get protection from her father for cheap by cooking the books. Pops is also in the background of the shot. He doesn’t do anything in the scene nor is he even acknowledged. Still, it’s nice to see him.
*Bear attacking sound effect*
I knew it. Archie fought a bear.
‘I’ve been attacked..by a grizzly’
Riverdale comes back to commercial with Archie coming into the cabin covered in blood. We never see the bear, but it’s The CW so I’m not surprised. They also managed to get Archie shirtless. As is the tradition. He passes out from his wounds.
‘I’m their Griffin Queen’
Betty struggles to find a way to pin anything on Hiram Lodge. The nuns who are supposed to speak out against Hiram have taken a vow of silence and will not go on record. While her headaches mount with pinning Hiram for wrongdoing, the kids living in her living room are losing faith in her.
‘New Coat, New Capos, you’re walking tall these days’
To be fair, Hiram Lodge does have a dope new coat at his meeting with Veronica as they discuss protection possibilities for the speakeasy club.
‘They were from your father’s gang weren’t they?’
Josie tells Veronica and Reggie that she is intimidated by the Gargoyle Gang. Veronica agreed to protection in the previous scene, so it comes as a surprise to her and Reggie.
‘Ok, as your Griffin Queen I promise to keep you safe’
This storyline really is the gift that keeps on giving. The Farm, which has been shrouded in mystery since the season premiere, offers to take on all of the unwanted children from Betty. Her sister talks down on Betty’s ability to keep them safe and wants the unwanted children to go to The Farm.
‘My mom’s sick. You know she’s got treatments we can’t pay for’
Fangs is confronted by the Jones boys. We are then treated to the nugget of information that his mom has cancer? Never mentioned or hinted at before this episode. This is just…ugh. Heavy-handed in all the worst ways and a cheap, quick way to try and gain sympathy.
‘This egg is worth more than the GPD of a bunch of countries’
Can’t make it up at this point. Cheryl and Toni break into the Lodge’s apartment and steal an egg. I’m not sure how the cat burglar angle is going to end up, but I hope it sticks around.
‘If you ever want to return to Eldervair, you are going to have to play and win’
Archie dreams that the kids who were killed due to his bad decision making are playing a game of G&G in his cabin. They assign him a quest. After each quest, Archie comes back and is met with a new cast of G&G players from his past. Considering that this storyline was a foundation of the episode, it was an overall dud. It wasn’t abstract enough to be interesting and nothing moved forward from it. Everything ‘revealed’ was already known if you followed the show, so I’m not quite sure what was gained from the storyline.
‘One of your serpent school chums stole it’
Veronica’s cooking books plot has been found out, but now she has to find the egg that was stolen from the Lodge apartment. Jughead revitalizes the Serpent’s economy by finding a middle ground with Veronica. The Serpents will now provide protection to Veronica’s speakeasy so she no longer has to deal with her dad. All he needs to do is get the egg back from Cheryl and Toni. I’m not sure how much protection a speakeasy full of high schoolers needs because the Serpents are like 25 deep. There is no way Veronica can pay all of them and still make a profit selling mocktails. But I digress…
‘Fangs told SweetPea who told me’
Heavy is the head that wears the crown as Jughead is forced to make some big decisions. As he is kicking Cheryl and Toni out of the gang, they quickly reveal that they heard Fangs was selling drugs on the side. Their revelation was sudden and unexpected. Not in a surprised fun way, but more in a ‘this episode was 4 minutes too long so they had to turn the Fang’s scene into one line of dialogue to clean up the plotline’ kind of way.
*Veronica sings for some reason*
Uhm, ok? The song goes on as we see the buildup of Veronica and Reggie’s relationship now culminating in a kiss. For how snarky I am about Riverdale, they did a nice job of building the Veronica and Reggie couple. Their relationship has grown steadily through every episode of season 3. In a show that struggles with subtlety, the Veronica and Reggie relationship is a breath of fresh air because it has organically sprouted from fun side conversations and looks of pure joy for each other’s successes.
‘It would be an honor’
Fangs has a secret meeting with the Jones boys and SweetPea. They concoct a plan to have Fangs go undercover with the Gargoyle Gang. This new seed of story could blossom into something interesting. The Gargoyle Gang started as a myth and has now devolved into a standard gang. It is still going to be fun to see what the inner workings look like and what weird moments can come from the Gargoyle Gang.
‘We go to join thee’
Betty has seen more dead bodies than any 17-year-old should ever have to see. The former mayor, now lawyer, calls Betty to tell her that the nuns have posted bail and left a cryptic note ‘We go to join thee.’ Betty instantly knows what the message means and goes to the Gargoyle King’s temple to find that all of the nuns have committed suicide with the blue drink that has taken others throughout the season.
Oh, and Archie is apparently dead.
Verdict: Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica all have separate but equally weighty storylines coming out of the midseason break. Aside from Archie’s dud of a spiritual quest, the rest of the storylines were different and interesting as they all circle the drain for the same common goal. It feels like a bit of too much of a slow burn for certain parts of early season 3 (The Farm, G&G), but there are more than enough quotable moments to make me come back for another week.
- The main crew (Jughead, Betty, Veronica) aside from Archie all seem to be hitting their stride with character arcs and stories.
- Cheryl continues to get the best and most ridiculous lines
- Archie needs to come back to Riverdale asap. His character struggles when put into new settings.
- I know the fun of Riverdale is the absurdity of the situations, but they really need to clean up some of their plot holes and inconsistencies.
Max spends most of his days writing and trying to figure out if the Spawn game on Dreamcast was real or just a weird fever dream