Title: Riverdale: “The Stranger” Review
Air Date: January 23rd, 2019
Network: The CW
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Previous Riverdale Episode Reviews Below:
Season 3 Ep. 9: “No Exit”
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.
“Archie Andrews has died…at least the Archie we knew”
Weak. A small part of me hoped they would do something drastic and kill Archie, but nope.
“I survived a bear attack, dad”
I’m very surprised at how much they keep going back to the bear attack. Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) and Archie talk over eggs about life and Hiram Lodge. It still blows my mind how well they cast Riverdale. The teen ensemble is all fun and they ham it up every chance they get with the scripts given. The parent ensemble is just as good. The episode periodically goes back to the Archie and Fred relationship as Fred checks on Archie’s mental well-being. Luke Perry is perfect as the concerned dad. He brings an actual softness to the role and with Archie back in town he should hopefully get to appear in more of the season going forward.
“Since when do you drink root beer floats” “New drinks, new hair”
The gang is finally all back together! Veronica does an exposition dump to bring any viewers who forgot Riverdale came back last week up to speed. As they go back and forth about the insane happenings in town, they also focus on the SATs. It is surreal how the show tries to get you to buy into that these kids would care even 1% about the SATs. They haven’t even been to school in what feels like 7 episodes.
“To help support those children that you liberated”
I loved Madchen Amick in Twin Peaks. I love her just as much as Alice Cooper in Riverdale.
“Given your situation, I would strongly recommend you repeat your junior year”
Total WTF moment. Archie disappeared for like…3 months. All 4 of the main characters are part of plots that would make stone cold killers blush, and this writing staff is still trying to work in high school issues. To top it all off, THEY ARE STILL JUNIORS! Knowing they spent a scene establishing how young they are, it makes a future scene very creepy.
“Which means…I have to see my father”
Betty has to go and see her dad in prison. I actually thought he was killed (my wife thought the same thing). I guess we were wrong. Whatever.
“That’s what you said in 2nd grade when you couldn’t read”
I don’t think they ever brought up that Archie struggled in school? What a weird time to bring up that Archie might have a learning disability and struggles in school.
*Veronica sings again*
Veronica throws a surprise party for Archie at her club. To the surprise of no one, she sings to him. In an odd choice, she sings to him in another language. The scene before they established that Archie is a slow learner so there is no way he is bilingual and understanding any part of the song. Archie suffers from PTSD being around a member of the Lodge family and bolts out.
“14 souls he’s taken. Good work.”
Betty and her dad pay homage to Silence of the Lambs for periodic scenes in the episode. Betty’s dad trying to be a methodical serial killer probably contained the worst dialogue of the episode, but there is something actually there in the story. By the fourth scene between the two, I was invested in their new weird relationship.
“You got some pretty big coconuts”
Archie and Reggie are both shirtless. The current Archie shirtless streak now stands at 2 episodes. They have a back and forth that doesn’t really go anywhere. Still, it’s nice to see they aren’t pushing Reggie into the background with Archie being back in Riverdale. I grew to love the Reggie character and actor Charles Melton.
“Fangs Fogarty, kneel before your king”
A legitimately good reveal! Fangs is being brought into the Gargoyle Gang through a secret initiation. The Jones Boys are having none of that and ambush the initiation with the Southside Serpents. The Gargoyle Gang scatters and abandons their leader. Lo and behold, the Gargoyle King (at least this one) is Tall Boy! Remember him!?!? He wasn’t the greatest character in the world of Riverdale, but I’m all for a reveal that took me by surprise and actually made sense. Having both of those in the same moment is quite the task for Riverdale.
“I don’t have time for your ranting Betty”
Betty’s mom is getting ready for an interview with a news station using her farm connections to get the job. The farm storyline is getting extremely drawn out, but it is potentially planting the seeds for something cool later on. Having the farm and its inhabitants slowly enter into all forms of Riverdale media could blossom into a large storyline down the road if the farm is revealed as the next main villain.
*Bumble app placement*
What an amazing product placement moment. What should be an intense scene is completely overshadowed by the blatant placement of Bumble. They even put an ad for Bumble in the corner right after the scene. Reggie accidentally admits him and Veronica kissed while Archie was away. See? The scene is a big deal! It should be a huge moment for both characters, but I couldn’t get past the Bumble app.
“Tonight, can we be together?”
Remember how I mentioned how them stressing how young they were earlier in the episode makes it creepy later? Well, Veronica and Archie have one last fling and… it’s a little bit creepier than usual when you were just told they were high school juniors.
“If you follow him out that door, it’s an automatic zero”
Veronica failing the SATs isn’t…that big of a deal. I mean, you can take them as many times as you want right? Money might be an issue for some, but not for Veronica. She is forced to stay in the classroom and isn’t able to console Archie while he punches a mirror in the bathroom. Someone previously died in that bathroom (in the flashback Ascension episode). Not a very important detail, but this show has such a massive body count it will be interesting to keep track of where there are probably ghosts in town.
“Always being one step ahead of everyone else”
Another swerve moment! Hiram Lodge is being his natural smarmy self in his office when he is shot in the gut by a long range rifle. A really well-directed scene for a show that does not have many of them.
“SERPENTS! SER-PENTS! SER-PENTS!
The last and possibly the best swerve of the episode! Jughead goes to check in on Tall Boy and comes into a scene where Fangs shot him. Not quite sure what happened, but sounds suspicious. Jughead decides to plan a party for some reason once he sees the body. As the party is going on, Jughead announces all the positive things going their way recently. He is interrupted by a cop car pulling up. Who could be the new sheriff? They’ve already killed one sheriff this episode (the not very exciting Claudius Blossom storyline). This could be anyone. In a huge surprise, FP Jones (Jughead’s dad) is the new sheriff. He gives a few awesome lines and everyone erupts. A great build up to show FP as the sheriff and creates an awesome wrinkle for the Jughead story going forward.
Verdict: A fun episode! There were a ton of twists and turns that paid off. The FP Jones reveal at the end was fantastic, and they are putting together some very interesting building blocks for a strong second half of the season. I think this episode was my favorite of the season so far. It had its fair share of cringe, but there was enough to for sure keep me around for one more week.
- The parents are killing it right now
- They are keeping Reggie around
- A ton of great twists and turns
- Very noticeable lack of Cheryl
- Betty's dad trying to be Hannibal. Hard pass.