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'Riverdale' Recap: What the Hell Is Going On?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 12, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 12, 2018 |


Season three of The CW’s Riverdale kicks off with the “Labor Day” episode, which basically opens with Archie sitting in a courtroom where closing arguments are being made in his murder trial. In the murder of Cassidy Bullock (actually killed by Hiram Lodge’s henchman, Andre, who is also dead), the prosecution offers a lousy case, but Archie’s summation — delivered by his attorney and mother (Molly Ringwald) — isn’t much better. Her argument is basically, “Archie would never do such a thing! Look at how handsome he is in his bow tie!”

The jury is sequestered for the long Labor Day weekend, and Archie’s fate is left unresolved, so he plans to make the best of the four days by hanging out with his closest friends at the local swimming hole.

Here’s what happened over the long weekend:

— Veronica begs her father — who framed Archie for Cassidy’s murder — to call off the trial, but Hiram refuses, saying that it’s out of his hands, although he does eventually concede that he did it to punish Archie for his disloyalty. In the meantime, Veronica’s mom, Hermione, is now painting herself as a prisoner to her own husband, apparently forgetting that she played a fairly active role in all of this. Thanks to her husband, she is the mayor, after all (and as Hermione concedes, she is “a prisoner, not a puppet.” In either respect, by the end of the episode — after Veronica’s failed attempt to taint the jury — Veronica breaks up with her father. “This is your punishment. You chose that boy over blood. My own daughter,” to which Veronica responds, “You don’t have a daughter anymore.”


— Meanwhile, in Betty-land, Alice and Polly have succumbed to the brainwashing charms of the Farm cult, while Betty is popping Adderall without a prescription and lying about seeing a therapist, although she eventually concedes that therapy might be a good idea. You think, Betty? Finding out that one’s father was a serial killer and that one’s half-brother is an imposter can do a number on a person’s mental health. However, I don’t know if her mental health can explain the seizure that Betty suffers at the end of the episode when she sees Alice and Polly — hanging out by the fire with members of the farm cult — drop babies over the flames only to see them float.


It’s hard to know for sure if that actually happened or if Betty is suffering from hallucinations, but neither hallucinations nor seizures are a known side effect of Adderall or symptom of Adderall withdrawal.

— Elsewhere, Jughead is still the defacto leader of the Southside Serpents, though as Penny points out, the Ghoulies now have control of the Southside. In a very Archie-like story, Jughead and the Serpents — including Queen Serpent Betty and Hellraising Serpent Cheryl — go on a mission to rescue the Serpent mascot Hot Dog from the Ghoulies. Penny catches them in the act and threatens Jughead; Cheryl puts her archery skills to good use by shooting an arrow through the clavicle of a Ghoulie. While Jughead and Co. escape, they’ve set up another Serpent/Ghoulie war.

Over a dog.

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Of more immediate interest, however, is what’s going on with Jughead’s friend, Dilton, whose role-playing game adventures leads to something far more sinister. At the end of the episode, Jughead follows clues left behind by Dilton to Fox Forrest, where he discovers Dilton and Ben lying unconscious prostrate beneath a tree adorned with a lot of Satanic imagery (and a cow skull) with what looks like bovine symbols scrawled into their naked backs. Who is responsible for this?


Finally, the verdict comes in for Archie, and it’s a hung jury. Rather than force another trial, the prosecutor offers Archie two years in juvenile detention, and Archie quickly pounces on the deal rather than put his family through another trial. Archie pleads guilty before being bused off to juvie. The courtroom is aghast.

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Additional Notes

— The primary focus of the pilot is on the main foursome — Betty, Archie, Veronica, and Jughead — while some of the most intriguing characters remain largely sidelined. Josie tells Sweet Pea that she’s putting the kibosh on their summer fling once school starts so she can work on her music. Kevin and Moose agree to a virginity pact set to expire on Halloween, and Cheryl is used primarily as a plot device, save for her relationship with Toni, which gets a passing mention in the episode. Cheryl, at least, can still make an entrance.


— FP (in professorial glasses) giving Archie his pre-prison tattoo was a nice touch.

— In the scene out by the river, Archie attempts to break up with Veronica so that she doesn’t have to deal with having a boyfriend in prison (she rejects the break-up). But for future reference, Archie: Don’t try to break up with someone right after you have sex. It’s tacky.

(GIFs via Daily Riverdale GIFs)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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Header Image Source: The CW