Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Chapter Thirty-Six: Labor Day

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Dark days are heading to the town of Riverdale.

In fact, Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1 has already left our favorite characters feeling hopeless in their current predicaments. Between Archie's prison sentence and the strange supernatural arrivals, Riverdale isn't holding back any punches. And that's exactly what we want to see!

So long summer because evil is back in town just in time for junior year.

Tired of Pretending - Riverdale

"Chapter Thirty-Six: Labor Day" captured the feeling of what made us fall in love with Riverdale in the first place.

On the surface, it had the picture-perfect 1950s charm of summer days by the lake and riding along in the jalopy with your best pals. But, hidden behind those toothy smiles, there was still that sinister eeriness emerging from the town's darkness. An equal balance of Happy Days meets Twin Peaks.

The Riverdale Season 3 premiere pulled us in, slowly building the anticipation to its heart-pounding climax. The last few scenes alone were some of the creepiest cliffhangers Riverdale has ever introduced before.

The tone was heart-warming and serene, but also dark and intense. It felt like Riverdale again.

By The Fire - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

The reason for the slow build-up tied to the anticipation for Archie's trial verdict.

Bypassing the entirety of the court case was the best decision from a storytelling aspect. We as fans already knew that Archie was innocent; even his friends knew he was getting framed. Spending months witnessing Hiram's lies digging Archie's grave would've been too depressing.

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Also, throw in the fact that the prosecutor would've worked against Archie at every turn, the frustration would've reached its frustrating peak.

Now, we're fueled with fire to get Archie out of jail and cheer on the #HotDadsofRiverdale (doesn't that sound like a great Bravo spin-off?) to prove Hiram's guilt.

The victory tea will taste so sweet.

What's Going On? - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

Archie's last Labor Day weekend as a free man prepared us for the inevitable darkness.

Before he got sentenced, many of his scenes with loved ones were calm and serene. The pacing was slower, and the music carried a longing but sorrowful note. On a subconscious level, the editing choices allowed us to feel Archie's sadness.

The way he sat alone on the stairs at the courthouse and what he shared with his friends at the Sweetwater Swimming Hole showed a completely different Archie than Riverdale Season 2.

Gone was the erratic, would-be-criminal who wanted to impress Hiram. Left in his place was a scared teenager about to be sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit.

I couldn't help but feel sorry for Archie. 

Betty: You don’t deserve this, Arch. Any of it.
Archie: What if I do?
Veronica: Archie, why would you say that?
Archie: Because I’m guilty! I didn’t kill Cassidy, but I left him alone with Andre. If I didn’t walk away, he might still be alive. And not just Cassidy, all of it ... all of last year. I didn’t kill anyone, but I could have. I have to take responsibility for that.

Still, Archie found a way to end on the same familiar, frustrating level he had in the past. Why in the world would he agree to a manslaughter charge?!

Accepting the deal wasn't a noble move to make up for his actions, it was a reckless choice. Archie could've used the extra freedom from the mistrial to dig up evidence. Everyone knew he was innocent; even the judge looked baffled by his decision.

Previously, I discussed issues surrounding Archie that plagued him in the past. One of those traits was rushing into bad and thoughtless decisions that hurt more than they helped. This recent development fits that quality to a tee.

His mother, Sierra McCoy, and Betty worked hard over the summer to make his case, and he threw it away because of his redemption quest. He didn't need to pay for Hiram's crimes to redeem himself.

Sometimes, Archie needs to stop thinking like a Gryffindor and look at the big picture. (Yay for Harry Potter references!)

Not Going to Plan - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

Even though Archie was the one heading to juvie, I felt most terrible for Veronica.

Knowing that your boyfriend was getting framed because of something you did would be a bitter pill to swallow. Hiram knew exactly how to hurt his daughter. Knowing she'sof morally responsible for Archie's fate will no doubt eat away at her. 

Related: Riverdale: Gina Gershon Cast as Jughead's Mom!

Hiram is a cold and cunning genius. But, he's going to get his one day, and we'll be here basking in the karma.

Just like Emily Thorne from Revenge, Veronica will get her vengeance in flames. There's a "battle of fire and ice" joke somewhere in here, but you get the point. Bring. It. On.

Veronica: Are you happy now, Daddy? It all worked out, just like you planned. Archie didn’t play by your rules. He threatened you, so you punished him. You destroyed his life.
Hiram: You think I did all this to hurt Archie, Miha? Because he threatened me? No, it’s because you betrayed me.
[Hiram walks closer]
Hiram: This is your punishment. You chose that boy over blood. My own daughter.
Veronica: You don’t have a daughter anymore.

Speaking of Hermione, is she now becoming the archetype of a reluctant accomplice?

Her character development has been a roller coaster. During Riverdale Season 1, she was a thoughtful mother afraid of her jailed husband, but during Riverdale Season 2, she became a thriving criminal who enjoyed working alongside Hiram. Oh, and she often threw shade at Veronica.

Hermione needs to stick to a direction. If she's staying in the gray area of being an accomplice but caring for the safety of Veronica, that story needs to build. 

Veronica and Hermione had one of the best parent/child relationships. A return to rebuilding their bond should be explored again to counteract Hiram's influence.

I'm The Only WRIGHT One - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

The same can be said about the Cooper family. You could feel the sisterly tension between Polly and Betty and the resentment against Alice.

Betty's reaction to the holistic approach was understandable, especially when we remember that she had a summer of Alice/Polly pushing the mindset on her. Betty had enough of it, so she pushed her family away to deal.

The emotional distance wasn't the right answer, as it only caused conflicts.

The trio needs to work out all of their issues; they can't go on throwing snide remarks at each other, especially when Betty's life is left hanging in the balance.

Alice: These diaries are your past, and your past is crushing you. Edgar says that...
Betty: What, Mom? What does some guru who’s running a heaven’s gate commune for pregnant runaways and wives of serial killers have to say about my diaries?
Alice: We know that you look down on the Farm, Betty. But, Edgar has done nothing but help me. He’s encouraged me to embrace everything that I was ashamed of and become the best version of myself.

Over at the Southside, Jughead can't go a day without causing a turf war. What did he expect when he sent spies to check on Penny Peabody and the Ghoulies?

Penny isn't the type of character to let shady espionage go unpunished.

Kidnapping Hot Dog was obviously a trap meant to spark more chaos in Riverdale. We hated Penny before, but using the dog as bait was cruel! Her play for Jughead's Serpent jacket, though, seemed like a ruse.

Related: Riverdale Season 2 Episode 22 Review: Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World

My intuition is telling me that she and the Ghoulies were looking for any reason to claim Riverdale's Northside. Jughead, a lightning rod for gang conflict, was their perfect excuse.

If it had not been now, Penny would've found any reason.

History Repeating - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

Side-note: Did anyone noticed the strange tonal shift during the Ghoulies scene?

We brought that up during Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21, but it happened again: The vibe felt like a superhero show. The moment when Cheryl armed her bow could've come straight from Arrow or The Flash.

These characters are super, but they're not superheroes. Riverdale should stay grounded since it has a different tone from other shows. Unless, of course, we're getting prepped for a witchy crossover with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

We see you, Greg Berlanti. (Hi!)

Josie: Sweetpea, I told you when we start this that our summer fling was gonna be just that ... a fling, with a three-month expiration date.
Sweetpea: Yeah, I know, but haven’t we been having a good time?
Josie: Hah, I’m not saying we haven’t. But, nothing, not even a tall, cool drink, Sweetwater like you is gonna distract me from my music.
[They kiss and she walks away]

Beyond a few zombie teasers and Dark Betty's wig-snatching personality, Riverdale has focused more on serial killers than the occult. That move is going into exciting new territories.

I love this development because it changes up the noir mystery format that has pushed the characters these last two years.

Whodunnit mysteries are fun, and we love seeing Betty and Jughead bring out their inner Nancy Drew/Sherlock Holmes, but Riverdale couldn't keep to killers every year.

Unimpressed - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

Betty's discovery of the floating twins could be argued away as a hallucination brought on by the seizure. The Farm is likely a cult that's brainwashing Alice and Polly. Being supernatural, on the other hand, might be the red-herring in this case.

Dilton and Ben's traumatic state at the goat ritual was living, breathing proof of strange happenings in town. 

The mystery of the Gargoyle King and the vision of the Farm ritual could be two completely separate incidents. However, we can't rule out a connection just yet. Nancy Drew wouldn't have it any other way.

Cheryl: Greeting chums! I wanted to let you know that after the three *amazing* months I just had with Toni riding our motorcycles cross-country, we’re celebrating with an epic end-of-summer pool party at Thornhill. And you’re all invited! Of course, given the fact that Archie will most likely walking the green mile while the rest of us are walking the stage at graduation, I understand if you’re not up for it. Invite whoever you want, but give them fair warning: I’m in the mood for some hell-raising. Tootles!

Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:

  • How did Josie and Sweet Pea get together? We need all the details!
     
  • Poor Kevin. Either Moose was not into him, or he was too scared to discuss sex. Their poolside chat wasn't a good sign for their relationship.
     
  • Best Bughead Moment: Betty and Jughead cuddling by the fire.
     
  • Best Varchie Moment: Veronica reaching out for Archie after the court decision. #heartbreaking
     
  • Best Choni Moment: Cheryl strolling into the Chock'lit Shoppe like a queen and dropping the fact she spent all summer riding motorcycles with Toni.
     
  • Archie is going to need more than his tattoo to deal with trouble behind bars. Hiram won't make it easy for him.  
Time for a Swim - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1

What did you think of "Chapter Thirty-Six: Labor Day"? 

Will the hot dads discover the evidence to free Archie? Is Dilton alive? Did the ritual bonfire cause Betty's seizure?

If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic to get caught up on all the drama. 

Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.

Chapter Thirty-Six: Labor Day Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (27 Votes)

Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Veronica: Are you happy now, Daddy? It all worked out, just like you planned. Archie didn’t play by your rules. He threatened you, so you punished him. You destroyed his life.
Hiram: You think I did all this to hurt Archie, Miha? Because he threatened me? No, it’s because you betrayed me.
[Hiram walks closer]
Hiram: This is your punishment. You chose that boy over blood. My own daughter.
Veronica: You don’t have a daughter anymore.

Cheryl: Greeting chums! I wanted to let you know that after the three *amazing* months I just had with Toni riding our motorcycles cross-country, we’re celebrating with an epic end-of-summer pool party at Thornhill. And you’re all invited! Of course, given the fact that Archie will most likely walking the green mile while the rest of us are walking the stage at graduation, I understand if you’re not up for it. Invite whoever you want, but give them fair warning: I’m in the mood for some hell-raising. Tootles!