The town of Riverdale is entering into a dangerous territory. For much of Riverdale Season 3, the Gargoyle King's influence led us to their game-changing plan: Riverdale being quarantined from the outside world.
Everything we witnessed beforehand, like the origins of Gryphons and Gargoyles, Ben and Dilton's deaths, and Archie's confinement, was merely the calm before the storm. The momentum rose with a new mystery that spanned generations. But, did the first half of Riverdale Season 3 create a compelling visual story?
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For the start of 2019, we're looking back to see what worked, what didn't, and what we hope gets fixed!
Check out the midseason report below, and share your thoughts in the comments. And don't forget, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic to get caught up on all the past drama.
Riverdale Season 3 returns Wednesday, January 16 at 8/7c on The CW.
Best Twist: The Parents Played Gryphons & Gargoyles
In a twist that took a generation in the making, the Riverdale parents were revealed to have a shady past with Gryphons and Gargoyles. They played the game, and they were equally culpable in not stopping the evil from spreading when they discovered it in the 1990s. But, what made this twist so amazing was the effect it had on EVERYTHING. This one interaction with the board game altered their lives and turned the parents into the flawed, cynical people we know today. Now, this is what you'd call a "domino effect!"
Worst Twist: Alice Sends Betty To The Asylum
Did Alice not learn her lesson after the Polly incident? It's no secret in the town of Riverdale how dangerous and terrifying it is to be at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. The core characters know this firsthand, especially after Cheryl's confinement and what happened to Charles Cooper. When Alice committed Betty to SOQM for her "safety," it broke the hearts of fans because it was a bad decision that went against how far their relationship had developed.
Biggest Letdown: Archie Tells Laurie The Truth
Heading into Riverdale Season 3, there was hope that Archie Andrews would learn from his earlier mistakes. He overcame the troubles with Hiram Lodge and his obsession with The Black Hood; however, even after all that supposed growth, some things never change. Seeing Archie spill everything to Laurie Lake (a person he just met) was so mind-boggling and disappointing. He put his trust into someone he barely knew, and he put his life at risk because of someone who openly flirted and showed interest in him. At least Archie is consistent with his recklessness.
Best Episode: Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club
Everything about "Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club" was near perfection! The main teen cast did a stellar job portraying the adult characters as teenagers, with some actors (like K. J. Apa and Lili Reinhart) hitting their performance right on the money. The nostalgic 1990's references were a welcomed addition and the visual elements brought out the vibe in full force. If you to watch an origin/flashback episode that does it right, this is one you can't miss.
Worst Episode: Chapter Forty-Two: The Man in Black
Trying something new is never a bad thing; it's always good to shake things up and venture outside of our comfort zones in regards to structure, editing, and visual designs. However, if you're going to experiment, you need to make sure the complete plot is heavy enough to support it. Arguably, only 1/3 of the story was well-developed from start-to-finish, while one of the three mini stories (Veronica's casino night) came across an unnecessary filler.
Most Improved Character: Veronica
From a character standpoint, Veronica Lodge stepped up to the plate. She's no longer playing the two-faced heroine who's working alongside her criminal parents to take over Riverdale. Instead, she's back on the side of good and actively conspiring against them. Veronica has become braver, resourceful, and a leader.
Character That Needs To Be Fixed: Josie
Is Josie McCoy even a series regular anymore? Her appearances have been relegated to only group scenes, musical numbers, and the odd cameo moment here and there. Not much has changed, but that's the problem! Josie still hasn't received a well-developed solo plot to push her character forward. The former lead singer of The Pussycats has essentially stayed invisible for Riverdale Season 3A. Her character's development needs to change and fast.
Character That Needs More Screen Time: Gladys & Jellybean Jones
Jughead's mother and sister have only appeared once, but they both need to return to Riverdale again in the future. Gladys had this protective no-nonsense quality to her; you could tell that she loved her children and she would do whatever it took to ensure their safety. Jellybean was snarky, cheeky, and had a way with a slingshot. Since FP and Jughead are locked outside of Riverdale, could this mean we'll see their family again?
Most Shocking Death: Ben Button
The mystery of Ben Button has closed its chapter forever. The minor character who popped up around Riverdale on several occasions led to many fan theories, but no one could've predicted his shocking death on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 2. We all shouted for him to get away from the window! After we lost Dilton Doily in his surprise death, losing Ben too through suicide delivered a hurt that dug deep.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: Archie & Veronica Break-Up Over The Phone
The core four have broken up and gotten back together several times now; it's par for the course on a teen drama like Riverdale. However, nothing could've prepared us for the emotional roller coaster that was Archie and Veronica's latest breakup. After Archie's name was vindicative thanks to Veronica's investigation, "Varchie's" future looked bright with Archie returning home to be with the woman he loved. However, he decided to leave town instead and told Veronica over the phone. Veronica was in tears. We were in tears. Our hearts still can't handle the heartbreak.
"WTF Just Happened?" Award: The River Vixens Dance Number
The cast members on Riverdale are musically talented and we enjoy them performing (no one is denying that fact). Though, the inclusion of the River Vixens' performing "Jailhouse Rock" for the prisoners of the juvenile detention center seemed so out of place. The cheerleaders showed up out of the blue with a full song and dance number ready to go. Did they not have to practice? Was the number already planned beforehand? Just because the cast can sing and dance, it doesn't mean that a scene warrants the need for a musical number.
The Goodbye We Celebrated: Sisters of Quiet Mercy
Betty and Ethel came in on a metaphorical white horse to topple the tyranny of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. They freed the prisoners, they freed themselves, and they're going to expose the criminal injustices caused in the asylum. For two seasons now, we've had to witness people being subjected to the horrors of the asylum and Sister Woodhouse. Hopefully, this plot will be the last we hear from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy and that the doors to the asylum will be closed forever.
Storyline That's Not A Thing (But Will Be): Reggie + Veronica?
Veronica Lodge and Reggie Mantle have had major chemistry while running La Bonne Nuit. During all the opening night and casino chaos, the pair worked closely together to ensure the place would stay up and running. The sparks were not subtle in the least. Could this be a relationship in the making? Archie is no longer in the picture, so it seems like something might be manifesting real soon.
Villain We Needed: The Gargoyle King
After the lackluster experience involving The Black Hood, we needed an all-menacing antagonist who could leave us shaking in our boots. Enter The Gargoyle King, the omnipresent cult-leader who amassed an endless network of followers and criminal activities. Most of Riverdale's nefarious activities and the decisions of the characters could be traced back to the effects of The Gargoyle King. This villain made waves like no other villain before them, and if they're controlling a mob boss like Hiram, you know their influence is something to fear.
Most Improved Villain: Ethel
Thanks to a mix of the Gargoyle King's influence, Gryphons and Gargoyles, and Fizzle Rocks, Ethel Muggs went to the dark side. The former friend-turned-villain-turned-friend again had once sided against the group to support the acolytes. Ethel embraced her bad side to get everything she wanted, regardless if it was telling off Betty or stealing a kiss from Jughead. It's great that she's back on the side of good, but hopefully, she doesn't forget her confident and cunning side. Evil Ethel had some bite to her.
Villain We Didn't Need: Elio
Elio's move to the dark side was abrupt, and most of all confusing. He had Veronica's back for a long time and supported her in her struggle's against Hiram. On top of that, they both bonded over their shared alliance in a business that didn't involve their parents. So, it was strange that he then tried to ruin her because she wasn't on good terms with her father. That move went against the friendship they had built beforehand. We didn't need a villainous Elio; we needed Veronica to have an ally she could trust.
Best Couple: Cheryl & Toni
Throughout all The Gargoyle King cult drama, one couple preserved through it all to take the next step in their relationship. Cheryl and Toni ("Choni") stood tall as the strongest and most romantic 'ship. They came back to town from a cross-country motorcycle expedition, they protected each other during their game obsession, and they're moving in together. We can't wait to see how their relationship progresses further while under the same roof permanently.
Worst Couple: Hiram & Hermione
What once was a couple who were bonded over their loyalties and criminal aspirations has now become a shadow of their former selves. Hiram and Hermione have lost all romantic sparks; the pair is essentially only together to further their criminal activities. They keep secrets from one another, and whenever Hermione is near her husband, she looks to be struggling with internal conflict. Even their origins as teenagers didn't start off on a good note. Hiram and Hermione Lodge need to separate for the betterment of everyone.
2019 New Years Resolutions Goals: Archie's Abs
Archie's abs have been peak fitness goals during Riverdale Season 3. The boy-next-door is known for his fit body, but this year is more impressive than the last. Whatever he did during the summer to improve his physique should be shared with the greater population as a helpful guide. Let's add it to our healthy resolutions for 2019.
Continue It: Betty's Rise
Betty's rise to be The Gryphon Queen started strong right from the get-go. She solved Jason Blossom's murder, she defeated The Black Hood, and she escaped the horrors of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Now, nothing is stopping Betty Cooper in her pursuit to capture The Gargoyle King. She's become the dependable hero we turn to when the evil forces enter Riverdale. Riverdale has done a great job developing the character and building her up even further. This progression needs to continue so that she can vanquish her dastardly foe.
Wait and See: The Farm
All we know about The Farm is that the leader Edgar Evernever and his daughter Evelyn moved to Riverdale, and they've messed with Polly's and Alice's mind. Are they a cult? Is there something supernatural about them? We don't know yet. We'll have to wait and see what happens during Riverdale Season 3B regarding how this group will be used in the town quarantine.
Stop It: Hiram's Winning Streak
Hiram Lodge needs to be stopped. The criminal leader's influence over the town (and nearby communities) spread to the point of omnipresent control. We discovered that he's the top follower for The Gargoyle King and controlling all the many moving pieces that led to Riverdale being quarantined. Hiram is starting 2019 on a high note. However, his constant winning streak and being three steps ahead has reached levels of annoyance. We need our heroes to start winning again; the battle shouldn't be one-sided anymore.
Grade It: A-
Riverdale Season 3A has been on an upswing since their sophomore slump. Many of the chapters have recaptured the original magic, and it kept us hooked with the cult drama of The Gargoyle King. The overall mystery is fleshed out and well-developed, the characters have grown, and some episodes have been the best that the series has seen yet. Though, we can't deny the chaotic tone caused by the polarizing storyline and bad habits from certain characters, like Archie and Hiram. Riverdale is shaking things up with a dramatic event, so the momentum could either go up from here or it could crash and burn. We'll have to watch carefully to see how things turn out.