And at long last, we know what The Farm offers its members.
This week’s Riverdale was a return to the connective tissue episodes which have typified the latter half of Season 3, but it also offered a concrete reason why the townsfolk are so swayed by Edgar Evernever (Chad Micheal Murray) and his cult. Of course, in order to learn this truth, Betty (Lili Reinhart) offered up Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) as tribute. Which, in the long run, may be the teen detective’s downfall.
At the same time, allowing Cheryl the chance to just speak her truth also made sense of her contradictory behavior in the time before Toni (Vanessa Morgan). As we often mentioned during the second season, Cheryl vacillated between victim and H.B.I.C. as the plot demanded. It made her more of a plot device than a character and made her appearances more grating. Then she came out to Toni and a real characterization began to emerge. But her confession to Edgar this week finally put all that inconsistency in perspective. All of it has to do with Jason’s death and the piece of herself she felt she lost.
Okay, to be fair, some of this began to emerge last week when she and Toni had a heart-to-heart about the all-or-nothing nature of Blossom love. But here, the use of some old footage — particularly her wintertime dip into the Sweetwater River — really drove the point home. Cheryl, as a person, was as directionless as the writers were in regards to her character. The fact they could turn around, re-contextualize their uncertainty about the character, and allow it to set up the show’s next major revelation is pretty magical thing.
But it makes us wonder if they will do the same thing when they look back on the times Veronica (Camila Mendes) wanted Hermione (Marisol Nichols) to leave Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos). Her “family before everything else” stance of the last two episodes is seemingly at odds with so much of the character’s story from the second season that we have to wonder if the writers will rationalize it later. To be fair, no kid wants their parents to split up, so the inconsistency might track in reality. At the same time, Veronica wanted this. For her to fight so hard to prevent it now — to the point that she even terrorized Hermione — seems like a strange bit of backtracking. Maybe it will form part of her confession to Edgar when the time comes.
Then again, it seems like The Farm seeks out people with deep losses. As Betty discovers from Cheryl, The Farm has some way to reunite people with loved ones thought lost. For Cheryl, Edgar produced Jason. For Alice (Madchen Amick), he made her long-lost son Charles appear. It is unclear how he’s achieving this as Riverdale flirts with supernatural forces all the time, but if we assume it is all an illusion, it’s still a pretty powerful one. And with that in mind, one has to wonder who people like Principal Weatherbee (Peter Bryant) and Kevin (Casey Cott) want to be reunited with. Did The Farm catch Moose (Cody Kearsley) on his way out of town? Or will his thoughts always turn back to Joaquin (Rob Raco)?
Let’s ponder the power of The Farm while we watch a preview for the next episode. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) learns about Baby Teeth’s (Connor Paton) death, Archie (KJ Apa) steps back into the ring, and Betty’s fight against The Farm hits a breaking point.
Riverdale returns April 17th on The CW.