Let’s Ponder Big Hearts And Riverdale’s Shifting Alliances
by Erik Amaya
Riverdale continues to tread water as its third season barrels toward its end. But this week’s episode offered a few interesting changes to the status quo worth discussing. Also, we’re going to give Archie (KJ Apa) another look because his “big heart” got him in trouble again.
So yeah, Archie got played by a middle-schooler. Still marked for sacrifice, the breakaway Gargoyles sent a little minion, a runaway kid named Ricky (Nico Bustamante) to gain Archie’s trust and, ultimately, kill him in order to ascend in the Gryphons & Gargoyles game. Caught up in its power, the little boy obliged. For once, those controlling the game were clever. They knew the quickest way to get Archie’s guard down was to play to his empathy. While we’re never exactly a fan of Archie or his stories, his compassion is an admirable trait. But it is the sort of thing the master manipulators in town are more than happy use against him. And it nearly works as Ricky slashes Archie, but he cannot bring himself to deliver the killing blow despite the G&G card telling him he must “kill the Red Paladin.”
Also, the one moment with Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) in this episode was sad, even if he rescued his son. We’re going to miss Fred and Perry.
Archie’s status as the Red Paladin has been part of the mystery all year. But no one has acknowledge just how strange it is all the disparate games being played around town lead to Archie as the crux of everything. Considering how little we think of his storylines, positioning him as central underpinning to the game is sort of a great cosmic joke.
Meanwhile, the Pretty Poisons have allied with Veronica (Camila Mendes), but it seems Toni’s (Vanessa Morgan) deal to run security at La Bonne Nuit drove a wedge between her and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), who seems to be reverting to her more manipulative ways. If you believe in nature over nurture, this makes sense because she is a Blossom. And even if you believe in nurture over nature it still makes sense because she’s a Blossom. Nonetheless, it is sad to think her grand gesture for Toni’s sake — creating the Poisons — might split them up because she won’t give up power lightly. They’ve been a fun couple and Toni helped Cheryl become more than just a plot device, but all good things …
In the continuing shift of alliances, the Serpents are now deputies! All of that sort of tracks and it helped quell the Gargoyle influence over the gang, but one imagines Gladys (Gina Gershon) will have a way to play this angle as well.
And speaking of angles, The Farm seems to have all of them covered; giving Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) storyline a nice sense of claustrophobia. They’ve got her mother, Alice (Madchen Amick), they’ve got her best friend, Kevin (Casey Cott), and they’ve got her secrets. It’s pinned her down in a very rare way. In fact, we expect Edgar Evernever will be her ultimate foe once he shows up in town. Also, we still expect him to be the ultimate Gargoyle King. Sadly, the story cost us Alice, who used to be one of the great charms of the show. Sure, she was overbearing and reactionary — and her devotion to The Farm certainly comes from that place — but that made her a great engine for story. Now, she’s just a drone in the Farm story. Hopefully, if Betty figures out a way to break the cult’s spell, Alice will become the spitfire we miss seeing.
But let’s ponder a new life for Alice as we watch a preview of next week’s show. It looks like it’s captured some of its old craziness with costumed fighters taking Archie on in the ring, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) smiling for the first time in ages and Alice remembering she had a thing with F.P. (Skeet Ulrich).
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.