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S3 E1
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October 10, 2018 at 09:01 PM EDT

Welcome to season 3 of Riverdale, friends, and I’ve gotta say, based on this opening hour, I already like it better than season 2. The core four getting to hang out for some summer fun? Great. Hiram being super evil? Great. A strange new True Detective-esque mystery? I’m weirdly into it. Cheryl being a vigilante? Not-so-weirdly into it. The only thing I’m not fully into is, well, levitating babies, but we’ll get to that. That’s all my way of saying that I was all in on this premiere until the very, very end, and even that could turn into something interesting. Let’s start at the beginning!

As the summer before junior year comes to an end, we find out how everyone’s been spending their time: Veronica’s been waitressing at Pop’s, Betty has been interning for Archie’s legal team — which just so happens to be his mother and Mrs. McCoy — and Archie, well, he’s been wearing bowties to court in the hopes that they make him look extra innocent. Speaking of his trial, it’s time for the closing arguments. The prosecution throws all of Archie’s bad choices — or at least most of them — in his face with mentions of his assault on Nick St. Clair, that time he threatened to shoot Sweet Pea, and of course, the one true crime that Archie should maybe actually serve time for: Starting not one, but two masked vigilante groups. Oh, Arch.

The prosecution is not a fan of Archie’s classic excuse: “My girlfriend’s father’s doorman did it!” Instead, they want to send “that man” who looks a lot like a teenage BOY to jail for being a “cold-blooded killer.” Now, it’s Archie’s mom’s turn to speak. By the way, can I just say that there is NO WAY his mother should be his attorney! Even if that IS allowed, which I don’t know if it is, it’s a terrible idea: The jury is probably sitting there thinking “OF COURSE you think he’s innocent. He’s your SON.”

But this is Riverdale, so anything goes (including the fact that this courtroom looks like it’s straight out of A Time To Kill with its lack of air conditioning). Archie’s mom gets up and talks about all the good Archie’s done — this trial is a real walk down memory lane for ol’ Arch — from helping solve Jason’s murder to that time he punched through a river of ice to save Cheryl. According to mama bear, there is “nothing here that proves that Archie Andrews is anything less than an innocent boy.” A SWEET, STUPID, INNOCENT PRECIOUS BABY BOY.

With the closing arguments done, the jury heads out to deliberate and when they can’t reach a verdict quickly, the judge — whose name is C. Britton, y’all! — dismisses the court to reconvene on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. As for Arch, the judge advises him to spend his weekend with his family and loved ones, you know, not to make it painfully obvious that the judge thinks Archie is about to go to jail.

On the way out of the courthouse, Hiram tells Archie to “have a terrific weekend,” which gets him punched in the face by Fred. As for Archie, he heads to Pop’s with Jug, Betty, and Veronica, where the girls don’t waste any time discussing ways to prove Archie’s innocence. But all Archie wants is to have a great, normal Labor Day weekend, and that’s Cheryl’s cue. The redheaded bombshell has just returned from three months on the road with Toni and she invites the gang to a pool party at her place, because what good is an episode of Riverdale that’s set in the summer if people aren’t half-naked?!

Before the party, Betty heads over to help Archie and Fred finish up Archie’s car, but she gets stopped by her mom and Polly, who are now fully immersed in the Farm lifestyle and doing whatever their leader, Edgar, says. As for Betty, she claims to be going to therapy. With that interaction out of the way, she visits Arch, who makes Betty promise to look after Fred if Archie goes away. And so she does.

While Hiram simply tells his daughter that the Archie situation is “beyond my control,” Jughead (and Fangs’ abs!) are coming up with a plan to keep an eye on the Ghoulies. Apparently, the Serpents are now living out of tents (and possibly running out of clothes). Meanwhile, FP is finishing a Serpent tattoo for Archie so that he can use it to get protection behind bars. And honestly, it’s probably the best thing he’s done thus far in terms of preparing for this verdict. That being said, are we supposed to believe that FP has a portable tattoo gun that’s totally and completely sterile? (Next: Archie’s fate is sealed)

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