Riverdale S03E03 Review: As Above, So Below – ‘That’s right, Daddy–I’m shaking you down’

Well, it had to come crashing down eventually. After two very episodes, Riverdale returns this week with an episode that’s not bad–it’s just…there.

The main issue for me is that so much time is devoted to Veronica’s new speakeasy, La Bonne Nuit. The speakeasy isn’t a bad idea–imagine all the intrigue!–but the problem here is that her main challenge is Hiram. And he’s a ridiculously boring antagonist.

And also I don’t get it? Like, he’s a grown man with grown man businesses, so why he’s spending so much time trying to defeat teenagers? You too, Penny.

To that end, a large shipment of jingle jangle “mysteriously” ends up being delivered to Veronica, right when Sheriff Minetta arrives to do an inspection. It’s all part of the parade of attempted shakedowns of Veronica. There’s Minetta, there’s Penny and the Ghoulies, and there’s Hiram, although they’re all pretty much working in concert.

For example, the Ghoulies are making that jingle jangle, but they’re using the White Wyrm as their lab. (Recall that Hiram now owns the former Serpent hangout.) Veronica gets proof thanks to help from Toni and Cheryl, who are basically only here this week to spy with Veronica, promote her club, and then appear at the end of the episode in Jughead’s plotline. Both ladies can do so much more and I would rather see them than whatever snooze-inducing shenanigans Hiram is up to now. Cheryl wears a lace romper to go spying! Let her cook.

But speaking of Jughead’s plotline, he and Betty are now using the bunker as a love nest, which…ew. I guess they have to have some place to go since FP and Alice are definitely sleeping together. Anyway, it occurs to Jughead that there’s no rule book for the game, so he asks Ethel about it. She refuses to give him the “scripture” without his playing a game first. That seems backward, but okay. Betty is not allowed to play.

That’s okay because she has to do her worst detective work in the history of the series. Her snooping consists of her coming to Evelyn’s peer support group–Betty is the only attendee–and basically being like, “Hey, I would like to learn more about the Farm and also, something something your dad?” That Betty comes home to a Farm delegation in her living room is really her own damn fault.

Edgar is not part of the delegation, but Betty is invited to begin the steps of membership, which like another certain faith–*koff*–involves telling all your darkest secrets. She’s not into that, obviously, and she’s horrified to learn that Alice has totally spilled the beans re: everything. She almost has another seizure.

Meanwhile, the other two members of the core four are making friend with activities. With Ethel in the bunker, Jughead plays Gryphons and Gargoyles. It’s your basic tabletop RPG–that is, until the chalices come out. Like Dilton and Ben, Jughead has to drink from one. Ethel tells him that if he does (and survives), he’ll get the scripture. Luckily, he bets correctly and lives. He has a brief second of triumph before Ethel downs the other chalice. Luckily for her, Jughead gets her help in time. But she’s still going to be handcuffed to her hospital bed.

Over at L&L, Archie is learning that being the new Mad Dog means participating in the warden’s underground fight club. Archie and a group of other inmates are forced to box for the amusement of the warden’s invited guests, who pay admission and place bets. Good boy Archie, of course, is reluctant, but finally coerced into fighting by a threat to Joaquin, who’s also incarcerated at L&L. Archie Mike Tysons his first fight, which does not win him favor with the warden. He puts on more of a show for his second and that gets him the old Mad Dog’s prizes, like the TV. In a fit of pique, he throws the stuff around, but that’s when he discovers a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s been hollowed out to fit a rock hammer (hello, Shawshank). We got ourselves a jail break! Well, soon.

Having found the copy of the Gryphons and Gargoyles scripture that Jughead ferreted away in the trailer, FP is none too pleased. Jughead’s defense, that he’s not interested in playing the game, is pretty weak since his lips are still blue. So FP, with Alice’s urging, tosses the rulebook into a convenient fire outside the trailer. There–that’ll do it.

Too bad someone–not Ethel, since she’s still in the hospital being visited by the Gargoyle King–has filled every locker at Riverdale High with a copy.

7/10 – “That’s right, Daddy–I’m shaking you down.” Veronica, please stop. As I’ve mentioned that I did not care for her storyline, I’ll try to say something nice. That dress she wore to the Bonne Nuit opening was EVERYTHING. Okay, then. I hate to harp on it, because I’m trying to enjoy the show, but those moments are making the episodes drag. I’m not saying that watching Veronica fret over bills isn’t the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen, except that is exactly what I’m saying. We got a cult afoot and a wacky game and y’all are making us watch a lady sign for packages. C’mon now. Give some of the other characters–Choni, Josie, KEVIN, etc.–some storyline love. 

And if you were also wishing for some more spooky stuff, my review of (the) Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will be coming soon.

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