BWW Recap: Find Out Archie's Fate in the Season Three Premiere of RIVERDALE
The long-awaited season premiere of The CW's RIVERDALE is back, and is wasting no time in resolving season 2's biggest cliffhanger: the fate of Archie Andrews.
The first episode of season 3, entitled "Chapter Thirty-Six: Labor Day," opens with what pretty much sounds like the worst summer ever: Archie (portrayed by KJ Apa) has been on trial for the murder of Cassidy Bullock, and is being targeted by the Defense Attorney for his "history of violent behavior" (which, when you look at his track record of leading gangs and punching people, does sound a little convincing).
Of course, what the jury doesn't know is that Cassidy was actually murdered by the bodyguard of Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), during an unfortunately dramatic camping trip last season.
But even though Archie is being heartfully defended by his lawyer - aka his mother (Molly Ringwald) - and looks pretty fly in his courtroom tuxedo, the jury cannot come to a decision, and postpones the verdict for three days. As Archie walks out, Hiram makes an appearance by snidely telling him to have a terrific weekend, prompting Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) to heroically punch him in the face. Go Fred!
Thus begins the most depressing Labor Day weekend of the gang's life! Betty, (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), and Veronica (Camila Mendes) each have their own situations to deal with, apart from Archie's possible arrest.
Betty is dealing with her usual family angst, enhanced by the fact that her mother, Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) has joined the infamous cult: "The Farm." As Betty's mother and sister Polly (Tiera Skovbye) drink oolong tea in the living room and ask Betty how therapy's going (yikes), they urge Betty to spend more time with them, saying "Edgar from the farm" suggested it would improve her well-being. Betty looks uncomfortable at the mention of Edgar, saying "We'll talk about that later, mom" and storming out. (And who can blame her, when it is later revealed that Edgar has her mother burn all her diaries in an attempt to rid their lives of their painful past?)
Veronica also has family issues of her own, confronting Hiram about framing Archie for murder. Hiram denies having done this, saying "it's simply beyond my control," and his wife Hermione (Marisol Nichols) stays notably silent throughout (out of fear, we later find out, that Hiram will harm her - an abusive marriage if there ever was one).
Jughead remains a caring boyfriend to Betty and loyal pal to Archie, giving Archie an honorable Serpent tattoo to keep him strong in case he goes to prison. But he now has to show concern for a new friend, Dalton, who looks notably angsty at various points throughout the episode (and for now, it is unclear as to why).
Meanwhile, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is thriving, not that we expected any less. After riding across the country on a motorcycle with her girlfriend Toni (Vanessa Morgan) all summer, she throws a Labor Day party, where some juicy secrets and possible future subplots are revealed: Josie and Sweet Pea's summer fling, Moose and Kevin's virginity pact, Reggie's step-up to football captain.
Jughead also receives the news that his beloved pet, Hot Dog, has been captured by his rival gang (the Ghoulies), and decides to take on a rescue mission. Cheryl and Betty tag along for this, too, much to Jughead's dismay (giving Betty the chance to make one of the most badass statements of the night: "The Serpent Queen is a warrior queen, so if you're on the frontline, so am I.")
The actual confrontation is pretty tame, compared to last season's beatdown. Jughead successfully retrieves Hot Dog, but is greeted by a group of Ghoulies led by gang-leader Penny (Brit Morgan), who tells him to stop sending spies to the new Southside to try and find out what the Ghoulies are up to. When Jughead denies doing so, Penny tells him to give up his Southside Serpents jacket, claiming the Southside doesn't belong to the Serpents anymore. Luckily, Cheryl intervenes before the situation can escalate, coming in like a badass with her arrow-throwing skills (best line of the night: "Cheryl doesn't miss").
When we finally get back to Archie, we see he's been having nightmares about being the killer, and feeling awfully guilty for a murder he didn't commit. He apologizes to his parents in an emotional scene, sounding like almost a goodbye when Fred says, "Your mother and I will always love you."
If only Betty's family situation had that much love. Turns out, she's been lying about seeing a therapist and forging Adderall prescriptions for herself, which her mother encourages her to abandon since Edgar warned her of the "danger of pharmaceuticals." Betty snaps back about Edgar being a crazy cult leader, and Alice says "He's helping us move on, and he can help you too, sweetheart."
Polly intervenes, as well, urging Betty to admit she's sick and seek help from The Farm. And, while submitting to a cult may not be the most ideal coping mechanism, there's no denying that Betty is still a little traumatized by her father turning out to be a psychopathic serial killer.
On the last day of summer, the gang goes swimming together, getting pretty emotional before the final verdict. Jughead suggests Archie could run away, saying there are Serpents north of the border who could help him, and Veronica promises to visit him in prison every day should the unthinkable happen.
Archie, however, denies the support of his friends, finally admitting to his internal guilt. He states that even though he didn't kill Cassidy, he deserves the backlash for not intervening when he could have, and not speaking out against Hiram for all of last year: "I didn't kill anyone, but I could've. And I have to take responsibility for that."
And he does end up taking the downfall, when the jury announces next day that they are deadlocked six-to-six, and offer him a plea deal. Archie immediately takes the deal, much to everyone's shock and dismay, declaring himself guilty in front of the courtroom. He is escorted out in handcuffs as everyone reacts in shock and grief - even Hiram looks a little guilty, as Veronica gives him a death stare.
Now that Archie's in prison, all we can do is hope that Hiram gets what he deserves from other sources - Fred Andrews angrily states, "I'm gonna make that son of a bitch pay," and FP responds, "Whatever it takes." Hot dads of RIVERDALE unite!
The episode ends in a different yet equally depressing cliffhanger for each of the central characters. Archie is loaded onto a bus to prison. Hiram finally tells Veronica that him framing Archie for murder was meant as a punishment toward her, in response to how she chose Archie over her own family and made him feel betrayed by his own daughter, to which Veronica responds with "You don't have a daughter anymore."
Jughead is given a sinister map by Dalton, who barges in frantically claiming that someone called "The Cargo King" is real. When Jughead later follows the red markings on this map to the middle of a forest, he finds Dalton lying on the ground in some sort of prayer circle, with those same red marks carved into his back.
Betty finds her own family in a similar prayer circle in her backyard, and witnesses them, along with other Farm members, drop Polly's babies into a fire (though they appear to float above the fire, in a weird, magical, witchcraft-y sort of way... Sabrina, where you at?). She then passes out and begins to have some sort of seizure, and her mother rushes to her side before the credits roll.
While there is a lot to anticipate in the next episode, there are also still a ton of unanswered questions from season 2. Where is Betty's creepy brother Chic (Hart Denton)? What are Hermione's official duties as mayor, and what's the plan for the "new Southside" aka drug ring controlled by Hiram Lodge? And, most importantly, are FP and Alice still a thing, or has Alice's witchy Farm duties pulled her away from romance?
After waiting five months for answers, I suppose we can wait another week.
Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW