Last week in my review, I complained that the Farm plotline had run its course and seemed pretty bland compared to all the other craziness going on in “Riverdale.” While the Farm and cult leader Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray) have their moments — mainly moments of absolute absurdity — it makes perfect sense why this anti-climatic resolution, which should be season finale content, is relegated to the third episode of the season.
For one, the Farm as a storyline has taken advantage of viewer’s suspension of disbelief. Sure, “Riverdale” is known for being “out there” (let’s not forget the Gargoyle King), but this organ-harvesting cult is pushing it. At the beginning of the episode, the FBI sends in an agent, pretending to be their pizza delivery guy, and as soon as Evelyn sees his face, Evelyn starts shooting the pizza delivery man. Then Edgar calls Betty (Lili Reinhart) — not the FBI, but a high school student — asking for a quarter of a million dollars, a bus, and passports for the whole cult. It seems absurd to expect Betty to be able to acquire all of this and yet she does: Veronica (Camila Mendes) gives her some fancy eggs, Toni (Vanessa Morgan) knows a guy who can fake passports, and Betty just steals a school bus.
But the icing on the cake is yet to come. Edgar’s endgame is so unbelievably outlandish that one wonders if the writers of the show just put ideas in a hat and pulled some out at random. When Betty and her mom, Alice (Mädchen Amick), are tied up, Alice tells Betty, “Evelyn is going to drive the bus full of Farmies off a cliff as a distraction while he takes off in a rocket.” But it gets worse. Betty asks where he could have bought a rocket and her mom answers, “He’s building one.”
To which Betty responds, “Yeah, because harvesting organs isn’t...isn’t enough.” Honestly, “Riverdale” writers, harvesting organs should have been enough.
Most bothersome about all of this is the fact that the show has totally misused Murray’s surprisingly terrifying acting. He’s been able to pull of a cool, calculating evil mastermind for several episodes now, but in this episode, he’s dressed up in a star spangled banner jumpsuit (please look it up, it’s atrocious) as viewers watch him try to take off in a homemade rocket. A complete waste of a talent no one was really expecting from Murray.
Overlooking Betty’s overinvolvement in what should have been the FBI’s case (they had her diffuse a bomb in a room full of trained agents!), this episode had other problems. Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) time at Stonewall Prep, a boarding school where he was recruited, is arguably the most eye-roll-worthy of the show. Jughead is roommates with Moose (Cody Kearsley), who has renamed himself (hopefully a tongue-and-cheek joke) Marmaduke. He also starts a feud with “diplo-brat” (a diplomat’s bratty child, apparently) named, what else, Bret (Sean Depner). The feud starts in earnest when Jughead calls Bret’s writing “Salinger-derivative” and honestly, can we blame Bret for hating that? Jughead is simultaneously the new kid and “section kid,” and in Bret’s defense, is also literally the leader of a gang.
Veronica deserves some credit for having the best lines of the show. When Archie (KJ Apa) decides he needs to raise $40,000 for his community center, Veronica propositions a sexy car wash with all the guys shirtless. When they only make $400, however, she says, “I think I overestimated the pull of your pectorals.” The “Riverdale” writers keep making the same mistake, because honestly Archie’s seemingly required 30 seconds of shirtless screentime each episode is getting a bit old. Perhaps the funniest scene of the entire episode takes place when Veronica finds her dad, Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos, at home in his study. “Daddy? You’re supposed to be in jail!” Veronica exclaims.
“Mija, I own that jail,” he responds. Classic Hiram!
Unfortunately, I am sensing that this season plans on doing something weird (again) with Cheryl (Madeline Petsch) and the rest of the Blossom family. There are hints that Cheryl is actually a triplet, not a twin, and Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) is losing it. Then, a rat jumps out of Jason Blossom’s corpse and Toni finds Cheryl stitching his stomach back together. We’ve had enough of complicated Blossom family trees and can’t we just let poor Nana Rose rest?
All in all, things seem pretty good as far as anyone in Riverdale is concerned. Until, that is, Betty says the unsayable: “I’m just glad this nightmare is finally over!” Oh Betty, this is only Episode Three! Of course, the doorbell rings and Jughead finds a VCR tape on the front porch. “Famous last words,” he says. It truly can only get worse from here.
—Staff writer Caroline E. Tew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @caroline_tew