Riverdale S3E2: Fortune and Men’s Eyes

by thethreepennyguignol

Well, shut my mouth and call me Jughead. Last week, I wrote that I was worried that Riverdale might suffer from some serious third season problems – basically, that it would run out of ideas and drag us through a bunch of shit that didn’t stick to the wall for the first two seasons. But, judging by this excellent second episode, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, I think I might just have been wrong.

Over in the Ginger is the New Black plot, Archie is in juvenile detention, and this plot is already slightly wobbly but also studded with pure insanity, so I’ll live with it. Archie tries to bring the prison together by hosting a football game, which is subverted by Hiram and turned into a prison riot/actually a violent beating from guards to unknowingly prisoners. And this plot is fine – KJ Apa is certainly hurting for sharing the screen with some of more compelling screenmates, stuck with Veronica for most of the episode’s run, but Riverdale sprinkles in enough daftness – Veronica in a bad disguise to sneak into the prison, a bunch of cheerleaders performing Jailhouse Rock outside the prison, a really unfortunate shot that seems to imply Archie is fucking a hole in the prison fence during the aforementioned musical number. It’s not awesome, but there’s room to grow here, and it’ll be a good indicator of whether Apa can sustain a plot on his own talent over the course of this season.

But the only thing I give a singular damn about is the Gargoyle King plot, where things are going off the fucking rails in the best way possible. Firstly, this storyline puts Jughead and Betty together as a proto-Scooby Gang, which is by far their best dynamic: I buy them more as a couple of amateur investigators than I do an actual couple, and their horny grinding on one another while trying to figure out the murderous intent behind what appears to be a ritual suicide is hilarious to me.

And this storyline is just a straight hoot: Jughead and Betty follow a lead into the woods, and stumble across an enormous, apparently sentient, Blair-Witch-esque wood creature – as they plunge further into the mystery, a boy who survived the original suicide attempt kills himself in front of them, a member of the cult that Polly and Alice have joined appears to be causing people to have full-blown seizures, and the show even wrings an actual jumpscare out of a boyscout hidden under a bed. And all this culminates in a foreboding scene, featuring the splintered adult generation of Riverdale swearing to keep the secret that they hid decades before – a secret that appears to be back for blood.

Riverdale is a show that works best when relying on its own dense, dark history – the Black Hood plot really sparkled when it came to addressing the past (via Chic, Hal’s family history, the murder of an innocent man by the town elders) and Jason Blossom’s murder was at its most compelling when it was the latest in a long line of cruelty that had filtered through the Blossom and Cooper families. And so I’m totally in for something that takes on the immediate history of a generation that we still don’t know a huge amount about, especially when it forces them to confront simmering and blatant tensions in the process. Tossing a bunch of characters who hate one another and forcing them together to defend a terrifying secret is actually pretty inspired.

And what the fuck is not to love about this? Last week, when I spoke about my concerns for the show going forward, I was worried that the show was just going to try and retread old ground – come up with some hideous murders and send Jughead and Betty off to solve it, maybe while, I don’t know, Moose has a crisis about his masculinity (which is actually happening, and is a plot I have no real feelings on yet). But this isn’t another straight mystery – this is horror. Pure horror. And if you haven’t guessed already, horror is where my heart is. Riverdale has always lingered on the edge of the horror genre, but seeing them plunge head-first into it like this is thrilling.

I’m whooping and dancing and punching the air at this plot, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of back and forths in quality and forward momentum over the course of this story unravelling – this is still Riverdale, after all, and I’m under no illusions about the fact this is still a CW show at heart – but I don’t care. For now, I’m in.

And that’s us for this deranged little outing. What did you think? Are you confident about this season, or worried about the turn its taking? Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter or Tumblr! If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to check in with my other recapping projects – I’m currently covering the first Harry Potter book as well as the current season of American Horror Story. If you want to read some of my fiction, please check out the ALPHA FEMALE erotica series (eighteen-plus, obviously), available on Amazon now. As ever, if you want to see more stuff like this, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

(header image courtesy of TVline.com)